Pss…here’s a secret: The 2012 Acura TL has had a nip, tuck and stretch


I’m a shallow guy. Looks are supremely important to me and I have a hard time warming up to a vehicle if there is nothing interesting or alluring on its exterior. It’s an oddity considering I’m an ugly guy.

Take the 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD (super handling all wheel drive) with its amazing six-speed manual transmission. I simply loved driving it and it is one of the best all around sedans in its bracket… with one exception – its looks.

Fortunately, many exterior improvements have been made to the 2012 Acura TL. Most notable changes revolve around the front and rear end. A friend pointed out that the new beak is reminiscent of the first generation’s, which upon further examination, was absolutely true. Front and rear bend lines take some of the oversized bulk out of the panels and lower the look of the entire car. Headlights are lower, larger and compliment the grill.

Acura TL 12 for TFL 2

The rear is less massive too. There is still far too much disparity between the shape of the trunk and taillights, but it’s less polarizing in the 2012. Acura is supposed to introduce an all new Acura TL around 2014, so there is only so much we should expect from this facelift.

Still, it’s a real improvement.

The interior is slightly upgraded, although it was already mighty good to begin with. There are a plethora of tiny buttons on the center stack. Honda likes buttons – they’re shinny and fun to press I suppose. Unfortunately, the learning curve for remembering the button’s functions is rather long.

Honda/Acura’s Sequential SportShift six-speed automatic transmission is now available. This helps overall mileage jump up to a respectable 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. That’s not bad considering the mass of the TL and its 280 horsepower V6.

Thank god the powerful, 305 hp V6 is still motivating the SH AWD Acura TL. The 2012 Acura TL will still be available with the slick shifting, six-speed manual transmission. Dynamically, it made the last generation Acura TL a blast to drive. In fact: I would go so far as to say that, other than the origami-on-acid body, the 2011 Acura TL SH AWD with the six-speed manual was the biggest surprise for me in 2010.

Acura TL 12 for TFL 3

Options including ventilated front seats and a blind spot warning system are all new. The interior upgrades are hard to pinpoint, but the interior as a whole looks sleeker. Once again, Honda/Acura has some of the best seats in the business as my big booty felt like it was in the palm of a baseball glove (don’t picture that – it will bruise the brain).

Honda/Acura reminded us about the cornucopia of technological advances pioneered over the past few decades during their introduction/presentation. I have not forgotten, neither has the rest of the press. But, you’re only as good as your most recent vehicle. Yes, the last generation’s Acura TL was an amazing car – unfortunately its wrapper was not.

Judging by what I saw of the 2012 Acura TL at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, I think the suits at Honda/Acura are finally getting the hint.

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