2012 Acura TL Review
2012 Acura TL Review
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Used TL for sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Abundant user-friendly high-tech features
- spacious cabin
- smart all-wheel-drive system
- superb optional sound system
- solid construction.
- Base model's numb steering
- subpar government crash score for some TLs.
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.
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.
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Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2012 Acura TL Technology Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $4.06 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
TL Technology Package
Avg. Midsize Car
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
2012 Acura TL models
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.
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.88 out of 5 stars
Acura TL vs. Infiniti G37
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
I drove both the Acura TL and the Infiniti G37x. Infiniti: extremely fast (almost too fast) with solid handling. Interior is nice, but seemed a little on the cheap side. Leather was nice, but I heard a few squeaks during my overnight test drive. I am 6'1" and 250lbs (wide shoulders). I was somewhat comfortable in the G37 but had the driver seat all of the way back and don't know how … comfortable I would be after a 2 hour drive. Backseat was tight. Acura TL: Almost as fast as the G37 but not as fast (still PLENTY of power!) Interior was much more comfortable. Handling was just as solid as G37. Interior quality is nicer then Infiniti. Pricing = same exact monthly payment
4.63 out of 5 stars
First time Acura buyer
Advance Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Just got a TL Advance this week with 8 miles on it. Currenlty have 108 miles. I test drove the AWD and loved the way it handled, but decided on the FWD for the softer suspension. The AWD defies physics in a way that would tempt me too much. It begs you to take turns at high speeds. The FWD felt faster in a straight line. When I mentioned this to the sales guy, he said that the FWD was in … fact faster in a straight line, but Acura marketing didn't want that advertised, no idea if there's any truth there. AWD comes with tighter side lumbar support and stiffer suspension. Suffice to say you owe it to yourself to test drive both to decide which is right for you.
5 out of 5 stars
Technology Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Recently purchased a 2012 TL with Tech. For the price I paid the TL presented the best overall value. Yes, I did consider all the other players in this market. I did not want to pay extra for a European badge such as MB or BMW and I have concerns with their reliability . Audi's spotty reliability was a killer. Couldn't justify the price of the Lexus which I find a bit sedate. Liked … the Infiniti but find the styling a bit outdated. Certainly, the other vehicles I considered may better the TL in some areas and the TL may better them in other areas. I do know, having driven the TL for a couple of months, my appreciation of the TL continues to grow.
2.63 out of 5 stars
Clunking noise from Rear Suspension
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.
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating3 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall2 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger2 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall4 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall4 / 5Driver3 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat4 / 5Back Seat4 / 5
- RolloverRollover5 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover9.3%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More about the 2012 Acura TL
More About This Model
There was only one problem with the 2009-'11 Acura TL. Its designers unknowingly beat it with an ugly stick on their way to giving the sedan "progressive" styling.
The result was a car praised for its class-topping dynamic abilities but panned for its weird lines, most notably that in-your-face grille. Lackluster sales followed (for the TL, that meant 34,000 cars in 2010), and dealers complained.
Acura blames the car's lackluster reception less on a flawed design and more on the fact that the fourth-gen TL was simply "too bold for the new, more conservative market" brought on by the weak economy. Regardless, the design team was sent back to their CAD screens and charged with coming up with a midcycle refresh for the 2012 Acura TL a good nine months sooner than originally planned.
Less Plenum = More Sophistication
When launching the 2009 TL, Acura used the term "linear fluidity" to describe its styling. This time around, the tagline for the 2012 Acura TL is "sophisticated emotion." In English, that means Acura reworked the car's more awkward lines. The grille is noticeably smaller, while the chrome strip just above the grille is now body color, having the effect of making the hood look longer even though it's completely unchanged.
Other updates include a smaller front bumper, darker-tint headlights and redesigned foglights and turn signals. Together, their main objective is to make the TL appear wider.
The rear got a makeover as well. Again, the goal was to break up the previous car's massive amounts of flat surfacing and shrink its tail end. Acura accomplished this via a smaller rear bumper with a horizontal cutline, a higher license plate mount, smaller rear reflectors, a 6-inch-higher rear diffuser and a thinner bright strip at the base of the trunk lid. All the new styling changes resulted in an inch less overhang up front and a half inch less at the rear for a new overall length of 194 inches.
Gears Are Good
Although the most grandiose updates to the 2012 Acura TL occur at its bow and stern, there is one bit of mechanical news to be had: a new six-speed automatic transmission from the 2011 RL sedan, replacing the previous five-speed in both the front-wheel-drive TL and the SH-AWD (super-handling all-wheel-drive) model.
With lower gear ratios for 1st through 5th versus the five-speed, Acura estimates the TL SH-AWD will accelerate about 0.4 second quicker to 60 mph (figure 6.3 seconds) versus the outgoing version.
A taller 6th gear (versus the five-speed) aids fuel economy, as does the new torque converter's multiple lock-up discs, which offer better lubrication and improved cooling. These changes, along with reduced piston friction and a new cold-air intake in the 3.5-liter V6-equipped front-drive TL help fuel economy jump from 18 city/26 highway mpg for the 2011 model to 20/29 for the 2012 edition. The 3.7-liter V6 SH-AWD's mpg is less noteworthy, rising only 1 mpg across the board to 18/26, while the SH-AWD six-speed manual (which has just a 3 percent take rate) remains at 17/25.
Above and beyond the notable mpg increases and slightly quicker acceleration, you probably won't notice anything too dramatic in your daily driving with the six-speed versus the old five-speed. As with the five-speed, the new transmission shifts smoothly at all times in Automatic mode, but can also be shifted manually via standard-issue steering-wheel paddles. The software blips the throttle to smooth downshifts, making aggressive driving easier and more fun. It holds gears at redline unless you're in 1st.
About the only downside is the six-speed's desire to get to high gear as quickly as possible, even if it means lugging the engine a bit. It's all for the sake of the improved fuel economy, of course. Running it in Manual mode gets rid of that problem, so it's an easy fix if you're so inclined.
Oh, Those Engines
Part of the reason the new automatic doesn't massively improve the 2012 Acura TL driving experience is that it was already a damn good driving machine. Credit goes to the TL's powerful, high-revving V6s, the outputs of which remain unchanged for 2012.
The TL front-driver continues with 280 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 254 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm, while the SH-AWD continues to hold its claim as the most powerful Acura ever, rated at 305 hp at 6,300 and 273 lb-ft at 5,000.
The V6s in both the TL and SH-AWD are quiet and buttery-smooth at low engine speeds. They're equally impressive when you wind them out, too. Both engines seem to thrive on being pushed to the redline, an easy thing to do when using the manual shift paddles.
Crazy for Curves
Another area Acura chose to leave untouched was the TL's double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension — damping, spring rates and antiroll bars remain identical to the specs of the 2011 model. Acura also ditched the summer tire option for the SH-AWD model due to the fact that almost no one (1 percent, we're told) opted for the grippier rubber.
Without the summer tires, the TL SH-AWD has lost some of its phenomenal, almost unfair handling abilities. But the TL in general (especially the SH-AWD, with its stiffer setup) still has the same spot-on suspension tuning. TLs with all-wheel drive put the power down with the utmost precision thanks to a torque-vectoring rear differential. The lighter front-drive model (3,726 pounds vs. 3,968), on the other hand, has a penchant for spinning its front tires when you exit tight turns with the throttle to the floor.
Although the 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD runs out of grip sooner without its stickier summer tires, it still has the same wonderfully competent and stable chassis that makes it a sport-sedan stalwart. Yes, the ride of the non-adjustable suspension is firm and can be jiggly on bumpy back roads, but the car's precision makes it worth any minor amount of harshness.
About the only gripe is the TL's electric power steering. It delivers more assist than we would like, but some of that can be forgiven since it's transmitted through a thick-rimmed, leather-wrapped steering wheel that feels great in your hands.
Only Fix What's Broken
Since the main focus of the 2012 Acura TL's redesign was the car's exterior, Acura pretty much left the already excellent interior intact. The minor updates include new platinum plating on the center stack and inner door handles, along with optional ventilation for the TL's wide, yet laterally supportive front seats. Other changes include a dedicated phone button on the center stack and active phone pairing to automatically locate Bluetooth devices.
The 2012 Acura TL, which was designed at the company's California studio and is built in Marysville, Ohio, goes on sale March 18. The TL front-driver starts at $36,465, with the SH-AWD beginning at $40,015 (prices include $860 destination), $300 increases for both models. The SH-AWD with a six-speed manual costs $43,745, the higher sticker due to the fact that it's offered only with the Technology package.
Even with the price increases, the TL is still quite a value compared to most German sport sedans. Dynamically, the 2012 Acura TL is the same stirring-to-drive performance sedan as before, only now with an extra gear and improved fuel economy. Not bad for a car with so much horsepower and a sizable interior.
And although Acura won't come right out and say it screwed up the styling the first time around, the significant exterior reworking of this version is about as much of an admission of guilt as you're ever going to get.
It was a smart move. The TL is too good of a sedan to get overlooked because of some overzealous styling. The changes effectively addressed the issue, so now Acura no longer has any excuses. We doubt it will need any.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report.
Used 2012 Acura TL Overview
The Used 2012 Acura TL is offered in the following submodels: TL Sedan. Available styles include Technology Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A), 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A), SH-AWD 4dr Sedan AWD w/Technology Package (3.7L 6cyl 6A), Advance Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A), SH-AWD 4dr Sedan AWD w/Advance Package (3.7L 6cyl 6A), SH-AWD 4dr Sedan AWD (3.7L 6cyl 6A), and SH-AWD 4dr Sedan AWD w/Technology Package (3.7L 6cyl 6M). Pre-owned Acura TL models are available with a 3.5 L-liter gas engine or a 3.7 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 305 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 Acura TL comes with front wheel drive, and all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2012 Acura TL comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 6 yr./ 70000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2012 Acura TL?
Price comparisons for Used 2012 Acura TL trim styles:
- The Used 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD is priced between $17,590 and$21,990 with odometer readings between 50833 and103044 miles.
- The Used 2012 Acura TL Technology Package is priced between $10,680 and$21,990 with odometer readings between 38527 and166675 miles.
- The Used 2012 Acura TL Base is priced between $14,995 and$20,990 with odometer readings between 20920 and123066 miles.
- The Used 2012 Acura TL Advance Package is priced between $21,998 and$21,998 with odometer readings between 32546 and32546 miles.
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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Acura TL?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.