$11,994 - $14,567

2012 Acura TL Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Acura TL was new.


Performance: 8.1

Auto reviewers are very happy with the 2012 Acura TL’s powerful V6 engine and nimble handling. They especially like the way it powers through curves and turns. Test drivers only have a couple gripes with the TL’s performance. A few reviewers say the transmission provides harsh shifts. The power steering also receives demerits from a couple test drivers, one who thinks it is provides too much assistance and one who says it feels like it’s not even there.

  • "The Acura TL occupies a sweet spot among all of those extremes - precise enough in steering (rack-and-pinion type) to go exactly where you point when you point it; gifted with a well-crafted suspension (front double wishbone, rear multi-link) that turns dips, curves and bends into a smile-laden joy ride; and blessed with a new six-speed automatic transmission that can be used as a manual to turn drives on especially steep and twisty roads into pure, unadulterated fun." -- The Washington Post

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Acura TL has a standard 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 254 pound-feet of torque. A more powerful 3.7-liter V6 comes with the SH-AWD trim, which produces 305 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

A six-speed automatic transmission is new for 2012, which Acura says improves performance and fuel economy. A five-speed automatic was standard for the 2011 TL. This new transmission features paddle shifters, which contribute to the TL’s sporty feel.

Two transmissions are available on the 2012 Acura TL. A six-speed automatic with paddle shifters is standard on the base and SH-AWD trims, while a six-speed manual is standard on SH-AWD 6MT models.

The 2012 Acura TL requires premium gas, which may deter some shoppers, but its fuel economy is better than some competitors that use regular gas. The EPA rates the two-wheel drive 2012 TL at 20/29 mpg city/highway, while the four-wheel drive model is rated at 18/26 mpg with an automatic transmission and 17/25 with a manual. Other upscale midsize cars, like the Cadillac CTS and Hyundai Genesis, use regular gas, but don’t get as good gas mileage.

Test drivers love the powerful V6 engines in both TL trims, but a few are disappointed with the transmission, saying it provides fairly harsh shifts.

  • "The V6s in both the TL and SH-AWD are quiet and buttery-smooth at low engine speeds. They're equally impressive when you wind them out, too. Both engines seem to thrive on being pushed to the redline, an easy thing to do when using the manual shift paddles." -- Inside Line
  • "Shifts are quick and crisp, and we love the way the transmission holds paddle-selected gears in sport mode, refusing to upshift at redline. Shifts in drive, however, seem somewhat harsh for commuting. Acura boasts that it has programmed the throttle to blip on downshifts, but it’s pretty disappointing in actual use." -- Car and Driver
  • "Seat-of-the-pants, the TL feels quick, but test results prove this sedan can hustle." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say there is a lot to like about the 2012 Acura TL’s handling, but a couple test drivers say the only negative is its power steering. One says he’d like more power assist, while another says it gives you more help than necessary.

Despite a couple negative comments on the TL’s power steering, the car’s optional all-wheel drive, brakes and suspension all receive very positive remarks from test drivers. They say the TL’s AWD gives the car a more agile feel on both wet and dry roads. Reviewers also think the brakes are powerful. Overall, test drivers say the TL drives like a true sport sedan, powering through turns with impressive ability.

  • "Brakes retard momentum right-by-gosh-now with not much pedal pressure. Steering gives you the impression you’re actually controlling the car, instead of rotating a mysterious mechanism through a slushy medium." -- USA Today
  • "It still has the same wonderfully competent and stable chassis that makes it a sport-sedan stalwart." -- Inside Line
  • "Unfortunately, the electric power steering on both sedans feels unnecessarily light and vague." -- Autoblog
  • "We quickly came to appreciate Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system, which is engineered to benefit both wet and dry-road traction. It not only automatically distributes engine power between the front and rear axles as needed, but also between the left and right rear wheels to provide a sporty feel few AWD vehicles can match. This so-called torque vectoring technology makes the 2012 Acura TL’s already quick and nimble handling feel like it’s on a turntable while making sharp turns at speed." -- Forbes

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