Test Drive: 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD Advance

?Acura TL: Newly refined?

The Acura TL for the 2012 model year moves up the ladder in refinement with a freshened appearance, improved performance and upgraded technology. This latest iteration of the TL made its public debut at the recent Chicago Auto Show. Most apparent were the visual modifications that incorporate new front and rear styling treatments. The grille bar, though still instantly recognizable as belonging to the Acura family has been reduced in size, which should find favor with those who were not a fan of the predecessor?s bolder ?in-your-face? grille bar. The refined new look includes a redesigned front bumper with improved aerodynamics, the revised grille, updated headlights and turn signals, a new fog light design and a shorter front overhang. Out back, a new rear bumper incorporates a significantly repositioned license plate opening and smaller rear reflectors, with updated taillights and a thinner rear trunk edge trim contributing to the new, more appealing appearance. The interior has also received several enhancements. The new look is much more sophisticated than before.

Other significant changes include: a new Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission that delivers improved performance and fuel economy. All TL models now receive body colored door handles and rear window trim along with numerous NVH improvements that make for a quieter cabin.??

The 2012 Acura TL provides 6 different models based on engine choice and equipment packages. There are 2 engine variants: a 3.5-liter V6 and a 3.7-ilter V6. The first makes 280 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 254 pound feet of torque at 5,000 rpm, while the larger displacement engine delivers 305 horsepower at 6,300 rpm, while generating 273 pound feet of torque at 6,700 rpm. A new Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission is applied on all TL models fitted with the automatic transmission, which also now include the fitment of an external transmission cooler. In addition to incorporating engineering enhancements aimed at improving efficiency, a sport-minded double-kick-down feature allows the driver to command a double downshift? such as from Fifth to Third gear, and the Drive-by-Wire? throttle system creates a “blip” of the throttle to help match gear speeds when downshifting. The transmission teams with a new multi-clutch torque converter that not only reduces heat build-up during?operation, but also allows for lock-up activation during a much wider range of driving conditions? which helps generate improved fuel economy. A six-speed manual gearbox is available with a sport shifter and Hill Start Assist on the TL SH-AWD model.

The smaller engine version TL is available as a base model with the manual gearbox starting at $35,605. There?s also a TL with the Tech Package and one with the Advance Package that tops out at $41,535. ? all three versions are Front-wheel drive. The larger displacement engine models are all Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive models (SH-AWD) with the same three trim levels of equipment: Base, Tech and Advance. SH-AWD models begin at $39,155 and climb to $45,085 on the upper end ? add $860 to all for Destination and Handling.

?In keeping with its mission as a driver’s car, the TL interior features a “dual personal” design that provides both the driver and front passenger with their own personal space. Inside, the 2012 TL benefits from an even further refined cabin that includes instrument cluster changes, new surface finishes for many interior appointments and available ventilated front seats. Technology improvements abound with refinement of Bluetooth? Audio (now with artists name, song title, etc.), new “active pairing” functionality for Bluetooth? enabled cellular telephones, Dial-By-Number and dial-by-voice tags, and much faster connection speed for the USB port. ??Both the TL and TL SH-AWD? models offer an available Technology Package which includes the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition?, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting?, AcuraLink Real-Time Weather? and an Acura/ELS Surround? 440-watt Premium Audio System. For 2012, the hard disk drive (HDD) based navigation system increases in size to 60 gigabytes, map coverage is more expansive, and the full VGA monitor is brighter with even richer colors with the new backlit LED display. With the revised HDD system, there is an increase to 15 GB of dedicated space for the storage of up to 3,500 songs**. Also new is Song By Voice? that allows the driver to choose music by artist, album, song title, genre, playlist and even composer.??

New for 2012 is an available Advance Package that incorporates all-new ventilated front seats, larger wheels and a new blind spot information system that alerts the driver when another vehicle is detected behind the driver in an adjacent lane.?? ??

The 2012 TL uses a host of advanced safety features including: dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; dual-chamber front seat side airbags with front passenger seat Occupant Position Detection System; and side-curtain airbags for front and outboard rear seating positions.?? Additional passive safety features include: 3-point seatbelts for all seating positions, driver and front passenger seatbelt load-limiters with an automatic tensioning system; and a Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) system; ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution?and Brake Assist in conjunction with the 4-wheel disc brakes, Vehicle Stability Assist?, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and daytime running lights.

My test TL SH-AWD TECH sedan featured a? deep Russett metallic exterior coat with the interior done in Camel and Charcoal tones complemented by satin finish metal trim elements. The base price was set at $45,085, which was bumped up to $45,945 after adding the Destination and Handling charge.

Acura’s commitment to luxury and technology becomes apparent from the first moment the driver’s door is opened. With sweeping shapes, generous use of premium materials and infinite attention to detail. The design and execution of the interior is an artful combination of leather surfaces, accented by metallic and wood-pattern trim.

SUMMARY: The 2012 TL SH-AWD Advance model is not only more attractive than ever, but is exceptionally nimble, quick and comfortable. The ride quality is firm yet compliant. The 6-speed SportShift? automatic transmission is outstanding in all of its modes. Performance is responsive with a balanced feeling and pleasing exhaust note from this luxury sport sedan ? emitting a healthy snarl when full throttle is applied. The car responds well to spirited behavior on the part of the driver, but its full potential should probably only be released on a proper closed course for obvious reasons. The throttle-by-wire is undetectable, delivering rapid acceleration while maintaining efficient fuel economy and lowering emissions. As for its official EPA status, the TL and TL SH-SWD are technically in the near-luxury category, while featuring a stellar and superior audio system experience. Think of the TL as a rapid transit concert hall if you?re not in the mood to drive ? you might even want to convert your living room into a garage for the full effect as sitting in the TL with your favorite tunes cranked up is a suitable option.

The Tech Package provides more than enough features to satisfy a ravenous Techno-Geek, while going for the Advance Package should prove even more rewarding. Effectively utilizing all the features cannot be mastered in a short introductory period. Curling up with the owner?s manual with the ELS Surround Sound filling the interior would be a favorable way to spend a day, and even then, I probably wouldn?t be totally adept at maximizing the full potential of all the gadgetry.

Bottom-line, the Acura TL SH-AWD Advance is a premium, high-performance, sport/luxury sedan that is bigger, better and more powerful than ever. How can it possibly improve from here?









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