EXPERT REVIEW

Orlando Sentinel's view


When the Acura TL was redesigned for 2004, one model was missing: the TL Type-S performance version.

Why? Because Acura said that the base 2004 TL performed as well as the 2003 TL Type-S. But now that the current TL is getting a little long in the tooth, Acura has brought back the TL Type-S for a return engagement.

The regular 2007 TL has a 3.2-liter, 258-horsepower V-6. The TL Type-S has a 3.5-liter V-6 with 286 horsepower, but that isn’t all: The Type-S gets Brembo front disc brakes, a retuned suspension with stiffer shock absorbers, springs and roll bars, and special tires and wheels. Front and rear fascias are slightly different, as are front seats and some interior trim.

The test car had the five-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually with little paddles behind the steering wheel. You can get a Type-S with a six-speed manual transmission, but few do.

Acura was a pioneer in no-option marketing with the TL. Aside from colors, your only choices with a Type-S are tires, and whether or not you want the navigation system. Everything else is standard: a power sunroof, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, a trip computer, rearview camera and a superb eight-speaker stereo with a six-disc CD player and XM satellite radio. That’s a lot of equipment on our test car, which had the navigation system. All the safety features you’d expect are included, such as anti-lock brakes with brake assist, stability control, and side and side-curtain air bags.

Despite the extra power, the TL Type-S is not as fast as some of its competition, such as the BMW 335i. But the Acura is plenty quick, and its V-6 engine is an ideal match to the automatic transmission. EPA rating is 19 miles per gallon city and 28 mpg on the highway. Our overall mileage was just shy of 22 mpg. Premium gas is preferred for either TL model.

Inside, the TL Type-S cockpit is roomy and comfortable, though rear-seat passengers might wish for a little more elbow room. Trunk space is an ample 12.5 cubic feet.

Despite stiffer suspension on the Type-S, the ride is smooth on all but washboard surfaces. This is an extremely quiet car, even at highway speeds.

About the only thing keeping the TL Type-S from finding real favor with the dedicated import sports-sedan crowd is the fact that it is front-wheel-drive, when most sports-minded customers are convinced a performance sedan needs to be rear- or all-wheel-drive. I disagree. Unless you were on a racetrack, you would never know the difference, and even then, the TL Type-S would more than hold its own.

It’s good to have the Type-S back after three years off. And for sport-sedan customers: Put this car back on your radar screen.

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