From sparkling throttle response to superb steering feel, the Acura TL Type-S is a thoroughbred. Our test car looked and felt like a black stallion ready to respond to our slightest provocation.
This car will make a person driving it for the first time feel almost giddy. That is what happens when a car is so good, it seems to read your mind and respond almost before your brain can tell your limbs to move.
The TL Type-S has one of the sweetest sounding V6 engines we have ever heard. This engine is so smooth, it almost seems like the sound you hear is coming from the stereo speakers, not the engine itself.
Tearing through a winding country road at speed is what the TL Type-S was made for. Paddle shifters put you in the exact gear you need for the job at hand while the suspension soaks up the irregularities in the pavement just enough to keep all four tires firmly planted on the road.
Is the TL Type-S perfect? Not by a long shot, but the good stuff is so good, it makes you want to overlook the shortcomings, or pretend they are not there.
The biggest problem with the TL Type-S (and the regular TL for that matter) is the large amount of torque steer that often makes itself felt in no uncertain terms when you trounce the throttle.
What is torque steer you ask? Torque steer is a common problem to some degree on many front wheel drive cars and is amplified when you have a powerful engine. It is the tugging of the steering wheel under hard acceleration away from where you are pointing the car. Remember, on a front-drive car, the wheels that propel the vehicle are also the wheels that steer it.
The test car that I drove was an automatic with paddle shifters. I did not get a chance to sample one with the 6 speed stick, which is equipped with a limited slip differential. With this arrangement, torque steer is held in check much better than with the automatic.
Don't get me wrong, torque steer is not a safety issue. As long as you are holding the steering wheel, even lightly, there is no problem. It is simply an annoyance on an otherwise stellar machine.
The other problem with the Acura TL Type-S is the somewhat choppy ride that makes the driver and passengers feel all the small irregularities in the road. You may think that since this is a sport suspension calibration, this type of busy ride is normal, but I have driven many superb handling machines that were able to absorb these road irregularities and still handle well.
To be fair, the jittery ride is not at all uncomfortable as the bigger bumps and dips are well absorbed. In fact, it is considerably better than the last TL Type-S of about three years ago.
The TL Type-S is extremely well equipped with no additional options to check off on the order form. You only have to choose between an automatic and manual and whether you want summer tires or all season rubber. Everything else is standard, including a GPS navigation system and even (wonder of wonders) automatic headlamp control. For whatever reason, Honda and Acura had resisted offering this simple feature for the longest time. Seeing this feature on the TL Type-S almost makes up for the torque steer (Not...).
Sitting behind the wheel, I found the perforated leather driver's seat to be quite comfortable and easy to adjust to my ideal driving position. The steering wheel is adjustable for both angle and reach with the flip of a single manual lever.
The instrument cluster is illuminated both day and night and is bright and easy to read at a glance. The steering wheel has fingertip controls for the audio system, cruise control, cell phone and even has a button so that you can talk to the computer and have it talk back to you (you: "What time is it?" the car: "It is ten thirty one am"). Or you can say "Find the nearest Chinese Restaurant" for which the car will reply... "Would you like to have a route plotted to Chung How Gardens?". You can even choose between a man's voice or a woman's voice.
If you are traveling and looking for a decent place to stop for dinner, you can check the Zagat reviews for many restaurants right on the screen as well as see the price range for each establishment. Once you have found the one you want, a tap on the screen will dial the restaurant phone number so you can make reservations.
The center stack has controls on either side of the large navigation screen for the his & hers climate control system. Below the screen are controls for the nav system. Below that is the Acura/ELS Premium 8-speaker Surround Sound System that includes XM Satellite radio. The system even has genuine station-select push buttons, a feature that is becoming rare on cars with a navigation system. The TL is the first car to offer a standard DVD-Audio 5.1 surround sound system as standard equipment in a car.
Acura Link telecommunications service is also standard. This system uses XM Satellite radio's 2 way communication capability to allow you to access real-time traffic updates and dealer appointment reminders, as well as direct communication with your dealer through your Bluetooth enabled cell phone.
A new feature added to the Type-S is Active Noise Cancellation. With this system, unwanted interior noise can be reduced by as much as 10 decibels by countering it with opposing sound frequencies from the audio system. The system uses microphones mounted in the ceiling to monitor low-frequency noise in the cabin. When this noise is detected, the system creates an inverse waveform through the speakers. The two noises cancel each other out to provide an extremely hushed environment inside the car.
Safety features that come standard in the TL Type S include:
4-wheel disc brakes with Emergency Brake Assist and ABS
Dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags
Seamless airbag lid for the passenger airbag.
Front seat mounted side impact airbags with occupant position sensors
Side curtain airbag system for front and rear passengers.
The TL Type-S is equipped with Brembo brakes that include larger rotors and four piston front calipers for impressive stopping power to complement the extra go power. At the rear, the Type-S has a high flow sport-tuned exhaust system with quad round exhaust outlets replacing the dual rectangular outlets on the standard TL. The sultry exhaust note this system produces is simply unmatched in any other V6 sport sedan at any price.
Pricing for the TL type S is straight forward, since there are no options to make things confusing. The Acura TL Type S with the all-season tires is $38,125, regardless of whether you opt for a stick or automatic. The Type S with the summer tires adds $200 bringing it to $38.325. Add $625 to those prices for the destination charge and that's it.
There are other great cars in this price range that are equally as good. Two cars that come to mind are the Lexus IS350 and the Infiniti G35. Both of these cars have rear-wheel drive and the G35 is even available in all-wheel drive. (the Lexus IS250 also offers AWD, but the engine is smaller)
To sum it up, the ride is a good compromise for a high performance sport sedan and most people looking for this type of car will accept and even expect it. So, if you can live with the steering wheel tugging at you from time to time, there are few cars that will make a driving enthusiast happier than this Acura.
3.5 Liter SOHC 24-valve V6 engine with variable valve timing
286 @ 6,200 RPM
256 @ 5,000 RPM
6-speed manual transmission or 5-speed shiftable automatic
Tires (std.) Tires (opt.)
235/45ZR17 93W all season tires 235/45ZR17 94W performance tires
39.7 ft Curb to Curb
Miles Per Gallon
EPA city 19, hwy 28 (20 / 29 with the 6 speed stick).
Base Sticker Price
$38,125 + $670 destination charge
Standard Equipment Acura TL Type-SFront Wheel Drive Mid-Sized Sport Sedan
286 horsepower 3.5 liter V6
6 speed manual or 5 speed shiftable automatic
Electronic throttle control
4-wheel Brembo disc brakes with Emergency Brake Assist and ABS
Heated front seats
8-way power drivers with 2-driver memory for exterior mirror and seat positions
4-way power passenger seat
Dual zone automatic climate control with interior air filtration
Tilt/telescopic steering wheel column
Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel
Driver's and passenger's front airbag supplemental restraint system (SRS) with "smart" dual-threshold, dual-stage deployment and sensor to help prevent unnecessary passenger's airbag deployment
Electrochromatic inside rearview mirror
Xenon high intensity discharge headlamps
GPS Navigation System
Front Fog/Driving Lights
AM/FM cassette in-dash 6 CD player stereo XM radio with 3 month subscription and DVD-Audio 5.1 surround sound system with 8 speakers
Satellite communications telecommunications service
Bluetooth wireless data link for hands-free phone
Major Available Options
For more information on the TL Type-S, visit Acura.com
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