Acura TL Review

Posted on 27. Feb, 2004 by in Auto News

FWD sucks. Case in point: the Acura TL. Here's a perfectly good car ruined by the simple fact that the front wheels to steer while driving need. Give the TL a push feed accelerator, the engine a few turns to unleash a bit of torque and, well, it's all a bit too much for the front tire. Traction takes a powder, and with it a chance to give the TL a proper spanking. In fact, you may not even the TL. A mild slap on the wrist, without a dramatic loss of steering control

What a shame. While Toyota Lexus has built up as a clear and worthy competitor finest Germany, Acura is still trying to convince the world that Acura is more than a Honda with a slightly larger engine, leather, wood, and a few toys. Which, in this case, it is. Anyway, since Honda's impeccable engineering and build quality, there is nothing particularly wrong with this "posh Honda Acura as" product perception. But there's nothing particularly right with either-especially if cachet (aka "snob value") sells cars in this segment.

The TL emphasizes the exterior Honda Acura struggle to increase play. Its designers have done everything possible to separate the Acura TL from the donor DNA: narrow headlights, Front split, indented contour line, side skirts, five-spoke alloys, rear lip spoiler, dual exhausts and sharply raised taillights. The end result is … a Honda Accord tossed with a little Alfa Romeo 156 in. It is not an unpleasant design, but it is not very classic or, um, bling.

The TL in the interior, however, is both. High-end materials have Cinderella-ed the Accord cabin in a comfort zone as sharp as a Chanel suit worn by Missy Elliott. Check out the hood, blue backlit dials and glowing keyway. Safe! And if that. Not massive enough pop in a DVD-A and boost the 5.1 Surround Sound Yes, that means the new format, you have to buy all your favorite music again. But the TL eight-channel audio attack justifies the slightly re-re-re-investment. BOSE to its own DVD system unleashed (with better bass response) is Acura boom box is about as good as it gets. If not better.

I wish I could say the same about the dynamics of the TL. The trouble began when I slotted The test car five-speed auto box in Drive. He neutral. Wow! Who would have thought that Honda have – sorry, Acura – could a shift gate, the BMW iDrive rivals for counter-intuitive complexity? After I figured out why I wanted to nowhere fast, I was free to explore the heart and soul TL: the engine.

Honda makes some of the world's best engines: smooth, powerful, docile, revving, economical and clean. The TL-V6 engine is typical of the breed. Although the 3.2-liter engine stumps to only 30 horses more than the Accord optional six, it's noticeably more powerful. Throughout the entire speed range TL of 270 horses to hurl (powered by Variable Valve Timing) the car from zero to 60 in a fraction under seven seconds-assuming you can find a way to coax and baby green pedal at the same time. Otherwise, you're right back where we started: Wheel Spin City.

To its credit Acura inventors have tried to mitigate the problem with Vehicle Stability Assist and an electronic traction control. No dice. In a straight line, the TL nose is annoying wind. Around the corner, it is positively alarming. The definition handling this pretender to the throne average sports sedan either understeer or oversteer, it is not a draw. Press-on-sensitive driver will need both hands and nerves of steel.

Bummer. Everything else about the TL set-up is excellent. The double-wishbone front and rear suspension allows feel just the right amount of road. Without a hint of discomfort Four-way disc brakes combined perfect linear control with heavy braking. (The six-speed adds Brembo calipers up front.) Total body control is exemplary. Granted, not focused TL sports sedan in the 3-Series sense. But if Acura had bitten the bullet and built a rear wheel drive TL, I think it could, given the Munich central masterpiece have a decent run for the money.

Oh, and money. For value-oriented buyers who fully equipped Acura TL is a steal. It offers quality, reliability, and every conceivable luxury for thousands less than anything else in its class, and a lot about. For the rest of us, the TL is maddeningly close to greatness. Fortunately, it's only a matter of time before Honda / Acura follows Detroit lead and converts its premium products RWD. When this arrives glory days, Acura will be a show for all the time she is ready to play with the big boys is.