June 24, 2009
2009 Acura TL. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
Review and photos by Chris Chase
2009 Acura TL
Ottawa, Ontario – While the idea of purchasing a luxury car is to treat yourself to the comfort and convenience features that are typically only available in a higher-end vehicle, it’s fair to say that some drivers choose a luxury model for the image it portrays.
While Honda’s upscale Acura division has been quite successful since its inception in 1986, the brand’s main problem was that the cars didn’t always look like luxury cars. The mid-range TL is a prime example: since its debut in 1996, it looked for many years too much like the Accord family sedan it was based on.
For well over a decade, the TL (not to mention other Acura models) succeeded largely by coming in at a lower price than its German competitors, and by playing on parent company Honda’s record for reliability. For 2009, there’s been a change of attitude at Acura, and you have only to look as far as this redesigned TL’s nose to see it.
Like the Dame Edna-esque BMW 5 Series of 2004 and the 2005 Audi A6, with its controversial “single-frame grille,” the TL now has a more distinctive look that is guaranteed to make people think the car is expensive, even if the style isn’t for everyone.
To be fair, the prominent grille – you’ve seen similar treatment already on the RDX and MDX crossovers, and the smaller TSX sedan – is the only thing that’s off-putting; otherwise, the look is less risky. (Though perhaps not risky enough? One friend who saw the back of the TL mistook it at first for a Mazda6.) I won’t say I love the brand’s new corporate front-end, but it bears mentioning that many dealers are offering buyers the option to have the TL’s rather prominent beak painted body colour to make it less conspicuous.