Just three model years after a full redesign — relatively soon — Acura has restyled its 2012 TL midsize sedan to address objections to the "aggressive styling [that] may have been a bit too bold in the evolving market," said Jeff Conrad, vice president of sales for Acura. The car also gets a new transmission, higher mileage and numerous interior upgrades.
The TL comes in front- and all-wheel-drive versions and in a base model or with the optional Technology or Advance option packages. It competes with the Audi A6, Lexus ES 350, Lincoln MKZ and Volvo S60 and S80.
Acura reduced the silver shield grille and added a horizontal crease in the bumper that makes the silver segment seem smaller still. The front overhang is shorter, and the headlights and turn-signal lights have been revised. Around back, Acura removed the chrome-under-glass look of the taillights and shaved some mass out of the bumper below them to make the car less blocky. The license plate position has also migrated, and the silver trim on the trunklid has been downsized.
Seventeen-inch, seven-spoke alloy wheels and all-season tires are standard. The TL with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive has 18-inch, five-spoke alloys with lower-profile tires. When equipped with the Advance Package, the TL's wheels are 19-inch, split-five-spoke aluminum rims with performance all-season tires.
The TL's well-appointed interior gets some upgrades for 2012, including a brighter display and more expansive navigation map coverage in the optional Technology Package, along with a faster USB port. The package includes real-time traffic with automatic rerouting, weather information and a premium stereo.
A new optional Advance Package includes heated and cooled front seats.
Under the Hood
Acura has replaced the 2011 TL's five-speed automatic transmission with a six-speed, which the company says improves acceleration without sacrificing efficiency. It uses rev-matching for smooth downshifts, even across two gears. A manual mode remains, and buyers can also opt for a conventional six-speed manual transmission — the stick-and-clutch-pedal variety — in all-wheel-drive versions.
The base engine is a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, and all-wheel drive teams with a 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6.
Gas mileage has improved. Aerodynamic improvements, reduced engine friction and the new six-speed collaborate to increase the 3.5-liter engine's highway mileage to 29 mpg from 26 mpg in the 2011. The city rating has increased 2 mpg to 20 mpg. Premium gas is required.
The TL has front airbags and side curtains. Also standard are front-seat-mounted side-impact torso airbags, which the rear seats don't offer. As in 2011, and now required of all 2012 models sold in the U.S., the TL has antilock brakes and an electronic stability system.
The Advance Package adds a blind spot warning system.