Premium midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $12,500 – $31,700*


2009 Acura TL Front


2009 Acura TL Rear


2009 Acura TL Interior


2009 Acura TL Front-2


2009 Acura TL Interior


2012 Acura TL Front


2012 Acura TL Rear


2012 Acura TL Front-2

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Ride (front-drive)
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Cargo room (SH-AWD)
  • Rear-seat space/comfort
  • Ride (SH-AWD w/automatic)

Any TL is packed with safety features, and the optional Technology Package provides most any gadget a driver could want. Base cars account for the majority of sales, and they’re the best choice. Those who opt for the SH-AWD will find it a refined and mature performance car, if a bit stiff riding. No SH-AWD models can quite match the high standard of handling prowess presented by key German competitors. The manual gearbox, however, bridges that gap somewhat. TLs so equipped are more fun to drive and ride better than their automatic-transmission counterparts. Strong TL resale value keeps used-car prices rather high.

Overview

Redesigned and slightly enlarged in most key dimensions for 2009, Acura’s premium midsize sedan was available in base and SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) models. The latter replaced the former generation’s Type-S as the high-performance member of the TL family.

Base versions, offered only with front-wheel drive, received a 3.5-liter V6 engine that made 280 horsepower. SH-AWD sedans got a 3.7-liter V6 that, at 305 horsepower, was the most powerful engine yet offered in an Acura. A five-speed automatic with “Sequential SportShift” steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters was the sole transmission for both models. Those paddles were always active, with no need to switch to sport mode before using them. The SH-AWD system included a sport suspension and 18-inch wheels in place of the 17s used on the base car. This all-wheel-drive system transferred torque fore/aft and side-to-side: up to 90 percent to front wheels, or as much as 70 percent to rear wheels. Electric power steering was new for 2009.

Standard safety features included antilock brakes, traction control, an antiskid system, front side airbags, and curtain side airbags. Also standard were leather upholstery with heated front seats, a sunroof, wireless cell-phone link, and eight-speaker audio. A Technology Package, priced as a separate model, included 10-speaker audio and a navigation system with real-time traffic and weather alerts. Rivals included the Audi A4, Cadillac CTS, and Infiniti G37, as well as the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Yearly Updates

2010 TL
2010 Acura TL: A six-speed manual transmission became available on the SH-AWD sedan as an alternative to the five-speed automatic transmission. The new manual gearbox was claimed to be stronger than the one used in earlier TL sedans. SH-AWD models with manual shift came only with the Technology Package. All SH-AWD sedans could have optional 19-inch summer-only performance tires. Base cars with the Technology Package were available with 18-inch wheels.
2011 TL
The 2011 Acura TL sees no major changes pending a freshening due in calendar 2011 as a 2012 model.
2012 TL
The Acura TL received a substantial freshening for 2012. The grille was restyled, a 6-speed automatic transmission replaced a 5-speed, and a newly optional Advance Package brought blind-spot alert, ventilated front seats, and larger wheels (18s on the base model, 19s on the SH-AWD).
2013 TL
The 2013 Acura TL saw no major changes following its freshening in 2012.
2014 TL
The 2014 Acura TL saw no major changes in its final year. The midsized TL and smaller TSX were both replaced by the Acura TLX for 2015.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Two engines have been available in the TL sedan. Front-drive models hold a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 280 horsepower, while SH-AWD sedans get a 3.7-liter V6 that generates 305 horsepower. Both engines work with a five-speed automatic transmission, but manual shift became available in 2010 for SH-AWD sedans.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/212
Engine HP 280
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 254
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

18/26

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.7/223
Engine HP 305
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 273
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

17/25

21.1

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.7/223
Engine HP 305
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 273
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

17/25

Road Test

Both TL models got larger and more powerful engines for 2009, but they needed that added might to overcome weight gains. Still, they continue to deliver lively acceleration and fine passing power. Each version accelerates strongly and smoothly. The SH-AWD’s additional power more than compensates for its heavier curb weight. Acura’s manual transmission is a delight, providing slick shifts in accord with an easy-to-modulate clutch. The persistent torque steer that plagued the previous-generation TL is a non-issue in this model. To the variable intake valve timing found in the base engine, the SH-AWD added variable exhaust-valve timing for 2009 to improve power delivery above 4700 rpm. Drivers could now also use the paddle shifters to make manual shifts, even with the transmission set in fully automatic mode.

Fuel economy is reasonably good. AWD models with automatic have averaged 20.3 to 22.2 mpg. A manual-shift version averaged 23.3 mpg in mostly highway driving. Premium-grade gasoline is required.

Ride quality depends on the model. Base TL models are comfortable tourers, especially on the open road. They feel lighter on their feet than their racier all-wheel-drive sibling, which checks in about 250 pounds heavier. SH-AWD passengers will sense a little less roll side-to-side during lateral maneuvers such as fast lane changes. SH-AWD models with automatic border on performance-car stiff, due to overly firm suspension damping and hard tires. Manual-shift SH-AWD models have slightly different suspension tuning which, while still firm for a premium car, offers improved ride quality.

Both models handle capably. The electric power-steering system requires modest effort in low-speed situations, such as parking. Effort increases as speed rises, but it doesn’t feel heavy or cumbersome. SH-AWD sedans deserve special praise for their stability in fast corners. Large brakes deliver impressive stopping power.

Wind and road noise are nicely muted in base models. SH-AWD versions suffer from road and tire noise that are excessive for this class. The exhaust in SH-AWD models is tuned differently than in the base sedan, but there’s nothing intrusive or unpleasant about it, especially at steady speeds. Engines are virtually silent while cruising.

TL instrument panels feature large and legible main gauges. Both the steering wheel and the center stack with audio/climate/communications controls contain an excessive number of buttons, though they’re logically grouped and easy to reach. The Technology Package uses an interface dial to access these systems, but it’s not as complicated to use as those in some European makes. The navigation screen in the Technology Package appears bright even in changing ambient light conditions, and its high placement doesn’t distract from the road. Cars without that package display climate and audio information in place of the navigation screen. They also lack the pushbutton engine-start feature.

Rich-feeling leather, soft dash and door surfaces, and metallic trim deliver a high-quality feel throughout the interior. Some hard and tacky-looking plastics disappoint, but most are kept out of direct sight. A discreetly placed tray holds an MP3 player out of sight while connected to a USB port.

Front-seat headroom is acceptable. SH-AWD seats offer better grip during cornering than the base seats, but they don’t feel cramped or restrictive. Both models’ seats are supportive and comfortable. Slim front roof pillars provide good forward visibility. Rear visibility is hampered by a tall decklid. Models with the Technology Package include a helpful rearview camera.

Rear-seat entry and exit are uncomplicated, but headroom is tight-barely adequate even for average-size passengers. Only two adults will fit comfortably in the rear. Knee clearance and foot space also are below par. Tall passengers will be especially cramped.

Trunk space increased for 2009, but this is most evident in base models. To accommodate the rear differential on the SH-AWD, there’s a rise in the trunk floor that steals much of the gain. The trunk opening narrows toward the bottom, and hinges intrude into the trunk space-though they are covered so as not to damage cargo. Interior storage space falls short for this class. Door map pockets aren’t especially large, and the center console box sits too far aft for convenient access.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2010 Acura TL (base model w/Tech. Pkg.)

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 7
70%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 7
70%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 7
70%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 8
80%

Total: 62

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
109.3 195.3 74.0 57.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.1 18.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.4 36.7 42.5 36.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2009 TL 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Keyless entry
Description: Removing the keyless entry unit from its slot while in the accessory position causes failure of the remote lock function. (2009)
Steering problems
Description: Popping or clicking noises may be heard during steering, requiring replacement of the steering column. (2009)
Suspension noise
Description: A clunk can be heard from the front suspension in hot weather. (2013)
Timing belt
Description: A chirping noise may come from the front of the engine due to the timing belt rubbing against the side of its pulley, requiring installation of shims and possibly a water pump. (2005-09)
Transmission noise
Description: A transmission judder can occur. A software update can correct the problem. (209-11)

Recall History

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.