Acura's refreshed 2012 TL sedan will go on sale March 18 starting at $35,605. A new Sequential SportShift six-speed automatic transmission improves fuel economy to 18/26 mpg, but perhaps the most significant (and needed) update comes in the form of styling.
Acura has streamlined the controversial corporate grille, creating a far more harmonious front fascia then its predecessor. Derived from the 2006 Acura Advance Sedan Concept, the "Power Plenum" grille was first introduced on the 2007 MDX and later featured in its most jarring iteration on the 2009 TL.
The old look was distinctive for all the wrong reasons, failing to create the powerful identity Acura had intended and leaving consumers cold. In fact, according to a 2010 J.D. Power Avoidance Study, about half of all prospective Acura buyers cited the brand's styling as their primary reason for not purchasing one.
Now with a bit of corrective surgery and updated technology, Acura is hoping to regained lost ground in the highly competitive near-luxury segment. With a nebulous market position, the TL competes against everything from high-content Buicks to venerable BMWs.
Styling has been something of an Achilles' heel for Acura in recent years, with its otherwise solid products. With a fresh new face the TL certainly appears to be back on track.