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#4

in Upscale Midsize Cars

MSRP: $36,030 - $45,510
Invoice: $33,828 - $42,602
MPG: 20 City / 29 Hwy
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Acura TL Performance

Critics agree that although the 2014 Acura TL isn’t as comfortable as the Lexus ES or as sporty as the BMW 3-Series, it strikes an excellent balance between the two. They say the TL offers plenty of power and comfortable, yet nimble, handling, especially the SH-AWD model.

  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Within the TL's price range, you might want to consider the more comfort-oriented Lexus ES 350 (which also comes in a fuel-sipping hybrid model), the Hyundai Genesis or, if sporty handling's a priority, a smaller, more nimble sedan like the Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series." -- Edmunds
  • "Any TL is quite nimble and fun to drive, but front-drive models understeer more than their all-wheel-drive siblings in spirited driving." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The ride is really smooth, and this car would be an ideal commuter. It's great on the expressway and handles itself rather well on twisty bits of road." -- AutoWeek (2012) 

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Acura TL comes with a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine, which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. TL SH-AWD models get a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6. A six-speed manual transmission is a no-cost option on SH-AWD models with the Technology package. The EPA reports that the base 2014 Acura TL gets 20/29 mpg city/highway, which is a bit low for the class. Opting for SH-AWD and the manual transmission reduces fuel economy. Rivals like the Audi A4, Lexus ES 350 and Volvo S60 all use less fuel.

Reviewers agree that both engines offer strong acceleration, and that the SH-AWD model is slightly quicker than the base TL. They say the standard six-speed automatic shifts smoothly, although many think the six-speed manual is more fun, with its refined shifter and clutch pedal.

  • "The standard 3.5-liter V6 delivers acceleration that should be more than adequate for the needs of most buyers." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The manual transmission is a delight, providing slick shifts and an easy-to-modulate clutch." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "When it is time to move, the TL Advance with its 3.5-liter V-6 (280 horsepower, 254 foot-pounds of torque) has enough oomph to get you going. The SH-AWD version with its 3.7-liter V-6 (305 horsepower, 273 foot-pounds of torque) is a tad more exciting. But the local constabulary in these parts will be happy to give you a speeding ticket in either one." -- The Washington Post (2012)

Handling and Braking

The 2014 Acura TL comes standard with front-wheel drive, while the SH-AWD model features all-wheel drive and a sport-tuned suspension system. Test drivers say the TL handles very well, especially the SH-AWD models. A few critics say that while the ride is firm, it’s still fairly comfortable. Reviewers agree that the TL’s brakes are quite powerful, but some think the steering system, though certainly adequate, feels a little numb.

  • "Turn onto a back road with tight turns and the TL responds with gusto. The standard suspension under the base model gives the car lively handling, which is enhanced by precise, though somewhat uncommunicative, steering." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "TL is a reasonably comfortable tourer, though the ride is still quite firm." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The brakes are strong, which became evident on Sunday cruising down Jefferson where every light is timed opposite of the last." -- AutoWeek (2012)
Review Last Updated: 5/16/14

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