Aside from the addition of a six-speed manual transmission, retuned suspension and different paint choices, there were few differences between the 2009 and 2010 Acura TL: 2010 was a carryover year for this one.
However, although it was essentially a decent piece of work, both editions were hampered by Acura's "chrome beak" corporate grille treatment. This questionable styling quirk has proven to be a thorn in the side of Acura.
That said, optional equipment with the TL included Honda's clever Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD), which gave the TL a leg up on the competition when it came to handling and road-holding ability. Not an AWD system in the traditional sense, it enhanced the vehicle's high-speed stability and cornering capabilities by slightly "steering" the rear wheels. The TL also had Acura's ground-breaking and bullet-proof i-Vtec V-6 engine which, in the base version, developed 280 horsepower, with the SH-AWD model displacing an additional 200 cc and featuring 25 more horses.
Transmission choices included the six-speed manual and a five-speed automatic. The manual was as good as these things get, with well-spaced gearing, smooth linkage and a nice linear clutch action. For driving enthusiasts, it also gave the TL an added dimension of performance. That said, the automatic came with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles and was arguably more in keeping with this vehicle's character. There were no price differences between the two.
The driving experience of this vintage of the TL was effortless. Much smoother in operation than, say, BMW's 3-Series or the Audi A6, its closest rival was arguably the Cadillac CTS. It was also the most performance-oriented TL Acura had ever put forward.
Needless to say, all the usual upscale goodies were in evidence. On the SH-AWD Technology model, for example, there were no options and standard kit included heated front seats, leather interior, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth, power trunk release, navi system, back-up camera, headlight washers and 18-inch alloy wheels and tires. What it may have lacked in visual beauty, the TL compensated for with interior amenities and modcons. It's worth noting that it also required premium gasoline.
Safety equipment included four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, front, side and side curtain airbags, with a hill start assist feature, tire-pressure monitoring system and traction control and vehicle stability systems. As far as the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was concerned, the TL was a Top Safety Pick for mid-size cars in 2010, and it got five stars from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
No surprise then that there are no safety recalls on file for the 2010 Acura TL – either from Transport Canada or NHTSA. This latter organization, however, does have eight technical service bulletins out there for the 2010 TL, and they include "loose or rocking" front seats, glitches with the hill-holder system and various electrical gremlins. Nothing earth-shaking, however.
As far as Consumer Reports is concerned, the 2009-2010 Acura TL is all you could ask for in an upscale sedan. It receives top marks in every area and, when new, the magazine gave it a reliability rating 30 per cent above average. The 2010 edition is also one of this organization's "best bet" models. Some comments from owners: "Watch out for oil consumption issues," "Would be better with cooled seats," "Doesn't look like an old man's car" and "Excellent handling, especially in bad weather." The 2009 TL receives a slightly lower grade than the 2010 because the audio system was not up to snuff.
As far as market research firm J.D. Power is concerned, the 2010 TL is worth checking out, and it gives the car its top ranking in most areas. It falls a bit short when it comes to styling, but otherwise, the '10 TL receives an "among the best" rating for overall quality and "better than most" for predicted reliability.
In terms of resale, a three-year-old TL is going for $25,000 to $35,000, depending upon equipment level. The Technology models are valued $2,000-$3,000 more than their FWD counterparts, and the top-of-the-line SH-AWD versions are the priciest.
2010 Acura TL
Original Base Price: $39,990; Black Book: $29,125-$35,225; Red Book: $26,675-$29,225
Engine: 3.5-litre and 3.7-litre V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 280 hp/254 lb-ft for 3.5; 305 hp/273 lb-ft for 3.7
Transmission: Six-speed manual and five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 11.9 city/8.0 highway (with SH-AWD); premium gas
Alternatives:Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, BMW 3-Series, BMW 5-Series, Infiniti G37, Lexus IS250, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lincoln MKZ