2011 Acura TL Performance

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Performance
If you're looking at the TL because you're in the market for a well-rounded luxury sedan, you'll be happy with the standard 280-horsepower 3.5-liter VTEC V-6, that's essentially the same engine as used in the Honda Accord and powers front wheels with a five-speed automatic transmission. But if performance at all matters, you'll want to step up to the TL SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive), and you'll get the 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 from the RL sedan juicing all four wheels through Acura's capable system that removes any threat of torque steer, displays how its distributing power in the instrument cluster, and almost gives the TL the feel of a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan-as long as you're heavy on the gas. In addition to the automatic, you can get a manual on the TL SH-AWD.

The automatic, though smooth and responsive enough in sedate driving, is a cog short of its competition and responds too slowly in aggressive driving. Both engines are smooth, sweet-sounding, and responsive, but the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, with the more powerful 3.7-liter V-6, brings out the sport-sedan character in the TL. Working together with the stability control system and allocating torque not only front-to-back but left-to-right, the SH-AWD system is ideally suited to spirited driving and quick emergency maneuvers on the road. Even on rough-surfaced, rain-slicked pavement, we found the TL almost impossible to fluster.

There's a lot to like in the TL's electric power steering, too. At parking-lot and city speeds it feels light and responsive, returning to center promptly out of corners, with a nice natural feel on center. Up at highway speeds it gathers more heft, but whether slow or fast, the steering manages to transmit some information from the road surface.

While the 2011 Acura TL isn’t downright inspirational for enthusiasts, it’s surprisingly eager and athletic in TL-SH guise—especially if you go for the six-speed stick.

The 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD is powered by a 3.7-liter V-6, making 305 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque; but that peak torque doesn't happen until 5,000 rpm; the engine doesn't have surprising gobs of low-range torque like BMW's twin-turbo six, and it doesn't quite whirl itself into the heavy-breathing frenzy of the Infiniti G37's V-6. But overall, it's a solid performer in the mid- to upper-rev ranges—and much better-suited to the manual transmission than we remember it being with the six-speed automatic. You'll find excellent passing ability but it sometimes requires downshifting two, even three, gears to make the best dash; but fortunately the shift action is nice and neat.

With the manual transmission, the 3,889-pound TL SH-AWD can get to 60 mph in the mid five-second range. That's a slight bit slower than the G37 but a bit faster than the automatic TL.

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