The Acura TL is an excellent car, and duly impressed my family when I chauffeured them to a Father's Day dinner. The TL manages to blend impeccable comfort with enthusiastic performance. One moment, the TL is a subdued large sedan with a comfy ride, gentle transmission shifts, and slick styling. The next it's a snarling sports sedan, with prodigious acceleration from its V-6, tight steering, and a transmission that's eager to jump between ratios.
TLs equipped with the Technology Package have an ELS/Panasonic 440-watt, ten-speaker surround-sound system. It was developed with input from sound engineer Elliot Scheiner, who's won six Grammy awards. I have won zero Grammys, but I think the ELS system is one of the best car-audio setups I've ever heard. From the deep bass of Tiesto, to the crisp vocals of Lauryn Hill, to string arrangements by Mark Ronson, every track I played from my iPod sounded fantastic.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
Wow, what a difference a transmission can make. I feel that the six-speed automatic better suits the TL than does the six-speed manual we tested a few weeks ago. The TL is not as athletic as some of its competition (the Volvo S60 and the BMW 3 Series immediately come to mind), so the automatic seems more appropriate. This is really a car for those looking for a sporty sedan, not a true sports sedan.
Compared to the old five-speed automatic, the new six-speed makes the most of the TL's great 3.7-liter V-6. It provides smoother shifts, slightly better fuel economy, and a better arrangement of ratios that help keep the engine within its power band. Along with the more-refined schnoz, it competes the package to make the TL the luxury sedan Acura has wanted it to be. In many ways, it is a more sporting alternative to the Lexus ES350, which is one of that brand's top sellers.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
The automatic transmission really changes the character of the Acura TL. It's still a fine-driving, comfortable, feature-filled luxury sedan, but the automatic TL SH-AWD to me seems average, whereas the six-speed-manual car that we had a few weeks ago felt inspiring, invigorating, and special. The Advance package (as tested here), though, isn't available with a stick shift and brings neat features like nineteen-inch wheels, blind-spot monitors, and cooled seats, which were fantastic in the 95-degree weather.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor