By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.5
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.
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.
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 Impressions 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.
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.Exterior
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.
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.
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
254 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg
305 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 mpg (manual), 18/26 mpg (automatic)
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.
By akraines on Thursday, August 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fast car with a smooth ride. downloads cd's"
Cons: "poor neck support and too much outside noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The only two complaints I have are that the headrests are not comfortable at all. They are angled in such a way that prevents good neck and head support, even with available adjustments. The other complaint I have is the poor noise cancellation. It is tough for me to be on a conference call in the car without there being too much background noise."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Ro P on Thursday, July 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good value, reliable, solidly built, rides great"
Cons: "premium fuel, poor side/rear sightlines"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is my third straight TL. I am convinced that Acura makes a fine automobile. Can't remember having a mechanical issue with the car. Fun to drive, great pickup and road handling. I overbought and underuse the "Tech" package. Sightlines for sides and rear windows are not great. No warning alarm on backup camera is an issue although the camera has a very clear picture. Mileage seems very good but I'm not sure it compensates for premium gas requirement. Exiting vehicle due to low seats in front issue for some. Extremely dependable vehicle."
9 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By Joe on Monday, July 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 124,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Once you get in, it is very comfortable and fun to"
Cons: "Nav system too complex, hard to get in and out of,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"a TL. Very reliable! A little too much to operate on steering wheel and at time the Nav. system is a little too complicated and trunk is a little small. Also is hard for tall (6 Feet) people to get in and out of. Going to MDX this time to shut my wife up!"