By on June 24, 2011

Here’s a mind game I sometimes like to play: imagine your car was destroyed by some horrible accident while you were away (e.g., Godzilla was in the neighborhood). To your good fortune, your insurance company gave you a sufficient settlement to buy a brand new version of whatever it was you were driving. Would you consequently buy that brand new car, or something else with the same money?

We’ve got a 2005 Acura TL, manual transmission + satnav, purchased new back in the day and currently with a modest 60K miles on the clock. It’s driven cross-country. It’s driven to the supermarket. It’s had parking lot abuse. It’s had toddler abuse. And it keeps on running. I had it in the shop recently for it’s “B2″ service (oil change, assorted air filters, and wipers: $230 — whee!) and to fix what turned out to be a busted power steering pump ($450 or thereabouts). Of note, the dealer gave me a chance to play my imagination game by loaning me a brand new 2012 Acura TL (automatic transmission, no satnav, no options at all). With one day of driving it around, here are my observations.

Several things have decidedly improved. The seats seem more comfortable and supportive, and the driver’s seat now includes a power lumbar bolster. The car suspension has radically improved (alternately, our 2005 TL’s has seriously degraded). On the cracked up, uneven streets around our house, the new TL is significantly more composed. You still feel the bumps, but you’re less worried that they’re going to destroy your car. It’s similarly better mannered on the freeway. This is a car you’d love to drive cross-country. Some of the smaller electronic gadgety bits have also improved. I’m happy to see a proper tire pressure monitoring system and an auxiliary music input for phones and whatnot. (I didn’t have time to see how well it does at integrating music from my Android phone via USB much less Bluetooth Audio, but the Bluetooth pairing process was painless enough and Bluetooth Audio (A2DP) is claimed to be supported, albeit with some debate as to how well.)

Like the 2005 Acura TL, several things are good, but still frustratingly not quite right. Freeway mileage is excellent and stop-and-go city mileage is an embarrassment; I clocked 31mpg highway and from 13-20mpg stop-and-go city — a marginal improvement on the freeway and a marginal downgrade in the city compared to what our 2005 TL gets.

The car has zillions of things you might like to configure, like what happens when you click the unlock button on your remote. Does it just unlock the driver door or the whole car? Many such settings are handled with the arrow buttons on the steering wheel and the tiny screen between the tach and speedo. That’s good. But, how about that giant selector knob with the huge screen above the center stack? It’s only good for changing the radio station and setting up the audio balance. Similarly, the Bluetooth pairing process can only be done via voice, which talks to you slowly. Very slowly. With modern in-car networks, you’d think they could do everything on the big central screen, making it easier, providing more help with options, etc.  Could they, should they centralize all these disparate systems, from no-doubt unrelated parts suppliers, to have a grand unified user interface? Could it be accomplished without reaching iDrive levels of incomprehensibility? For the 2005 TL, such thoughts would have been future fantastic. For the 2012 TL, such thoughts should be entirely achievable. Everything in the car is networked together. Make it so!

Frustratingly, several things have gotten decidedly worse. Foremost is the trunk. If you’re loading something heavy, you’ve now got a 10.5 inch lip to hoist your bags over, versus 7 inches in the 2005 TL. Why? Similarly, if you’re going to the airport, one giant wheely bag will fit without issue, but two of them? Good luck with those bumps on the floor. You can’t blame AWD, since this particular car is FWD. So, again, why? Also from the Department of Fail, you’d think they’d test a family car with family accoutrements like a booster seat. I’ve included a photo of my daughter’s booster seat. You’re supposed to run the seatbelt under both armrests. See the belt latch? It’s way around the back. The old TL was better in this regard, but stil not great. Why not have more slack in the belt latch? (Credit where credit is due: they significantly improved access to the LATCH anchors for younger kids’ car seats.)

Another concern is trying to park this thing into a tight space. The car’s beltlines are higher up and the car feels enormous. It’s notably trickier to park and maneuver in tight environs. Does anybody test these things? I’ll also insert a gripe about the ventilated seats (not present on my loaner car). If I read the options list correctly, it’s not possible to get a manual transmission and ventilated seats, at any price. Really? Do Acura engineers like sitting in a car with Godzilla barbecuing their backside? Do customers who want manual transmissions always wear Nomex racing suits? Hop in my car after a day outside in the Houston summer…

Cosmetically, I’m pretty happy with the new schnoz. It won’t win any beauty contests, but at least it doesn’t cry out for you to put it out of its misery. Also in the cosmetic department, they’ve redone the dashboard and center stack. The gauges are bright and readable, as always. Somebody smart said they should get rid of the blue halos around the old gauges. Somebody less smart decided to add giant fake-chrome rings around them, in a perhaps-confused nod at a Porsche 911. Please revisit the clean, spartan gauges of the previous-generation Acura TSX. No really, please do. Also, I’m baffled by the curvy/slashy lines inside the car. Has somebody been spending too much time looking at Frank Gehry buildings?

So, if Godzilla paid an unfortunate visit to my car and I hit the insurance jackpot, would I buy the new TL? Sadly no. But what? Does anybody make a car with a manual transmission, rear wheel drive, decent tech and luxury features, decent mileage yet good performance, good styling, and high reliability ratings? At any price at all? Yeah, fantasies never quite work out, do they?

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100 Comments on “Review: 2012 Acura TL...”


  • avatar
    wsn

    This is a 5 series size for 3 series money. Decent everything.

    I don’t understand all the beak hate.

    • 0 avatar
      Sundowner

      When I looked, I drive the 5 series, the 3 series, A4, A6 and the TL.
      The just didn’t do it for me. The engine is just not in the same class as any of the aforementioned German competitors, and I honestly find the car to be hideous. I realize that’s completely a personal opinion, but I just can’t drive a car I don’t like to look at.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Styling is a personal thing. I don’t like the looks of any of the cars you mentioned. The engine though? You’re right that the TL engine isn’t in the same class as the whoary old compromises that come in the other cars you’ve mentioned, but I don’t get the impression that you realized why.

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        I never thought I’d type these words but: “I agree with cjinsd.”

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        Of course not, CJ. Why would anyone want an engine with some character amd verve and not a larger, slightly quieter washing machine motor?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @wsn:
      Chalk it up to personal preference…but I think the grille is 100 kinds of ugly. To each his own, I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      If my 328i sedan was totaled and I got full replacement value, I’d get another one. Second choice would be an Infiniti G37 sedan. FWD/AWD and automatic transmissions are not considerations for me.

  • avatar
    86er

    No trunk space, poor visibility and only now does power lumbar appear?

    A new power steering pump and a tired suspension at 60K?

    This is a luxury car?

    Sounds like somebody needs to get a Town Car…

    :)

  • avatar
    bytheway

    Do the new TL’s have the ridiculously designed lumbar support that the Accords have? Its way to high up, and feels like someone wedged a basketball against your back. I dont know what Honda was thinking. Horrible seats. They’ve kept me out of Honda/Acura cars for the past 15 years.

    Btw the last Accord that had well designed seats was in 2002

  • avatar
    vbofw

    Nice review – focused on what matters and didn’t follow the typical sequence. I felt like I sat in the car.

  • avatar
    vvk

    If that happened to me, I would be crushed. I takes me years to find my cars, so losing one would be a big blow.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    If Godzilla BBQ’ed my S2000, that lizard would be goin DOWN! There is no car on the market right now that could replace it…

    But it sounds to me that your car could be met by a 335i with a BMW extended warantee. OK mileage (19/26), RWD, manual, good performance, (de-bangled) good looks, luxury farkles, and with the warantee the reliability becomes a non-issue.

    • 0 avatar
      bytheway

      Until your failed fuel pump leaves you stranded on the middle of the highway..bumper to bumper is good for to keep you from having to pay for the repairs, but its no excuse for not building quality components in the first place.

    • 0 avatar

      My previous car was a 2000 BMW Z3 Coupe. It’s not so much that I objected to how often it was in the shop (way, way too often), nor that it took the dealership typically three attempts to get anything actually fixed. No, my biggest complaint was the astonishingly poor treatment I got at the hands of the service representatives, who would suggest that I was crazy and there was nothing wrong with the car. That experience taught me the value of buying a car that’s built not to fail.

    • 0 avatar
      bludragon

      Personally I’d pass on the new 335i and get the 328i without the sport package. It’s cheaper, more reliable (no fuel pump issues), still quick enough, more responsive (no turbo and less throttle lag), more economical in the real world (19/26 on the 335i only if you never spool up the turbos), and without the sport package you don’t notice the downsides of the run flats so much. The trunk on the 3 series is not huge, but it is flush, so you can fit 2 suitcases side by side. You also lost a bit of space in the cabin down the center of the car due to the RWD layout. One thing the new 335i does have going for it is the dual clutch auto, vs the torque converter auto in the 328, but if you’re going for a manual anyway that doesn’t matter.

      Oh, and I don’t believe the extended warranty is ever worth it, just look after it and find an independent mechanic once the 4yrs, 50k standard warranty expires.

      Actually, I’d be looking at a 1 series M, but that is a completely different type of car :-)

  • avatar
    tced2

    The whole car looks like 50% too many stylists were used. The recent revisions have simplified things.

    I agree with the review about the instruments. The primary function of the instruments is to provide readouts of vehicle activity – not a styling statement. Chrome rings are too shiny and distract from the main purpose of the instruments.

  • avatar
    anchke

    Sounds to me like another case in which “design language” impedes usability. The driver really, really needs to see out of a car, and not just for parking. My missus has a Lexus ES wgich freaks me out in parking lots because pedestrians — who dare drivers to hit ‘em — are easily obscured by the car’s thick A pillars and large mirrors. Mommys pushing strollers seem to materialize in the road right in front of me. And it’s absurd that a trunk in a TL size car can accommodate only one wheeled suitcase. Is that literally true? Are you sure? In the past I’ve liked Honda seats. Maybe I just happen to be the right size. And, yes, if road maintenance is bad enough, the suspension could need work at 60K.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I see Acura’s current design theme as if our Congress designed it – there was a good initial design underneath – but then to get the proper votes they added additions upon additions which then ruined the plan.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I have an ’05 Scion xB.

    Would I replace it with an ’11 xB?

    HELL no!

  • avatar
    Oodie

    Used to own an ’05 TL as well and was, for the most part, a fan of the car’s styling inside and out. Cannot say the same about the new TL. Even post-refresh, still too many excuses need to be made for the car’s looks inside and out.

    Seems to be a problem across the Honda/Acura lineup. The shift over the last few years to the designed with a ruler & protractor theme (a la Cadillac) is perplexing. They’ve also followed the trend of making everything bigger and bloated (see, i.e., current Acura TL and Honda Accord).

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    and the downward spiral of Honda continues. They’ll spin out of it, eventually. They have to remember the original mottos – smaller, lighter, faster, funner.

    Don’t know about reliability but when I drove a basic 330i, it felt like a sports car, a real sports car. So I got sick of the bouncy ride after a 200 mile junket.

    Volvo S60? Buick with 3800 engine?

  • avatar
    brettc

    Nice review. I like the comparison of what you’re used to versus what the new car offers (or doesn’t). I have no interest in any Honda product just because of how they’ve changed them for the worse in recent years.

    I own A4/Mark IV VW TDIs. The only current VW I might buy is a Golf TDI if something happened to either one of them. The new Jetta is completely off my list because of its fugliness and Americanization. And there’s never a reason to buy a gas powered VW. Unless you like frequent gas station visits coupled with the reliability of a VW. Anxiously waiting for Mazda’s Sky-D cars to show up in NA.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    How many brand new 4 door sedans out there are equipped with 3 pedals and a V6 for family sedan money?

    Well?

    Anyone?

    Exactly. The 2006 Mazda 6s V6 is irreplaceable. That damn lizard would have to deal with an RPG up the arse.

    Regarding the review, I like what they’ve done with the refresh. The car looks more, elegant instead of downright polarizing. I still think the previous gen TL was more engaging aesthetically and dynamically though.

    Great review!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Steering pump failed at 60K? Really? Honda?

    Makes this owner of a 2004 Impala feel pretty, pretty good.

    Of course, no car is perfect, so I’m not gloating at all, but this rendition of the Acura does nothing for me.

    I think the proportions are wrong. Sit behind one in traffic and study the back end. It looks quite chunky and trunk openings on this and many other cars are getting to the point of ridiculous.

    I have no idea of why designs like this are approved for production, but I wish respective management would sit up and take notice – not just at Honda, but at all OEM’s. Come on, make the bread-and-butter sedans practical like they should be – they used to, they can once again.

    The front end? Well, the chevron-shape must’ve gotten a needed demotion, as this looks much better. From the side, it looks like it has less visibility than its Accord cousin.

    While it’s probably a decent-enough car, I wouldn’t buy one if I were in the market, and as I’m not a fan of Honda (even if we do own a CR-V), it wouldn’t even be on my list. What would I consider for a new car purchase? Impala, Taurus (which I would convert to a “Galaxie 500″, Malibu and Fusion.

    The End.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I should hasten to add that I too wasn’t intending to slag the author’s choice of wheels. Just some facetious teasing as I know that no Acura owner would ever consider a Town Car. Everyone has the right to drive what they like.

      The power steering pump in my 92 Vic went at 120,000 miles and I was some pissed about it, after reading of other owners who had theirs go for 180,000 before calving. But that’s been the only expensive fix so far, so I’m happy overall.

      I wholeheartedly agree on the overdesigned aspects of modern sedans. I guess they’re trying to make them look like crossovers? Maybe they’re afraid that everyone will buy a crossover instead of a passenger car.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Ya, I tag teamed the OP with a similarly snarky comment for which I am now contrite.

        But, I do have to point out if I had made a similar statement about a 6 year old domestic car, you’d have the same half dozen or so people on here ragging on about how much crap Detroit foists on the public.

        It is remarkable to me that such a fairly recent car can have a tired suspension already. Unless he lives in the rust belt. Then, I can fathom it. I love living here, but man, it takes a toll on the equipment…

      • 0 avatar

        I wouldn’t say the suspension on our ’05 TL is “tired”, although I did have to recently replace the front struts ($$$). It’s just not nearly as good as the brand-new TL. That thing really handles crappy roads with panache.

        I wouldn’t want to go against the Panther Love vibe around here, but those cars don’t have any of the things that my wife and I were looking for in a car. (Manual transmission, lots of tech features, etc.)

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        What are struts? :)

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Uhm. Personally I’d get the insurance money and buy a 4cyl Accord.

    With the rest of the money I would hire a good-looking personal trainer, enroll myself on a school to learn a new language and take my girlfriend on a vacation trip to Patagonia.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    “Does anybody make a car with a manual transmission, rear wheel drive, decent tech and luxury features, decent mileage yet good performance, good styling, and high reliability ratings?”

    Infiniti G37S sedan?? Thats all I could come up with for brand new cars. Oh, also the Lexus IS350, although my nod would go to the G for better driving dynamics.

    • 0 avatar

      Another car that shows up on the list would be a Lexus IS250, which you can get with a manual transmission. The IS350 is automatic-only.

      After I had a chance to ride in a friends’ car with vented seats, I fell in love and it’s been on my wish list ever since. (Did I mention it gets really hot here in the summers?) From staring at vendor web sites, it seems that vented seats are available on the IS250, but not on the G37. You’d have to move up to the M37, and then you can’t get a manual transmission. Very frustrating.

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    I’m driving a 2006 Mercury Mariner now that I’ve sold my Mustang. Would I buy the new version? Uhm, FoMoCo took care of that decision for me. Now would I take a 2011 Mustang GT to replace the 2005? In a heartbeat. The 5.0 wins over the bad rear styling.

  • avatar
    nickeled&dimed

    We actually had something similar to the situation you described happen to us. Except, instead of driving nice cars, we drive used vanilla. Our ’01 Camry 4cyl was an excellent car, until it was totalled in the middle of the night, parked at the curb in front of our house. We got to the window in time to see the Tahoe driving off, but not in time to get plates. We considered a number of replacement options, especially a new(er) model Camry, since we liked ours so much. Unfortunately they had gotten ‘the bloat’ since ’01, and we were dissapointed with the models we drove. We ended up with an ’05 Prius, which actually had very similar features to the Camry, except it’s slightly smaller, lighter, easier to park, hatchback (very nice), and gets 20mpg better fuel economy.

    So, given the used version of the choice you contemplate, we chose to downsize slightly, to another used vanilla vehicle. We love it.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Personally, I would leave a trail of Scooby snacks all the way to my driveway in a bid to lure Godzilla to my Saab 9-3. Or scatter pizzas. Or sushi. Whatever firebreathing Asian monsters like to eat.

    Once he arrives, I’ll pour gas on the car, just to give the big guy a hand.

    Insurance check in hand, I’d use it to buy Saab from Spyker. And the rest maybe for a hot hatchback daily driver. As the owner of Saab, I’d fire everyone save the beautiful blonde in the yellow hoodie, and we’d ride off to the beach and…well, carry on.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    My problem is that my car is financed, so all Godzilla would be doing is getting me out of a car payment, I wouldnt have much left over after paying off the loan! But if that happened, I probably wouldnt get into another loan, I am much more attracted to the “no car payment” idea nowadays.

    But if we are dreaming, and my 2008 GTI was paid off already, and I got a nice big fat check to cover the cost of a brand new 2011 GTI, I still wouldnt buy one. Not that I dont still love my GTI, its just that for that money I could now get a 2011 Mustang GT, which I would rather have. Or, if we are really dreaming, I would get a cheap cash daily driver and a 1970 Mustang, or mid 80s Porsche 911, or an E30 BMW with an S50 swap, or a used S2000 along with a used Civic Si sedan, or any number of fun cheap toys my mind could dream up if I had cash rather than credit!

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Nice review, and nice to hear some good things about Acura for a change. As for the interior, I find curves and chrome attractive! As long as the chrome is the dull non-reflective kind.

  • avatar
    william442

    We spent about 30 minutes with a new 3 series BMW last Tuesday. I’ll take any Acura.
    Of course if there were a V8 Impala…

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      geozinger, did you get an answer to yesterday’s question on this?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      There is a V8 Impy… Just not new…

      Besides, if we’re going to hop into the not-so-wayback-machine, I’d be planting my ample rear end into a Grand Prix GXP. I don’t care if it makes me look like a midwestern wannabe (to quote Popeye: I yam what I yam).

      I still like those cars…

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Ha ha ha!

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Sedans that I keep turning over in my mind, W-body Impala SS, Grand Prix GXP V8, DTS, Lucerne, and Town Car. I cannot help that I am an 8 cyl sedan man. God help the neighborhood after I bring one of those to the local custom exhaust shop. It will likely sound like a Harley V-Twin times 4 from the street level. (Inside? Well isn’t sound deadening nice?)

  • avatar
    dswilly

    Nice Honda.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    I’ll add to the pile on by noting that my mother is very happy with her 2003 TL and would never consider a current TL as a replacement.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    What’s wrong with this picture:

    1) Honda Accord EX-L V-6 with leather, nav and sunroof: $32600

    Acura TL with nav: same engine, same platform, six speed transmission with paddle shifters, some more electronic gizmos, $40220

    …and that, folks, tells you why Acura’s not doin’ so hot.

    I drove a TL with the SH-AWD setup not so long ago…the car was definitely quick, and felt agile, but the steering was Playstation all the way (completely numb, with clearly artificial “effort” built in). The car felt overly teched, and the zillion button control setup shows you what BMW was trying to avoid when they did iDrive. Interior room, though, was good (the benefit of the Accord bones).

    The car felt like an Accord on steroids and did little to justify its price for me.

    (nice review, though, Dan…)

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      For a while now, the dirty secret of the auto industry has been that the base-brand cars, loaded up with all the toys, are basically the same things as the top-brand cars but for thousands less. This is true with Acura, with Lexus, and Lincoln especially. I could buy a brand-new Fusion Sport with leather, nav, AWD, and everything else and it would probably still be thousands less than an MKZ. The same thing is true of the Avalon and basicaly any Lexus sedan.

  • avatar
    Alwaysinthecar

    I dunno, but I think the reason TTAC has no cred when it comes to new car reviews, is that they are sooooo subjective. I know this style of “journalism” is hipster and cool, but why not describe the car and point out the available options and give us something quantitative to chew on? Instead I always feel like I’m reading an article from Gawker Media or something.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Hey, if you want objective, read Consumer Reports.

      This site is for enthusiasts, and we’re a subjective bunch. As in: I have absolutely no idea why looking at the picture of the ’69 Mustang Boss 302 makes me feel the same way I did when I found my dad’s Playboy mag when I was 13, but it surely does.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “…but why not describe the car and point out the available options and give us something quantitative to chew on?”

      FreedMike:

      Huh? If that’s all you want, just to to your favorite car manufacturer’s website and do a “build your own”, or just read the car’s description and the options list about that particular model online or from a sales brochure from the dealer.

      An OEM’s website WILL NOT evaluate those features in a judgmental way, nor will they offer the plusses and minuses of the ergonomics of the features and how practical they are or aren’t to use by Mr./Mrs./Miss average person. They hype their products to sell them, not dismiss them!

      Remember – everything ever written was written by someone with an opinion, and like fingerprints, everyone’s opinions are unique.

      Good hunting for your next ride, then whatever you may choose, you’ll have your own unique opinion that you can share with the B&B!

      We’ll be waiting!

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll agree with the other commenters that TTAC is all about the reviewer’s impressions, but there’s also a fair bit of objective data in the article. See those photos with the yardstick? When’s the last time you saw that kind of data in a car review?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    What would replace my Godzilla-destroyed car? Only one will do:

    ’69 Mustang Boss 302…in orange.

    http://langod.com/graphics/boss302.jpg

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    My pet peeve with the LATCH system is that a lot of car manufacturers just bury them deep in the seats. There’s a technique to connect them, but it doesn’t work every time. I just use the seatbelt instead.

    motherproof.com used to do reviews of how child-seat-friendly the car was, until they got absorbed into cars.com

  • avatar
    Oodie

    As for manual, RWD cars, I’ll stick with my current: 2006 330i w/ 6MT and ZSP (sport pkg)… and of course a naturally aspirated inline 6 (the proper BMW motor, I believe).

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Simple choice. If our ’06 Suzuki Grand Vitara got lost, I’d replace it with a new one. Despite what JD Power and Consumers Reports have to say, truedelta confirms our experience that it is as reliable as the other cuv’s. Despite urban myths, resale value relative to cost is competitive also.

    The changes since ’06 have been minor and are improvements. Having no V6 available now is ok with me. No one else sells a smallish suv in North America that has a low range. We need a low range and use it regularly. Probably no other suv has the GV’s perfect weight distribution, which enhances traction and handling in difficult conditions. The only possible alternative is an off-road equipped Patriot, but it’s just not up to the same standard.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Those were built at CAMI, right?

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Grand Vitaras haven’t been built at CAMI since the 2005 model. The GV’s sold in North America are built in Japan. Even the ones from CAMI seem to be pretty durable and functional vehicles, and were also sold as Trackers. The XL7 is a different vehicle, based on GM’s Theta platform, and (was) made only at CAMI.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Grand Vitara has a very specific combination of applications that it performs better than anything else near its price. It isn’t for people who just want to sit high and drive an ‘SUV,’ but I’d bet on one in rough conditions or pulling a boat near its trailer rating out of the water over a crossover every time. I spent a few weeks driving a rented Samarai hardtop around Costa Rica back in 1995. It was slower than anything civilian other than the Land Rover 88s and VW buses that were common there, but we didn’t spend our time changing flats or waiting for tows, which happened to plenty of tourists we encountered in more upscale vehicles. I still have a photograph of it on an island in a river that was part of a road near Montezuma at the time.

  • avatar

    My father has a 2007 TL, loaded with the tech pack. I helped him choose it a few years ago, it was a steal as a well-loved preowned car on an Acura dealer lot. It is a great techno-luxury car, but I always found it a bit dull. He had a G35 sedan before and the TL was always lacking the G’s sporty (and somewhat rough-around-the-edges) charm. The motor is also a snoozer, it gets the job done with a little bit of fun power but never so much that you want to scream “wheeee!” and terrorize your passengers. Handling is ho-hum, certainly not as balanced as the rear-drive mid-front-engine G was.

    Boring-ness aside the thing has been perfectly reliable. Where the G went through suspension bits, electronic sensors, audio parts, and eventually picked up a nasty habit of not starting and falling into engine-failsafe mode without warning, the TL has not broken…ever… in two years of high mileage use. And this is after 40 000 miles from the previous owner. This is a miracle considering the amount of electronic doohickery this car has (bluetooth, backup camera, DVD-Audio changer, heated seats, satnav, et cetera) and a testament to Honda’s build quality on these cars.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I have a 2008 TL. I would not buy this car.

    I think WSN is spot-on that it’s a 5-series size for 3-series money, which is actually why it doesn’t work for me. It’s grown bigger, feels huge inside as Dan mentioned, and just seems overwrought; my TL is the perfect “amount” of car for my purposes, regardless of the money (well, okay, if I had an unlimited budget I’d probably have a Porsche sitting next to an A6 wagon, but who’s counting?).

    So if a meteor landed on my car and Geico cut me a $40k check, where would I spend it? At the next pedestal down on the same lot, on the TSX wagon. Tons of trunk space (yay wagon!), great styling inside and out, as luxurious as the last-gen TL was/is, good mileage, simple and responsive handling (from what the buff books say at least – I’ve sat in but never driven one).

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @Astigmatism:
      Yeah, it might be a 5-series size for 3-series money, but the driving experience isn’t even remotely comparable to either one. Thus, the problem. This isn’t much better to drive than the Accord it’s based on, and it’s WAY more expensive.

      I’m with you – the TSX is a way better car, and vastly underrated to boot.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I think the TSX is what we call an Accord over here in Europe, and as far as I remember it’s getting good reviews. But if I recall right that on also has an issues when choosing between auto and manual.
    I own a BMW, and there is nothing like knowing your car handles and drives better than any of the other cars at the garage where it’s being worked on :)
    (I have saved a lot on gas since I bought it, having driven it only 6 weeks over the last three months) :P

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    I recently did get replacement value for my ride. The difference is that it was a motorcycle and it wasn’t Godzilla who shifted it off this mortal coil, but my putting it into a watery ditch at 45 MPH.

    What did I do? Bought a cream-puff ’99 base Miata and paid off my loan. So far it’s working pretty well, except that I’m itching to use the money saved to strap a turbo to the thing. More-than-doubling your 0-60 time is a bit of a downer.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    “Would you consequently buy that brand new car, or something else with the same money?”

    To answer your pet question, yes and no. I would happily buy a used 1st generation Mazda6 with fewer miles and no dings. I love my car almost as much now as the day I bought it on December 17, 2004, and I appreciate it even more than when I bought it for all of the years of enjoyable driving. However, I just don’t like the new Mazda6. I guess that means I’m in the same boat as you, the “improvements” that Mazda made didn’t really improve the car.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    If my G8 GT was totaled and I could replace it with a right hand drive insurance paid for Commodore Sport Wagon SS V-Series?

    H-E-A-V-E-N

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I actually didn’t answer the question in my last post :P
    No, if my 1984 Ford Sierra had been crushed by Godzilla it would have been quite irreplaceable by any modern car as far as I know.
    It’s a <2500lbs RWD car that seats 5 ,with a v6 engine and a 5-speed manual,- fully independent suspension,- a practical rear hatch ,and no other gizmos than intermittent wind screen vipers, heated rear screen, and small lights that tell you when the engine is blown, you ran out of some fluids or forgot to close a door. Oh, and a tilt/slide glass sun-roof.
    Theres even the luxury of windows that can be opened even with the battery out of the car :O

  • avatar
    AaronH

    Look into a 3 year old Mercedes CLK or E-Class.
    My 08 CLK350 is perfect in every way and it won the JD Power most reliable 3 year study.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    My DD is a high feature E60. If Insurance gave me full replacement value, I’d strongly consider a Z4 hardtop, as I rarely drive with more than 1 passenger (that’s what our W251 is for).

  • avatar
    Mikemannn

    wait… you can’t get a Manual in the USA? Come to Canada then! the SH-AWD TL is offered here with a 6spd Manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m pretty sure we can get the same mix of TLs in the U.S. as you get in Canada. The question is whether the SH-AWD TL would satisfy my fantasy laundry list of features. In addition to my other complaints, it would have much worse mileage.

  • avatar
    DeadEd

    Just dreaming, because my 10 year old 330i 5-speed just isn’t worth that much anymore, but I’d probably replace it with a new 3 series. Only this time, I’d go with a 328iT…a wagon is just a bit more attractive to me now. Here’s what I’ve found out about BMW’s. The bones of the basic car are reliable (it’s never left me standing…knock on wood and something I can’t say about the Jetta it replaced). The toys, accessories (window regulators,etc.), hi-po engines, and automatic transmissions are what breaks.

    I’m not too enthused about not being able to check the oil or disconnect the battery, as I do my own maintenance and some of the repairs, but I really can’t think of another vehicle out there right now that is as comfortable and pleasing to drive. The interiors are still classy and open (smaller center stack, no endless maze of buttons, light interior colors available), and I can still see out of them. I’m short, so is my GF. The 3-series still fits us. On top of it, the fuel economy isn’t bad, but premium fuel is required.

  • avatar
    meefer

    Godzilla kills my IS250, if I can use it on an ISF down payment, then sure. Otherwise it’s a used SLK55.

    As for the TL, almost nothing about it speaks to the founding principle of Honda’s “maximum man, minimum machine” philosophy. If someone wrote me a check for the full value of a 2005 TL, I’d rather find a 15 year old NSX than a new TL.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I had a 2004 Maxima with a 6spd. manual that I drove to 190K. Hate the new model with it’s bloated sheet metal, smaller interior, CVT transmission (not to mention no manual) and smaller trunk. A TL is probably the closest thing to the Maxima I had but to get the manual it was over $40K. Didn’t like the sport seats in the G37X with the manual or the overall smaller size of the car with not very good mileage. Didn’t want the prestige German badge for professional appearances so went outside the box and bought a new GTI. Couldn’t be happier and finally understand what everyone says about German cars having more real character and quality (if not reliability) than other markets.

  • avatar
    chrisgreencar

    The question posed at the top of the review wa a little vague — by replacing with a “brand new version of whatever it was you were driving”, did you mean a new version of the exact same year and model, or the new version of whatever it’s been updated to for the current year? Those could be very different things. Of course, if the car you drive has been discontinued, the question can only mean one thing. I think some of the commenters misunderstood the question.

  • avatar

    “Similarly, the Bluetooth pairing process can only be done via voice, which talks to you slowly. Very slowly. With modern in-car networks, you’d think they could do everything on the big central screen, making it easier, providing more help with options, etc. Could they, should they centralize all these disparate systems, from no-doubt unrelated parts suppliers, to have a grand unified user interface? Could it be accomplished without reaching iDrive levels of incomprehensibility?”

    ” If you’re loading something heavy, you’ve now got a 10.5 inch lip to hoist your bags over, versus 7 inches in the 2005 TL. Why? Similarly, if you’re going to the airport, one giant wheely bag will fit without issue, but two of them? Good luck with those bumps on the floor.”

    “Freeway mileage is excellent and stop-and-go city mileage is an embarrassment; I clocked 31mpg highway and from 13-20mpg stop-and-go city — a marginal improvement on the freeway and a marginal downgrade in the city compared to what our 2005 TL gets.”

    Stop wasting money and BUY A 2011 CHRYSLER 300.

    More power. More space. Less bullsht.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      In a weird way that actually makes sense. In an attempt to make the worlds weirdest badge engineering Daimler-Chrysler badged a ‘famous for it’s quality’ Luxury sedan as a ‘cheap american no-quality’ -sedan. Probably the only time ever that badge engineering has fooled people into thinking the car they bought is not as good as it really is.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I went the other way in 2004 and purchased a G35x. We have been very pleased with it over 56k but it has had the usual Nissan maladies (compression rods, fuel chamber, 2 batteries and a few other known issues). It is a good daily driver though I find the seats (and seatbelts) very uncomfortable. Would I buy another? Having driven the new models as loaners, probably not. My car still feels pretty new despite being 7 years old next month. It’s hard to think about dumping it as the miles are relatively low and it’s paid for. I would probably drive an M37S and then look elsewhere. Ah, maybe next year.

    I put a Stillen exhaust on it last year and it’s loud. Too loud. If I had kept the stock system I would probably go back to it. But it sounds ok most of the time but when I get in at 6:30 in the morning it’s the last thing I want to hear. Live and learn.

    Nice review, Dan. I drove the TL as well when shopping in ’04. I test drove it in Manhattan so I really noticed the harshness of the suspension on the city’s pockmarked roads. No regrets with the Infiniti.

  • avatar
    BlackIce_GTS

    That’d be a great insurance policy. My 3.5L (Chrysler) Intrepid entitles me to a 5.7L 300C. Or a Charger if the insurance company wants to get nitpicky about rebadging.

    I wonder what I would have ended up with if this policy had to replace my old Supra. Toyota + sports GT = ???

  • avatar
    Ion

    I’ve noticed that most of the clientele at my job that were leasers of a TL from the previous generation now lease a TSX. I assume the ballooning of the TL in both size and price are to blame.

  • avatar
    SHO

    “So if a meteor landed on my car”

    This actually happened about 10 years ago in Peekskill, NY. Went thru the trunk and left a crater in the ground. The owner bought a convertable. I think the old car is now in a museum.

    I have a 2005 TL which needed a new transmission at 80,000 miles. It also killed two batteries this spring.

    My wife has a 2006 BMW 325 AWD wagon which so far only needed a water pump ($1,000 +). It’s a nice car but too small for me and the runflat tires don’t help. I prefer the TL. It’s bigger, quieter, has a good NAVI and stereo, and the extra 50 hp and torque certainly help.

  • avatar
    stroker49

    When reading TTAC it seems like there are quite a number of Americans that don’t want to drive a truck, that want a good car with room for luggage, great seats and a manual transmission. Here in Europe there are so many cars that would fill that spec. Most families in europe with kids would of course choose the best type for a family- a wagon. There are Corolla wagons, Rabbit wagons, Focus Wagon. Something lager? Toyota Avensis Wagon, Passat Wagon, Ford Mondeo wagon. Even if you don’t for some crazy reason want a wagon there are many cars here that seems to be better. There must be a market for “eurocars” in north america. By the way, Acura doesn’t exist in Europe. But you can get a Honda Accord with manual transmission and Hondas are great good quality cars. You can even get a Accord wagon (called Accord Tourer).

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      The european Accord is the Acura TSX. And it’s true as you say, here in Europe all cars (almost) have a wagon version, except from the full-size cars. In Norway particularly if you don’t make a wagon version you are not going to sell many cars. What dealers love is a nicely optioned diesel wagon. Sedans are for senior citizens who don’t like hatchback, and for young people with no need for space.

  • avatar
    pb35

    If there was a G35 wagon (with a manual) I would buy it! The EX doesn’t count, that thing is useless. FX50 is nice but the cargo hold is pretty small too (and it costs 60k).

  • avatar

    You asked if one would buy the same vehicle or something different? I would probably buy the same vehicle again but I may be tempted to buy the M56 instead from a reliability standpoint. It was not available when I bought my car and its looks can be polarizing but overall, it is a great effort on Infiniti’s part. It only need a little work on the ride with the sports performance package.

    Acura is one of those booths at the car show that my wife can walk right past and not even consider a second look. Subjective but definitive, none the less. I tend to agree with her. Looks like they borrowed the same ruler from Cadillac but misread the scales.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    If Godzilla killed my 2010 G37S 6MT Coupe, I’d drive my 08 Explorer 4.6L for a year+ until the next generation Infiniti G hit the streets, then I’d buy that, no questions asked.

    You’ll have to pry an Infiniti with 3 pedals from my cold dead hands. There’s nothing better for the $ and performance, and no social baggage stereotypes to go with it (see BMW).

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    “Does anybody make a car with a manual transmission, rear wheel drive, decent tech and luxury features, decent mileage yet good performance, good styling, and high reliability ratings?”

    I’m sure others have addressed this, but if we are using the ’05 TL as the benchmark, why not the G37? Gas mileage is slightly off but the performance boost justifies it, and it hits the mark on pretty much every other metric.

    I think the G25 was a mistake; a 3.0 & 4.0 would have made more sense, though a high revving 4.0 is probably beyond what the VQ can deal with in the context of NVH.

    I hope that if/when Acura gets the RWD platform it deserves it will split things up better… as is there is too much overlap in their lineup. TSX 2.4 + 3.7, TL 3.7 + 4.5, RL 4.5 + maybe 6.0 with clear bumps in size & content. Good styling would also do wonders.

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    I have the 2006 TL w/ Manual and SatNav. I have the power driver lumbar and a proper tire pressure monitoring system, decent bluetooth phone connection. Never got the iPod connector and don’t have an aux input – kind of annoying.
    I also don’t like the big A-pillar in the parking lots or pulling out into traffic.

    Overall, though, it was the ultimate compromise of price, utility (fit rear facing car seats with passengers in front, and fun to drive.

    I also agree with you about the car seat attachments in back – they’re not quite right – although much easier to find than in the back of an impala.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    I have leased a 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD with automatic transmission, Tech Package, and Advance Package. The less said about its looks, the better. After ten days, I replaced the OEM all-season tires with max performance summer tires, which are quieter, smoother riding, and hold the road so much better. After 2,000 miles of use, I find the TL nimble, quick, and comfortable. It’s screwed together well. It’s fun to drive and nice to take on a long trip. The all wheel drive works very well; I have no complaints about that. The seats are superb. I don’t like the compromised visibility due to a high belt line, long nose, and wide body. The trunk is too small and awkwardly shaped. The in-car electronics work well, are feature rich, and logically arrayed. Would I lease it again? Probably not, even though it’s likely to be far more reliable than the European sedans I’ve had. There is a flaw in the design of the cabin and software that stands out. The only clock is a tiny digital display. Voice command will announce the time if and only if the system is the tutorial mode and that means that you have to listen to a voice telling you how to do what you most likely already how to do.

  • avatar
    slance66

    If my 2007 328xi was stomped flat I would not buy a new one, even though it has been great, with zero issues. Two reasons really, (1) I didn’t buy this one new and don’t think they are a good value new and (2) priorities have changed. I’d probably get a Focus Titanium hatchback. Less performance but much better mileage.

    As for the TL, considered the old model as a used car and almost bought one. The new TSX is the size of the old TL, and would be a better choice to meet the same needs. Styling is better as well. But the review sums up the basic good and bad points with the new TL pretty well. The high beltline problem plauges almost all modern sedans.

  • avatar
    Eastern Roamer

    You can’t get ventilated seats with a manual?! What a bunch of crap!


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