The 2014 TL is Acura's entry in the mid-size luxury sedan segment, where it competes with vehicles such as the BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M, Audi A6 and Cadillac CTS. Compared to most of its rivals, the TL has a much lower starting price but more polarizing exterior design. Acura enthusiasts have grown to either like the TL's skin or see the beauty beneath it, where lies a strong V6 engine and an available all-wheel-drive system that offers excellent grip. The Acura TL has a strong reliability record and a good dose of performance with its premium ride quality, but with no rear-drive model in the lineup, driving purists my overlook the Acura in favor of a BMW, Infiniti or Cadillac.
You'll Like This Car If...
In a segment where most prices start in the mid- to high-$40,000 range, the 2014 Acura TL's sub-$37,000 starting price looks like a bargain. Also appealing are its strong safety ratings and fuel economy of up to 29 mpg.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Even with its slick all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, we found the Acura TL not quite as engaging to drive vigorously as rear-wheel-drive competitors such as the BMW 5 Series or Infiniti M. Also unlike the TL, those sedans can be had with a mighty – but costly – V8 engine.
No major changes have been made to the Acura TL for the 2014 model year. The mid-level Special Edition model that was introduced in mid-2013 remains as a high-value trim option.
Driving the TL
The Acura TL marries the size of a BMW 5 Series with the lower price of the new Infiniti Q50 Sedan, but isn't as performance-oriented as either. A front-wheel-drive (FWD)...
... layout and synthetic steering feel make the TL neither as engaging for errands around town nor as capable at its limits on twisty byways as its rear-drive rivals. On the other hand, the Acura TL feels much livelier than the soft-tuned Lexus ES, so drivers desiring a happy medium may just find it here. Those seeking the most thrills in their TL should opt for one with SH-AWD in its name. That alphabet soup is short for Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, and the system is just that. With power divided among all four wheels, SH-AWD Acura TL models boost confidence while cornering and in inclement weather. Those models are also blessed with a more powerful V6 engine and sportier suspension.
6-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION The Acura TL's 6-speed transmission is a major contributor to the car's good fuel economy. More gears also equal more fun as the transmission is able to keep the engine in its sweet spot during spirited driving. As a bonus, the revised gearing results in lower engine rpm while cruising, resulting in lower cabin noise.
BLIND SPOT INFORMATION SYSTEM We like all the features that come with the Advance Package, but if we had to choose one thing, it would be the blind-spot information system. These indicators tell the driver if there is a car in the blind spot, which is a handy reassurance when changing lanes.
2014 Acura TL Details
The 2014 Acura TL's 5-passenger cabin is luxuriously sporty. The heated front seats are comfortable and well-padded, and SH-AWD models feature more aggressive side bolsters to keep you in place. Even at its appealing price point, a leather interior is standard. Less appealing is the TL's center stack, crowded with buttons for climate control, audio, and navigation functions. Rear-seat legroom is adequate, and trunk cargo space is on the small side at just over 13 cubic feet in front-wheel-drive (FWD) models and 12.5 for SH-AWD versions. The rear seats don't fold for additional cargo hauling, but a center pass-through space can accommodate items such as skis.
If you haven't looked closely at an Acura TL in a couple of years, you may be relieved to know that its front and rear have been tamed, thanks to modifications implemented for the 2012 model year. Even with the tweaks, the Acura stands out with its beak-like grille, wide cutouts in the front bumper housing, and sharply snubbed rear end. Like other potentially controversial designs, we'll leave it to your eyes to judge the TL's outer appeal. On the non-subjective front, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels are fitted on base models, with higher trims equipped with 18- or 19-inch versions.
The 2014 Acura TL comes well equipped right out of the box. Spend the least on a base model, and you'll get a leather interior, power front seats with 2-stage heating, dual-zone climate control, power moonroof, xenon headlights and 8-speaker AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with Bluetooth streaming. All-wheel-drive models add a higher-power engine and larger wheels. Models with the Technology package add a 10-speaker premium sound system with hard drive, navigation, keyless access, rearview camera and a GPS-linked climate-control system. The top-line Advance Package further stuffs the TL with ventilated front seats and blind-spot monitoring.
With eight trims available, most options for the 2014 Acura TL are bundled into a particular level. That leaves most traditional options relegated to interior and exterior accessories. Among the former are "wood-grain-look" shift knob and trunk drawer, while the latter include underbody spoilers, special 18- or 19-inch wheels and backup sensors. A remote engine start system is also available.
Under the Hood
Two V6 engines are available for the 2014 Acura TL. Front-wheel-drive models use a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter, while all-wheel-drive versions employ a 305-horsepower 3.7-liter. Most buyers will opt for Acura's smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission that is eager to kick down and also features paddle shifters for those rare times you want to imitate Mario Andretti. The most engaging (but least fuel-efficient) TL is the 6-speed manual-transmission model, only available on AWD models. The 2014 Acura TL returns up to 29 mpg, respectable given its power. All models require premium-grade gasoline.
The 2014 Acura TL has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting right under $37,000. The higher-power SH-AWD models begin just shy of $40,500, and a top-line model slots in well under $47,000. At these prices, the Acura TL represents a bargain among mid-size luxury sedans. A base BMW 5 Series with a 4-cylinder engine, for example, starts around $50,000, while an Infiniti M and Cadillac CTS are just under that. More in line with the TL's pricing are the Lexus ES, the Lincoln MKZ, or the smaller Infiniti Q50 sedan. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Acura TL. In terms of resale value, we expect the TL to be on par with its European competitors but still trail that of the Lexus ES.
"Beware, Acura black pearl paint has defects, and Acura WILL NOT stand behind the paint after the warranty expires. Crows feet tick marks on the roof. Also, door locks break often, expect to pay $200-$300 for the repair."
Pros: "value price for performance, comfort, convenience"
Cons: "very few - rusty wheel hubs/calipers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have the TL SH-AWD w/ 6MT and Technology Package. It rivals the BMW 5 series, Audi A6 and Mercedes at 75% or less of the cost. This car handles oustandingly - smooth quiet ride, hugs the corners, solid acceleration, comfortable yet sporty feel. It's an all around great great car. Love the manual transmission too."
Pros: "Overall awesome sedan, sporty and comfortable"
Cons: "No cons"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Own a Lexus RX and C-5 Corvette and must say my TL is even better. Style of 2012 still receives compliments from observers. Top end options package equipped is excellent. AWD is awesome in midwest snow. 19" wheels and low profile 45's give excellent ride. HP is excellent and MPG averages near 26 for my normal mixed road daily driving in suburbs of Chicago. Still love to drive it 2.5 years later."