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Auto Show:  2011 Chicago Auto Show

2012 Acura TL - Chicago Auto Show

February 2011 author photo


February 9, 2011

For critics of the stylistic detour taken by Acura over the last few years, the pain may not be over, but at least Acura has administered a local anesthetic. With its reveal today, of the 2012 TL, Acura’s product team demonstrates both an eye for design and an ear to the ground, bringing to the Chicago Auto Show a thoroughly freshened TL with new fascias front and rear..

In the absence of a new RL, the TL has worn the de facto mantle as Acura’s luxury leader, at least within Acura’s sport sedan segment. To that end, customer perception is king – Acura dealers simply can’t compete with only the RDX and MDX on the lot. A positive reception to Acura’s midsize sedan is paramount, and that reception had been compromised by the heavy-handed sheet metal and controversial grille adorning the TL since its last major redesign.

Of course, there’s more to Acura’s announcement than just a prettier face. Cosmetic changes to the front and rear include updates to bumpers, fog light surrounds and rear garnish, along with color changes to the headlights and taillights. The end result – at least from our viewpoint on the show floor – is something both visually lighter and notably more athletic.

That perceived athleticism is validated by the introduction of a 6-speed automatic transmission, designed to improve both performance and fuel economy. Economy is also enhanced by aerodynamic improvements and new friction reducing technology applied to Honda’s 3.5 liter V6. And in the aftermath of a wicked winter in the City by the Lake, newly available 19” all-season tires will further improve performance on snow, ice and – hopefully – Lake Shore Drive.

Inside, there are plenty of technology upgrades to Acura’s HDD Navigation system (now offering 60GB) with improvements to both functionality and music storage. An optional Advance Package provides blind spot information, ventilated front seats and upgraded alloy wheels. Finally, NVH improvements and trim changes bring additional refinement to a vehicle already known for an upscale interior in its near-luxury segment.

In fact, the freshened TL might be just the thing for a customer base stepping tentatively out of a recession. Honda’s luxury division has always gone about its business quietly. These subtle – albeit attractive – improvements should keep the TL in its well-earned spot as the main event in the Acura showroom.

DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Acura TL - Chicago Auto Show - Autotrader