Acura's TL fits right in the middle of its sedan lineup, between the RL and TSX. In its Type-S trim, it gets a bigger engine, more horsepower, and a sport-tuned suspension.
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Its body styling changes make the grille more discreet, with a smoother fascia over the bumper.
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The standard TL engine is a 3.2-liter V-6, but the Type-S gets this bigger 3.5-liter V-6, which puts out 286 horsepower, enough to break traction on the front tires.
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Although in form a basic sedan, the TL gets some sporty styling cues, such as black inserts around the windows, a prominent crease below the belt-line, and a high trunk-lid reminiscent of that found on older BMWs.
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This car also includes high-performance tires. Its darkened rims give it some attitude.
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The back of the TL is kind of busy, with a cliff-like drop-off down from the trunk, which ends in a curving embrace from the bumper. But the tail lights look good and add to that sporty attitude.
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Navigation and a premium ELS audio system are standard on the TL Type-S. And so is that very retro cassette deck, which is a waste of space, in our opinion.
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There is unmistakable understeer in this front-wheel-drive car, although the steering is tightened up more than other Acura models we've driven.
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The greatest problem with Acuras is an excess of buttons. Here you can see the audio buttons on the left spoke, and a set of voice-command buttons for cell phone integration below. There is also a second set of voice-command buttons below the first set.
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You can order the TL Type-S with a manual or automatic transmission for the same price, but the manual is much, much better than the automatic. The latter inhibits the performance of this car.
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The red-ringed gauges have a sporty look, and the display in the middle of the speedometer shows all sorts of useful information.
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The navigation system's maps are usable, but not very refined, considering the competition. You can see the green lines highlighting freeways here, which indicate traffic flow.
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We like live traffic on navigation systems in general, but it is not well-integrated in the Acura TL. For example, the car won't proactively warn you if you are about to enter a traffic jam.
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This onscreen keyboard works well for address entry, but you can also use the voice-command system.
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The TL's six-disc changer plays DVD audio, Super Audio CDs, and MP3 CDs. But we are disappointed that it doesn't show track information, other than a file name, for MP3s.
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Navigating MP3 CDs is easy, as this screen lets you see all tracks in a folder, and lets you drill down through folders.
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XM radio is standard on the TL Type-S.
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An auxiliary input, mounted in the center console, lets you hook up an iPod or MP3 player.
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The ELS audio system produces excellent sound and lets you tweak the center fill and subwoofer levels, along with the usual bass and treble settings.
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The Bluetooth system isn't well-integrated into the car. For example, you can see phone status and which numbers you are dialing on the speedometer display, but not on the main LCD.
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