Road test: fun-to-drive Acura TL

Prices for the Acura 2013-TL range from $35,705 Prices for the Acura 2013-TL range from $35,705 to $45,185. Photo Credit: Handout

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Acura's midsize sedan, the TL, received some styling updates this past year, making it even more appealing than it already was.

But probably more significant for consumers is the addition of a six-speed automatic transmission, which helped boost the car's fuel economy to 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway.

Prices range from $35,705 to $45,185. The entry-level, front-wheel-drive TL comes with the base V-6 engine. For $45,185 you'll get everything that's available in a TL, including all-wheel drive and a more powerful 3.7-liter V-6.

We tested the top-of-the-line model, which even had such extras as a power trunk lid, blind-spot monitoring, and one of the best audio systems around.

The 3.5-liter engine, rated at 280 horsepower, was given some friction-reduction technologies to help boost fuel efficiency, Acura said. That engine and the optional 305-hp. 3.7-liter V-6 also were given larger air inlets to provide cooler air for more-efficient combustion.

Design tweaks included a new front bumper with improved aerodynamics, a new grille, revised headlights and turn signals, new fog lights and a shorter front overhang. There are smaller rear reflectors, new LED taillights and a thinner trunk-edge trim.

This is a fun car to drive, especially with the all-wheel drive, which mostly eliminates the torque-steer problem that a lot of front-drive sport sedans have. The engine gives this vehicle more power than you'll ever need, and enough to get you in trouble if you're not paying attention to the speedometer. The car really likes to run.

The technology package brings sports front bucket seats with perforated leather trim; keyless entry and start with push-button ignition; GPS-linked dual-zone automatic climate control; an in-dash navigation system with voice recognition; AcuraLink real-time traffic and weather information, and a 60-gigabyte hard drive; and a truly amazing 410-watt Acura/ELS Surround audio system.

Direct connections are provided for iPod/iPhone, which makes the music available through the audio system, with playlists and song lists showing up on the dash screen -- and a feature that uses voice commands to play the music.

While the TL seats up to five, the middle position in the backseat is best left to kids. Trunk space is limited to 13.1 cubic feet, which is less than what most midsize sedans offer.

 

2013 Acura TL

Base price: $37,705

Price as tested: $45,185

Engine: 3.5-liter V6

Power: 280 horsepower at 6,200 rpm

EPA fuel economy: 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway

Wheelbase: 109.3 inches

Length: 194 inches

Width: 74 inches

Height: 57.2 inches

Cargo volume: 13.1 cubic feet

Bottom line: Cheaper to operate but still fun to drive.

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