Is an old favourite getting a little long in the tooth? I have just received the much-deserved promotion at the large accounting firm where I have hypothetically been working for just over a decade. It’s time to celebrate with the bonus and upgrade my existing Honda Accord.
Honda has long since established its name in the global automotive market. In 1986, they introduced their luxury-oriented brand they named “Acura”. Though Acura never made their original debut in the Japanese market, they made their way into the United States and Canada immediately. Later on, expansions were made to include other parts of the world such as Mexico and China as well.
The Acura TL (short for “Touring Luxury”) has been around for just over fifteen years; the first car to actually take on the alphanumeric naming scheme (originally called the 2.5 TL) that Acura adopted to boost the luxury-end of the market. Personally, their prior names such as “Vigor”, “Legend”, and “Integra” were among the best in the industry of all time. The TL was introduced to replace the aging Vigor.
This past week, I decided to take the position of a man in his mid-forties. I have just received the much-deserved promotion at the large accounting firm where I have hypothetically been working for just over a decade. It’s time to celebrate with the bonus and upgrade my existing Honda Accord, which seems to be getting long in the tooth. The TL came to mind because while remaining within the Honda brand I have come to know and trust, it has character, recognition, and has all the practicality I need to haul around my hypothetical wife and twins. When the kids finally go off to college, the TL will still be a fantastic “empty-nester” car to be kicking around.
I’ve driven many TLs over the years, and apart from the radical “love-it-or-hate-it” styling, the most obvious thing about it is that it has gained a few pounds. No seriously, it’s as if this car is the old car plus five orders of McDonalds’ entire menu. In fact, this 2013 TL Elite equipped with SH-AWD literally weighs as much as a great white shark.
Where the last-generation (2004-2008) TL was amongst the best-designed sedans on the road, I can’t help but ask what the designers of the current one were thinking. Though not a total eye-sore with the revised front grille, the TL’s styling is awakened and sharpened by the factory aero kit that Acura offers.
My “Obsidian Blue Pearl” tester, like every other 2013 TL, was powered by the 3.7L V6 putting out 305 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with Acura’s “Super Handling” all-wheel-drive system, the car drives surprisingly well. Thankfully, Acura has also mated this car to a 6-speed automatic (with paddle shifters) that I completely fell in love with. No torque steer, no wheel-hop, and no traction issues whatsoever, even when driving in the snow. In fact, with a good set of winter tires, the TL is an absolute beast in the winter.
Hopefully, Acura is in the works to unveil a redesign for this TL, as though being a great car, is beginning to look dated. This is especially evident in the interior. From the outside, the TL might be a bit droopy to look at, but still looks modern and dare I say, advanced. The interior is still reminiscent of that in the 2004 TL and lacks the welcoming luxury feel that Acura is known for. I am not a fan of the low-resolution LCD screen and the seemingly infinite and confusing amount of buttons. For a relatively tech-savvy guy, that’s not to be taken lightly.
I’m personally a huge fan of the perforated Milano leather-trimmed interior in this TL Elite. Not only does it look great, it’s incredibly comfortable to be in. As an added bonus, there are heated and ventilated front seats. Tech toys such as the Blind Spot Information system (BSI) are standard, but nothing like the LaneWatch camera in the all-new “mainstream” Honda Accord. I presume for the TL, this option or its Acura-variant will have to wait until the next full redesign.
Acura’s claims are right around a combined 9.0L/100km. Driving around during a cold Toronto week in February, my observed economy was a combined 11.6L/100km on premium fuel. This is over an even mix of city and highway driving with a light foot and the occasional romp of the go-pedal. With premium fuel sitting around $1.48/liter, the TL isn’t exactly frugal.
I used to advise friends and family who were shopping for TLs (and other automatic Hondas) to steer clear of the automatic models due to them being prone to transmission failures. Over the last decade, this problem seems to have been eliminated completely. Honda definitely stands behind their product and buyers of the new car need not worry. If you can get past the dated interior and the rather adventurous styling, it’s a great car.
At an as-tested price of $49,390, this TL is mid-pack. Then again, with its immense size and weight, I can’t help but compare it directly to the Lexus GS. For $50,000, I would suggest that those currently interested in buying one wait around until the next-generation model is released. If you’re in an absolute hurry to make a decision, I’d sacrifice the all-wheel-drive (even though it’s an amazing system) and purchase a Honda Accord Touring. Plus, headlight washers are overrated.