Acura Automobiles: 2012 Acura TL


The 2009 TL’s dynamic and bold styling was designed at the then-new Acura Design Studio in Torrance, California. For 2012, the Acura Design Studios team worked to incorporate newly sculpted lines and more sharply honed trim appointments to improve the overall look of the TL. In addition, the TL’s styling changes more closely align the overall design direction of Acura. For example, the TL’s new lower front fascia openings are similar to the design direction used with Acura’s popular SUV models (ZDX, MDX and RDX).

With its newly sculpted lines and high-tech appointments, the TL may appear to be a pure design statement. However, the designer’s goal was to immediately catch the attention of passers-by. The driver, walking up to the new TL, has to have a sense right away that this car is going to be fun to drive, said Jon Ikeda, Acura Chief Designer.

In short, the design team wanted the TL’s exterior styling to not only remain emotional, but to still reflect the exhilarating driving experience that would be realized behind the wheel. In addition, the 2012 TL continues to use the latest materials and technologies to help reduce weight, increase strength and enhance aerodynamic performance. Moreover, the TL’s new front design also generates even better aerodynamics that helps increase fuel economy and improves performance.


The exterior design of the TL uses a principle that the design team refers to as Motion Surface. Simply put, this term expresses the feeling of motion in the surface of the vehicle even when the TL is at rest. The body uses artfully crafted character lines that divide the TL’s sides into lower, middle and upper areas, with each catching the light differently while presenting a dynamic and strong athletic shape. As well, the character lines lead the eye along the body side from front to rear, enticing the viewer to take in the whole car and explore and discover its many design details.

With the newly refined 2012 TL, most apparent is the new front styling that includes a redesigned front bumper with improved aerodynamics, a revised grille, updated headlights and turn signals, a new fog light design and a shorter front overhang.

At the rear, a new rear bumper incorporates a significantly repositioned license plate opening, much smaller rear reflectors and a new lower rear diffuser. Updated taillights and a thinner rear trunk edge trim add to a sophisticated new look of the 2012 TL. In addition, a new visual element includes a horizontal cut line that has been added to the front and rear bumpers to help break up the overall size of the bumper area the cut line crease generates two separate areas rather than one large bumper area.

Aggressive front wheel arches and dramatic character lines set a confident and muscular tone for the TL’s body side. In addition, the headlight and taillight arrays, which sweep aggressively around each corner of the body, further add character. Below the taillight array are new reflectors (that are significantly smaller than used with the 2011 TL) which deliver a less cluttered, more appealing look to the rear bumper. Below the trunk lid, the satin finisher has been reduced in size to serve more of a styling accent rather than a major trim piece.

Acura TL Exterior Features:

  • HID low-beam headlights and halogen high-beam headlights
  • Auto-on/off headlights with integrated daytime running lights (DRL)
  • Redesigned front fog lamps with revised lower air intake assembly
  • New 17×8-inch 7-spoke aluminum wheels
  • Bridgestone Turanza EL400 P245/50R17 M+S tires
  • Power tilt/slide moonroof
  • Power windows, door locks and heated outside mirrors with Reverse gear tilt-down function
  • Auto up/down front windows with auto-reverse and key-off operation
  • In-glass radio antenna
  • Dual exhaust finishers

TL with Technology Package Exterior Features:

  • Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 P245/50R17 M+S tires
  • Keyless Access System (with smart entry and pushbutton ignition)
  • Rear trunk-lid spoiler with integrated rearview camera

TL with Advance Package Exterior Features:

  • 18×8-inch 5-spoke aluminum wheels
  • Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 P245/45R18 M+S tires

TL SH-AWD and TL SH-AWD with Technology Package Exterior Features

  • 18×8-inch 5-spoke aluminum wheels
  • Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 P245/45R18 M+S tires
  • Front brake cooling ducts
  • SH-AWD trunk emblem

TL SH-AWD with the Advance Package Exterior Features:

  • 19×8-inch split 5-spoke aluminum wheels
  • Goodyear Eagle RS-A 245/40R19 M+S tires


Despite its larger size and higher overall content level, the 2012 Acura TL has a curb weight that is just 85 pounds heavier than the last generation TL. Part of the reason for the minimal increase in weight is due to the widespread use of high-strength steel in key structural areas, lightweight (yet high-strength) hot-stamped steel for the B-pillars and doorsills, as well as the use of aluminum for the construction of the hood, front suspension subframe, rear suspension knuckles and steering hanger beam. A total of nearly 52 pounds is saved by the use of aluminum body components.


The TL uses an advanced unit-body frame rail system. With this system, the stamped steel frame rails are positioned above and inside the body structure floor (rather than underneath it) to create a nearly flat body underside. This design results in improved structural strength for safety, reduced interior noise from turbulent air flowing underneath the car, better aerodynamic efficiency for improved fuel mileage and more interior space.


Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) represents a groundbreaking change in the way Acura unit-bodies are constructed. Now a standard feature on every new Acura, ACE is an exclusive body design that enhances occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal crashes. The ACE design utilizes a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle. This enhanced frontal crash energy management helps to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment and can help to more evenly disperse the forces transferred to other vehicles in a crash.

Another important ACE characteristic is how it allows the TL to better interface with significantly larger or smaller vehicles during a frontal collision, further protecting both the TL passengers as well as passengers in the other vehicle.


The 2012 TL has widespread use of high-strength sheet steel, which provides benefits in ride, handling and overall durability. The TL uses five different types of high-strength steel, including ultra high-strength hot-stamp steel that is heated before it is stamped into shape for the front unit-body rails, doorsills, B-pillar and side roof rails. A total of 47.6-percent of the steel used in the TL is high-strength steel. Hot-stamp steel and 980 grade high-strength steel (two premium types of steel) are used in the TL for the first time.


Aluminum front and rear bumper beams help the TL meet the most rigid crash test standards, while also helping to reduce vehicle mass for improved performance and fuel economy. In front, the bumper beam is tied into an ACE beam structure to help equalize the height disparity between large and small cars, resulting in better attenuation of crash energy during a frontal collision. Stylized plastic bumper fascias are an integral part of the TL styling and are rated to withstand 2.5-mph front and rear impacts without substantial damage.


All models of the 2012 TL have Xenon high intensity discharge (HID) projector-style low-beam headlights as standard equipment. The primary operational benefit of projector headlights is an exceptionally bright and more precisely focused light beam for confident nighttime driving, but they also provide an aggressive and technical appearance. Halogen high beams are mounted inboard of the projector beams, and offer further nighttime driving confidence with a crisp, bright and focused light beam. The halogen high-beams serve double duty as the daytime running lights (DRL) by operating at a lower voltage.

The headlight arrays are protected by flush-mounted impact-resistant covers that blend sleekly into the TL’s front fascia, hood and fenders, and include wraparound amber side reflectors that are visible from both the front and sides of the vehicle. For 2012, the headlights include black painted inner surfaces versus the previous design that had a shiny metallic look. The result is a more subtle, more integrated look of the headlights.

Also new are revised fog lamps that are integrated into an opening below the front bumper. The new lower front fascia openings are similar in design as used with Acura’s popular SUV models (ZDX, MDX and RDX). In addition to including bright chrome accents, the new fascia openings incorporate updated turn signal lenses. On the SH-AWD model, the new lower front fascia openings still retain air inlet ducts for additional front brake cooling.


Standard on the TL are new 17×8-inch cast-aluminum wheels with 7 crisply designed spokes, a silver paint finish and a new raised design of the Acura chrome emblem showcased in a composite center cap. Available for the TL with Advance Package is an 18×8-inch 5-spoke aluminum wheel. The TL SH-AWD features as standard 18×8-inch 5-spoke aluminum wheels finished in a silver finish with a centercap replete with the new raised style Acura chrome emblem. Available for the TL SH-AWD with the Advance Package are 19×8-inch aluminum wheels featuring a split 5-spoke design finished in silver with a spun-aluminum center cap and a chrome Acura emblem.


The TL comes standard with a power moonroof that tilts or slides via a one-touch control. To tilt or slide the moonroof fully open or closed, simply press the ceiling-mounted switch once (rather than pushing for several seconds). Partially opening or closing the moonroof to achieve partial ventilation simply requires a lighter touch. A built-in auto-reverse system helps ensure that the moonroof will not close if a hand or arm is in the way. If an obstruction is detected, the moonroof mechanism is designed to automatically reopen the moonroof.


Special acoustic glass is used on the TL windshield to help reduce wind noise. Tuned specifically to attenuate wind-noise frequencies, the windshield uses two layers of 2 mm safety glass with an in-between layer of a transparent elastic acoustic membrane for a total thickness of 4.5 mm. The windshield (like the side windows and 5 mm thick rear window) is UV light absorbing. The acoustic windshield (in conjunction thick side windows) helps position the TL at the top of its class in wind-noise performance.

Windshield Wipers
The TL’s windshield wipers nest below the hood line, where they are out of the driver’s line of sight and away from the direct airflow that can cause turbulence, aerodynamic drag and noise. The driver side wiper measures 25.5 inches in length to clean a broad section of the windshield, while the passenger-side wiper measures 18.7 inches. A 2.5-liter capacity windshield-washer system helps clear dirt from the windshield if necessary.


Above the beltline of the TL, the side windows are surrounded by luxurious stainless steel trim. Showing the level of detail that has gone into the TL, its surface shape is slightly concave, which helps eliminate hot spots in the reflection caused by direct sunlight. Additional stainless trim along the roofline joins together the windshield and roof into one smoothly flowing curve. For 2012, the trim surrounding the rear window is now body colored to generate a more subtle, well integrated look than the previous design that featured a bright stainless-steel design.


All of the vertical roof pillars and two areas of the front unit-body bulkhead are filled with closed-cell expansion foam that significantly reduces the transmission of road noise from the lower part of the unit-body up into the passenger compartment. The foam is installed prior to the unit body’s assembly and welding process, and it expands to tightly fit the pillar openings when the body is later baked after the electro deposition of protective coatings.
For 2012, the use of noise insulating foam has been expanded to include the roof separators. In addition, a new body sealing compound and improved weatherstripping design help reduce high frequency noise by 3 dB within the TL’s interior.


The TL has power windows as standard equipment, including a one-touch auto up/down feature that simplifies the lowering or raising process for the driver and front passenger-side windows. As with the power tilt and slide moonroof, the driver and front passenger-side power windows include an auto-reverse feature, and all four windows (as well as the moonroof) may be opened via the TL’s Keyless Access Remote. Turning the key twice in the driver’s door lock or pressing and holding the lock button on the remote Keyless Access Remote simultaneously closes the windows and moonroof.

Side glass
To help reduce wind and road noise, the TL features 5 mm thick glass for all four side windows. The added thickness (beyond that of typical auto glass) provides an acoustic barrier that makes the interior more quiet and luxurious.


The broad door handles are formed to comfortably fit a wide range of hand sizes as well as to accommodate gloved hands in winter driving conditions. To generate a more subtle appearance, for 2012 all models of the TL feature painted surfaces on the door handles.

The TL with Technology Package uses a Keyless Access System that unlocks the driver’s door or all doors (programmable as the owner wishes) when grabbing either the driver or front passenger door handle. The light touch of a small button located on the driver’s door handle simultaneously locks all doors and a reassuring audible tone confirms that the vehicle is indeed locked. An emergency lock cylinder, located on the rear edge the driver’s door handle, permits locking/unlocking the vehicle in the event the battery becomes discharged.


Satin door sill plates with aluminum garnish greet the driver and front passenger when the front doors are opened. Centered in a durable black composite surround, the metal door sill plates feature the Acura logo. In addition, dual 360-degree seals in all four door openings provide outstanding sealing capability to help keep wind, road noise, water and dirt out of the interior.


Aerodynamically shaped power-adjustable outside mirrors make use of special tinted glass that reduces glare. Mounted flush with the mirror housing are bright LED turn-signals that provide an extra margin of visibility in traffic without interrupting the TL’s dramatic bodylines. In addition, the side mirrors are heated and memory linked to driver preference.


The Acura TL uses an electric fuel-filler door release system. Instead of a traditional floor-mounted cable release, the TL’s fuel-filler door opens with a push of a button that is located on the driver’s door next to the trunk-release button. When the release button is pushed, the filler door pops open 1.2 inches and is then held open by a secondary spring.


A large array of light emitting diodes (LEDs) serves as the taillights on the TL. Used here as well as in the turn signals located in the outside mirrors and Center High-Mounted Stop Lamp (CHMSL), the LEDs illuminate almost instantly, provide exceptionally high-visibility lighting and draw less energy than comparable incandescent bulbs. The LEDs have a far longer service life and also provide a highly technical look that compliments the TL’s aggressive body design. For 2012, the TL’s taillight extensions now feature a red-chrome trim design that generates a more subtle, well integrated look than the previous design that featured a bright chrome trim design.


Included in the available Technology Package is a rear spoiler that contains a trunk release touch button as well as an integrated rearview camera that displays an image on the full VGA navigation screen (when the transmission is shifted to Reverse). The composite spoiler is painted body color and is smoothly integrated into the bodylines.


Fuel capacity on the 2012 TL is 18.5 gallons a volume that helps deliver an excellent cruising range between fill-ups. Manufactured of high-density polypropylene resin, the tank is also located farther forward than in the past, helping to improve mass centralization for better ride and handling.


Further reducing wind noise inside the TL was essential to making the vehicle a top performer in the premium sport sedan market. Designers employed many different strategies, including the use of an acoustic glass windshield, thicker side glass, special insulators, and precise aerodynamic tailoring of the body and the vehicle’s underside.
The underside of the TL has significant aerodynamic advancements. At the front of the vehicle, a precisely shaped deflector directs part of the airflow from underneath the front fascia and up through the radiator to provide a steady supply of cooling air at speed. The aerodynamic tailoring continues with another deflector that guides remaining airflow smoothly underneath the engine. The result is that the TL more smoothly moves through the air, benefiting interior quietness and fuel economy.

Racecar-inspired deflector strakes located ahead of the front tires also help steer air around them more efficiently, and for 2012 these front strakes have been redesigned to further improve aerodynamics. The new strakes, in conjunction with the improved aerodynamics of the front bumper, reduce front drag by 5.4-percent.

The inside frame rails (described in the Body section) allow air to flow more smoothly underneath the car. The TL also has a mid-floor cover that smoothly transitions air from the underside of the body to the underside of the fuel tank. The dual muffler undersides are flat, and the vehicle’s underbody is also coated with a sound-absorbing coating.


The Acura TL offers a generous 13.1 cu. ft. of storage volume while the SH-AWD model has 12.5 cu. ft. of storage (due to the space requirement needed for the SH-AWD rear differential). The TL’s trunk is spacious enough to hold four golf bags, four 22-inch long Pullman-style suitcases or a family-sized cooler.

When equipped with the Technology Package, the Keyless Access System allows the trunk to be opened by simply pressing a smart button located on the rear spoiler. As long as the remote transponder is in their possession, the TL’s Keyless Access System will recognize the presence of the driver and allow the trunk to be opened.

Fully Lined Trunk
The trunk is fully lined to protect the cargo as well as for improved visual appeal. The trunk has a highly finished overall appearance thanks to hidden trunk lid hinges, a neatly finished edge to the trunk lining material, a spring-loaded cover that hides the latch striker and a convenient strap for lifting the spare-tire cover.

Underneath the trunk floor is a T135/80D17 temporary spare tire mounted on a steel wheel, a jack, lug-nut wrench, and an eyelet that screws into a locating point on the front bumper in the event the TL ever needs to be transported on a flatbed truck.

The trunk also features six anchor points for attaching a cargo net, along with a fold-down rear seat pass-through to accommodate long items such as snow skis.


The 2012 Acura TL offers a total of eight available exterior colors including four pearl colors and four metallic colors. Specifically chosen to mirror the TL’s emotion unleashed character, the colors look particularly dramatic in bright sunlight, where the TL’s strong character lines present different facets of the body to the light differently, creating a highly evocative and dynamic 3-D appearance. All exterior colors feature a durable, hard clear coat that resists damage from industrial pollution, acid rain and fog, as well as organic contaminants such as bird droppings. The exterior colors were selected to compliment the TL’s four available interior colors including Ebony, Parchment, Taupe and Umber Tan.


A line of Acura Genuine Accessories was developed simultaneously with the TL to provide vehicle personalization for the Acura owner. Like all Acura Genuine Accessories, the TL accessories are covered by a 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty if installed by the dealer at the time of original vehicle purchase.

  • 18-inch diameter aluminum wheel (chrome look)
  • 19-inch diameter aluminum wheel (chrome look)
  • 19-inch diameter aluminum wheel (diamond cut)
  • Wheel locks
  • Rear back-up sensors
  • Front spoiler
  • Side spoilers
  • Rear spoiler
  • Rear decklid spoiler
  • Side splash guards
  • Body side moldings
  • Door edge guards
  • Door edge film protection
  • Car cover
  • Remote engine starter
  • Engine block heater (for winter use)

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