Testing Acura’s Super Handling-All Wheel Drive TL (SH-AWD) in Southern California’s Torrential Rain

January 21, 2010
Life in Southern California just isn't supposed to be like this. Where did the sun and the semi-azure blue of the skies that used to hover so peacefully over my head disappear to? If it's not sunny here then where is it sunny? When will the endless monotony of all these rainstorms finally pass? Okay I'll stop.

As you may have heard the Los Angeles area is being deluged with water thanks to a series of storms that are larger than the area has seen in decades. And with this series of storms I have become convinced that I am now a true Southern California resident (I am originally from Northern California). My reasoning? I am acting like this is the start of the Biblical end times but it has been raining for only three days (over-reacting to weather is very typical) and I am ready to buy a car with AWD (and so is this).

Granted, the rest of the thoughts are crazy but does a Southern California (or any dry climate) resident ever need a car with all wheel drive? Well, in the case of the 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD the answer is a definite affirmative. And I am not just saying that because I am testing this model during the downpours and its assured grip of the road makes me feel infinitely safer than were I, say, in a rear-wheel drive BMW 3-series. 

So how does Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) work in the TL? Well, essentially SH-AWD is special because it can apportion as much power as is needed to any individual wheel. No 50/50 or 60/40 power splits here. All four driven wheels can all have differing levels of power going to them at any given time and this affords great traction in dry and wet weather (hopefully I will have the car long enough to test on dry tarmac).

The on-board computer will even show you on a digital screen between the gauges how much power is going to each wheel via SH-AWD as you are driving. It is fascinating to watch it but I fear that in this weather I should be keeping my eyes on the road and not on a digital readout of what my wheels are doing. Wow, I am not watching the now road either? My transformation to real Southern California driver is complete.

Beyond the more powerful 3.7 liter 305 horsepower V6 that comes as standard, the SH-AWD variant of the TL is also the only model available with a six-speed manual. My test vehicle is equipped with the automatic but based on the telepathic cornering abilities of this car I dare say the manual version may be the sleeper sports sedan deal of the year. I will just have to tell you when it stops raining.

2010 Acura TL SH-AWD

Pricing: (Starting at $38,655)

Engine: (3.7 liter 305 horsepower V6)

Mileage: (17 city/25 highway)

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