2009 Acura TL

#Acura, #TL

The TL is at the heart of Acura's sedan lineup, sitting above the entry-level TSX and below the range-topping RL. The outgoing TL has enjoyed a lot of success, despite what some would see as the handicap of a front-wheel-drive layout in a field that is increasingly moving to rear-wheel drive. Honda is trying to increase the prestige of the Acura name and is moving both the entry-level TSX and the TL up in size to better match them up against standard-bearers like the Mercedes-Benz C-class and E-class.

Design: Does more equal better?
A recognizable face, which usually means a distinctive grille, is something every luxury carmaker wants, including Acura. How else to explain the multi-faceted, modified-V-shaped gray plastic affair that now adorns the front end of the RDX, the RL, the new TSX, and this new TL? When you see early concept sketches of the TL, the grill actually fits in with the sculpted hood and the overall look of the car. But on the production car it strikes us as an oddly shaped appendage that looks out of place. The rear styling is more successful, distinctive but not strange. In profile, the TL seems familiar, as it repeats the prominent front wheel arch seen on the TSX (and some Infinitis) and its greenhouse and roofline hew to current luxury-sedan norms. If the TL looks bigger, that's because it is. Just like its little brother, the TSX, the TL with this redesign has grown quite a bit, in keeping with its upmarket ambitions. The car is more than half a foot longer and nearly two inches wider. The larger size yields a bit more trunk space and rear-seat room.

Inside: a big hug
The TL's interior has been redesigned in a twin-cockpit style for the front seat occupants, with metal trim that twists and curves as it wraps around from door to dash to console. The effect might be confining, if the cabin had not grown wider. The comfortable seats embrace you with deep side bolsters, enhancing the wraparound feeling. Both front seats are power, with memory for the driver's side, and seat heaters are included. Leather is standard, but more-supple, fragrant "Milano" leather is part of the technology package option. The dash is more stylized than before, but still readable. The quality of interior materials is very good.

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