I love the manual transmission in the TL-SHAWD. Like pretty much all Honda manuals, the throws are nice and short, the clutch takeup is just right, and it makes you feel like an accomplished driver. The interior of the car is very inviting. The metal that sweeps along the dash in front of the passenger and also runs along the center divider is a nice touch, and the soft leather of the comfortable seats is stitched using French seams, which gives it a real feeling of quality. I do, however, wonder if it's destined to age prematurely like that in our long-term ZDX. The gauges on the dash are large and easy to read, unlike the convoluted stereo/navigation controls on the infotainment system.
In looking at Acura TL sales, I notice that, compared with a year ago, they're down 7 percent year-to-date and down 25 percent for the month of May. Considering the more attractive (or at least, not as offensive) styling of the front end, I find this surprising. The TL really is a car -- at least with this manual transmission -- that is entertaining to drive with a nice dose of luxury at what would seem to be a competitive price.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
The big news for the 2012 TL is the rhinoplasty it received to help tame the pronounced beak the TL has worn since its new-for-2009 redesign. The look is softer and helps to reduce visual length, though from behind the wheel it still feels as though you have a fair bit of real estate in front of you. The TL really is a sleeper and is ready to get up and go at a moment's notice. There is some feeling of the nose-heavy weight, but Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive works its magic really well to counteract that. The car hungrily attacks turns no matter the speed and is planted under heavy acceleration. The slick, tight, and easy-to-drive six-speed manual adds to the fun factor (so does the neat graphic between the gauges showing how the torque is being vectored between wheels!)
The cockpit of the TL is a wonderful place to be, with high-grade materials everywhere you touch and a surprisingly intuitive and ergonomic center stack. I've always thought it was silly to have a separate, old-school-style radio setup right below the big infotainment screen, but it makes dealing with the simple task of changing the radio station simple, something that can't be said of many other luxury sedans. However, the monochromatic, all-black interior is fairly dour and doesn't seem all that special -- it doesn't have the feeling of being crafted or designed, something the TL's closest rival, the Volvo S60, has in spades.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor