Car Review: 2012 Acura TLSH-AWD with Advance Package

Highlight: All TL's are now equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $43,450 (base model starts at $36,600)

Seating Capacity: 5 occupants

Standard Safety Features: Front and side airbags; ABS; Electronic Brake Distribution; Vehicle Stability Assist System with Traction Control; Tire Pressure Monitoring System; Daytime Running Lights; and a collapsible steering column

(Base Model) Standard Equipment: 17-inch wheels; automatic rearview mirror; cargo net; perforated (heated front) leather seats; power moon roof; steering wheel mounted controls; tilt/telescopic steering column; and a front center console with an adjustable armrest

Standard Audio: an 8-speaker, 277-watt audio system with a 6-disc CD player

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes

MP3 Capability: Yes

ipod Capability: Yes

Base Model Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/280-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Base Model Standard Fuel Mileage: 20-city/29-hwy

Models/Trims:

  • 3.5-liter Base
  • 3.5-liter Base with Advance Package
  • 3.7-liter with Tech Package AWD (all-wheel drive)
  • 3.7-liter with Advance Tech Package SH-AWD

What’s New: For the 2012 model year, Acura’s TL gets a mild facelift with a softer looking grille. Also a new 6-speed transmission is added to the line up, which helps to slightly improve the gas mileage.

Pros: The big news is that Acura has dropped its controversial, razor-sharp grille for a softer edge so to speak. Since the current-generation Acura TL hit the scene three years ago, it has been embarked in controversy due to its sharp edge lines and in-your-face grille. And after getting a lot of flack, Acura has finally decided to take action, toning down its look. The 2012 TL's refined new look now  includes a redesigned grille, updated headlights and turn signals, a new fog light design and a shorter front overhang. The rear has also received significant changes too --with updated taillights and a thinner rear trunk edge.

Besides the more refined look, the TL should suit everyone needs with its available AWD and FWD (front-wheel drive) configuration. While the FWD model offers a 280-hp engine, the RWD model is packed with a 305-hp engine.

Moreover, buyers continue to have a number of trims to select from, depending upon how they would like their vehicle equipped. Buyers can opt for the Tech Package or Acura’s brand-new Advance Tech Package.

The Advance Tech Package incorporates such features as ventilated front seats, a much expected Blind-spot lane changing system that alerts the driver of objects in its path before changing lanes, while the Technology Package includes a nav system, real-time traffic and a premium-class 440-watt audio system.

Furthermore, the TL offers a fun to-drive six-speed manual transmission too. This helps this performance vehicle to go head-to-head with the 3-series Bimmer.

Cons: We were somewhat alarmed to find that a TL equipped with an automatic transmission was priced the same as a manual transmission. Isn’t there supposed to be a premium charge for opting for an automatic, thus making the manual more affordable?

Also why isn’t radar cruise control available on this high-tech vehicle?

The Verdict: Whether one opts for the base TL or the SH-AWD model, this is still one of the best midsize luxury sport sedans on the market, especially with its less controversial, in-you-face design.

From its performance to its handling to its feature-rich equipment list, one won’t be disappointed with the vehicle.

Furthermore, for those in the market for a crisp handling, luxury-oriented, performance sedan, the TL could fit the bill. Pricing for an automatic transmission front-wheel drive TL stars at approximately $36,000, while a fully-load manual transmission equipped vehicle with the optional 19-inch wheels will push the price to approximately $44,000. 

Competition:  BMW 3-Series, Cadillac CTS Sedan, Infiniti G37 and Lexus ES

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.