2014 Acura TL Base Sedan (3.5L V6 6-speed Automatic w/Special Edition)
Driven On 3/4/2014
Acura's TL offers a nice balance between sport and luxury. Its free-revving 280-hp V6 adds fun to everyday driving, despite the inherent performance limitations of the front-wheel-drive layout (AWD is optional). Interior appointments are modern and build quality is solid. Ride quality is sporty-firm, as are the seats.
PerformanceThe 3.5-liter 280-horsepower V6 makes every drive a thrilling adventure, and the 6-sp automatic upshifts quickly. Or, you can shift for yourself via paddles. Steering weight and feel are appropriately sporty. The exhaust gives a nice note.
Power is easily accessible from the V6 engine. The TL accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. Its 6-speed automatic shifts smoothly at all times. Paddle-triggered shifts work best in Sport mode.
The brake pedal gives a solid feel and is easily managed in typical driving. Panic stop from 60 mph took 123 feet. A test car with more miles and properly broken-in brakes would probably give better numbers.
Good feel and response. The steering weight is on the heavier side, but it communicates the grip limit of the tires quite well.
Plenty of understeer at the limit, which is expected of a 3,722-pound front-wheel-drive car. Body roll is well controlled. The TL generated 0.85g of lateral grip, which is decent but far from exceptional.
Midsize proportions help the TL maneuver tight quarters around town fairly easily. The heavier steering and firm ride offer stability during higher speeds out on the highway.
ComfortAs is usually the case with Acura vehicles, the TL leans toward the sport end of the sport-luxury spectrum. Still, the cabin is remarkably quiet. Seat and ride comfort are both on the firm side, but far from objectionable.
Firm yet supportive seats. Most will find a comfortable position with the 10-way adjustable driver's seat. Long trips will reveal some limitations. The rear seats are similarly firm.
The TL rides stiff, but not excessively so. Smaller, sharper impacts find their way through the suspension quite noticeably. Larger bumps are absorbed more discreetly.
The cabin is well isolated, despite the car's sporty nature. A minor amount of road noise and a hint of engine note at full throttle are the only audible interruptions to reach occupants.
InteriorAcura gave the TL's cabin a modern, industrial-like style that's sleek and clean. It's heavy on buttons, but we prefer that over the new MDX's confusing touchscreen. The trunk, though, is on the small side and awkwardly-shaped.
All secondary controls are easily reached by the driver. The sea of buttons on the center stack feels overwhelming at first. A few more knobs (instead of buttons) would clean things up considerably.
The TL sits about an inch lower than its competitors, yet entry/exit is still totally acceptable. The front step-in height is 14.6 inches, while the BMW 5 Series and Cadillac CTS are 15.5 inches.
There's plenty of room inside the cabin for heads, knees and elbows. Rear passenger legroom is particularly good, although footroom isn't great. The middle rear seat has a considerable hump.
We found no problems with the forward visibility, but the high parcel shelf significantly limits rearward sightlines. It is not equipped with a backup camera or sonar.
Trunk space is on the small side for the class, at 13.1 cu-ft, and a bit awkward. The opening is small and the trunk narrows toward the front. Second row seats do not lower, just a 6 x 6-inch pass-through.
ValueStandard features and warranty coverages are on par for the segment. The SE package adds $1,375 to the cost of a base TL. Fuel economy from its hearty V6 is expectedly a bit poorer than its competitors. Build quality is top-notch.
Build Quality (vs. $)
We experienced no squeaks, rattles or panel fitment issues. Our TL test car appeared well-built with a solid construction, just as we expect from Acura. The quality of the materials is excellent.
The $38,300 TL Special Edition is essentially a Base TL with 18-inch wheels, all-season tires, a spoiler, keyless entry and distinctive badging. A base TL has an MSRP of $36,925.
Most of the standard equipment on the TL mirrors other entry-level luxury sedans: leather-trimmed seats, Bluetooth, 8-speaker stereo system and dual-zone climate control, to name a few.
EPA estimates for the TL SE are 23 mpg Combined (20 City/29 Highway). We averaged 22.9 mpg over 622 miles and achieved 27.8 mpg on the 115-mile Edmunds evaluation loop.
4-year/50,000-mile basic, 6-year/70,000-mile drivetrain and 5-year/unlimited rust warranties are standard.
Roadside assistance for 4 years/50,000 miles comes standard on the TL, but it does not come with a free maintenance program like BMW.
Fun To DriveThis big TL sedan can be fun to drive, just don't expect it to perform like a top-flight sport sedan. Most of the time it's a reasonably comfortable, moderately luxurious, extremely well-built mode of transport.
This is an easy-driving car with just enough sport to keep enthusiasts happy, and more than enough luxury and tech features to keep most others comfortable with their purchase.
It's totally fun to wind the V6 out to its 6,700-rpm redline. Sounds good up there, too, and the paddle shifters work well. You can order a manual transmission with the AWD model.
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