The 2012 Acura TL earns a below average Total Car Score for the segment, despite a slick powertrain, reliability, a comfortable cabin and a lower price.
Reviewers find much to like with the Acura TL. They applaud its new fresh face — a huge improvement over last year's model — and other improvements to carry the model forward. Other publications claim the TL is a logical happy medium for shoppers looking for a competent, roomy daily driver and sport sedan wrapped in a single package.
The Acura TL is difficult to fault. Other than its bland personality in standard trims, and often-cited vague steering, there isn't much to complain about. Enthusiasts should steer clear of the front-wheel drive models — save up for the SH-AWD and enjoy the increase in confident, responsive handling.
The current Acura TL, a fourth-generation model, debuted three years ago. Exterior improvements for the 2012 model year include the aforementioned new front fascia, including a new grille, new headlights and new fog lamps. New taillights and other minor cosmetic tweaks complete the transformation at the rear.
On the electronics side, the navigation system has been upgraded. Mechanically speaking, Acura has replaced the five-speed automatic with a six-speed unit across the board (enthusiasts note: the sporty, range-topping TL SH-AWD is still offered with an optional six-speed manual gearbox).
The 2012 Acura TL is offered in one four-door five-passenger sedan body style. There are only two trim levels: TL Base and TL SH-AWD.
The standard engine is Honda's familiar 3.5-liter six-cylinder. Under the hood of the 2012 TL it is rated at 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. The TL SH-AWD is fitted with a slightly larger 3.7-liter six-cylinder tuned to develop 305 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive is standard on the base model, while the SH-AWD is offered with a choice between a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Permanent all-wheel drive is standard on the SH-AWD.
Base TL models are well-equipped with standard leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way power front seats, Bluetooth phone connectivity, 17-inch alloy wheels and more. TL SH-AWD models are configured for the enthusiasts, with upgraded sport suspension, upgraded brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels and sport bucket front seats.
Major options are bundled into packages. The Technology package adds a rear spoiler, upgraded upholstery, rearview camera, keyless entry/ignition, navigation, upgraded audio and other premium equipment. The Advance package bumps the wheels up an inch (18-inch on the Base and 19-inch on the SH-AWD) and adds a blind-spot warning system and ventilated front seats.
According to the EPA, the 2012 Acura TL earns 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 23 combined. The TL SH-AWD with the automatic transmission earns 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 21 combined, while the TL SH-AWD with the manual gearbox earns a slightly lower 17/25/20.
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