Full 2014 Acura TL Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Acura TL returns essentially unchanged.
Buyers shopping for a midsize luxury sedan have a dizzying array of choices, each offering stylish looks, above-average road manners and a richly furnished cabin filled with desirable amenities. Within this group, the unassuming 2014 Acura TL might not immediately come to mind, but there's actually quite a lot to like.
Let's start with the interior. Inside, the TL benefits from Acura's many years of experience turning out top-quality interiors with all the luxury trimmings. In the TL, you'll find supple leather upholstery, solid construction and plenty of technology-based features. While the TL's electronics interface looks a little dated, it's still refreshingly easy to use. The TL is also big on comfort, with nicely shaped front seats and a rear seat that's accommodating for both kids and adults.
For power, the TL relies on a standard V6 engine mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Buyers looking to take things to the next level can opt for the TL SH-AWD model, which gets a more powerful V6 and Acura's advanced all-wheel-drive system, a pairing that gives this luxury sedan a distinctly sportier character, particularly with the available manual transmission.
Value can be another draw: Compared to traditional European-brand midsize sedans (think 2014 BMW 5 Series or the new 2014 Cadillac CTS, the well-rounded TL looks like a pretty good deal. Then again, those cars are more prestigious and offer significantly better performance.
Within the TL's price range, you might want to consider the more comfort-oriented Lexus ES 350 (which also comes in a fuel-sipping hybrid model), the Hyundai Genesis or, if sporty handling's a priority, a smaller, more nimble sedan like the Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series. Ultimately, though, the 2014 Acura TL remains a smart choice given its practical mix of luxury, sport and technology at the right price.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Acura TL is a midsize luxury sedan offered in two main trim levels: TL and TL SH-AWD.
The TL base model comes well-equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, a sunroof, heated side mirrors, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power front seats (with driver-seat power lumbar adjustment), driver memory settings, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel 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 input jack and an iPod/USB audio interface also are standard. The TL with the Special Edition package adds 18-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.
The TL SH-AWD model adds a more powerful V6, all-wheel drive, 18-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension and steering, upgraded brakes and contoured front sport seats with contrasting stitching.
On either TL model you can opt for the Technology package, which brings keyless entry/ignition, a navigation system, voice commands, a rearview camera, GPS-linked adaptive climate control, perforated leather upholstery and an Acura/ELS 10-speaker premium surround-sound audio system.
The TL with the Advance package includes the content of the Technology package as well as bigger wheels (18-inch wheels for the base TL and 19-inch wheels on the SH-AWD), heated and ventilated front seats, and a blind-spot monitoring system.
Powertrains and Performance
Under the hood, the entry-level 2014 Acura TL gets a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive round out the powertrain details. Acura says acceleration from zero to 60 mph takes 6.5 seconds. EPA fuel economy stands at 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway), which is average for this class of car.
The 2014 Acura TL SH-AWD model features Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, which not only shifts power between the front and rear wheels but also adjusts the power flow between the rear wheels to improve the car's cornering ability. It also gets a larger 3.7-liter V6 that produces 305 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed automatic is standard here as well, but a six-speed manual transmission is offered as an option. A manual-equipped TL SH-AWD zips to 60 mph in a quick 5.7 seconds. Not surprisingly, fuel economy suffers, with EPA estimates of 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway) with the automatic transmission and 20 combined (17/25) with the manual.
Standard safety features on the 2014 Acura TL include antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control, front seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. In braking tests, the front-wheel-drive TL took 122 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, while the TL SH-AWD took 120 feet, both of which are average numbers for this vehicle segment.
In government crash tests, the 2014 TL received four out of five stars for overall protection, with four stars for total frontal-impact protection and four stars for total side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the TL earned the highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. It also earned a Good rating for its seat/head restraint design in rear-impact testing, and it's one of just a handful of models that have earned a Good rating in the Institute's tough new small-overlap frontal-offset crash test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Acura TL offers a roomy interior with a decidedly modern look, thanks in large part to designers' use of crisp lines and nicely sculpted aluminum trim. Though some potential buyers may miss the warmer look that comes with traditional wood accents, no one can fault the quality of the other materials here, including the leather upholstery with contrasting stitching and soft-touch surfaces throughout. Taken together, the overall effect can best be described as understated yet classy.
The TL's interior also gets high marks when it comes to function. Despite the amount of technology on offer here, the design and layout of gauges, displays and controls makes accessing all these features a lot easier than you might expect at first glance. Voice commands that come as part of the Technology option package also work well, allowing the driver to keep both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.
Up front, the nicely bolstered seats are as comfortable and supportive as they are good looking. The rear seats are also generously sized, offering accommodations that are much kinder to adult passengers than those in many comparable models.
Out back, you'll find the TL's trunk a bit on the small side. Base models offer a mere 13.1 cubic feet of space, while the TL SH-AWD's trunk shrinks to just 12.5 cubic feet.
On the highway, the 2014 Acura TL behaves like a proper luxury sedan. The suspension delivers a very agreeable ride quality as it capably absorbs all but the most obnoxious pavement imperfections. The cabin's remarkable quietness and solid feel only add to the upscale ambience.
Turn onto a back road with tight turns and the TL responds with gusto. The standard suspension under the base model gives the car lively handling, which is enhanced by precise, though somewhat uncommunicative, steering. The standard 3.5-liter V6 delivers acceleration that should be more than adequate for the needs of most buyers.
Not surprisingly, the TL-SH-AWD's firmer suspension and sophisticated all-wheel-drive system give it a much more agile feel when driven quickly around turns. While it might not be readily apparent from looking at the numbers, the combination of the 3.7-liter V6's extra output and the sportier handling characteristics make this model feel a good bit quicker from the driver seat.