Making its debut in Chicago, the 2012 Acura TL has undergone a mid-cycle refresh that brings a number of subtle but meaningful upgrades, including a more contemporary appearance, improved fuel economy courtesy of a new six-speed automatic transmission and an assortment of new comfort/convenience touches. Collectively, they should add a healthy measure of real-world appeal to this mid-size sedan in both front-drive Acura TL and all-wheel drive Acura TL SH-AWD variants.
Although its sheetmetal carries over, both fascias of the 2012 Acura TL have been tastefully tweaked to impart a leaner and sportier look. The more aerodynamically contoured nose sets off revised lighting elements and intakes with a restyled and repositioned grille complemented by a new horizontal character line that collectively create an overall sleeker visage. That approach carries over to the revamped rear end, which matches a similarly revised bumper, with new taillamps and more elegant trim accents to create a slimmer, more sophisticated alternative to the current TL model. As a final touch, the 2012 Acura TL gets new aluminum wheels, 17-inch/seven-spoke rims mounting 245/50 all-season tires on the front-drive models and 18-inch/five-spoke alloys with 245/45s on the SH-AWD.
Engine choices for the 2012 Acura TL also carry from 2011, with the front-drive model fitted with a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and the SH-AWD getting its motivation from a larger 3.7-liter version that makes 305 horses. However, the base engine benefits from lower internal friction and both feature more efficient outside-air intake plumbing. The most notable gain comes in the form of a new six-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission that replaces the existing five-speeder. Enthusiasts will like the new six-speed's rev-matching throttle-blip function but everyone will benefit from its extra cog and more capable torque converter that permits a greater range of full lockup operation. As a result, the TL's city/highway fuel economy has risen to 20/29 mpg -- a three mpg bump in its highway figure compared to the 2011 model. While this new automatic will be the choice of most TL buyers, Acura will still offer the SH-AWD variant with an available six-speed manual.
Inside, the 2012 Acura TL benefits from a number of minor trim refinements and boasts even better cabin isolation that reduces noise levels at higher speeds by three decibels. The HDD navigation system that's part of the TL's optional Technology Package sees the capacity of its hard drive bumped to 60 gigabytes and now offers more expansive map coverage, faster USB connection speed and an even brighter VGA monitor. Both 2012 Acura TL variants will be available with a new Advance Package that matches all-new heated/cooled front seats with a new blind-spot information (BSI) system. Pricing has yet to be announced for the 2012 Acura TL line, which will go on sale later this year.