The Acura TL was introduced in 1996 and discontinued after the 2014 model year. As you can imagine, the last generation of the TL, from 2009 to 2014, was the most refined, most powerful, and most tech-savvy iteration of the car and I got the chance to drive one recently. Here is how my experience went.
2010 Acura TL
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that, as a car enthusiast, I have the tendency to aimlessly peruse car classifieds from time to time to daydream about cars I wish I could buy. I like to justify it as a “work-related exercise.”
One such car was the Acura TL, but not just any TL, I’ve always wanted a fourth-generation one with a manual transmission. I specifically wanted this configuration because from 2010 to 2014, the TL was available with a 3.7-liter V6 engine that produced 305 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque and was matched to a six-speed manual gearbox. On top of that, the power was routed through all four wheels thanks to Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system.
In my mind, the car sounded quiet, comfortable, and quick considering it was a mid-size luxury sedan. It’s pretty rare to find one with a manual transmission, however, in my most recent nationwide search, I happened to find a 2010 model with only 60,000 miles on it that just happened to be 5 miles away from me. I knew I just had to drive it.
I submitted my information on the dealer’s website to set up a test drive. When I arrived, the car was pulled up for me and ready to drive. One thing to note is that dealership photographers tend to do a great job when it comes to taking pictures of cars. This car looked almost perfect in the pictures, but in person, it showed it’s age.
I did a walk around on the car and noticed there were some scratches and blemishes and the chrome trim had some rust spots. What really stood out were the side mirrors; the passenger side had a cracked housing and the driver’s side looked like it was about to fall off, the bright pink tape that was tied onto it didn’t help mask this fault either.
I sat down in the driver’s seat and looked around. The interior was super clean, but the intense array of buttons on the center stack was almost overbearing and the giant knob to control the radio and navigation didn’t help alleviate any stress, either.
When driving the car, I noticed was the clutch had really good feedback and was weighted very well; not too light, not too heavy. The one thing that threw me off, though, was the engagement point. In true Honda fashion, the clutch “grabs” at the very top end of the pedal travel which makes it feel and sound like you can’t drive stick if you don’t get it right.
The gear shift lever felt buttery smooth and the throws weren’t too long, but they’re not S2000-short, either. Surprisingly, the throttle is very sensitive as blipping the gas pedal during heel-toe downshifts was met with an extremely rev-happy response.
I only had about 25 minutes with the car, so I made sure to take it on the freeway and some city streets. As I expected, it was quiet as higher speeds (with the exception of the flapping pink tape on the side mirror) and the suspension comfortable but felt a tad flinty over some road imperfections. I attributed it to Acura’s rendition of being “sporty.”
The steering wheel effort was light and the car turned wherever I pointed, although, it did lack some on-center feel. It’s not a race car, after all. But the acceleration was really quick for a car that weighs over 3,800 pounds. I should have known better, considering it was clocked at a 5.5-second 0-60 time in multiple car reviews.
Ultimately, the TL was very engaging to drive and while I couldn’t really put it through its paces, I got a good sense that it definitely held up well after a decade’s worth of use.
Did I buy it?
When I got back to the dealership, the salesperson gave me the final pricing for the car, which included a nice discount. I had already told him once before that I was “still shopping” and let him know again that I would think it over.
It’s an enticing proposition, but I don’t think I’ll buy the car. However, I can definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a luxury sport sedan bargain.