When the specifications on the 3rd generation Acura TL were released, we here at TOV weren't quite sure what to make of it. The spec sheet was full of new features and luxury items that continued to increase the TL's already class leading value per dollar quotient. This is, of course, a good thing and in keeping with Acura's philosophy in the market space. However, as enthusiasts, we wondered if Acura was going to give us more of what we wanted - power, handling, braking, etc.
The initial signals were mixed. The revised J32 engine claimed 10 more hp and 8 more lbs-ft of torque. An improvement to be sure, but nothing amazing - although we are certainly happy that it's the standard engine now rather than being exclusive to the Type-S range (there's the value equation again). The TL also rides on the global midsize (Accord) platform - a good basis, but with applications ranging from the TSX to the Accord V6 Coupe, the chassis tuning of this platform has varied substantially. Given the luxury bent of the TL, we weren't sure what to expect. Better news came when we learned the TL would be offered with a 6-speed manual transmission with a helical limited slip differential (LSD). We loved this option in the departed CL-S, stating "if Acura put this driveline in a 4-door package, I'd buy one right now." We were also pleased to find that 4 piston calipers were available on the front brakes, along with a summer tire option. Things were looking up, especially since our CL-S test pointed out the need for more durable binders with all that weight and stickier tires for the enthusiast. Someone upstairs is listening - thank you.
All specification sheets and press releases aside, we really needed to drive this car to see how the real world performance stacked up with the objective numbers. Acura was kind enough to lend us an Anthracite TL 6-spd with Carbon interior and the summer tire option. Our TL also came with XM radio and Acura's excellent Navi system that continues to receive ongoing improvements intended to help maintain its position as the best of the breed. Our test venue was Atlanta, GA and the surrounding regions. Normally Atlanta is a great place, but in January it can be a bit cold and as Tuan and I stepped off the plane we were greeted by some of the coldest temps in recent history (17 F!!). As luck would have it, these conditions arrived the night before we did and left the day we did - go figure.