2012 Acura TL SH-AWD Tech

As a brand, Acura is treading water. The styling has gone from smart to, um, let's just call it distinct, the curb weights have crept up, and the footprint of the cars has become too large. Inside, there aren't many new ideas and the infotainment system looks dated, not to mention that it can be found in virtually every Honda as well.

Acura does have a few good things going for it, though. A manual transmission is always a good way to pique the attention of enthusiasts and Acura offers one of the best manuals in the industry. There's also the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system. Even better? The manual and SH-AWD can coexist in one vehicle! The downside to this pairing is that in a nearly 4000-lb sedan the 305-hp V-6 delivers an underwhelming 17/25 mpg. The TL doesn't offer enough performance to justify the 1990s-era fuel economy numbers.

With a more technologically advanced cabin (note to product planners: Audi is winning this race, go spend some time in an A7) and better fuel economy, Acura could once again carve out a nice niche for itself. Hopefully, Acura can find a less polarizing design language about the time it perfects the performance/fuel economy balance and sales can flourish. As it stands, the TL is a very comfortable and relatively quick luxury sedan without the pretentious badge.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor

Is the TL more enjoyable with a stick shift? Undoubtedly. But is this the very freshest version of this sedan? Perhaps not. Although Acura's best-selling sedan receives a number of minor upgrades for the 2012 model year, the biggest mechanical revision is the addition of a six-speed automatic transmission (replacing the previous five-speed). Apart from a new nose and a few minor interior modifications, 2012 TLs with three pedals are largely the same as 2011 models.

The TL is still an enjoyable car to toss around, but as we've long said, it's not isn't quite as sharp as the typical list of its German competitors (BMW 3-Series, Audi S4, et cetera). Larger tires and wheels might help, but sadly, the manual gearbox is no longer offered together with the Advance Package -- which includes 19-inch wheels. Go figure.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

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