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Ever since its last full redesign for 2009, the Acura TL's seemingly robot-inspired look has been controversial—or refreshing, depending on how you see it. Still, heads swivel when the TL drives by, and that's a good sign for a design that hasn't been all-new in many years.
Most notably, for 2012 the 'love-it-or-leave-it' front-end styling has been toned down just a bit, with the pointy beak giving way to a minimal vee shape and a more horizontal orientation to the front bumper. In back, the license plate has been raised, with a diffuser added, and wide dual exhaust exits rather than last year's quad tips.
For the most part, the 2012 Acura TL isn't as much of an overt sport sedan as those with dedicated rear-drive platforms, like the BMW 335i or Infiniti G37, but it is clearly a car meant to be driven, rather than ridden in.
The standard 280-horsepower 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 is essentially the same engine as used in the Honda Accord and powers front wheels with a five-speed automatic transmission.
That combination is responsive enough, but if performance at all matters, you'll want to step up to the TL SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive), and you'll get the 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 from the RL sedan juicing all four wheels through Acura's capable system that removes any threat of torque steer, displays how its distributing power in the instrument cluster, and almost gives the TL the feel of a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan-as long as you're heavy on the gas.
The availability of a six-speed manual with the SH-AWD also ups its sport-sedan credentials. Overall, the AWD system feels almost impossible to fluster, allocating torque not only front-to-back but left-to-right, to help with slick surfaces or quick emergency maneuvers.
The 2012 Acura TL remains built on Honda Accord roots, and that pays off for interior space. There are generously sized, supportive front seats (although they could use more lateral support for performance driving), plus a nice, adult-sized backseat that could accommodate three across. The only major disappointment is the trunk's meager 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space.
We do appreciate the driving position and cockpit-like feel of the instrument panel--which is very different than in the Accord. The deep, round gauges and hooded central screen—the first details you notice when you step into the deeply bolstered driver's seat in the 2012 Acura TL—are complemented by straightforward controls below and a selection dial for screen functions that's not too low from the line of vision.
You might be somewhat overwhelmed by the clutter of buttons--on the steering wheel, as well as the center stack. It's all easy to use, but the owner's manual may be your best friend for the first few weeks. Once you're familiar with the controls, audio, navigation, Bluetooth hands-free phone operation, and voice commands are all at your fingertips.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.