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MARK PHELAN: Acura TL is sporty but tends to stray

Jumpy handling mars well-appointed sedan
April 22, 2004

If you like your luxury sedans sporty and precise, I'm afraid the 2004 Acura TL is not for you.

The 2004 Acura TL five-seat sedan has a long list of standard equipment and a lean, athletic body.

The five-seat sedan has an interior worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest and a lean, athletic body, but severely twitchy handling robs the midsize sedan of the driving pleasure its sweet 270-horsepower, 3.2-liter V6 should deliver.

I found driving a lavishly equipped midsize $34,650 TL for a week was unnerving and, eventually, exhausting.

Taking the TL out for a spin was like taking a toddler to the playground: I could never relax for fear it was going to light out in some unexpected and potentially hazardous direction.

While the TL has a nasty tendency to wander when you want it to go straight, it handles reasonably well when pushed to the limits in curves and quick turns. It is noticeably nose-heavy, however, with steering that was slow to correct in fast turns and heavy braking.

That nose-heavy feel is common in front-wheel-drive cars with powerful drivetrains, but the TL's handling and steering response fell far short of the Pontiac Grand Prix GTP, which is probably the best-handling front-drive midsize sedan.
(Full Story HERE)
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