2012 Acura TL Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Acura TL Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Acura TL Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.7 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 305 hp @ 6300 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation Yes
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Acura TL

  • Thanks to this year's refreshed exterior styling and improved fuel efficiency, the 2012 Acura TL is a strong choice for a midsize luxury sedan.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Abundant user-friendly high-tech features; spacious cabin; smart all-wheel-drive system; superb optional sound system; solid construction.

  • Cons

    Base model's numb steering; subpar government crash score for some TLs.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Acura TL gets revised front-end styling, a six-speed automatic transmission, improved fuel efficiency, an upgraded navigation system and a quieter freeway ride.

Full 2012 Acura TL Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Acura TL gets revised front-end styling, a six-speed automatic transmission, improved fuel efficiency, an upgraded navigation system and a quieter freeway ride.


Like it or not, styling oftentimes plays a large role in people's decisions. Whether we're talking about clothing, an automobile or even a potential mate, looks count big. Eye-catching style can often sway purchasing decisions toward an otherwise average car. But as the current generation of the Acura TL has shown, the inverse can also be true. Three years ago, Acura's redesigned TL raised many an eyebrow and upturned nose with its grille that resembled a metallic beak. A shame, since the car underneath was a solid performer offering a spacious cabin, features galore and excellent build quality.

The 2012 Acura TL, however, benefits from a midcycle refresh that significantly tones down the proboscis, while other styling revisions like reshaped front and rear fascias contribute to this year's sleeker look. Inside, the TL features notable improvements to the navigation system (it now has a 60GB hard drive, more maps and crisper graphics), a more detailed Bluetooth audio display (e.g., song and artist), active pairing for Bluetooth phones and improved sound insulation for a quieter cabin. Lastly, the Advance package now includes ventilated seats and a blind spot warning system.

The automatic transmission also receives an update with a new six-speed unit that matches revs on downshifts, replacing the aged five-speed. The new gearbox also slightly improves fuel efficiency, as do friction-reducing measures for the base 3.5-liter V6 engine. The EPA puts the revised 3.5's highway estimate at 29 mpg -- an impressive 3 mpg improvement over last year's 3.5.

For 2012 the Acura TL is again available in two distinct flavors. The base model offers the refined ride, big cabin and a full helping of the latest bells and whistles that will satisfy most. You'll need to look to the Buick LaCrosse, Hyundai Genesis and Lexus ES 350 for something comparable. Driving enthusiasts will likely find the more powerful and sharper-handling TL SH-AWD more appealing. Blessed with an athletic chassis and all-wheel drive, this roomy sport sedan can hang with smaller rivals such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 and Lexus IS 350 on a challenging, curvy road.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Acura TL is a midsize luxury sedan available in TL and TL SH-AWD trim levels.

The standard TL comes with 17-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlamps, foglamps, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated eight-way power front seats (with driver lumbar adjustment and memory functions), leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface are also standard. The TL SH-AWD adds a more powerful engine, all-wheel drive, more aggressive suspension and steering tuning, upgraded brakes, 18-inch wheels, deep bolstered front seats and contrasting leather stitching.

The Technology package available on both trims adds upgraded tires, a rear spoiler, a rearview camera, keyless ignition/entry, GPS-linked and solar-sensing climate control, upgraded leather upholstery, upgraded interior metal trim, automatic phone book downloading, a navigation system, real-time traffic and weather, voice control and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound audio system with digital music storage. Springing for the Advance package includes all that along with larger wheels (18-inch wheels on the base TL or 19-inch wheels on the SH-AWD), ventilated front seats and a blind spot warning system.

Powertrains and Performance

The base model 2012 Acura TL is front-wheel drive and is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard. We expect a 0-60-mph time of about 6.5 seconds given that the TL's five-speed predecessor made the same dash in 6.7 seconds during Edmunds testing. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.

The TL SH-AWD model features Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, which transfers different levels of power to individual wheels to maximize traction and grip through turns and during inclement weather. It also gets a 3.7-liter V6 good for 305 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard, while a six-speed manual is optional and includes hill start assist. A manual-equipped TL SH-AWD hits 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18/26/21 with the automatic and 17/25/20 with the manual.


Every 2012 Acura TL comes with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front restraints. In Edmunds brake testing, a base TL came to a stop from 60 mph in a distance of 122 feet, while the TL SH-AWD did a little better, at 120 feet. Both of these are average for the class.

In government crash tests, early-build TLs received three out of five stars for overall protection, a disappointing two stars for frontal protection and four stars for side protection. Acura later revised the 2012 TL, and models built after April 18, 2012, earned four stars for frontal impact protection and four stars overall. No matter the model, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the TL its highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2012 Acura TL's interior features a more contemporary design language than some of its competitors. Aluminum trim adorns the cabin instead of the glossy wood treatments found in the Cadillac CTS, Hyundai Genesis or Lexus ES 350. The surroundings feel more austere, cold even, although materials quality is top-notch with plenty of soft-touch surfaces. The available two-tone color scheme helps to dress things up.

The TL's modern cabin is also roomy and quiet, with more space than similarly priced European sedans. The driver seat offers multiple adjustments and side bolstering, while the rear seats easily accommodate taller passengers. Large flip-up headrests provide comfort and protection for rear-seat passengers, then slide down flush with the seatbacks for an unobstructed view when not in use. The 13.1 cubic feet of trunk capacity is a bit less than other cars in this class, but the wide opening makes loading a few golf bags and suitcases easy.

Driving Impressions

Given the divergent handling characteristics of the 2012 Acura TL models, they can almost be thought of as two distinctly different cars. The base TL should appeal to drivers with more comfort and luxury in mind. Ride quality is excellent. Bumps, potholes and expansion joints are dismissed with a reassuring, almost Germanic thump that befits a luxury car with the TL's price tag. The 280-hp V6 is more than adequate for daily drives, and the steering, while lacking feel, offers plenty of assist to make parking easy.

Those with more sporting intentions should opt for the SH-AWD model, as it lives up to its "Super Handling" label with considerably more grip and control than the base car. The complex all-wheel-drive system directs more power to the outside wheels when cornering, while communicative and well-weighted steering delivers more confidence behind the wheel.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Owned since april '12

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Acura TL Technology Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

great TL and best Acura owned since Legend Coupe which wasn't close to this model in drivability and comfort. blind spot is horrible and side view cam is a must for this model Rear cam is wonderful.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great all around

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD w/Technology Package 4dr Sedan AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

In general we are extremely happy with this vehicle. We've had it for a year and a half. Build quality has been very sound, as expected. For example: a rock broke one of the fog lights. I bought the replacement and installed it myself. The underbody panels were effectively woven together requiring me to loosen three panels to get one out to install the light. The vehicle is designed and built to not come apart. When alone I drive the car very hard, as in like I stole it. Though the front/rear torque split is 70/30, getting the back end to step out is surprisingly easy. That said, it is great for hauling kids, or for date night. My mood improves every time I drive this car!

Not bad, but needs improvements

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Acura TL 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

I have had my 2012 TL for a year now. I bought it as a CPO for $28K...4K miles on it. I traded in a BMW 328I. Ok, it is a nice car with a lot of options. The interior is nice and very modern. Been on a few long trips and it is very comfortable. Where I have issues is with it's performance. Two things right off the bat, 1) The transmission, second gear to be exact seems sluggish on take off. It really drags the the engine down and makes for a jerky ride. Granted, coming from a BMW...the Acura's performance is not even close. But it makes up for it in other areas. 2) The steering is not sport-tuned and you will feel torque-steer if you get in the gas. Feels like a Buick at times.

5 of 19 people found this review helpful

Tech package overkill

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Acura TL Technology Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

this is our 3rd acura and we are pleased overall.smooth and quiet,handles well.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Too many problems in 1

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD w/Technology Package 4dr Sedan AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A)

During the year I have had this car, I have had to have the battery, navigation system, stability, push ignition, and a bearing replaced. Acura's response, there is nothing they can do. This is not what I expected from a brand new car. Additionally, the car does not sense when my mom is in the passenger seat. She weighs 130 lbs. this is a big safety concern. I would not Uyi this car!!!

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

Clunking noise from rear suspension

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Acura TL Technology Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

Loud "CLUNKING NOISE" came from passenger side rear suspension. It got louder as the car getting more miles on it. Took it in four times at the local dealer: 1st Attempt: Local dealer changed the strut but noise still there, 2nd Attempt: acura agent came in to verify the problem and took the entire assembly rear suspension apart and found nothing wrong with it but the noise still present so they concluded that it is a normal noise on the TL (Which I don't agree because only one corner of the car is making the noise, left rear suspension is nice and quiet when ride over bump) 3rd attempt: Service manager refused service because he told me that Acura is will not fix the "clunking noise" because they think it is a normal sound. 4th attempt: I took the car to a small local shop which is not Acura and some mechanic friends to check out the noises that I am hear from the one corner of the car (passenger rear suspension). They all confirmed the noise is an irregularity of a suspension and suspected something is wrong with the strut and it assembly/bushing but inconclusive with the problem because it could be many things that can go wrong with it and recommended me to bring it back to Acura. Acura refused service again and said the same thing like the 3rd attempt. File a claim with BBB and the same Acura Claim representative that I dealt with earlier said the same thing again, that they will not fix anything regarding the clunking noise I hear because they think it is normal. My opinion: This is an Acura and it is over $40,000 dollars car so I expected a nice quiet and comfortable car but the "Clunking noise" really killed my excitement about owning this car. Just a headeache everytime I look or drive it. I am definately upset with Acura about how they handle this situation because they did not offer me any solution but they basically tell me live with the "clunking noise" from that one corner of the car. and if the noise was normal, Acura mechanic wouldn't have change the strut the 1st time I brought it in...Why is Acura doing this?? and How can I get them to fix the problem I am having now, can anyone help? my frustration with Acura is to the roof now and hope to get this handle the sooner the better.

Talk About The 2012 TL

Read more about the 2012 Acura TL

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 25
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Identifix Reliability Ratings

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