2010 Acura TL Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
December 28, 2009

Boldly styled and laden with high-tech features, the 2010 Acura TL is a solid value, though enthusiasts might find its overall ability lacking.

Designed from scratch for the 2009 model year, the Acura TL carries over with just a few changes for 2010, though the addition of an optional manual transmission offers one major change.


Skinned with a high-tech but controversial look, the 2010 Acura TL leaves some drivers cold, while it intrigues others. The sheetmetal has a faintly robotic theme that younger buyers might find refreshing and adventurous. Technophiles will find the TL's digital lines and creases a welcome change from the organic designs of competing sedans.

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The cockpit isn't nearly as adventurous or controversial. The cabin pairs leather and plastics in a subtle collection of circles and arcs. It's logical but artful, typically Acura in its lack of traditional trim.


The standard TL uses a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 that's also under the hood of the Honda Accord to propel the front wheels. On the TL SH-AWD, Acura fits the bigger RL's 3.7-liter V-6, with 305 hp, and sends the power through all-wheel drive which gives the TL better handling. Last year's standard five-speed automatic transmission was joined in late 2009 by an optional 6-speed manual. The automatic, sedate and smooth in everyday driving, needs another gear to be more in line with its rivals, and to make better use of the TL's power. Both engines are smooth, sweet-sounding, and responsive, but short travel and hair-trigger responses make the accelerator pedal annoying to use.


Both on paper and in hard driving, the TL is a serious player in the luxury sport sedan segment, though it has its shortcomings. Its Honda Accord underpinnings give the 2010 TL generous room front and rear, but such heritage means that even equipped with Acura's Super Handling all-wheel drive, it's front-heavy and not up to the performance par set by its rear-wheel-drive competitors.


Excellent grip and strong acceleration are hallmarks of the SH-AWD model in particular. Powerful brakes slow the 4,000-pound car handily and with confidence. Despite these good traits, when driven tamely in traffic, the TL, including the SH-AWD, feels more like the front-heavy and sensible sedan it is. Big 19-inch wheels also give the SH-AWD a particularly rough ride over irregular surfaces, a problem not evidenced in the base model, which is more comfortable for most purposes.


Cabin space is good, and passenger room front and rear are both ample, with comfortable, supportive seats at all positions. With 13.1 cubic feet of space in the trunk, the 2010 Acura TL is a bit short of some of its competition, but still ahead of the previous-generation TL. Build quality is typically Acura, with solid materials and close tolerances, though there aren't as many options or upgrades available as you'll find at brands like BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus.


The 2010 Acura TL interfaces easily thanks to a USB iPod/MP3 interface, an eight-speaker audio system, and a crisp, high-resolution center-mounted display for controlling the infotainment system. The circular controller is as user-friendly as an Apple device, and sound quality is good in base form, thunderous with the 10-speaker optional upgrade.


The center stack's intuitive click-and-turn interface controls the optional nav system, and voice commands make it even easier to find and input your itinerary. The Technology Package unleashes your inner geek, with an HVAC system that adjusts according to the sun's intensity and position.


The 2010 Acura TL scores five stars from the NHTSA and gets the IIHS's Top Safety Pick designation. Acura equips all TLs with a full complement of six airbags.

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