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Acura TL

2006 Acura TL Review

by Martha Hindes

Acura TL
Acura TL interior

A main requirement for someone driving a premium sports sedan is room to run. The driver has to accommodate the need for speed with a choice of venues. With the TL sedan, Acura provides the rest. TL is the step-into-upscale class, front-drive vehicle from Honda's luxury division that won wide praise following a total redesign a couple of years ago. Acura had no reason to mess with the look of TL this year. They already got it right with the low-slung aggressive appearance, with wide stance, high-rising haunches and ready-to-run attitude.

For 2006, there are a few enhancements, including a new tire monitoring system that alerts a driver when a tire starts to lose air. Also new on the six-speed manual trans version are engine control module modifications to eliminate the uneasy feeling of front-end lightness during acceleration called "torque steer." Those changes should clean up some criticism the stick shift TL previously received.

TL remains race-inspired at the heart, with a 3.2-liter, all-aluminum V-6 engine, with special valve timing and electronics called "VTEC" that enhances performance and smoothness. Under new industry measurement standards, it churns out 258-horsepower and 233-lb. ft. of momentum generating torque. For those who want the driving kick of a stick in an easier to use iteration, TL's five-speed automatic SportShift with semi-manual mode is available.

Advanced technology abounds in TL. The optional, factory-installed navigation sytem has a voice recognition feature set to respond to 293 spoken commands. The industry-dominant, hands-free Bluetooth wireless communications interface comes standard. A new adapter was recently introduced by Acura to play tunes or talk stored on an Apple IPOD through the TL's audio system. And a "Maintenance Minder" coaxes the busy into a dealership when it's time for service.

Inside, there's leather trim, easy read gauges and a tad more room than earlier TLs, while "quiet" window glass keeps noises outside. And safety-wise, Acura's no slouch. Side curtain airbags are standard, while sensors in front bolsters and seat bottoms read someone's position and weight and adjust front and side impact airbag deployment.

At $33,325 base, the midsize TL isn't the cheapest of the entry lux autos. And while a bit costlier than its smaller, limited edition TSX sibling, it still falls below the price point of some competitive vehicles such as BMW's 5 Series. Want performance on the road? Acura calls its TL a "potent" performer, dressed in eye-catching exterior and intelligent, luxury-laden interior. We won't disagree.