With athletic and emotional styling, powerful engine performance and a Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) model, the fourth-generation Acura TL is nothing less than the most exciting performance luxury sedan in Acura history. After a complete from-the-wheels-up redesign for 2009, Acura aimed to enhance every aspect of the original model.
Featuring a stiff unit-body construction with expansive use of high-strength steel (as well as key aluminum components), unique and dramatic exterior styling, a choice of two powerful VTEC® V-6 powertrains (280-hp 3.5L and 305-hp 3.7L), Electric Power Steering (EPS), and a luxurious and technologically advanced interior, the Acura TL sets the benchmark for the future direction of the Acura division.
For 2011, the Acura TL received the Automotive Lease Guide (ALG®) award for the best residual value of any Near Luxury vehicle, with the overall Acura brand taking the second place spot for best residual value for all Luxury Brands. Such independent recognition indicates the strong value and quality that the Acura brand offers.
However, for 2012 engineers went back to work to further refine the Acura TL with even better attributes. Most apparent are the visual changes that incorporate new front and rear styling, but also present is a new Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission for improved performance and fuel economy, a revised interior and a host of technology upgrades.
The 2012 TL’s refined new look includes a redesigned front bumper with improved aerodynamics, a revised grille, updated headlights and turn signals, a new fog light design and a shorter front overhang. The TL’s styling changes more closely align the overall design direction of Acura as, for example, the TL’s new lower front fascia openings are similar in design direction as those seen on Acura’s popular SUV models (ZDX, MDX and RDX). “With the 2009 TL, the exterior design was a lot about passion,” said Damon Schell, Acura Project Lead Designer. “With the 2012 TL, we pushed for an increased level of sophistication.”
At the rear, a new rear bumper incorporates a significantly repositioned license plate opening and much smaller rear reflectors, while updated taillights and a thinner rear trunk edge trim add to a sophisticated new look. Also adding to the exterior looks are new 17- and 18-inch aluminum wheels fitted with a revised center cap featuring a raised-style, chrome-plated Acura “A” mark.
To increase performance, a new Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission is used with all TL models. In addition to incorporating engineering enhancements aimed at improving efficiency, a sport-minded double-kick-down feature lets the driver command a double downshift — such as from Fifth to Third gear. The Drive-by-Wire™ throttle system also creates a “blip” of the throttle to help match gear speeds while downshifting.
In addition, the transmission teams with a new multi-clutch torque converter that not only reduces heat build-up during operation, but also allows for lock-up activation during a much wider range of driving conditions — which helps generate improved fuel economy. As a result, city/highway fuel economy is now 20/29 mpg — an increase of 3 mpg in highway driving over the 2011 TL. To further improve operating efficiency, the TL’s 3.5L V-6 engine receives a host of friction-reduction technologies while a revised air inlet system provides cooler air for both the 3.5L and 3.7L engines.
Previously, only the Acura TL SH-AWD made use of an external transmission cooler (for hot weather driving), but for 2012 all models of the TL are now fitted with an external transmission cooler.
The 2012 TL is available in numerous configurations including a choice between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive. The performance-minded 6MT model will continue to be offered in the 2012 TL lineup, helping broaden the TL’s appeal among luxury performance sedan buyers. However, the TL 6MT goes well beyond the addition of a unique transmission. Acura engineers developed a complete performance package for the 6-speed model that includes numerous enhancements to handling, steering and reliability. Not only is the manual transmission model the best performing Acura TL ever, but it is the top performer in handling amongst every vehicle in its class.
The 2012 Acura TL is a powerful and precise performance luxury sedan that is as confident and composed on a mountain road as it is in the city center. Replacing the previous generation TL’s Type-S model is the Acura TL SH-AWD® model that is built for the enthusiast driver. Featuring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™, special suspension and steering tuning, the most powerful engine from Acura ever and an optional performance minded close-ratio 6-speed manual gearbox, the 2012 TL offers plenty of appeal for both commuters and performance enthusiasts. Unlike some sedan competitors that add all-wheel-drive to their vehicle to primarily help in winter conditions, the TL’s available SH-AWD® was specially designed to dramatically enhance sporty handling in addition to further enhancing the vehicle’s winter-driving capability. This means that the Acura TL SH-AWD® is inspiring to drive year-round.
For 2012, the Acura TL has a fresh new look to back up its performance, including a new front bumper which teams with a more refined grille. In addition, front end styling benefits from updated headlights and turn signals and a new fog light design. Along with providing improved aerodynamics, the refined front of the Acura TL features a shorter front overhang. Just as with the 2011 TL, the 2012 TL exterior makes use of luxury cues like genuine stainless-steel trim, LED taillights and dynamic surface lines immediately capturing the viewer’s attention.
Underhood, for 2012 the Acura TL has a new Battery Management System (BMS) that is designed to increase the overall service life of the battery, reduce the chance of a dead battery and help deliver improved fuel economy. The 3.5L and 3.7L engines make use of an updated cold air inlet system along with all-new dual fine electrode spark plugs that help improve combustion and further expand the operating efficiency of the EGR system.
Inside, the 2012 TL benefits from an even further refined cabin that includes updates such as available ventilated front seats, instrument cluster changes and new surface finishes for many interior appointments. The further expansion of intuitive and customizable technologies enables the 2012 Acura TL owner to better stay connected with the world around them as well as to be able to use their time more efficiently. For 2012, a larger HDD system (now 60 gigabytes) works with a brighter and more colorful monitor, there is an increase to 15 GB of dedicated space for the storage of up to 3,500 songs, and now there is even faster USB port connectivity. Technology improvements abound with the 2012 TL in the form of the availability of Song By Voice™, refinement of Bluetooth® Audio (now with artists name, song title, etc.), new “active pairing” functionality for Bluetooth® enabled cellular telephones, dial-by-number and dial-by-voice tags, and even further expanded map information for the navigation system.
Within the TL, occupants are treated to an engaging interior which includes advanced LED lighting throughout the cabin, thickly bolstered leather seating and flowing metallic or wood patterned accents.
As expected from Acura, the TL’s range of standard safety features is exemplary and includes six airbags, active head restraints for the front seats, and the advantages of Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body design.
In addition, a Technology Package is available on both models. Featuring items such as Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting™, AcuraLink Real-Time Weather™ with radar image mapping, the Acura/ELS Surround® premium audio system, Bluetooth® Audio and the Keyless Access System (with Smart Entry and pushbutton ignition), the Technology Package offers a comprehensive electronic array of features. New for the 2012 TL is Song By Voice™ (SBV) that allows the driver to select audio choices via voice activation, rather than having to remove a hand from the steering wheel.
When equipped with the Advance Package, a new blind spot information (BSI) system can detect other vehicles when they are located in the blind spot of the Acura TL driver. Also part of the Advance Package are ventilated front seats and larger wheels/tires.
THE ACURA TL MISSION
Altogether, the fourth-generation Acura TL amplifies and refocuses the original TL’s mission as a driver’s performance luxury sedan. Competing in the entry premium sedan segment, the 2012 TL advances Acura’s mission of providing precisely crafted and focused luxury-performance vehicles. A summary of its powerful attributes includes:
* Dramatic new exterior and interior styling together with a superlative level of luxury and technological appointments.
* Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ model designed for excellent dry and wet weather performance.
* Available 6-speed manual transmission developed specifically for the performance enthusiast who has selected the SH-AWD model.
* Available Technology and Advance Packages that combine premium leather seating surfaces with advanced electronic technologies that make driving more enjoyable, efficient and convenient.
LUXURY MARKET STATUS
The newly refined 2012 Acura TL enters the competitive luxury market at an ideal time as the segment in which it competes is expected to remain strong into the next decade. Available with the largest and most powerful engine in TL history, along with the sport-driving focused SH-AWD® system (the world’s first torque-vectoring AWD system when introduced in 2000), the 2012 TL competes with vehicles such as the Audi A4 and A6, BMW 3-Series and 5-Series, Infiniti G37 and M37, Lexus ES, GS and IS sedans, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and E-Class.
Performance luxury sedan customers value vehicle traits such as dramatic and exclusive exterior styling, emotional and luxurious interior design, and fun-to-drive character. These elements are balanced by an equally keen appreciation for quality, reliability, durability and competitive pricing.
Self-guided, discriminating and technically savvy, these customers also feel that prestige is determined more by life experiences than by pure wealth. For this reason they are interested in vehicles that help them enjoy driving to the fullest — and the 2012 Acura TL is designed to do exactly that. While the TL is designed to appeal to a broad range of upscale consumers, the target buyer is expected to be a professional male in his mid 40s with a household income of about $100,000 per year, while the expected TL SH-AWD® target buyer is a professional male in his early 40s with a household income of over $150,000 per year.
ENGINE & POWERTRAIN
A quintessential component of the Acura TL’s mission as a performance luxury sedan is to provide the maximum possible driving enjoyment for enthusiast drivers. Thus, the TL offers a choice of two all-aluminum powertrains. The standard 3.5-liter V-6 develops 280 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque and drives the front wheels through a sophisticated Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control System. The 3.5L features technologies like a Drive-by-Wire™ throttle system, Computer-Controlled Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC®) for the intake valves and a sport-tuned exhaust system with dual tips. The 3.5L V-6 delivers strong power and 20/29/23 mpg (city/highway/combined) fuel efficiency while meeting California’s stringent CARB LEV II ULEV emissions certification.
The Acura TL takes the driving experience to the next level with the availability of the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) model, which features a 3.7-liter V-6 engine developing 305 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque — making it the most powerful Acura sedan ever. With additional features including a cold-air intake system, Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC®) for both intake and exhaust valves, and a high-flow, sport-tuned dual exhaust system with four exhaust tips, the SH-AWD® powertrain truly delivers racetrack-quality performance.
In addition, the 3.7L V-6 meets CARB LEV II ULEV emissions certification and delivers city/highway/combined fuel economy of 18/26/21 mpg (6AT model). The innovative SH-AWD® system is unique to Acura and by employing torque vectoring, during hard cornering under acceleration it can send more torque as well as to overdrive the outside rear wheel, thereby creating a “yaw moment” that enhances vehicle dynamics by generating a turn-in effect.
Acura’s commitment to sophistication and refinement are equally important, and to this end both V-6 engines shine with features like maintenance-free serpentine accessory belts, low-noise and low-drag electric power steering (EPS), and electronically controlled hydraulic engine mounts that reduce vibration. Moreover, both engines feature a Maintenance Minder™ system and 100,000-mile tune-up interval. With validation testing conducted in environments ranging from Alaska to Death Valley, public streets to Germany’s famed Nürburgring, and from Japan to New Zealand, the TL has been proven in an extremely demanding range of driving environments.
BODY & CHASSIS
The 2012 TL takes Acura styling to a dynamic new level. Using the concept “emotion unleashed” as a impetus for developing the body design, Acura designers based in Southern California crafted a performance luxury sedan shape with a surface that expresses motion — even while at rest.
The use of aggressive wheel arches, dramatic character lines along the body side and numerous Acura exclusive design elements (such as the Acura signature grille) create a powerful and distinctive shape. Featuring as standard equipment premium details such as stainless-steel body trim, a power moonroof, HID projector-beam front headlights and LED taillights, the TL enjoys a strong foothold in the premium segment.
Further defining the Acura TL is a rigid unit-body, which positions the frame rails inside (instead of underneath) the floor pan to provide a nearly flat body underside. This frame design improves overall structural strength for enhanced crash safety, while also reducing interior noise and improving aerodynamic efficiency (the reduction in drag in turn enhances fuel economy). The TL also uses a large percentage (47.6-percent) of high-strength steel to improve structural strength while helping to reduce weight. To this end, aluminum is also used for the hood, front suspension subframe and rear suspension knuckles, while lightweight foam-filled body pillars help reduce noise in the cabin.
The TL rides on double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension. Several technologies sharpen the TL’s handling while significantly reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) inside the car. These technologies include dual-stage “blow off” style hydraulic dampers, hydro-compliant bushings (for the engine, transmission, and select suspension components) and a “smart” engine mount design. The available Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) TL has unique suspension tuning, more aggressive braking-force tuning, front brake cooling ducts, and special tuning for the driver-focused Electric Power Steering (EPS) system. Those in search for the ultimate in Acura TL performance will choose the 6MT model that adds close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission, exclusive tuning for the SH-AWD system, special rate front springs and dampers, a heavy-duty front differential and driveshafts, unique EPS tuning and more.
Standard on the 2012 TL are 17×8-inch split 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels with Bridgestone Turanza P245/50R17 all-season tires. The available Technology Package has proprietary Michelin Pilot P245/50R17 all-season tires for the 17-inch wheels, with 18×8-inch aluminum wheels fitted with P245/45/18 all-season tires for the TL model with Advance Package. The TL SH-AWD® model includes as standard 18×8-inch 5-spoke aluminum wheels with Michelin Pilot P245/45R18 rubber. Available on Acura TL SH-AWD® with Advance Package are 19×8-inch aluminum wheels with Goodyear Eagle RS-A 245/40R19 M+S tires.
The TL’s driver-focused objective is strongly presented throughout the interior, where a “dual personal” layout provides a feeling of separate personal space for the driver and front passenger. Sweeping shapes and high-quality materials provide a feeling of intelligent luxury, while a formidable array of standard and available electronics reward the TL occupants with top-flight audio, navigation and communications experiences. On the driver’s side, all the controls and instruments are positioned intuitively, allowing the driver to focus on the driving experience while still enjoying Acura’s substantial array of electronic aids and conveniences.
Luxury and technology are evident from the moment the TL’s doors are first opened, and detail after detail underscores Acura’s commitment to winning over the luxury customer. From the shape and feel of the door handles and the precision of the door-sill plates, to the richly appointed leather seating and the ergonomic positioning of seat bolsters, armrests and controls, the Acura TL immediately connects with the luxury customer. But it is the remarkable range of standard features that do the convincing — features like 10-way power driver seat (8-way power seat with 2-way lumbar support) and 8-way power passenger seat, steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters for the Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission, and an 8-speaker, 276-watt audio system with 6-disc CD changer, AM/FM radio, XM® Radio with Note function, Bluetooth® Audio, USB port and AUX jack connectivity, and HandsFreeLink® wireless telephone interface.
An available Technology Package adds a desirable range of electronic upgrades to the extensive list of standard luxury features, beginning with the Keyless Access System (with smart entry and pushbutton ignition) and luxurious full-grain perforated premium Milano leather seating surfaces. Designed to integrate seamlessly with the TL driving experience, the electronic features continue with an Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™, rearview camera and an updated 8-inch full VGA high-resolution color display, plus the available AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting™ and AcuraLink Real-Time Weather™ with radar image maps. In addition, an AcuraLink® Satellite Communication System provides a continual interface between the TL and Acura. An interface dial complements powerful voice recognition capability that provides intuitive access to navigation, audio, climate control and other features. For the ultimate audio experience, the Technology Package includes an Acura/ELS Surround® 10-speaker, 440-watt premium audio system with DVD-Audio, DTS™, CD, AM/FM radio, XM® Radio, Bluetooth® Audio and a 3,500-song hard disk drive (HDD) media storage system.
With the available Advance Package, added to the Acura TL are ventilated front seats and a blind spot information (BSI) system that alerts the driver to vehicles detected adjacent to the TL.
The Acura Division’s interest and concern for safety engineering is well known. This concern for safety extends to the driver and passengers of the TL, the safety of occupants of other vehicles, and even the injury mitigation to pedestrians. The 2012 TL provides such safety with a complement of the latest safety engineering and features.
The story begins with the TL’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure. Introduced to the Acura Division in the 2005 RL (and now integrated into every Acura model), ACE™ is a body design that enhances occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal crashes. The ACE™ design utilizes a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the TL. This enhanced frontal crash energy management helps to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment and can help to more evenly disperse the forces transferred to other vehicles in a crash.
While ACE™ is a structural foundation for the TL’s safety performance, its array of industry-leading passive safety technologies is equally important. The list begins with six airbags, including dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags, dual-chamber front seat side airbags, and side curtain airbags for the front and outboard rear seating positions. Features continue with 3-point seatbelts for all seating positions, while the driver and front passenger also have front seatbelts with an automatic tensioning system with load limiters. The Acura TL offers head restraints for all seating positions with active head restraints for the two front seats. The rear seat features Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH), which permits easy attachment of up to two child seats.
The TL’s handling performance helps provide drivers with excellent crash-avoidance capabilities which are complimented by features such as 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist, and Vehicle Stability Assist. Additional exterior safety features include daytime running lights (DRL) and a deformable hood panel, hood hinges and windshield-wiper pivots to help mitigate pedestrian injuries.