$11,484 - $14,129

2013 Acura TL Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Acura TL was new.


Performance: 7.9

While it’s not as comfort-oriented as the Lexus ES, nor as sporty as the Infiniti G37, test drivers say that the 2013 Acura TL strikes an excellent balance between the two. They say the base TL offers ample power and comfortable, yet composed handling. As a result, one critic says that the TL is well-suited to shoppers who need comfort on their daily commutes, but still want a car that’s fun to drive when the road gets twisty.

  • "Base TLs use a 3.5-liter V6. With it, acceleration is spirited. The new 6-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth, timely shifts." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The ride is really smooth, and this car would be an ideal commuter. It's great on the expressway and handles itself rather well on twisty bits of road." -- AutoWeek (2012) 
  • "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 (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Acura TL comes with a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine, which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. TL SH-AWD models get a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 and all-wheel drive. A six-speed manual transmission is available on SH-AWD models, while all automatic models get a manual mode with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The EPA reports that the 2013 Acura TL gets up to 20/29 mpg city/highway, which is a bit low for the class. Rivals like the Audi A4, Lexus ES 350 and Volvo S60 all use less fuel.

Test drivers love the powerful and refined V6 engine, as well as the smooth automatic transmission, which can rev-match downshifts when you use the paddle shifters. Reviewers who’ve driven the SH-AWD model are even more enthusiastic, speaking highly about the slick-shifting manual transmission and the additional power that the engine provides.

  • "The all-wheel drive puts the power to the pavement without drama. The manual transmission is a delight, providing slick shifts and an easy-to-modulate clutch." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The TL's standard six-speed automatic transmission uses rev-matching for smooth downshifts, even across two gears." -- Cars.com
  • "Launches are energetic, and passing is no problem. Acura has eschewed V8s, but this 305-pony V6 is a pocket rocket." -- AutoWeek (2012)
  • "In everyday driving, the engine pulls linearly across the rev range, smoothly from just above idle to approaching redline. Although it may seem like a backhanded compliment, it's a testament to Acura's refinement that the car doesn't feel quite as quick as the test results bear out." -- Motor Trend (2012) 

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say there is a lot to like about the 2013 Acura TL’s handling, but one test driver says the power steering feels overboosted and vague. That issue aside, most auto writers think that the TL is fun to drive, with athletic handling and strong brakes. Handling is even more poised in AWD models, as reviewers say that the extra grip makes the TL feel like a true sport sedan.

  • "Any TL is quite nimble and fun to drive, but front-drive models understeer more than their all-wheel-drive siblings in spirited driving." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The brakes are strong, which became evident on Sunday cruising down Jefferson where every light is timed opposite of the last." -- AutoWeek (2012)
  • "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 (2012) 
  • "Unfortunately, the electric power steering on both sedans feels unnecessarily light and vague." -- Autoblog (2012)

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