Chicago 2011: Refreshed 2012 Acura TL Goes Under the Knife, Gets a Sixth Gear

If Acura has made styling mistakes in the past, at least it can say it has learned from them. The Japanese luxury brand took center stage at the Chicago Auto Show today to present its refreshed 2012 TL sedan with a substantially toned-down snout from the previous model year. It seems even Acura found the 2011 nose “too bold” and made revision a chief priority.

That means that the front grille’s top bar is now one piece, stretching from end to end without interruption and as a whole, the grille is a lot less bulbous, integrating better with the angular front end. The crosshatch screen has also been replaced by horizontal bars, while the lower air intakes and fog light surrounds are newly trimmed in chrome. Headlights and turn signals are also subtly revised. Out back, changes are more of the same, slimming down the trunk lid’s chrome bar, while revising the license plate recess and reducing reflector size. The taillights are also treated to a minor once-over.

Styling aside, the 2012 TL features a much-needed six-speed automatic transmission, replacing the hopelessly outdated five-speed unit found through the 2011 model year. The unit retains Acura’s Sportshift technology, allowing for manual gear selection and rev-matched downshifts in manual mode. A multi-clutch torque converter in the new transmission is said to reduce friction, offering lock-up in more driving conditions than before and helping to boost fuel economy to 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, an improvement of 3 mpg for the latter.

Enginewise, the 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and 305-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6, while maintaining the same output ratings as before, are treated to revised air inlet systems. The smaller standard engine also receives friction-reducing technology to increase efficiency. Other changes include a brighter navigation display with increased map coverage, a larger 60 GB hard drive and faster USB connection. A new Advance Package includes revised ventilated front seats and a new blind spot monitoring system. New standard 17-inch wheels round out the changes for 2012.

For more from the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, stay tuned to our live coverage!

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2011 Acura TL

2011 Acura TL

MSRP $35,305 Base Sedan


18 City / 26 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):


Horse Power:

280 @ 6200