Jeff had already secured the TL and picked us up at the airport. The trunk was roomy and spacious and had no trouble handling our 5 bags, including a rather beefy hard-sided suitcase that housed much of our camera gear. The trunk is a bit smaller than some other global midsize chassis models (the TSX for one), but pays dividends with increased rear seat room. As we scurried to get into the heated interior both Tuan and I noted how spacious it was. Despite both of us measuring over 6' in height, we had plenty of room front and rear to stretch out.
Jeff engaged 1st gear and pulled out into traffic. Despite 3 people and luggage, the J-series responded in traditional fashion - that is, with absolute smoothness and a wonderfully strong pull. Having already made some mental assumptions based upon our last test of the CL-S 6-speed, I must say that the sound of the engine was a bit muted though. As our road test wore on, we discovered that this wasn't due to some special effort on the part of the powertrain people though, rather, the new TL is just an incredibly quiet car on the interior. Roll down the windows if you want to enjoy the engine's soundtrack.
The clearly improved sound deadening of the TL was, in retrospect, a clear indicator of the dichotomy we were to come to know (and love) over the next 5 days. Somehow, some way, the engineers at Acura have managed to make the new TL both sportier than the old Type-S model and more luxurious at the same time. That they managed to do so with an improved value equation is clearly a testament to their skills - hurrah for progress! Before we jump into the improvements in the "sport" side of the equation, let's talk a little more about the luxury side.
First of all, the audio system in the TL, developed in conjunction with Grammy winning engineer Elliot Scheiner, is simply the best I've heard in any car under $50k, perhaps in any production car period. The staging, dynamics, sound levels, etc. are all top notch. And then you step up to a DVD-A 5.1 disc and are simply astounded. This is a system aimed at total accuracy and total clarity. No heavily boosted bass frequencies or artificial highs - just pure sonic bliss. It is interesting to note that Acura probably couldn't have pulled this sort of system off without the improvements in sound deadening in the car. The fit and finish in the interior (and exterior) are also a step up from the previous TL. Everything has soft touch surfaces and operates with smoothness and fluidity. The seats are comfortable and the leather is a step up, although I'd still like to see something besides the perforated hides that Acura is so fond of - they just don't look as nice as some of the other options available.