REVIEWS: 2009 Acura TL SH-AWD

December 23, 2008
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0812 12 Z+2009 Acura TL SH AWD+front Three Quarter View
I drove 270 miles in the TL. Trip computer indicated 25.5 mpg. I was using the cruise control most of the time, with speeds between 70-75 mph.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
0812 05 Z+2009 Acura TL SH AWD+gauges
There couldn't be one more button - or should I say layer of buttons - on this instrument panel.
Feels light and skittish to me. It looks like it takes a pilot so I felt inadequate before I've even started. It's light and fast, but not confidence inspiring to me.
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
0812 01 Z+2009 Acura TL SH AWD+front Interior View
The TL is unattractive-not even a mother could love this car's face, although the overall use of matte metal trim is clever.
The chassis shows magnificent poise. Ride, handling, and steering are superb. The engine is a bit loud for the power produced, and runs on pricey premium fuel. The 5-speed automatic shifts with authority, though. Overall, it feels agile, coordinated, and well planted, except the fact that the front wanders a touch over a rise.
The interior is absolutely delightful. It has nice paddles on wheel, as well as gorgeous gauges and electronic display. The seat is a joy to plant your butt in. It's finished off with nice interior details like a cute power plug cover. Buttons and controls are well located and logical. The only real issue is the atrocious rear center seat. Why did they even bother with a seatbelt for it?
Very high liftover trunk, very narrow trunk opening.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor
0812 06 Z+2009 Acura TL SH AWD+rear Three Quarter View
The last TL was a good-looking car with too much power going through the front wheels. The new TL has a brilliant all-wheel-drive system and a great chassis, but now it looks like it was styled by a cyborg alien from the future. A hack cyborg alien from the future. Maybe you could get a bra for it, and leave it on all the time. Two other thoughts: awesome stereo, just like before. And, a five-speed transmission, Acura? That's a little weird when you're getting out-geared by the four-cylinder Ford Escape.
Ezra Dyer, Contributing Writer
0812 04 Z+2009 Acura TL SH AWD+center Stack Controls
I find the styling hideous.
Interior has a dizzying array of buttons and it's difficult to find the controls for any given system (radio, climate control).
Not terribly rewarding to drive hard, but a comfortable car for people who aren't hell-bent on performance driving
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
0812 07 Z+2009 Acura TL SH AWD+front Fascia
This is a stunning performer. It doesn't feel much faster than the base TL (thanks to the extra weight), but the ride is noticeably stiffer, the chunky steering wheel is great (and steering effort is higher), and the seats are supportive and comfy. The transmission is okay, probably the weak point of the car, dynamically. Brake feel (on both TLs) is fantastic. The interior is very nice, with the only cheap touch being the light and flimsy sunroof trim panel. I still don't like the infotainment controller, but the new screen is much better, with colorful menus. Bluetooth still doesn't work correctly with my phone. The trunk looks enormous. But the best part: the body control and composure on back roads. This thing is a dynamic dream! Fantastic, no, perfect, body control, loads of suspension travel, no perceptible roll, and no kickback from the wheel. The steering comes alive a little when you push it, and the SH-AWD does such a fantastic job at putting power where it needs to go that ESP interventions are few and far between. Very little torque steer, but could use a six-speed (or seven-speed) gearbox. Motor sounds nice, especially as it bounces off the limiter a few times as it's about to shift in manual mode. If the customers can get past its face, they're going to love this TL.
Jason Cammisa, West Coast Editor
0812 11 Z+2009 Acura TL SH AWD+front Three Quarter View
2009 Acura TL
Base Price (with destination): $39,265
Price as tested: $42,000
Fuel Economy: 17/25 mpg (city/hwy)
Engine:
Size: 3.7-liter V-6
HP: 305 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Weight: 3986 lbs
Wheel/Tire Info: 245/45VR-18 or 245/40YR-19
0812 02 Z+2009 Acura TL SH AWD+front Interior View

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