Reviews

Driven: 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6MT

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.

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.

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
ON SALE: Now
Price: $43,195
Engine: 3.7L V-6, 305 hp, 273 lb-ft
Drive: 4-wheel

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Buying Guide
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2010 Acura TL

2010 Acura TL

MSRP $35,105 Base Sedan

EPA MPG:

18 City / 26 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

Good

Horse Power:

280 @ 6200