Acura TL, 2012: Grille makeover, new transmission for refined sedan

James Raia

Now it its 17th year, the 2012 Acura TL continues the middle-age brand's legacy while addressing the concerns of the high-end Honda line's discerning fans. Acura owners are loyal, but they often complain about the awkward front end grille described by one reviewer as reminiscent of a giant bottle opener.

This year, the front grille features a smaller insert that flows better with the overall design of the car.

But there are also several other positive changes for the Acura TL, including: a six speed, automatic clutch transmission, ventilated seats, side mirror blind-sport detection and upgraded wheels.

Acura TL, 2012: Grille makeover, new transmission for refined sedan 1

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Performance is an Acura strong point and the TL is a shining example. It features a 3.7-liter, 24-valve 305-horsepower engine. Step on the gas and the car accelerates with confidence and at any range of speed.

That's exactly the experience I had as part of my weekly driver test on weekday journey to the San Francisco Bay Area. The round trip from Sacramento to Berkeley, about 175 miles, began in early morning highway commuter traffic. My arrival in the tree-lined hills of Berkeley featured tight, twisting two-lane roads.

It didn't matter. Whether in tight traffic when the blind spot indicators nearly constantly flashed in the hectic nature or commute time or while maneuvering through lanes at high speeds with surprising ease (305 horsepower helps), the Acura deserves its reputation. It's a refined, smooth-driving sedan.


The V6 is powerful and a welcomed attribute for drivers who like to drive.

Spacious driver and front passenger seats.

As a sedan, the all-wheel drive system make the TL even more versatile.

Blind spot indicators on side mirrors are a keen safety feature. Maybe one day soon all new cars will include the feature as standard equipment.

Clarity of the screen and functionality of the navigation system.

Matching of exterior/color. The exterior was bronze metallic (looked more like chocolate) with the light and dark brown and black interior tones.


Small, awkwardly configured trunk.

Lots of technology on the dash, but with not-so intuitive functionality.

Facts & Figures: 2012 Acura TL

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 5.2 seconds.
Airbags (6): Front, front-side and side-curtain. Blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera options.
Antilock brakes: Standard.
First aid kit: Not available.
Fuel economy: 18 mpg (city), 26 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: Not yet tested by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; Five stars (highest rating) in rollover test, but not tested for overall, frontal or side crash ratings.
Horsepower: 305
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $39,695.00
Manufacturer's Web site: www.acura.com.
Price As tested: $45,945.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,0000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

"It exudes a cool, mature, composed demeanor that's refined enough to serve as daily transport, but up for an occasional hilly backroad romp." —- Motor Trend.com

"Those looking for a refined ride, a spacious cabin and a full helping of the latest bells and whistles will be well served by the base model TL, a strong competitor to the likes of the Buick LaCrosse, Hyundai Genesis and Lexus ES 350." —- Edmunds.com.

"The ride is really smooth, and this car would be an ideal commuter,” AutoWeek says. “It's great on the expressway and handles itself rather well on twisty bits of road." —- AutoWeek.com

What The Wife Says:

"The seats are very comfortable and it's a nice cruising sedan."

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

"One of the criteria The Weekly Driver uses is the refrain, 'If I had $45,000 (or whatever the amount is) would I buy this car?' The answer when considering the 2012 Acura TL is an unqualified yes."

2012 Acura TL exterior image © Gretchen Gaither



Article Last Updated: November 20, 2011.

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