It wasn’t too many years ago $30,000 was the beginning price point for a luxury vehicle. Now, $40,000 is the standard, and that’s where the Acura TL has been perched for the past several years. The TL debuted with the 1996 model, was redesigned in 2004 and for 2009 has its third generation.
Like previous models, the current edition is all good with the vehicle’s largest engine to date and a good selection of other new additions.
The Weekly Driver’s Ratings
The front wheel and AWD models have plenty of power, both testing in the 0-60 mph standard in 6.0 seconds. The only transmission is a smooth and responsive five-speed automatic with two keen features — manual shiftgate and steering wheel paddle shifters. It all adds up nicely, particularly since there’s an expanded 3.5-liter, 24-valve, 280 horsepower engine.
Smooth and steady on all accounts. Confident turning, strong and steady stopping and maneuvering through all traffic situations as if it’s in charge, which it is.
Cargo Room (5)
Interior areas, glovebox to cupholders, are satisfactory to the class. But the trunk could have been better configured, considering the category.
Large and clear navigation screen with cool features, including traffic location finder. Gauges are large and logical and design is simple and classy, complemented by a sleek console look.
The front grill looks likes a “smiling face” and there’s a lot of metal. But there’s something about the look . . . it gets increasing appealing. Sharp console line, particularly above the glovebox. It makes the car look more expensive, particularly with its standard leather seats.
Front Seats (7)
Supportive and firm and efficiently positioned to provide ample leg and head room. Visibility is above average, forward and rear.
Fuel Economy (5)
It’s not an economical vehicle, and premium grade fuel is required. But with nearly 300 horsepower, the Acura TL could have done worse.
One of Acura’s strong points. There’s little noise in freeway driving and the car is only slightly less quiet in city driving. It’s one more reason the TL advances well onto the entry level luxury plateau.
Rear Seats (5)
Entry and exit are easy and there’s plenty of room to do so. But knee, foot and head room are only adequate. Tall passengers won’t ride on long trips in comfort.
Ride Quality (8)
Another Acrua strong point. The car appreciates the open road and it’s a good example of a sedan with simultaneous sports car and touring car nuances.
Total (66 out of 100)
Class — Premium midsize.
Primary competition — BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti G, Nissan Maxima SV Premium, Volkswagen CC V.
Standard equipment/option packages — (Standard) leather upholstery; heated front seats; cruise control; solar-sensing, dual-zone automatic climate control with automatic humidity control; tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; power windows and door locks; heated power mirrors with tilt-down back-up aid and turn signals; eight-speaker 276-watt AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD changer; XM satellite radio; auxiliary audio input jack; USB port; Bluetooth cell phone link; multi-information display; 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment; eight-way power adjustable front passenger seat; memory for the driver’s seat, mirrors, climate control and radio settings; interior air filter; auto-dimming rearview mirror; universal garage door opener; theft-deterrent system; sunroof; rear passthrough; automatic high-intensity discharge headlights, fog lamps, 17-inch alloy wheels.
For more standard equipment/options information, visit: www.acura.com.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price — $38,685.00.
Price As Driven — $39,445.00.
Mileage Estimates — 18 mpg (city), 26 mpg (hwy).
Warranty — Bumper-to-bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles, Roadside assistance, 4 years/50,000 miles.
The Weekly Driver’s final words — One of the basic factors to determine a car’s value for me is the “what if” game. What if had $15,000 to purchase a car, what would I buy? Or, if my budget for a new car were $150,000 what would I buy? Many cars are priced in the $38,000-$40,000 range. And if I had $40,000 to spend on a new car, it would be difficult to do better than the Acura TL.
Article Last Updated: September 30, 2008.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.