Coming into the new model year, the 2012 Acura TL offers buyers a top-notch, comfortable daily commuting experience with enough power to play on the weekends. Selling in an MSRP range of $35,605 to $45,085 and returning 20 mpg city and 29 highway, the Acura should do very well with buyers if they don’t balk at the exterior. Some reviewers go so far as to call the Acura’s front end downright ugly, while others see its aggressive curves as a successful attempt to spruce up a car that would otherwise be sedate to the point of boring. The jury is still out on that one.
Shopping the competition, you’ll want to take out the 2011 Cadillac CTS. The base price is essentially the same, but coming toward the end of the model year, you have more room to negotiate. One major difference is that the 2012 TL has to have premium gas, which gives many drivers pause given the price of fuel today. The CTS, with a similar V6, is quite happy with regular gas. Also, don’t neglect the 2011 BMW 3-Series, which opens for $1k less. In that comparison, you’re playing with suspensions. The TL wins for a comfort-centric ride, but the 3-series is more nimble. It’s very much a matter of taste when you get right down to it.
There are two trims on the TL. The base is a front-wheel drive sedan with a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 280 hp paired to a six-speed automatic. The SH-AWD trim has a 3.7-liter V6 with 305 hp, also with a six-speed automatic. Standard features on the base include Bluetooth, a USB iPod input, and satellite radio. (As well as a leather-wrapped wheel with mounted controls and a moon roof.) Bump up $3,730 for the technology package and add premium sound, a nav unit with voice recognition, push button start, and a rear view camera.
Overall, the Acura has a well-conceived cabin with elements both luxurious and practical. Test drivers like the comfortable, supportive seats and all the bells and whistles that should be present (or at least optional) on an upscale, mid-sized sedan. One really interesting element in the tech package is GPS temperature control. The system actually tracks the position of the sun and its current intensity, fiddling with the climate settings accordingly. There’s no way that’s not geeky goodness.
The standard seats are leather trimmed, heated, and on the drivers side adjust ten ways; eight for the passenger. Perforated Milano leather comes with the tech package, and six-level heated and cooled seats can be had for another $2,200. Leg room is good in the back While the center console is a bit cluttered with buttons, the materials are high-quality and the plastics have a carbon-fiber tone that makes for a pleasing and convincing disguise. Cargo space is 13.1 cubic feet on the base and 12.5 on the SH-AWD. Unfortunately the trunk is small for the class and awkwardly shaped, which can make hauling challenging.
The 2012 Acura TL has not been tested by either the federal government or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the IIHS gave the 2011 top scores of “good,” and the same model garnered five stars from the feds for rollover tests. Safety standards include anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, brake assist, active head restraints, and six airbags with options for blind spot monitoring and a rear view camera.
All in all, the 2012 Acura TL is a high-performing day-to-day car with good weekend sensibilities. The tech features are excellent, the cabin is roomy and comfortable, and the fuel economy good, although for some buyers the premium fuel requirement will give pause. This one drives well, looks good (unless you hate it on sight), and is definitely a high-value car you’ll want to test drive.