2012 Acura TL Preview

The 2012 Acura TL marks a departure from the automaker's recent styling direction as the mid-size sedan debuts with a fresh new appearance, a fuel-saving 6-speed automatic transmission, and new infotainment and safety technology.

Highlights

2012 Acura TL
  • Significant refresh for 2012
  • New exterior styling
  • New 6-speed automatic transmission improves efficiency
  • New infotainment and safety technology
  • Increased sound deadening reduces noise levels
  • New alloy wheel designs
  • Three models: TL, SH-AWD, and SH-AWD 6MT
  • Arriving in spring 2011

Introduction

The Acura TL is a mid-size luxury sport sedan that was launched in 1995 as a replacement to the Acura Vigor. Like its predecessor, the new TL debuted with a unique 5-cylinder (2.5-liter) engine and front-wheel drive - a combination designed to offer both power and fuel efficiency, says the automaker. One year later (after the Acura Legend was replaced by the Acura RL) the TL was offered with a more powerful 6-cylinder (3.2-liter) borrowed from the Legend's parts bin.

When the second-generation TL debuted in 1999, the 5-cylinder engine had been dropped and all TL models were fitted with 6-cylinder engines. Sharing platforms with the Honda Accord (and built on the shame assembly line in Marysville, Ohio), the TL remained a front-wheel drive model with a standard 4-speed automatic transmission. The 2001 model year marked the arrival of the TL Coupe (the short-lived model was designated "CL"). The two-door model was discontinued by 2003. Near the end of its lifecycle, Acura introduced the high-performance "Type-S" model, with a larger 6-cylinder (3.5-liter) engine, sport seats, upgraded wheels, and a manual transmission.

The third-generation Acura TL arrived in 2004. Again sharing platforms with the Honda Accord, the sedan was offered with a standard 6-cylinder (3.2-liter) engine just like its predecessor. The Type-S model, with a 286 horsepower (3.5-liter) engine and other performance enhancements, followed in 2007.

The current, fourth-generation Acura TL was launched in 2009. While its predecessors had been penned with a conservative style, the new TL featured the automaker's "Keen Edge Dynamic" look - somewhat controversial as it featured Acura's "Power Plenum" front grille. Nevertheless, the base 6-cylinder (3.5-liter) was rated at 280 horsepower placing it among the stronger vehicles in its competitive pack. Acura also launched the TL SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) model with a 305 horsepower (3.7-liter) engine, larger brakes, and an available 6-speed manual transmission.

For the 2012 model year, Acura treated its fourth-generation mid-size sedan to a facelift. The "Power Plenum" grille has been re-styled to be smaller and less prominent, all part of the new front and rear fascias. There is a new 6-speed automatic transmission under the hood, and the engine has been re-tuned to deliver slightly better fuel economy. New technology includes a blind-spot information system, ventilated seats, a 60 GB hard drive, and new alloy wheels. In addition, the cabin has been fitted with additional sound deadening to reduce noise at higher speeds.

Hardware

2012 Acura TLAcura is again offering its mid-size TL with two different engine choices, but in three distinctly different models.

Standard TL models are equipped with a 3.5-liter 6-cylinder engine. The all-aluminum engine is rated at 280 horsepower and 254 lb.-ft. of torque (EPA estimated 20 city/29 highway/23 combined mpg). Power is sent to the front wheels through a new "Sequential SportShift" 6-speed automatic transmission with racing-inspired paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control System. This is the only transmission offering on this model. Cast aluminum 17-inch wheels are standard on the Acura TL.

The TL SH-AWD models are equipped with an all-aluminum 3.7-liter 6-cylinder engine rated at 305 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque (EPA estimated 18 city/26 highway/21 combined mpg). Like the standard TL, it is mated to a new "Sequential SportShift" 6-speed automatic transmission (with racing-inspired paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control System).

However, power is sent to all four wheels through Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. The "SH-AWD" is engineered to electronically vector torque to the wheels that need additional grip - and the wheels on the outside of the corner. Unlike most car-based all-wheel drive (AWD) systems that are only designed to improve grip in inclement weather, SH-AWD was engineered with performance in mind. The TL SH-AWD is fitted with standard 18-inch wheels (19-inch wheels are optional).

The range-topping TL SH-AWD 6MT shares the same 3.7-liter 6-cylinder (305 horsepower) as the SH-AWD, but it is mated to a standard close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission with a heavy-duty clutch system for increased performance (EPA estimated 17 city/25 highway/20 combined mpg). The SH-AWD system has also been upgraded with special tuning (for handling), and the suspension has been configured with stiffer springs and firmer dampers. Lastly, the steering has been tuned for performance. Standard wheels on the TL SH-AWD 6MT are 18-inch aluminum alloy.

The 2012 Acura TL will be on sale in spring of 2011.