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Expert reviewers at TheCarConnection.com consulted what the most authoritative auto critics have written about the new Acura TL to produce this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com editors also drove the TL in order to interweave our expert opinion and help you make the right decision on a new vehicle.
- Head-turning style
- Athletic capabilities
- Superlative iPod interface, excellent stereo
- Typical Acura quality touch, feel, and operation
- Head-turning style
- Thick pillars mean spotty outward visibility
- Overwhelming sea of buttons in center stack
- Slow-to-react automatic transmission
The 2009 Acura TL has been completely redesigned by Honda’s luxury division. It’s wrapped in a controversial skin from stem to stern, full of angles, furrows, creases, and rather long overhangs front and rear. Its Honda Accord underpinnings give it generous room front and rear, but also mean that even in all-wheel-drive guise it’s a front-heavy beast that’s not quite a performance match for rear-wheel-drive competitors.
People notice the TL. Period. Not an inch of its Mr. Roboto façade brings on boredom, though it does inspire rolled eyes from drivers of more restrained mid-lux sedans. Technophiles will likely thrill to the TL’s collection of creases and prominent prow; it all looks very digital and intentional rather than organic or subtle. But nearly everyone can appreciate the TL’s interior, which provides blessed relief with gentle arcs and circles that beautifully meld leather and synthetic, analog and digital in an artful way that is uniquely Acura. What a shame that Acura chose the cold, harsh light of white/blue LEDs as the sole source of overhead illumination for this stunning interior.
In base form, the TL’s front wheels are driven by a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 that can also be found under the hood of the Honda Accord. Spring for the TL SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive), and a 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 from the RL sedan sends power to all four corners through a remarkably adept system that eliminates torque steer, displays power distribution in the gauge cluster, and makes the TL feel like a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan as long as you’re heavy on the gas. A five-speed automatic is the sole transmission; though smooth and responsive in sedate driving, it's one ratio down on its competition and doesn’t respond quickly enough in aggressive driving. Both engines are sweet, smooth, and responsive, but the accelerator’s short travel and hair-trigger response are annoying.