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2014 Acura TL : Current Models

The 2014 Acura TL is more adventuresome than most of the other luxury cars in its price bracket, but it doesn't follow quite the same sport-sedan formula seen in so many of the German premium cars. No matter which way you decide to categorize it, the TL has a spacious, comfortable interior, while offering engaging, athletic driving dynamics in its SH-AWD guise.

You could say that the TL looks a bit robotic–with its unmistakable and controversial metallic beak. That cosmetic feature was toned down in 2012, giving it a little more mainstream appeal, while the interior remains about attractive as any. It's intuitively assembled, with flowing arcs and circles that feel a little like art, without compromising ergonomics. There may be a few too many buttons–like so many of the Acuras on the road today–but we like everything else about it. The interior details don't feel European, nor do they feel terribly overwrought, and the twin-cockpit design doesn't rob too much space for the passengers, either.

In its base form, the TL features a standard USB iPod/MP3 interface, an eight-speaker audio system, and a crisp, high-resolution center-mounted display for controlling the infotainment system. The Tech Package adds a navigation system with live traffic, weather, and rerouting, plus a rearview camera; solar-sensing temperature control, keyless access, and an upgraded 440-watt Acura/ELS surround sound system--a system that we love for its thunderous power yet clarity. However, we're not fans of the navigation interface itself, or of the cobbled-together way its menu system feels. As we see it, the SH-AWD model with the Advance Package--which gets items like ventilated front seats, a blind-spot system, 440-watt ELS surround sound, and a nav system with live traffic--makes quite the well-rounded, high-tech sport sedan. But at the same time, with a bottom-line price of about $46k, it's worth keeping in mind that's nearly the cost of a base-level Mercedes-Benz E-Class or BMW 5-Series.

There are essentially two personalities to the TL, and one of them isn't all that performance-oriented. Get it in base front-wheel-drive form and it's a comfortable luxury sedan--albeit one with relatively crisp handling and an eager powertrain. But in its SH-AWD guise, this is a model that can definitely be enjoyable from the driver's seat. With it comes a 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6, juicing all four wheels through Acura's capable performance-oriented system that effectively quells torque steer or any scrambling for traction, distributing its power smartly without the loss of traction, but in a way that helps this sedan feel surprisingly balanced and nimble--and almost like a rear-wheel-drive sedan at times in tight corners. On the SH-AWD, there's one other true sign of a sport-sedan: the availability of a six-speed manual.

When it comes to interior space and comfort, the Acura TL's Honda Accord roots are nothing to be ashamed about. Those space-efficient origins make the TL more passenger-friendly than most other luxury sedans with its exterior dimensions--while of course the TL is more lavishly appointed through and through. Generously sized, supportive front seats make the TL a joy on long highway trips--although they could use a bit more lateral support if you intent to take to the mountains. And in general, the back seat is adult-sized, with space for three across. It might appear from the outside that rear headroom might be very limited by the arch and downslope of the roofline, but with seat contouring, it works. The only major disappointment in the 2014 Acura TL remains the trunk's meager 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space. It's less space than in many compact sedans.

At the base level, the 2014 Acura TL is a well-equipped luxury sedan--the kind a realtor should be happy to ferry clients in, or that a comfort-oriented commuter will think of as plush. But step up to one of the Tech or Advance models of the TL and you'll get the true good stuff--in the form of top-notch audio or infotainment, or active-safety items.

On Styling
The Acura TL found itself with more polarizing design than it intended when it was updated in 2009, but it's since grown into its styling. The exterior looks at home with the current Acura lineup, and a refresh in 2012 helped the TL find a softer, less extreme way to stand out in the segment.

The TL's metallic beak has been a point of controversy, and the overall design seems almost robot-inspired. There are more curves now than there were when the current model debuted, and those subtle changes–a new grille and a few other nuances that increased the attractiveness and decreased the weird-factor–have helped increase the car's popularity. It's legitimately attractive now, and the untrained eyes might even expect it to be a rear-wheel drive car, thanks to its lower nose and tall hips.

The 2014 TL has a less controversial interior that's actually quite beautiful, with gentle arcs and circles, and a setup that's artful yet mostly logical. The interior is a bit cluttered—essentially what we think of many Acura interiors today—but we like everything else about it. The twin-cockpit design is smooth but doesn't rob too much space, and the details do stand out as neither overwrought nor overly Euro-influenced.

On Performance
The 2014 TL can go one of two ways: front-wheel-drive with comfortable luxury sedan feel and relatively crisp handling, or all-wheel-drive (Acura calls it SH-AWD) as a full-fledged sport sedan.

The TL and the Honda Accord have the same 3.5-liter V-6 in common; it produces 280 horsepower in the TL, and it paired with an automatic transmission to power the front wheels. The front-wheel-drive TL's driving dynamics could almost be confused for the V-6 Accord's, although we much prefer the Acura's steering. It's not terribly sporty, but it is agreeable, responsive and all-around refined.

If you choose the TL with SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive), you get a legitimate sport sedan. Its 3.7-liter V-6 produces 305 horsepower, pushing all four wheels through an overtly sporty all-wheel-drive system that eliminates torque steer and promises traction in every conceivable situation. This version of the TL feels surprisingly nimble, and it's nearly as sharp in the corners as some of sportiest rear-wheel-drive sedans. The system also displays how it's working though a display in the instrument cluster.

On the SH-AWD, there's one other true sign of a sport-sedan: the availability of a six-speed manual. Overall, the AWD system feels almost impossible to fluster, allocating torque not only front-to-back but left-to-right, to help with slick surfaces or quick emergency maneuvers.

There's a lot to like in the TL's electric power steering, too--especially how it is in the SH-AWD. It does transmit a bit of feel from the road surface, and returns to center promptly out of corners, with a nice weighting.

On Quality
The Honda Accord's platform isn't a bad place to start when it comes to the TL's interior space and comfort. It's larger and more passenger-friendly than any other luxury sedans with the same exterior dimensions, and Acura gives it all the right appointments to make the TL feel like a proper luxury car.

Generously sized, supportive front seats make the TL a joy on long highway trips--although they could use a bit more lateral support if you intend to take to the mountains. And in general, the back seat is adult-sized, with space for three across. It might appear from the outside that rear headroom might be very limited by the arch and downslope of the roofline, but with seat contouring, it works.

Overall, the driving position and cockpit-like feel of the instrument panel amount to an interior feel that's very different than that of the Accord. The deep, round gauges and hooded central screen—the first details you notice when you step into the deeply bolstered driver's seat—are complemented by a selection dial for screen functions that's not too low from the line of vision. We just wish Acura would have simplified the techno-cluttered instrument panel, which tends to feel a little cluttered and overwhelming until you're familiar with it, as we've noted in some other Acura models.

The only major disappointment in the 2014 Acura TL remains the trunk's meager 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space. It's less space than in many compact sedans.

The 'normal' front-wheel-drive Acura TL models are very quiet inside, and last year Acura brought more weatherstripping and additional foam insulation to these sedans. But if you get the SH-AWD, with the available 19-inch wheels, beware that a lot of road coarseness still finds its way into the cabin.

On Safety
The 2014 Acura TL has been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which gave it four stars overall, and four stars both for frontal and side impact.

The 2014 model hasn't yet been tested by the IIHS, but in past tests, it's been a Top Safety Pick, with top 'good' results across the board.

All TL models include six airbags (front side airbags and full-length side-curtain bags), four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Brake Assist, and electronic stability control. Rear headrests can flip neatly out of the way when nobody's back there, which helps visibility, and a rearview camera system is available. The Advance model also includes a Blind Spot Information System.


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Sources : 2014 Acura TL Photo | 2014 Acura TL Article | 2014 Acura TL Interior Photo | 2014 Acura TL Performance Photo | 2014 Acura TL Engine Photo

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