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2012 Acura TL SH-AWD (photos)

Acura's sportiest and most luxurious car, the TL SH-AWD, gets an update for the 2012 model year, with less radical design elements along with a six-speed automatic.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET
In what seems like a desperate move, Acura toned down the styling of its TL SH-AWD in a model update just two years after the last major change. Although the engine remains unchanged, Acura adds a six-speed automatic transmission and some new cabin tech features.

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The car's grille piece assumes less prominence than on the previous version, and the lines around the front are generally more subtle. The profile of the car is typical for this class of sedan, with a nicely curved roof flowing back toward the trunk lip.

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Acura uses a beefier engine in the SH-AWD version of the TL, a 3.7-liter V-6 making 305 horsepower.

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The TL SH-AWD offers plenty of headroom for passengers. Legroom in the rear seats is also quite comfortable.

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The SH-AWD stands for Super Handling All Wheel Drive, an Acura technology that moves torque dynamically between the front and rear wheels, and across the rear axle to aid in cornering.

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The trunk of the TL SH-AWD is not the largest we've seen in this type of sedan. Our standard CNET editor is a little squeezed in the trunk opening.

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The interior of the TL SH-AWD feels lush, with thick leather on the seats and quality materials around the cabin. Acura's cabin tech interface is a little busy, though, with an abundance of buttons.

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Acura uses an electric power-steering unit for the TL SH-AWD, which helps fuel efficiency. The tuning allows for a little play, making for easy cruising on the highway.

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A full array of buttons sits on either side of the wheel, with the left side devoted to cabin tech functions.

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The six-speed automatic is new for the TL SH-AWD, but we much prefer the six-speed manual for this car.

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The navigation system shows traffic incidents, but maps are limited to 2D views.

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Integrated weather data is a nice feature in the TL SH-AWD. The navigation system will warn of severe weather incidents on the route.

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Acura uses this menu design throughout the cabin tech interface. It looks good, and the large buttons are easy to select while driving.

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Bluetooth audio is one of the many sources available for the stereo. Limited by compatibility and the Bluetooth profile, this interface merely lets you play and pause the audio stream.

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With a 60-gigabyte hard drive, the CD player can rip music to the car.

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The ELS audio system produces excellent sound quality, and includes a very useful array of controls to fine tune it. Along with bass and treble, there are also controls for the subwoofer and center channel levels.

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The TL SH-AWD gets a rear-view camera, but it only shows distance indicators, lacking the more sophisticated trajectory lines.

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