• Image Credit: Autoblog

The Acura NSX Concept, which debuted at the Detroit Auto Show -- and enjoyed some love from Jerry Seinfeld during this year's Super Bowl -- provided Honda's luxury arm with some much-needed buzz. Over the past couple of years, Acura has seemed to be standing still, while its competition enjoyed much more press and, more importantly, sales.

The NSX should reignite some interest in the brand, which will extend to its refreshed TL luxury sedan.

You may remember the TL's initial redesign for the 2009 model year. It didn't exactly sit well with reviewers or consumers, as its bizarre front end simply didn't hit the eyes right and its 5-speed transmission lagged behind the industry.

For 2012, Acura's designers and engineers have given the TL some pretty significant tweaks on the exterior and interior, and have given the sedan a much-needed new six-speed transmission.

But is it enough to divert attention away from BMW, Mercedes and Lexus? I drove the TL for a week in order to answer that question. Click through to see what I came up with.

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How Much?
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How Much?

MSRP: $35,605 - $39,155
Invoice: $33,132 - $36,387

As Tested: $43,770

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Key Stats
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Key Stats

-3.7L V6 engine
-305-hp, 273 lb-ft of torque
-6-speed manual/automatic transmission
-17 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway (AWD)
-Seats 5
-13.1 cubic feet maximum cargo capacity
-Built in Marysville, Ohio

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What We Like
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What We Like

Michael: This is a nice, quiet car to drive. Sure, the center console could stand some simplification (see next slide), but otherwise the overall experience – especially inside -- is very pleasant. I was a big fan of the seats, sound system and the overall lack of road noise in the cabin. As luxury cars go, this is right at the top-of-the-line.

Additionally, Acura did a good job of refreshing the exterior so it doesn't look nearly as awkward as it did last year. What was kind of a dog has become a nice, sleek, recognizable car. I recommend black or silver for the ultimate effect.

Autoblog: Every Acura comes equipped with a veritable treasure trove of standard equipment, including a power moonroof, Xenon headamps, heated front seats, leather, automatic climate control and Bluetooth. Our tester also featured the Technology Package, which adds perforated Milano premium leather, a rearview camera, navigation with real-time traffic and weather and an ELS Surround Sound system designed to rock your world.

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What We Don't Like
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What We Don't Like

Michael: This car is a bit of a boat. It's certainly not a problem for your average suburb-to-city commute, but I started to feel its weight while driving through the mountains. It just didn't take the corners and elevation changes quite as crisply as I would have liked – which may be due to its electric power steering system. All in all, the TL's performance fits in the middle of the segment. It's not as good as BMW or Mercedes, but it's more fun than the Lexus ES.

Fuel economy with that big 3.7L V6 engine and AWD isn't exactly ideal, either. Our tester gets an EPA estimated 17 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway and 20 mpg Combined. Not great, though the FWD gets a pretty decent 20 mpg City, 29 mpg Highway.

Autoblog: While interior din has been curbed, the din of switchgear has not. The TL continues to employ a multitude of knobs and buttons on the center stack and steering wheel. We're not sure we'd ever be able to intuitively adjust the temperature or change the radio station without taking our eyes off the road. Another issue is Acura's continued use of a navigation joystick instead of a touchscreen setup. On several occasions, we inadvertently hit the protruding, oddly placed joystick when shifting from second to third, altering the nav screen.

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Bottom Line
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Bottom Line

This is a good luxury sedan, but I'm not sure that it offers enough to pull buyers away from the competition. It's a nice quiet ride and the exterior is now more stylish and distinctive, but it's pretty big and heavy, which causes performance and fuel economy suffer. Additionally, the tech feels clunky and confusing, whereas buyers are expecting sleek and simple.

If you're looking to buy a car in this class, I recommend you shop around a bit before pulling the trigger on the TL. It's not a bad buy, I'm just not really convinced it's the best.

AOL Autos Score:

3/5 Stars

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