2012 Acura TL
The previous Acura TL might have been the bestkept secret in the performance luxury segment. Not because Acura doesn't build top quality machines, and not because the previous car wasn't a true performer. On the contrary, the previous TL had luxury and performance to spare. What it didn't have was a cohesive design that motivated buyers to try the TL over cars such as the BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M or Audi A6. For 2012, Acura has made some minor adjustments to the TL in terms of improved drivability and kept the majority of the tweaking to the exterior. In my original review of the 2009 TL, I advised, "Build a great car that is ugly and it might never get the respect it deserves." And so, refreshing the new TL's outside was job No. 1.
Looking back on that 2009 review, I might have been a bit harsh because time has passed and the controversial exterior of the TL has grow to be part of the automotive fabric. The sharp edges and angles still stand out, but there are elements of the previous design that did have merit.
With this 2012 model, Acura takes the edgy shape of the previous car and smooths out the awkwardness. The front grille is smaller and in keeping with the Acura TSX design; the lower front air vents and bumper have been raised to produce a happier face; and the same is true for the rear, with a shorter bumper and smaller trim accents along the trunk, mimicking the smaller front grille. The shape is the same overall, but the TL doesn't assault your senses as did the previous model - it might actually get more buyers into the showroom.
There are five different TL trim levels to choose from, including the base FWD model, the front-wheel-drive Tech package that includes navigation, and three all-wheel drive models ranging from the base trim to the Tech package and the Elite package, pictured here. The interior of the Elite model is a showcase of just how well Acura builds cars. The interior feels tight as a drum, with no rattles. Even over bumpy roads the cabin is a sophisticated and comfortable place to spend time. The dash is close to the driver, making it a true cockpit, and the seats convey the sporty nature of this car. One area of criticism is that the centre console is still cluttered with too many buttons and isn't initially intuitive. After a while the driver adapts, but there are better designs on the market.
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