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Buying used: 2012 Acura TL offers a great driving experience

There were few differences between the 2010 and 2012 Acura TL editions, aside from the addition of a six-speed automatic transmission, retuned suspension and a slight body refresh – mainly a new front-end treatment.

Optional equipment includes Honda’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD), which gives the TL a leg up on much of the competition when it comes to handling and road-holding ability.

Not an all-wheel-drive system in the traditional sense, it enhances the vehicle’s high-speed stability and cornering capabilities by slightly steering the rear wheels.

The TL also has Acura’s ground-breaking and bulletproof i-VTEC V6 engine, which in the base version develops 280 horsepower, with the SH-AWD model displacing an additional 200 cc and featuring 25 more horses.

Transmission choices include the six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. The manual is about as good as these things get, with well-spaced gearing, smooth linkage and nice linear clutch action. For driving enthusiasts, it also gives the TL an added dimension of performance. The automatic comes with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles and is arguably more in keeping with this vehicle’s overall character. There were no price differences between the two when new.

The whole driving experience of this vintage of the TL is effortless. Much smoother in operation than, say, BMW’s 5-series or the Audi A6, its closest rival is arguably the Cadillac CTS when it comes to overall flavour and driveability. It is also the most performance-oriented TL Acura had put forward to that point.

What it may lack in visual beauty, the TL more than compensates for with interior amenities and modern conveniences

All the usual upscale goodies are in evidence. In the SH-AWD Technology model, for example, there are no options, and standard kit includes heated front seats, leather interior, satellite radio, Bluetooth, power trunk release, navigation system, backup camera, headlight washers, and 18-inch alloy wheels and tires.

What it may lack in visual beauty, the TL more than compensates for with interior amenities and modern conveniences. However, it’s worth noting that it also required premium gasoline.

Safety equipment includes four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, front, side and side curtain airbags, a hill start assist feature, tire pressure monitoring system, and traction control and vehicle stability systems.

There are no safety recalls on file for the 2012 Acura TL, either from Transport Canada or the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, the latter organization does have some eight technical service bulletins, including things like “loose or rocking” front seats, glitches with the hill-holder system, and various electrical gremlins. Nothing earth-shaking here, however.

As far as Consumer Reports is concerned, the 2012 Acura TL is all you could ask for in an upscale sedan. It received top marks in virtually every area and, when new, CR gave it a reliability rating some 30 per cent above average. The 2012 edition was also one of this organization’s “best bet” models.

Some comments from owners:

Marketing researcher J.D. Power proclaimed that this vintage of the TL was definitely worth checking out and gave it its top ranking in most areas. It seemed to fall a bit short when it came to styling but otherwise, the ’12 TL received an “among the best” rating for overall quality and “better than most” for predicted reliability.

These days, a 2012 TL seems to go for $12,000 to $17,000, depending on equipment level. The Technology models are a little pricier than their front-wheel-drive counterparts, and the top-of-the-line SH-AWD versions are the priciest of all.

2012 Acura TL

Original base price: $39,990
Engine: 3.5-litre or 3.7-litre V6
Horsepower: 280 or 305
Torque: 254 or 273-foot pounds
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 11.9 city and 8.03 highway, with premium gas
Alternatives: Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37, Lexus IS 250, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lincoln MKZ

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.


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