No complaints whatsoever in the under-hood department. The engine is a gem, revving willingly and sending very little noise into the cabin while doing so. A lack of low-end torque means acceleration lacks urgency until the engine spins above about 2,500 rpm, but that’s nothing that many current V6s can’t be accused of.

The front-drive TL’s official fuel consumption numbers are 11.6/7.5 L/100 km (city/highway). My average over about 300 km of around-town driving was a respectable 11.2 L/100 km.

Test Drive: 2009 Acura TL  car test drives acura
Test Drive: 2009 Acura TL  car test drives acura
2009 Acura TL. Click image to enlarge

Acura’s (and Honda’s, too) steadfast dedication to its five-speed automatic transmission is either to be admired or ridiculed, at least in the over-$40,000 category. The G37 gets a seven-speed automatic; Mercedes offers the same in both its C- and E-Class cars, and BMW and Audi use six-speed autos in their 5 Series and A6, respectively. Perhaps the tighter ratio spacing offered by packing in more gears would help the TL feel more potent off the line, but once moving, this car’s five speeds seem to be enough, honestly. Add to that the transmission’s ability to bang off utterly seamless shifts at full throttle (you actually feel more shift shock in normal acceleration), and it’s hard to fault this five-speed.

While Honda/Acura used to be known for its simple dash designs, the company has strayed from that recently, at least in its higher-end models. Yet here, in my base-model TL, was the most pleasant interior I’ve experienced in a high-end Honda or Acura for some time. While this was the result of the car not having the optional Technology Package, which brings navigation, a better stereo and a keyless start system, I didn’t miss the gadgets and instead enjoyed driving what is a very comfortable and relatively simple sport sedan. The only feature I’d have appreciated is a rear-view camera; the high trunk and short rear window make reversing in tight quarters a bit trying, particularly on rainy evenings, when visibility is already compromised.

The interior is heavy on the plastic, but the quality of materials is good, and the layout attractive. My car had a knocking sound somewhere in the rear, though I couldn’t track it down to determine if it was coming from inside the car or from the rear suspension.