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The 2014 Acura TL isn't as luxurious in the traditional sense as some of its German or even American competitors. But in SH-AWD all-wheel-drive guise, it's an engaging sedan, with athletic driving feel coupled to a spacious and comfortable interior.
It's also a lame duck: for the 2015 model year, the Acura TL will be replaced by a new sedan, the Acura TLX.You could say that the TL looks a bit robotic–with its unmistakable and controversial metallic beak. That cosmetic feature was toned down in 2012, giving it a little more mainstream appeal, while the interior remains about attractive as any. It's intuitively assembled, with flowing arcs and circles that feel a little like art, without compromising ergonomics. There may be a few too many buttons–like so many of the Acuras on the road today–but we like everything else about it. The interior details don't feel European, nor do they feel terribly overwrought, and the twin-cockpit design doesn't rob too much space for the passengers, either.
In its base form, the TL features a standard USB iPod/MP3 interface, an eight-speaker audio system, and a crisp, high-resolution center-mounted display for controlling the infotainment system. The Tech Package adds a navigation system with live traffic, weather, and rerouting, plus a rearview camera; solar-sensing temperature control, keyless access, and an upgraded 440-watt Acura/ELS surround sound system--a system that we love for its thunderous power yet clarity. However, we're not fans of the navigation interface itself, or of the cobbled-together way its menu system feels. As we see it, the SH-AWD model with the Advance Package--which gets items like ventilated front seats, a blind-spot system, 440-watt ELS surround sound, and a nav system with live traffic--makes quite the well-rounded, high-tech sport sedan. But at the same time, with a bottom-line price of about $46k, it's worth keeping in mind that's nearly the cost of a base-level Mercedes-Benz E-Class or BMW 5-Series.
There are essentially two personalities to the TL, and one of them isn't all that performance-oriented. Get it in base front-wheel-drive form and it's a comfortable luxury sedan--albeit one with relatively crisp handling and an eager powertrain. But in its SH-AWD guise, this is a model that can definitely be enjoyable from the driver's seat. With it comes a 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6, juicing all four wheels through Acura's capable performance-oriented system that effectively quells torque steer or any scrambling for traction, distributing its power smartly without the loss of traction, but in a way that helps this sedan feel surprisingly balanced and nimble--and almost like a rear-wheel-drive sedan at times in tight corners. On the SH-AWD, there's one other true sign of a sport-sedan: the availability of a six-speed manual.
When it comes to interior space and comfort, the Acura TL's Honda Accord roots are nothing to be ashamed about. Those space-efficient origins make the TL more passenger-friendly than most other luxury sedans with its exterior dimensions--while of course the TL is more lavishly appointed through and through. Generously sized, supportive front seats make the TL a joy on long highway trips--although they could use a bit more lateral support if you intent to take to the mountains. And in general, the back seat is adult-sized, with space for three across. It might appear from the outside that rear headroom might be very limited by the arch and downslope of the roofline, but with seat contouring, it works. The only major disappointment in the 2014 Acura TL remains the trunk's meager 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space. It's less space than in many compact sedans.At the base level, the 2014 Acura TL is a well-equipped luxury sedan--the kind a realtor should be happy to ferry clients in, or that a comfort-oriented commuter will think of as plush. But step up to one of the Tech or Advance models of the TL and you'll get the true good stuff--in the form of top-notch audio or infotainment, or active-safety items.
- Responsive, athletic driving feel (SH-AWD)
- Awesome premium sound system
- Luxurious interior
- All-weather-capable, yet sporty
- Refined, comfortable ride
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- Techno-cluttered instrument panel
- Inferior navigation interface
- Small trunk