In the last decade or so, Acura has been really shaping their product line and image into more of a luxury brand. And as they should, Honda is already covering the market where Acura isn't any longer (i.e. no more Integra, Legend, or RSX).
With the release of the fourth generation TL, Acura continues to propel it's cars further into the land of luxury. Yes, there has been three different generations of the TL already. I don't even remember the first two generations. Now that the SH-AWD system has been tried and proven in cars like the RL and RDX, Acura is now bringing that technology to the next TL. For some reason, auto manufacturers tend to associate luxury cars with being RWD (with the slight exception of a few FWD cars; Lexus ES, Audi A4, Cadillac DTS...). Which brings up the question, why does a luxury car have to be RWD? Honda has proven that their motors are powerful and FWD cars can be extremely fast and handle well too. Well, Acura is now is superceding all the luxury RWD cars with their TL in an optional AWD model.
Both TL and TL SH-AWD models come with a V-6 VTEC engine and a 5-speed automatic paddle shifter transmission. But the two models do have different engines. The TL has a 3.5L V-6 engine pushing 280 hp, while the TL SH-AWD has a 3.7L V-6 that pushes 305 hp. That happens to be the largest and most powerful Honda motor ever put in a production car. Yes even bigger and more powerful than the NSX engine (Hmm...I wonder if that block would fit in a NSX -CT). Who would have thought that the dissolution of the Gentlemen's Agreement would affect luxury cars as well as sports cars. Honda loves pushing the limits of NA power. Along with that 305 hp, the engine has an 11.2:1 compression ratio that could bitch-slap your Civic or Integra.
Mix the largest and most powerful engine from a manufacturer known for reliability; leather, navigation and all the amenities of a luxury car; and a roomy award-winning safety chassis, and you have the next generation of the TL. - Charles Trieu
That New Car Smell2009 Acura TL & TL SH-AWDThe Sticker TL $34,955 and $38,685 (with Technology Package); TL SH-AWD $38,505 and $42,235 (with Technology Package)
Under The Hood 3.5L VTEC V-6 aluminum alloy engine with 11.2:1 compression ratio
The Power TL 280 hp @ 6,200 rpm and 254 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm; TL SH-AWD 305 hp @ 6,200 rpm and 273 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Scale Tipping TL 3,708 lb and 3,726 lb (with Technology Package); TL SH-AWD 3,971 lb and 3,986 lb (with Technology Package)
Layout TL front engine, front-wheel drive; TL SH-AWD transverse front engine, all-wheel drive
Gearbox 5-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift, F1-Style paddle shifters, and Grade Logic Control
Stiff Stuff independent front double-wishbone; independent rear multi-link suspension
Rollers TL 17x8" aluminum alloy wheels; TL SH-AWD 18x8" alloy wheels, (optional) 19x8" aluminum alloy wheels
Stoppers 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS; ventilated 12.6" front rotors, and 13.1" rear rotors
At The Pump TL 18/26 mpg; TL SH-AWD 17/25 mpg
The Pack BMW 3-series, Mercedes C-class, Audi A4, Lexus IS/ES, Infiniti G35
Deep Thoughts After driving both TL models, my Cressida felt more like my Civic for comfort. If you can afford the SH-AWD version, then it's definitely worth the extra money for the power and traction. But if you can't, then the FWD version is still a very wise decision. The TL is the intelligent, not snobby, luxury car choice!
While we still yearn for the days when Acura still produced its two-door wonder, the RSX, it makes no sense for us to dream of the past. Thankfully, the latest generation TSX carries the K-series spirit onward but adds a few more tweaks to make it a more luxurious cruiser. It pretty much drives the way you would expect if you're familiar with either the RSX or TSX, and the high-revving 2.4L K24 mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox is the ideal engine configuration you'll want versus the 5-speed auto. It's very familiar Honda territory driving the TSX but it's a much more graduated feel, sharing design elements as seen in the current Accord, most notably the interior, as the center console has the same space-age dials and multi-buttoned mission controls (you know, climate, radio presets) found on other Hondas. The handling is crisp, not super aggressive, and its seats are laced with premium leather making it one of the most comfortable Acuras you can buy from the lower end of the price spectrum. Which really begs the question: is this "4-door RSX" moving further away from its roots to become that everyday car? Is the TSX just too simple?
If you are purchasing this car from a modification standpoint, the price you would have to pay could be better spent on rear wheel drive cars with more power, like a Lexus IS 250 or Infiniti G35. The K24 - while there are tons of parts available for it - is still a 4-banger and would need heavy engine mods to keep up with the likes of its competitors. A Honda purist, however, could and probably would see this as the logical step forward if the garage still houses a K-powered EK or DC2, since the TSX would keep in theme with a twin-cam VTEC engine and would not be a tough transition to dive into. But, if it's a daily driver you're looking for, we foresee this lasting many years without complications and could go with as little as a dumped suspension and a nice set of wheels to keep it from looking too average Joe.- Jonathan Wong
That New Car Smell
2009 Acura TSX
The Sticker $28,960 (standard 6MT/5AT); $32,060 (w/Technology Package)
Under The Hood 2.4L 16-valve, inline 4-cylinder, DOHC i-VTEC K24
The Power 201 hp @ 7,000 rpm; 172 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm (6MT)/170 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm (5AT)
Scale Tipping 3,419 lb (manual); 3,485 lb (automatic)
Layout Front engine, front-wheel drive
Gearbox 6-speed manual transmission with magnesium alloy case; sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic transmission with Grade Logic Control
Stiff Stuff front: independent double-wishbone with coil springs and 26.5mm stabilizer bar; rear: independent multi-link double-wishbone with coil springs and 17mm stabilizer bar
Rollers 17x7.5 5-spoke aluminum alloy wheels; Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 225/50R17 all-season high-performance tires
Stoppers 4-wheel disc brakes with 4-channel ABS (front: ventilated 11.8" rotors; rear: solid 11.1" rotors)
At The Pump 20/28 mpg (6MT); 21/30 mpg (5AT)
The Pack BMW 3 Series, Audi A4
Deep Thoughts The changes for the TSX remain mostly cosmetic, which means the K24 can continue to be the engine you'll love to build, all while retaining the comfort and features a daily driver should have. Leave the non-A/C and loud exhausts for your project cars. Just press "play" and enjoy.