The base TL's 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 is essentially the same engine as used in the Honda Accord; it makes 280 horsepower here, and it powers the front wheels with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive versions of the TL can feel remarkably close in driving manners to the previous-generation Honda Accord V-6 on which they're based--although we like the feel of the Acura's steering much better. It's a responsive, agreeable, and refined sedan, but not all that sporty.
Go with the TL SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive), and you'll get a car that is overtly sporty. 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. You can see how the system is working through an instrument-cluster display as well.
On the SH-AWD, there's one other true sign of a sport-sedan: the availability of a six-speed manual. Overall, the AWD system feels almost impossible to fluster, allocating torque not only front-to-back but left-to-right, to help with slick surfaces or quick emergency maneuvers.
There's a lot to like in the TL's electric power steering, too--especially how it is in the SH-AWD. It does transmit a bit of feel from the road surface, and returns to center promptly out of corners, with a nice weighting.