2008 TL New Car Test Drive
The market for near-luxury cars has changed dramatically in the last several years, and the Acura TL shows us the way in which personalized performance has become more important than restrained luxury.
The front-wheel-drive Acura TL combines dramatic style, a powerful V6 engine, a responsive chassis. Just as important, the TL offers an extensive complement of the latest electronic features, making the driving experience more entertaining and more enjoyable as well as faster and safer. Since its introduction in 2004, the current-generation TL has led Acura toward a bolder, more aggressive identity.
For 2007, the Acura TL receives a useful makeover that features styling changes and upgraded mechanical details, plus more electronic features. Most important, there are now two models, the standard TL and the performance-oriented TL Type-S.
As before, the standard TL features a 258-hp 3.2-liter V6 engine. For 2007, it has been re-tuned to deliver a relaxing balance of comfort, driving enjoyment and practical luxury. Meanwhile, the TL Type-S has a 286-hp 3.5-liter V6, and it's a hard-edged sports sedan, with unique styling and an aggressive personality more in keeping with the TL's original mission statement.
As popular-priced sedans have become quieter, more comfortable, and more spacious, premium near-luxury sedans have changed their focus, and they now emphasize style and driving enjoyment. The Acura TL's evolution over the last decade into a sports sedan reflects this trend. But in keeping with its Honda-bred heritage, the Acura TL is also about being modern and efficient. As a consequence, the lightweight, front-wheel-drive TL is refreshingly different from the heavy, rear-wheel-drive sedans found elsewhere in the near-luxury category.
The Acura TL is a mid-size, front-wheel-drive, four-door sedan powered by a V6 engine. Two models are available, the TL ($33,624) and the TL Type-S ($38,125), distinguished by engine performance, suspension tuning, and convenience features.
The TL comes with a 258 hp 3.2-liter V6 with a five-speed automatic transmission that has a manual-shifting feature with a console-mounted lever. The TL Type-S features a 286-hp 3.5-liter V6 with a five-speed automatic that has shift paddles on the steering wheel. The S-type R is available with a six-speed manual transmission, and it's matched with a limited-slip differential for improved traction.
Leather upholstery comes as standard equipment on both the TL and the TL Type-S, along with an eight-way, power-adjustable seat for the driver, a four-way power-adjustable seat for the front-seat passenger, dual-zone air-conditioning, power door locks, and a power moonroof are also standard, a 225-watt, eight-speaker sound system with a six-disc CD, DVD-Audio with Acura's own ELS 5.1 surround sound, cassette tape player, and XM satellite-ready AM/FM radio. Additional audio features for 2007 include WMA- and MP3-compatible playback, Dolby Pro Logic II, and automatic, speed-sensitive volume control. In addition, a hands-free, wireless, cellular telephone system employing Bluetooth technology is built right into the TL.
A navigation system comes standard on the Type-S and is optional on the TL ($2500). The navigation system is bundled with 3D Solar Sensing Climate Control, a unique feature of the ventilation system that correlates the position of the sun with the car's direction of travel in order to automatically balance temperature control on either side of the car. High-performance summer tires are optional ($200).
Safety features include dual front airbags, front-seat side-impact airbags (for torso protection), and curtain-type head-protection airbags. Sophisticated electronic sensors help modulate airbag deployment depending on the weight and position of the front-seat passengers. Active safety features include electronic stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, and electronic brake-force distribution. A monitoring system for tire pressure is also standard.