Acura TL Type-S – First Drive: Imagine how great life would be if people, the normal kind, got mid-life updates just like cars do. Not the major overhauls that result in horrific freak shows like Joan Rivers or the 1996 Ford Taurus; we’re talking a nip here, a tuck there, a lift or two, and an injection of youthful vitality. Maybe then, 40 would be the new 20 instead of the new 30.
Outside of the completely imbalanced socioeconomic cauldron that is Southern California, getting “work” done as middle age arrives is relatively uncommon. We wrinkle, we sag, we bulge, and we buy new cars with coveted luxury badges on them to make us feel better about the ordeal. Cars like the refreshed Acura TL, a three-year old sport sedan that’s been Botoxed and working out with a personal trainer for 2007. It’s got a new look, bigger muscles, and added refinement to keep it competitive until a redesigned version arrives around the end of the decade. And with the new TL Type-S model, Acura is lookin’ for love with a more emotional, enthusiast type.
Power and torque are what make emotional, enthusiast types drool, and the 2007 Acura TL Type-S has plenty of both. It’s also got bigger pipes, a stiffer suspension and meatier brakes. There are other modifications, too, including sexier styling. But don’t think the Type-S gets to steal the show for 2007, because the standard TL is face-lifted with design enhancements inside and out, as well as slightly revised seats for greater comfort. Both Acura TLs get a new five-speed automatic transmission with increased power capacity, but now the manual transmission is limited to the Type-S model. Because a dedicated sport-tuned version has arrived, the pressure is off the standard TL and it can behave more like a refined and luxurious sedan and less like a boy-racer-mobile.
Inside, Acura says the leather upholstery is softer than before, the aluminum and simulated wood decor is changed for greater visual impact, and a thick three-spoke steering wheel replaces the old four-spoke unit. The gauges wear fresh makeup in the form of improved graphics resolution, and a new optional navigation system includes a reversing camera, AcuraLink with real-time traffic, and Bluetooth cell phonebook transfer. Other new features include one-touch start for TLs with the automatic transmission, signaling side mirrors for all cars, and Active Noise Cancellation technology for the Type-S which reduces aural irritants to a breathy whisper. Stereos purr with upgrades like Dolby Pro-Logic II, an MP3 auxiliary jack, WMA and MP3 playback capability, and speed-sensitive volume compensation.
For this review, we concentrated on the Acura TL Type-S, driving the twisty back roads of southern Pennsylvania and western Maryland. The route included light city driving and some stretches of freeway, and we were able to sample both the six-speed manual and the five-speed automatic transmissions. By the end of the drive, we could see dropping between $34,000 and $39,000 on a first date with the vamped-up 2007 Acura TL, even if it is getting a little old, and the Type-S model with the slick-shifting SportShift automatic had us thinking about rings by the end of the day. Ultimately, though, we just couldn’t pop the question.