The Acura TL is a fine sporty package for someone who wants a strong-performing car that's not flashy. In this all-wheel-drive, stick-shift form, the TL is quite the sleeper. It looks much like any other sharp-edged but somehow understated recent Acura product (although its appearance has been streamlined and softened for the 2012 model year). From the driver's seat, though, you realize that this TL is one fine-driving machine. Like all Honda manuals, this gearbox has short throws and positive action. The engine sings a smooth V-6 tune. My only complaint is that the car is geared such that the 2-3 upshift comes at 64 mph, a speed that is well over the speed limit on the back roads of my typical commute.
The TL's cabin features lovely leather and spacious back seats with good side bolstering. The steering, however, offers little feel. I'd rather own an Audi S4 because of the steering, the styling, and the simpler cabin layout -- although if I actually had a pen poised over a sales agreement, I might be swayed by Acura's far superior reputation for reliability.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Driving in the rain today I noticed something small but interesting. While driving I had the wipers on intermittent while commuting in stop and go traffic. In a stopped position, once I removed my foot from the brake, the wipers would clear the windshield no matter where it was at in its timed sequence. It would then resume the normal frequency. Interesting.
Kelly Murphy, Creative Director
Even in our constantly changing test fleet here at Automobile Magazine, manual transmissions are becoming less and less common, so I was somewhat shocked when I got into the Acura TL and found three pedals and a stick shift. It may seem an unlikely pairing--a Japanese luxury sedan with a manual gearbox--but it feels quite natural. In fact, a manual gives the TL exactly what it needs: an injection of personality and fun. It helps that the TL is so good to start with and, even more so, that this six-speed is excellent. It has smooth action, is perfectly weighted and, as is typical of Honda manuals, is immensely rewarding and enjoyable to use.
As far as the facelift goes, I hardly noticed the softer schnoz. Upon further inspection, it does seem to be less conspicuous and to mesh better with the overall design of the car.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms