The 2012 Acura TL builds on its well-known reputation for sophisticated performance with newly refined front and rear styling that remains distinctively Acura. To go along with the revised styling is a new six-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift manual control, and an updated interior. Committed to continuous improvement, Acura has upgraded the technology in the cabin and made the interior more tranquil with noise, vibration, and harshness reductions.
The biggest outward sign that the 2012 Acura TL (MSRP $35,605*) has been the recipient of Acura's careful attention is the redesigned bodywork. There's a revised grille and new front bumper design. Headlamps and turn signals are also redesigned, and the front overhang is shorter, too. As a result, the new TL looks sleeker than previous models, and the visuals are supported by improved aerodynamic performance. The rear bumper is also redesigned – look for smaller reflectors, a repositioned license plate, and new taillights. Acura Senior Designer Damon Schell says "With the 2012 TL, we pushed for an increased level of sophistication," and that's reflected in the use of narrower brightwork and body-color door handles, among other detail changes that make the 2012 TL distinctively different from its forebears.
The underhood hardware has also been refined for more power, better efficiency and an increased level of sportiness. The standard 3.5-liter V6 has been treated to an internal friction reduction regimen that goes as deep as a new cylinder honing technique, piston skirts coated with molybdenum, and ion-plated piston rings. Acura has also changed to a lower viscosity engine oil, further reducing friction inside this 280-hp, 254 lb/ft of torque engine. TL buyers can instead choose the available 3.7-liter V6, which bumps available horsepower to 305, with 273 lb/ft of torque. Both engines use the VTEC®
system that Acura pioneered to vary valvetrain timing and lift for enhanced high-rpm breathing, and the intake manifold plumbing has also been revised to deliver cooler air to the cylinders of both V6s.
The standard transmission is a new Sequential SportShift® six-speed automatic. While other automatics offer less-than-satisfying response, the Acura six-speed plays along happily, even delivering a double downshift (skipping down two gears when needed) and rev-matching on downshifts. An external transmission cooler is now standard, and a multiple-clutch torque converter also reduces heat buildup by allowing locked operation across an expanded range of conditions, which also improves fuel economy. EPA fuel economy estimates for the TL have risen to 20 mpg city, 29** mpg highway for 2012, three mpg more than earlier models achieved on the highway. TL models with Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) system get a one mpg boost for both city and highway numbers, rising to 18 and 26, respectively. The final drive ratio has been changed for 2012, giving the TL a more relaxed cruising demeanor.
Some drivers still prefer to shift for themselves, so the 2012 TL is also available with a six-speed manual transmission – an increasingly rare sight and welcome news for drivers seeking involvement. The close-ratio six-speed manual brings with it the SH-AWD® system for maximum handling, and the chassis and EPS electronic variable-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system are also tweaked for sport, making the TL “6MT” manual a performance enthusiast's dream.
All TL models feature the double-wishbone suspension design that's long been an Acura hallmark, with a multi-link independent rear suspension and two-stage shock absorbers to deliver both ride comfort and assertive performance without forcing compromise. Refinement is increased by the use of hydraulic bushings to mount the transmission and suspension components to the chassis, and SH-AWD models feature unique springs and re-tuned dampers, along with improved braking performance and race-inspired cooling ducts to keep stopping ability consistent even under extreme use.
While the 2012 TL is a serious driver's car, it is also serious about passenger comfort. Front-seat occupants are treated to a "dual personal" design that carves out personal space for both driver and front passenger, and there's a revised instrument cluster, new finishes and available ventilated front seats. The available Technology Package includes the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™, which also delivers traffic information and can re-route you when necessary, and AcuraLink Real-Time Weather™. Also part of the Technology Package is the Acura/ELS Surround® audio system, designed with input from world-class recording engineer Elliot Scheiner. There's 440 watts of power, and 15GB of audio storage space is made available. The navigation system has a total hard drive capacity of 60GB, and there's now a full VGA monitor with improved colors and brightness thanks to a new backlit LED screen.
The standard Bluetooth Audio functionality has been improved, and "active pairing" for cell phones and a faster USB port are some of the standard technology upgrades that all TL drivers get to enjoy. Opting for the Advance Package will get you the new ventilated front seats, a Blind-Spot Information (BSI) system and larger wheels. New weatherstripping and extra sound insulation reduce high frequency noise in the TL interior by a significant three decibels for 2012, too.
The solid performance of the powertrain and secure handling from the masterfully-tuned chassis will keep you out of most trouble, but the TL also features the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure that reduces crash forces on occupants and evenly distributes crash energy throughout the bodyshell. There are six airbags and active head restraints for the front seat, and all outboard seating positions are protected by side-curtain airbags. With a four-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty and six-year/70,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty, there's very little to worry about with a 2012 Acura TL.
The 2012 Acura TL is significantly enhanced while still hewing close to the roots of what it means to be an Acura. That's why this roomy, comfortable, technologically-advanced sedan provides welcome refuge for drivers who want luxury and performance, and even a manual transmission. In a world of flashy mediocrity, the 2012 Acura TL is the standard-bearer for excellence.
*Prices shown are Acura suggested retail prices only and do not include taxes, license or an $885 destination and handling charge.
**Based on 2012 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary, depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.