2010 Acura TL

Base FWD 4-Dr Sedan V6 auto trans

2010 acura tl Reviews and News

2010 Acura TL SH AWD Audi S4 Front In Motion
Growing up doesn't have to suck the fun out of driving. You don't have to sell your soul -- and your Mitsubishi Lancer Evo -- and buy a life-sucking, automatic-transmission, front-wheel-drive sled just because you landed a real job and produced offspring. These two luxury sedans appear grown up to the outside world, but when no one is looking, the cars can bring out your inner juvenile delinquent. You probably never thought of the Acura TL SH-AWD and the Audi S4 on the same day, much less in the same sentence. But this duo is remarkably similar in base price, power, and weight. And significantly, they both use torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive systems to ensure that they don't sacrifice one iota of the corner-carving thrills you've grown to love. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the two cars that will change your perception of all-wheel-drive luxury sedans.
2010 Acura TL SH AWD Audi S4 Front In Motion
In a tit-for-tat comparison between two cars that share the same driveline philosophy, it quickly becomes obvious that the Acura and the Audi are significantly different only in the details. Despite riding on a wheelbase within an inch and a half of the Audi S4's, the Acura TL is about ten inches longer and two inches wider. In fact, its interior is sufficiently voluminous to push the TL into the next EPA size class. The S4's lower beltline and bigger windows give a better view out, though, effectively eliminating any difference in perceived interior size. It's only from the back seat where the size differential becomes pronounced, but the S4 still offers sufficient space for a young family. Although the Acura's trunk is also larger, its rear seats don't fold down.
Slam one of the TL's doors a little too hard, and you can't help but notice how tinny it sounds. Not so for the S4, which sounds and feels like the proverbial bank vault. The S4's attractive interior is up to Audi's typical high-quality standards, but the Acura's cabin is more striking, with a dashboard draped in symmetrical, sinewy curves trimmed with black-on-silver dot-matrix-patterned aluminum that provides a modern ambience without the risk of glare in sunny weather. The punctuation mark is a red metal start button, and although the shifter is located a bit too far toward the passenger side, its heavy weight and perfectly precise throws are among the best in the business. So, too, are the turn-signal stalks. But then there are the buttons. There are seventeen of them on the steering wheel alone, and perhaps another eight thousand on the dashboard. Despite being organized logically in clusters for climate control, stereo, and navigation functions, their sheer number means that it takes a good bit of time to become comfortable using them.
The S4, meanwhile, is intuitive from the get-go. The uncluttered dash and Multi Media Interface system are both easy to use, and the Audi's seats are just as comfortable and supportive as the Acura's (which is to say, very), but the German seat heaters are far more powerful. Unfortunately, Audi's base stereo isn't. For enjoying anything other than AM radio, you'll need to budget an additional $850 for the 505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system.
2010 Audi S4 Wheel
The TL SH-AWD comes standard with a 440-watt premium surround system that is nothing short of phenomenal. You can't, however, get three-blink turn signals, rain-sensing wipers, or swiveling bixenon headlights in the Acura, all curious omissions at this price point. Acura also doesn't offer an equivalent of Audi's Drive Select, the S4's user-selectable chassis system that customizes steering boost, suspension damping, and throttle response. We're still not fans of Audi's particular setup, as it seems to never offer the right combination of modes. The steering vacillates between being overly boosted or artificially heavy, sometimes in the middle of a corner. And maddeningly, the system defaults to the auto setting at each restart. At least the S4's ride quality is superb in any setting, and its electronic adjustability allows it to combine a more supple ride than the TL's with far better body control, two typically contradictory assignments.
The Acura's steering is lightning quick, with an overall ratio nearly as fast as a Mitsubishi Evo's, and its thick rim communicates more feedback to the driver, especially at the limit, where the Audi's steering goes numb. If there's one place where the Acura could use driver-adjustability, it's in the throttle mapping. Several factors conspire to make the TL frustratingly difficult to drive smoothly around town: First, the computer seems to interpret one quarter of the accelerator pedal's travel as a request for full throttle. And it's slow to close the throttle as you back off the gas. Further complicating matters is a clutch pedal that engages high in its travel and over considerable distance, making it a challenge to locate a consistent engagement point. What's more, since the V-6 is so surprisingly responsive, you wind up leaving traffic lights like an amateur with way too many revs on the tach. Or worse, too few, resulting in an embarrassing stall.
The TL's willingness to rev (and stall) no doubt comes from the particulars of its V-6. Like most cars based on a front-wheel-drive design, the Acura's engine is installed transversely, and a narrow engine helps maximize both frontal crush space and interior room. To that end, Acura uses a 60-degree angle between cylinder banks. This layout is well-balanced as far as V-6s go and negates the need for balance shafts. Despite its size (a robust 3.7 liters of displacement), it revs instantaneously, and the only drawback to the low rotational inertia is slightly gritty power delivery. That's a nonissue in the TL, since any coarseness is overshadowed by magnificent intake music, especially as the valvetrain switches over to the high-lift cam profiles at the fun end of the tach. It pulls hard to its 6700-rpm redline, and the harder you drive the TL, the better this powertrain becomes.
2010 Acura TL SH AWD Audi S4 Front Three Quarters
You won't hear a single complaint from us about the Audi's driveline. Except that if "Acura TL SH-AWD 6MT" is a stupid name for a car, then "3.0T" is a stupid badge to put on a supercharged engine. Unless, of course, the device is called a Tupercharger in German. Which it's not. Mounted longitudinally, the 3.0-liter V-6's banks are splayed out at a 90-degree angle, and thanks to balance shafts and counterweights, it's as smooth as silk. It's also decidedly more high-tech than the Acura's engine, with four cams instead of two, direct injection, and of course, the silent tupercharger that you never hear but, oh, my word, do you ever feel. The power-to-weight ratios may be similar, but the S4 is a full league quicker and faster than the TL thanks to the additional torque across the entire rev range.
The Audi's extra thrust should have been a huge advantage at Pittsburgh's BeaveRun racetrack, which rewards straight-line speed with two long straightaways -- especially since, on paper, the Acura carries no advantage in cornering or braking: the two cars have similar weight, tire section width, and suspension designs. The Audi's slightly better weight distribution would, we thought, be nixed by the Acura's wider track. And we were right -- as expected, the cars posted similar braking and cornering numbers in standardized testing.
But on a racetrack, the TL showed us exactly why Acura used the word "super" to describe its Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system. Despite its significant power advantage, the Audi S4's fastest lap beat the TL's by only 0.4 second.
Although the two all-wheel-drive systems are different in design, they both strive to accomplish the same thing: temporarily routing extra power to the outside rear wheel to help rotate the car in a turn. The big difference here is how these two cars are set up to handle to begin with.
The Acura is blessed with nearly perfect cornering balance, so its rear differential can easily and dramatically alter the car's handling attitude. It takes a little while to build up trust in the system, but you soon realize that if the car can handle any amount of power in the middle of a turn, it can handle anything the V-6 can throw at it. There's no reason to be scared of the right pedal-the TL begs you to steer it with the throttle. The more power you add, the more neutral the TL's cornering balance and the faster it scrambles through turns. Indeed, the Acura was faster than the Audi through nearly every single corner at BeaveRun.
2010 Acura TL SH AWD Audi S4 Front Turning
The Audi's all-wheel-drive system is crippled by so much understeer built into the chassis that, at very best, it will help the car approach neutrality. You can feel the computer shuffling power around, but it's slower to react than the Acura's system, so it takes patience and smoothness to get there. Add too much power or turn in too quickly and you're back to drowning in a pool of understeer. The S4 is far less bothered by midcorner bumps or puddles than the TL, but its cornering balance changes dramatically at very high speeds, when it transitions to oversteer. That's a surprise that no one likes.
The other surprise was how spectacularly undersize the Acura's brakes are. Even on a cool, rainy morning, one lap of BeaveRun was sufficient to fry the brakes completely. Each timed lap was completed only after a lengthy cool-down period and a call to our mothers saying we made it through alive.
If it seems like neither car can pull an advantage here without the other catching up, you've been paying attention. The final equalizer is that, comparably equipped, the Audi costs nearly $11,500 more than the Acura. That kind of money can buy the TL a serious brake upgrade. But the price difference isn't much of a factor here, since we've never actually heard of someone cross-shopping a TL and an S4.
It's beside the point to declare a winner or loser when comparing two cars that fall into such different hands in the real world. As that most rabid of enthusiasts, you already have your own prejudices and opinions based on the brands alone, not to mention the countries from which they hail. If we could combine the Audi's good looks, brakes, and tupercharged V-6 with the Acura's steering, handling, and all-wheel-drive system, we'd have discovered luxury car nirvana for the enthusiast driver. In the absence of that elusive hybrid, we walk away from these two wolves in sheepish skins knowing that they are absolute equals in one way: the ability to reassure us that there is, in fact, life after Evo.
Techtonics: Dueling 4WD
While the Acura and Audi four-wheel-drive systems differ in hardware, their performance goals are the same: excellent traction and stability on slippery roads with rear-wheel-drive feel and agility on dry surfaces. Forcing the outboard rear wheel to turn faster during hard cornering is the trick that helps both of these front-heavy sedans mimic the steering and handling behavior of a nicely balanced rear-driver. A control computer informed by sensors determines when the overdrive nudge is needed.
2010 Acura TL SH AWD Audi S4 Rear In Motion
The Audi S4's fifth-generation Quattro system ties the front and rear axles together with a center differential that provides a 40/60 front/rear torque split.
A Torsen device inside the center diff and automatic front brake applications limit individual wheel slippage.
When the Acura TL's SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive) system chooses to send power rearward, the driveshaft to the rear wheels spins 1.7 percent faster than the front axles. Partially engaging both of the rear-wheel overdrive gears diminishes the torque conveyed by the front wheels. To produce a yaw moment beneficial to handling, only the outboard rear wheel's overdrive is engaged.
- Don Sherman
2010 Acura TL SH-AWD
2010 Acura TL SH AWD Engine
Price: $43,245/$44,245 (base/as tested)
Engine: 24-valve SOHC V-6
Displacement: 3.7 liters (224 cu in)
Horsepower: 305 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive: 4-wheel
Steering: Electrically assisted
Suspension, front: Control arms, coil springs
Suspension, rear: Multilink, coil springs
Brakes f/r: Vented discs/discs, ABS
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport PS2
Tire size: 245/40YR-19
L x w x h: 195.5 x 74.0 x 57.2 in
Wheelbase: 109.3 in
Track f/r: 63.2/63.8 in
Weight, dist. f/r: 3860 lb, 58.0/42.0%
EPA Mileage: 17/25 mpg
0-60 mph: 5.4 sec
0-100 mph: 13.5 sec
0-110 mph: 16.3 sec
0-120 mph: 20.5 sec
0-130 mph: 24.9 sec
0-140 mph: *
0-150 mph: *
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 14.1 @ 102
30-70 mph passing: 6.8 sec
peak g: 0.66 g
70-0 mph: 157 ft
Peak g: 1.15 g
Speed In Gears
1: 37 mph
2: 64 mph
3: 88 mph
4: 120 mph
5: 133 mph*
6: 133 mph*
*limited to 133 mph
2010 Audi S4
2010 Audi S4 Wheel
Price: $46,725/$54,075 (base/as tested)
Engine: 24-valve DOHC supercharged V-6
Displacement: 3.0 liters (183 cu in)
Horsepower: 333 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 2900 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive: 4-wheel
Steering: Hydraulically assisted
Suspension, front: Control arms, coil springs
Suspension, rear: Multilink, coil springs
Brakes f/r: Vented discs/discs, ABS
Tires: Pirelli Cinturato P7
Tire size: 245/40YR-18
L x w x h: 185.7 x 71.9 x 55.4 in
Wheelbase: 110.7 in
Track f/r: 61.1/60.6 in
Weight, dist. f/r: 3940 lb, 55.3/44.7%
EPA Mileage: 18/27 mpg
0-60 mph: 5.0 sec
0-100 mph: 11.5 sec
0-110 mph: 13.5 sec
0-120 mph: 16.4 sec
0-130 mph: 19.7 sec
0-140 mph: 23.4 sec
0-150 mph: 28.6 sec
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 13.5 @ 110
30-70 mph passing: 5.7 sec
Peak g: 0.69 g
70-0 mph: 158 ft
Peak g: 1.08 g
Speed In Gears
1: 38 mph
2: 65 mph
3: 93 mph
4: 124 mph
5: 153 mph
6: 153 mph
1004 01 Z+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT+front Three Quarter View
What is it with Acura giving up on great names? This car should, by all rights, be called the Legend Type-S. Except that Acura has abandoned both of those monikers. Acura TL SH-AWD 6MT? That sounds like something an inebriated math teacher would mutter before drifting into unconsciousness.
1004 01 Z+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT+front Three Quarter View
Luckily, this Type-S replacement has the goods to make up for its name, and with no price premium over a comparably equipped automatic TL, it's a good deal, too. The 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 carries over, but in place of the antiquated five-speed slushbox, Acura has installed a six-speed manual and also added a host of driveline reinforcements.
Significant revisions to spring and damper rates help turn the 6MT into a veritable master of back roads. The ride is on the busy side, but that's a small price to pay for phenomenal body control and composure. Michelin tires generate ludicrous levels of grip, and Acura's torque-vectoring SH-AWD system can send up to 70 percent of the engine's power to a single rear wheel. The top TL explodes out of corners without a trace of understeer or the old Type-S's torque steer and wheel spin. The TL is smoking fast over curvy, broken pavement - literally, as the brakes quickly reach their heat capacity.
The perfectly weighted, short-throw shifter is pure Honda heaven - no other car company does shift feel this well. The 6MT's clutch, though, is another story. The soupy clutch pedal engages gradually, but inconsistently, throughout most of its travel - and, worse, the gas pedal is a hypersensitive all-or-nothing affair. That's exactly the reverse of how it should be, making smooth shifts all but impossible at around-town speeds.
1004 02 Z+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT+shifter
It's much easier to be smooth when you're railing on this Acura. And that's exactly the reason that the TL SH-AWD 6MT exists. It may not have a catchy name, but it has the best chassis tuning of any Acura since the Integra Type-R (two more discontinued labels), and that's what matters.
The Specs
Price: $43,195
Engine: 3.7L V-6, 305 hp, 273 lb-ft
Drive: 4-wheel
0812 01 Pl+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT+front Three Quarter View
0812 01 Z+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT+front Three Quarter View
At first glance, East Liberty is one of those sleepy Midwestern towns you find in every county from Columbus to Kankakee. Then, on the outskirts of town, you round a corner and come face-to-face with an eighteen-wheeler cranking across an enormous banked oval. Welcome to the Honda-owned, 4500-acre Transportation Research Center.
Acura invited us to the TRC for a track-only drive of its 2010 TL SH-AWD 6MT prototype. The "6MT" bit is the interesting part - it stands for "six-speed manual transmission," and the SH-AWD acronym represents Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. Like other SH-AWD models, the TL SH-AWD currently isn't offered with a manual, but Acura engineers claim that the transmission swap transforms the car. Surprisingly, they're right.
0812 02 Z+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT+shifter
The manual TL SH-AWD benefits from the same 305-hp V-6 and balanced weight distribution that its automatic sister does, but its biggest advantage lies in its chassis. What was a slightly lazy sedan has morphed into a drift-happy, throttle-adjustable track hound. Steering remains a little light and vague, and clutch takeup is slightly spongy, but overall, the manual version of the hottest TL feels like a much sharper beast. Part of the about-face can be attributed to minor chassis surgery - everything from front suspension tuning (softer) to engine mountings (stiffer) was tweaked to accommodate the new gearbox's lighter weight - but most of it is simple physics. With the automatic TL's mushy torque converter and slushbox deep-sixed, the Super Handling system is remarkably undiluted. The system's biggest asset, its Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution-like active rear differential, now responds to throttle changes in a heartbeat, allowing you to catapult the TL from low-speed corners with ease. Where a BMW 335i xDrive or an automatic-equipped TL SH-AWD fall off into understeer, the manual TL simply stays wonderfully neutral. And while the complete package is a whole year off, if you have a functional left leg, it's more than worth the wait.
0809 03 Pl+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT Prototype+rear Three Quarter View
0809 03 Xz+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT Prototype+rear Three Quarter View
At first glance, East Liberty, Ohio is one of those sleepy, blink-and-you'll-miss-it midwestern towns, the kind you find buried in every county from Columbus to Kankakee. Then, on the outskirts of town, you round a corner and come face-to-face with an eighteen-wheeler cranking across an enormous banked oval. And a dump truck on a skidpad. And a small, diabolical little road course with more off-camber corners than you can shake a Snell sticker at. Welcome to the Transportation Research Center, otherwise known as TRC.
Acura invited us here for a track-only drive of its TL SH-AWD 6MT prototype, a car that by all rights shouldn't exist. The 6MT bit is the interesting part; it stands for six-speed manual transmission, and the SH-AWD acronym represents Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. The combination - the most powerful model Acura offers, paired with electronically controlled all-wheel drive and a clutch pedal - is enticing on paper, but in an age of declining manual-transmission sales, it's also a little perplexing. If you're shooting for greater sales and a broader demographic, why bother building a destined-to-be-low-volume car for a rapidly shrinking market?
0809 06 Z+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT Prototype+front Three Quarter View
Predictably, the (lovably impractical) answer can be found in one word: gearheads. A handful of renegade Acura engineers installed a three-pedal setup into an early production TL (the car is currently available only with an automatic) and begged management to drive it. After a little track time, the suits went nuts. We were asked to come to Ohio on the grounds that a manual gearbox transformed the hottest version of Acura's TL, and that the added wait and development cost (an extra twelve months of R&D; the manual TL won't go on sale until fall of 2009) would be worth it. Frankly, we were more than a little skeptical.
A morning's worth of lapping the manual TL on the TRC's Alan-Wilson-designed road course, however, left us a little surprised. In short, Acura's engineers were right. A manual transmission does in fact transform the Big A's midsize sedan, but not in the way that you might think. The manual TL SH-AWD benefits from the same 305-hp V-6 and balanced weight distribution that its automatic sister does, but the biggest change lies in its chassis.
0809 02 Z+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT Prototype+rear Three Quarter View
What was a somewhat lazy, neutral-handling car with a pronounced resistance to rotate has morphed into a drift-happy, throttle-adjustable track hound.
Steering feel remains a little on the light/vague side, and clutch takeup is a little mushy, but on a whole, the manual version of the hottest TL feels like a different, much sharper car.
Part of the handling about-face can be attributed to chassis surgery - everything from front spring and damper tuning (softer) to engine mount calibration (stiffer) was tweaked to accommodate the manual gearbox's lighter weight - but most of it is simple physics. With the automatic TL's slow-reacting torque converter and slushbox deep-sixed, the super-handling system is free to, well, allow the car to handle superbly. Acura's all-wheel-drive system reacts much more quickly and accurately here than it does in the automatic TL; mid-corner throttle changes affect the chassis's balance almost instantaneously, and it's almost as if the entire driveline has been completely retuned. The SH-AWD system's biggest asset, its Mitsubishi Evo-like active rear differential, now responds to the throttle with astounding speed, allowing you to magically launch the TL from low-speed corners with ease. Where a BMW 335xi, an Audi S4, or even an automatic-equipped TL SH-AWD fall off into wait-for-it understeer, the manual TL simply stays neutral, even slinking its tail out a little if you get aggressive on corner entry.
0809 04 Z+2010 Acura TL SH AWD 6MT Prototype+engine
As a package, it's all pretty impressive. In a few small strokes, Acura has managed to reinvigorate its thoroughly ordinary midsize four-door for relatively little effort. Fuel economy isn't claimed to suffer, and all predictions have the manual TL's MSRP as being identical to that of the automatic-equipped version. And while it may not send the brand's sales through the roof, it's a sign that a healthy enthusiast heart is still beating in the company that once gave us gems like the Integra Type R. As far as the manual TL is concerned, there's only one real disappointment: it comes with a twelve-month wait.
Good news for Canadian Acura enthusiasts: The automaker recently revealed a new 2010 TL A-Spec model, which will be exclusively offered in Canada.

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2010 Acura TL
2010 Acura TL
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18 MPG City | 26 MPG Hwy
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Base FWD 4-Dr Sedan V6
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2010 Acura TL Specifications

Quick Glance:
3.5L V6Engine
Fuel economy City:
18 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
26 MPG
280 hp @ 6200rpm
254 ft lb of torque @ 5000rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player (optional)
  • CD Changer
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
50,000 miles / 48 months
70,000 miles / 72 months
Unlimited miles / 60 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
NHTSA Rating Front Side
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
NHTSA Rating Rollover
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
NHTSA Rating Overall
IIHS Front Small Overlap
IIHS Roof Strength

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