2009 Acura TL SH-AWD

Acura updated the TL for 2009, changing the exterior styling, tuning the engine, and upgrading the cabin electronics. The company also offers a whole new version, the TL SH-AWD, fitted with a bigger engine and all-wheel-drive.

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Styling

The grille shows further accentuation of the controversial Acura beak, while a stronger belt line encircles the car. The hood fits cap-like over the front of the car, with seams inboard of the fenders.

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Powerful engine

The TL SH-AWD gets this new 3.7-liter V-6, which makes 305 horsepower. Acura advertises it as the company's most powerful engine in a production car.

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With seating for five, the TL SH-AWD makes a comfortable commuter and family car. But it also has sporting aspirations, with a suspension more sport-tuned than the standard TL.

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SH-AWD

Acura models are built on front-wheel-drive platforms, but the sporty, SUV, and high-end cars get all-wheel-drive. With this TL, the SH-AWD stands for super handling all wheel drive.

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Dual tips

The TL SH-AWD gets a dual exhaust system, each fitted with dual tips, although the latter is just for show.

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Trunk space

Trunk space isn't huge, but roomy enough for most needs. It would be tough to fit the luggage of four people for any trip more than a week.

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Non-luxury interior

The interior of the TL SH-AWD is very nice, but it doesn't stand out as a luxury cabin. The materials are all soft plastic, brushed metal, and leather.

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Buttonitis

The steering wheel, although cleaned up from earlier versions, is still studded with too many buttons. The controls between the spokes don't look well-integrated.

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Tachometer

With the tach tipping over 5,000rpm, the engine makes an impressive growl.

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Automatic transmission

Although better than on previous Acuras, this five-speed automatic is a weak spot in the car's performance credentials. For the 2010 model, a six-speed manual will be available.

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Acura refined the center knob a bit, using bigger buttons devoted to the navigation system. An audio button sits above it, but the cell phone display can only be brought up by a button on the steering wheel.

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Traffic reporting

Acura has long integrated traffic with its navigation system, but this version works better, offering dynamic routing around incidents.

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Weather reports

Weather is a new feature in the TL's cabin tech. You can look at forecasts for regions around the country, or this Doppler map for rainfall.

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Bluetooth cell phone integration

The phone system imports phone books, a new feature from past versions. The system also can stream music from a cell phone with Bluetooth streaming capabilities.

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iPod integration

iPod integration is a new feature with the TL, connected through a USB port in the console. That USB port also works with USB thumb drives.

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XM satellite radio

XM satellite radio is an essential part of this cabin tech package, as it is the means by which traffic and weather information are transmitted to the car.

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CD ripping

You can store music on the car's hard drive, ripping it from a standard CD.

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ELS audio

The car uses Acura's ELS audio system, which produces good surround sound through 10 speakers in the car.

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Audio quality

Although there is a subwoofer, this system sounds best with acoustic music, as the bass isn't particularly strong.

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