Although Acura's new design direction has met with criticism, the company forges ahead, strengthening the beak-like appearance of the grille with the new TL.
The new TL comes in two types, a standard TL and one with Acura's Super Handling All Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD). The latter is called the TL SH-AWD and features a larger engine, a 3.7-liter V-6 compared to the 3.5-liter V-6 in the base TL. The car pictured here is the base TL, although there are no styling differentiators on the front or sides of the cars.
This picture shows the TL SH-AWD. The body is the same on both models, and represents 6 inches increased length over the previous generation. Although it is bigger, the car is 17 pounds lighter than the previous generation. It earns five star front and side impact ratings for both driver and passenger.
The TL SH-AWD is marked by quad exhausts and an SH-AWD badge on the rear. This car represents the first time Acura has offered all-wheel-drive on the TL, and is an attempt to combat enthusiasts bias against front-wheel-drive.
The standard TL, pictured here, remains a front-wheel-drive car. With its spacious passenger compartment and cabin electronics, it works as a convenient and practical every day car.
This is the bigger engine in the TL SH-AWD. It is a 3.7-liter V-6 and uses Acura's VTEC technology on both the intake and exhaust, giving it 305 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The base TL's 3.5-liter V-6 makes 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque.
The cabin of the TL looks the same whether you get the TL or the TL SH-AWD, but you won't see a lot of the switchgear shown here if you don't get the tech version. If you get the car with tech, then you get a navigation system, premium ELS audio system, voice command, and Bluetooth cell phone integration. In standard form you still get Bluetooth, but not the other electronics.
Acura addressed our biggest complaint about previous models, having two sets of buttons for different voice command systems. Now both cell phone and navigation system voice commands are available with one set of buttons, cleaning up the steering wheel a bit.
The instrument panel, although still button-heavy, gets cleaned up a bit as well. Buttons around the big joystick/knob are reformatted a little. Note the red engine start button on the upper left, a new feature for Acura.
The navigation system gets much better looking maps over the previous generation due to a new hard drive-based system, which allows much more room for data storage. The navigation system retains such features as Zagat restaurant ratings in the points-of-interest (POI) database. It also brings in fuzzy logic for POI searches, meaning you can enter part of a store or company name and still get the right result.
As in previous generations, and something that set Acura apart from its competitors early on, the navigation system still has traffic reporting through XM NavTraffic.
One of our favorite new features are preloaded scenic drives in the navigation system. There are 126 scenic drives total from many states.
Acura introduced weather reporting in the new TSX, but the TL takes it a step further by adding this doppler radar map.
Similar to the TSX, Acura adds Bluetooth streaming audio to the TL. This feature works with phones and MP3 players that support the new A2DP streaming stereo protocol, and lets you pair your phone and play music from it through the car's ELS audio system.
As with other hard drive-based navigation systems, space is reserved for music storage. The TL will rip CDs and tag the tracks with a built-in Gracenote database. The car also has iPod integration.