Consumer Guides 2009 ACURA TL report

What We Know About the 2009 Acura TL
The Acura TL is based on the Honda Accord, and with the Accord redesigned for 2008, a new TL can't be far behind. And it isn't. In fact, it's on the way for 2009.

Honda is very good at keeping secrets, so the next iteration of Acura's best selling car is still largely a cipher at this point. But we can make some educated guesses based on persistent rumors. For starters, the 2009 Acura TL should switch from front-wheel drive, which Accord retains, to the Super-Handling AWD used for Acura's RL flagship sedan and RDX and MDX sport-utilities. That's a welcome and overdue move in our book. Even with standard traction control, today's front-drive TL doesn't put its power down very well, prone to irritating wheelspin and torque steer sideways pulling with even moderate throttle. All-wheel drive will eliminate that, making for a safer and more rewarding drive. Not coincidentally, it also lets the TL take on prestigious AWD sports sedans from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The 2009 Acura TL should also get a more-potent base engine, with the current 3.2-liter V-6 replaced by a version of the Type-S model's 3.5. We think horsepower will check in at around 275, up from 258, matched by fatter torque output that should benefit midrange acceleration with an automatic transmission, which will probably remain mandatory. To keep pace, the Type-S would go from 286 to maybe 300 horsepower, also with more torque in the bargain. Given Honda's usual emphasis on the best fuel economy with the lowest emissions, both TL engines should employ the company's cylinder-deactivation feature. We also don't rule out some kind of sequential manual transmission for the Type-S, perhaps to replace the optional automatic as another "brag" feature to match the vaunted German brands.

Accord's 2008 redesign brings slightly greater size and sharper, sportier lines. The TL should follow suit, but styling differences with Accord will be even more pronounced so that only the most car-savvy eyes can spot the shared basic structure. Acura is eager to move upmarket to be more competitive against the Big Three Germans, plus Infiniti and Lexus, and planners have decided a unique "Acura look" is key to that effort. While we don't expect anything as wild as the recent Acura Advanced Sedan Concept, the next TL should be more "sculpted" than the current model, an aggressive mix of edges and curves.

A Notable Feature of the 2009 Acura TL
The TL is already very well equipped--one reason it's been a Consumer Guide Best Buy for several years--so all current standard and optional features should carry over, which is notable in itself. Acura will doubtless offer a few new gizmos, but we can't imagine what they might be.

Buying Advice for the 2009 Acura TL
Today's TL is a mighty tempting midsize sports sedan, and will be a hard act to follow. Nevertheless, the 2009 Acura TL should be worth waiting for, especially if the all-wheel drive, extra power, and distinctive styling materialize as rumored.

2009 Acura TL Release Date: Still to be determined, but sales should be underway by summer 2008. We'll have a better handle on timing once the inevitable thinly disguised "concept" appears at a major auto show, which should happen in late 2007 or early '08.
First Test Drive: Also TBD, but spring 2008 looks right to us.

2009 Acura TL Prices: Acura's upmarket push suggests higher prices, but how much higher remains to be seen. There's certainly a big-enough gap with the RL sedan that the 2009 Acura TL could move up without encroaching on the flagship, say into the $37,000-$40,000 range.

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