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2014 Acura TL SH-AWD Elite Review

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The fourth-generation Acura TL launched for model-year 2009, and is due to be replaced soon by a new, fifth-generation machine called the TLX. It’s far from the freshest or newest model in its segment, but the current Acura TL is one of the most established and lauded.

That’s thanks in no small part to its delivery of performance, technology, and everyday sensibility alongside two things premium shoppers love: an honest price tag, and a promise of reliable, no-nonsense ownership thanks to Acura’s gleaming reputation.

What is an Acura TL SH-AWD Elite?
The TL is getting old these days, but it remains a staple product in its segment that’s well deserving of a test drive. A midsize luxury sedan, the 2014 TL SH-AWD Elite is largely a carryover of a car very special to the Acura brand. The current-generation TL put Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) technology into the mainstream luxury sedan market. And, though it was late to the game, it pushed Acura sedans past the 300-horsepower mark at long last.

Key competitors include the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, and Infiniti Q50.

2014 Acura TL SH-AWD Elite Price and Specs
All models get a VTEC V6 engine displacing either 3.5L or 3.7L. The tester had the larger unit, which sent 305 horsepower optionally to all four corners via the trick SH-AWD system through a 6-speed automatic. A manual transmission/AWD combination is, thankfully, available. Standard models get the 3.5L powerplant and front-wheel drive. Prices start at $39,990 for an entry TL, with the top-line tester coming in at $45,590.

Driving the 2014 Acura TL SH-AWD Elite
Though not pack-leading where output is concerned, the TL’s big V6 is very pleasing to listen to and piles the juice on at high revs as the VTEC power-cam kicks in. The 6-speed automatic works well with the engine for smoothness and response, supporting a sporty but very refined character.

The SH-AWD system has benefits which are two-fold. First, on slippery stuff, it finds surprising levels of traction using sophisticated computer controls and fast-acting magnetic clutch packs to extract the most traction from the ground beneath. Second, when drivers push the TL’s limits a little, the system “overdrives” the inside rear wheel, which slightly slides the tail out and points the nose inwards in a sort of delightful mini-drift.

Translation? You get playful agility and locked-on confidence, depending on what your right foot is up to.

That’s all directed by a heavyset steering system that confidently transmits a sense of agility and playfulness to the driver, too. At the end of the day, few sedans are this all-out confident and discreetly entertaining when pushed hard.

Powerful and fairly communicative brakes back up the performance capabilities, and when you’re on a relaxing drive, wind and road noise levels are kept adequately in check. So is fuel consumption. This engine might not have all the latest fuel-saving gadgets, but I still averaged under 10L/100km over the course of a week.

Other notes? The xenon projector lights are fantastic, and the big doors and big comfy seats make this an easy car to get in and out of, even many times per day. Finally, blind-spot monitoring and a slew of fully-automatic or voice-command features on the Elite tester added a sense of effortless relaxation on lengthy road trips. The suspension is set to a subtly taut sportiness that should prove “just right” for a driver after comfortable long-distance travels and pleasing handling response with minimal compromise.

Inside and Out of the 2014 Acura TL SH-AWD Elite
On board, there’s generous room for four adults, plenty of at-hand storage, and a great looking, three-dimensional look to the instrument cluster, dashboard and controls. In all, you get unique styling that very much does its own thing while creating a distinctively upscale and techy atmosphere. Proper cup holders, deep door bins, and a sense of always having a place for your stuff help round out the package.

This isn’t a machine that begs for attention, but rather one that focuses on sensibility and a quiet, confident demeanor. And, though high-tech and sporty, the TL is easy to drive, easy to learn, and requires nothing of the driver when they’d prefer to relax and enjoy a peaceful jaunt.

Key complaints? Simply, it’s getting old. The navigation and infotainment read-outs were due for an overhaul years ago. Many controls and interfaces are showing their age, too. More power would help the TL earn the dollars of more driving enthusiasts, and the lack of folding rear seats limits cargo carrying capacity.

Comparing the 2014 Acura TL SH-AWD Elite
Numerous competitors are more powerful, and more modern-looking, both inside and out. A comparable Audi or Lexus will boast a more striking cabin, and a comparable BMW or Mercedes will likely prove more all-out comfortable. Where a proven track record, sensibility, and discreetly confident performance are concerned; the TL should still prove a compelling buy.

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    2014 Acura TL SH-AWD ELITE
    acura tl 2014
    2014 Acura TL SH-AWD ELITE
    Review this Vehicle
    Styling
    Accessories
    Space and Access
    Comfort
    Performance
    Driving Dynamics
    Safety
    General Appreciation
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