New Car Review: 2012 Acura TL

Front 3/4 view of 2012 Acura TL on road
The 2012 Acura TL front view.

I am not a fan of plastic surgery. Too many botched jobs out there reminding us every day that the nose wasn't really that big or other bits weren't really that small. In the case of the 2012 Acura TL, however, I'm prepared to say that sometimes a nose job is really what the patient needed.

In case you don't remember the 2009, 2010 and 2011 TL, here's the "before" picture:

The 2009-2011 Acura TL front view.

If you think it's not so wonderful in pictures, trust me...that's a flattering angle. A change was needed...and now, we have one. The TL is, as it was before 2009, a conventionally handsome sport sedan.

The good news is that overall, the package as a whole has had a chance to jell, too. While not the canyon-carver that the TL with SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) is, the TL holds its own quite nicely. Up front is a 3.5 liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and it's hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift. There's also four wheel disc brakes, front double-wishbone suspension, a rear multi-link suspension, electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering, and a high-flow sport-tuned exhaust system.

Our tester was the Advance model...a package that includes a blind spot information system, ventilated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires, as well as the Tech Package (navigation, backup camera, AcuraLink communication system with real-time traffic and weather, leather sport seats, push-button ignition, GPS-linked, dual-zone automatic climate control and keyless access with a security system...plus an AM/FM/CD/DVD-Audio/SiriusXM/Hard Disk Drive Dolby Pro Logic II ELS Surround Sound audio system, along with an auxilary jack and USB connection for your personal music player (as astonishing as the demo disc of the DVD Audio system sounds, it's a very nearly dead format, overtaken by the comparatively low-fi iPod).) in the base price of $41,535.

The 2012 Acura TL rear view.

Yes, I said GPS-linked climate control. No, I'm not kidding. Here's Acura's explanation:

The GPS-linked automatic climate control system further enhances occupants' comfort level by tracking the sun's position and intensity. The GPS positioning technology monitors the sun's location relative to the car's position while a sensor on the dash measures the sun's intensity. By knowing which part of the cabin is receiving the sun's rays, the system compensates to keep each side of the cabin at its designated temperature. The system is completely automatic and requires no manual adjustments, regardless of outside conditions.


Base price is also bottom line in the case of our tester. Zero options, just the standard $885 destination and handling charge, which made the final tally $42,420. For that, in addition to what we've already mentioned, you get the full complement of airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, active head restraints, tire pressure monitoring, a power moonroof, LED taillights and fog lamps.

The 2012 Acura TL interior.
Inside? Well, like most Honda products of the past few years, it's a gadget and button fest. But as other manufacturers have chased that particular rabbit, we've had a lot of opportunities to get used to it.

Other no-cost goodies: Driver recognition memory system, power seats (10-way for the driver, 8-way for the front passenger, both heated), HomeLink, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted controls for audio, phone, cruise and trip computer).

While 280 horsepower isn't epic power for a sport sedan in 2012, it is more than adequate to move the TL with some authority. And there's a bonus...better than typical gas mileage for its class. The EPA says 20 city/29 highway.

Overall, the TL is an attractive package. And more so than last year. Especially from the front.

2012 Acura TL

Base price: $41,535.

As tested: $42,420.

Likes: Balance, handling, a superb (if technically outmoded) audio system, new front styling.

Dislikes: If Honda can clean up the nose of the TL, they have to be able to get the button count in the cockpit down to three dozen or so.

EPA estimates: 20 city/29 highway.