By: Wade Ozeroff, Autonet.ca
Acura’s TL sedan, in its current form (the car has undergone some radical body styling changes with each new generation) is, at its core, a well-received and reviewed model from Honda’s luxury division.
When combined with the company’s all-wheel drive system (SH-AWD, for “super handling”) and the larger of the engine choices offered, it becomes a pretty appealing daily ride aimed at the suit-and-tie set.
The Tech package trim gives the vehicle a comprehensive array of electronic helpers and handlers, and also festoons the steering wheel and center stack with buttons (I counted over forty switches/buttons/knobs/thingies on the center panel alone, yeesh).
Thusly tricked out, the TL sports a superior sound system (Dolby Pro Logic with 10 speakers), navigation system and backup camera displayed on a large multi-info center screen, and keyless start and entry; just to scratch the surface.
Outwardly, it hasn’t changed much from 2009. The front end still wears the love-it-or-hate-it smiley face grillwork and the creased sheetmetal of the wheel wells, hood and trunk make it unmistakable.
My tester brings all those things, and one nice new feature available for 2010, a manual transmission.
A slick six-speed gearbox ups the fun quotient a lot in the TL (for those of us who like to do our own shifting) and allows a driver to extract maximum performance from the 3.7 litre engine. A sensitive, light-touch clutch that engages almost instantly as you raise your foot from the floor took some getting used to, but it isn’t too bad.
The V6 powerplant displays very good power, and while not the leader in its class; with 305 horses and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, it’s no lightweight. It may not be a sports car, but it’s certainly a sporty car.
Very good steering response and braking are on hand, and the suspension straddles the line between sporty-stiff and cushy-compliant, absorbing all but the harshest road irregularities without jarring the occupants too badly.
The cabin, leather-clad and highlighted by bolstered bucket seats for driver and front passenger, is quiet and comfortable. I have always found the seating in the TL worthy of remarks, with a full range of adjustment including very good lumbar support.
Visibility from within is hampered slightly by fat A-pillars and small, narrow side mirrors.
Materials throughout the cockpit feel solid and well made, and the dash and gauge cluster manage to look good, even when festooned with buttons. The gauges themselves, deeply recessed and shielded under a shroud, resist glare no matter at what angle the sun sits.
The foot wells are a bit on the tight side up front, although not overly so, and space between driver and front seat passenger is enough for most people. My only complaint from an ergonomic perspective is that the largest button/knob/thingy of the whole console (it’s actually called the “interface dial selector knob”, for those of you who insist on real terminology) is placed directly at the height of my hand on the shifter, and I hit it several times while shifting into third.
Overall, the vehicle meets the goals of a lower-end premium car. It can be called fun to drive; it can be called luxurious; and, I can’t deny the high-tech appeal of the electronics, although be prepared to spend some time learning all the functions.
Clocking in at anywhere from the high 30s to the low 50s (my tester, in SH-AWD Tech trim, came with a sticker price of $48,590 with optional block heater) stacks up well against similarly equipped competitors, foreign or domestic.