2012 Acura TL SH-AWD Advance

The thing about the 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD Advance: It seems Swiss…and that’s good.

The thing about the 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD Advance: It seems Swiss…and that’s good.

Although Switzerland may be associated with watches, chocolates and highly secretive and secure bank accounts, there is something else that the country is known for. Not widely. But known nevertheless.

The Swiss are also known for the production of machinery. Not just any old run-of-the-mill machines, mind you. There is a category of machinery named after the country: “Swiss turning machines.” There is no other country that can claim that distinction.

You see, they didn’t make all of those watches without precision parts.

And while Acura doesn’t build its TLs in Switzerland. Nor does it even have an analog clock in it. In fact, there probably isn’t anything Switzerland-sourced in the TL.

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Yet the car sees very Swiss to me, not in any chocolatey good smoothness, but in its precision engineering or, more to the point, the way it is a well-crafted machine, substantial but not ponderous, solid but not staid. All of the pieces mesh. . .like a finely crafted watch out of Schaffhausen. And wouldn’t you be surprised to learn that the TL is built in. . . Marysville, Ohio.

If Marysville rings a bell with you, it is probably because that’s where Honda, the parent company of Acura, started building Accords in the U.S. (They started with motorcycles, then moved on to the sedans and coupes.) And that pedigree is, arguably, an awfully good one to have when it comes to building something with reliability, durability, quality, and. . . credibility.

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If you’re going to buy a sedan that you want to drive for a long time, if you want to buy a sedan that you don’t want to have being serviced on an all-too-regular basis, then you probably want to buy a car that comes from a place where they know how to build them. And that place is Marysville. Seriously.

Now what isn’t from the middle of Ohio is the transmission (even the 305-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine is U.S. built), a six-speed automatic with a SportShift feature, sourced from Japan. One of the things that this does for those who are all about inertial forces kicking in is the ability to command a double downshift—a.k.a., skipping a gear in the sequence to give you that thrown-back-in-your-seat feeling. Although it is a damn comfortable seat. And while on the subject of the interior, that “Advance Package” includes ventilated front seats that keeps your posterior nicely temperate under varying climactic conditions (as well as offering a blind-spot information system at the A-pillars and bigger (19-in.) wheels, which, of course, aren’t related to the interior but part of the package).

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In addition to which, there is the “Technology Package” that has a navigation system with all manner of functionality including has voice recognition, which also has functionality for the Song By Voice System that—well, you can figure that one out by yourself. I’m still not comfortable talking to a car. Maybe seeing 2001 scared me as a kid.

Because the car is a “driver’s car”—as in a car that is meant to be DRIVEN, not simply driven—it has SH-AWD, which signifies “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.” The Cliff’s Notes of this is simply that the system puts the torque where it is needed, fore and aft, side to side. This isn’t just about getting grip when things get slippery, it is about being able to put the car into corners and DRIVING it out of them. (OK. I’m going to stop with that now.) For the SH-AWD TL there are specially tuned springs and dampers, as well as special brake tuning and front brake cooling ducts (real ducts, not faux).

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There is a sense of solidity to the vehicle, which might be ordinarily associated with something built by a manufacturer north of Switzerland.

Selected Specs

Engine: 3.7-liter, SOHC v6

Block materials: Aluminum block with high-silicon aluminum cylinder liners

Head material: Aluminum

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with Sequential SportShift

Horsepower: 305 @ 6,300 rpm

Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm

Wheelbase: 109.3 in.

Overall length: 194 in.

Overall width: 74 in. @ doors; 83.4 in. @ mirrors

Overall height: 57.2 in.

Curb weight: 4,001 lb.

Fuel economy: 18/26/21 mpg (city/highway/combined)