The reappearance of the Type-S model for 2007 might seem like the biggest news for the TL, but now that there's a sportier model in the offering, Acura was able to recalibrate the base model TL to broaden its appeal in the premium marketplace.
The TL was already quite a luxurious car, but it was occasionally subjected to mild criticism for its ride quality. We agreed to an extent, and felt that it didn't quite strike that perfect balance between comfort and handling - the relatively stiff springs telegraphed a fair amount of road data to the passenger cell, but the dampers occasionally felt like they weren't quite up to the task of managing the springs' actions, resulting in an unsettled feeling in certain circumstances. As enthusiasts, we normally cringe any time we hear about a suspension being softened, but in this case it actually works to the TL's advantage, and the improvements are realized both in ride quality as well as the feel of the car's handling.
The 2007 base TL's front spring rates have been reduced by about 7% and the damper rates have been also been retuned all around. Slightly stiffer sway bars have also been fitted front and rear. The result is a more compliant and more controlled ride. The sensation behind the wheel is that the '07 TL may exhibit a bit more lean than before, but it takes a better set during steady state cornering and maintains superior control of body motions over broken or undulating pavement. Additionally, Acura has massaged the steering feel and claims to have increased the effort characteristics at both low and high speeds - we'll take their word for it until we get the chance to drive an '07 back to back with an '04-'06 model. For now we can say that the steering felt nicely weighted, accurate, and provided a natural level of feedback during our day of backroad bombing. Overall handling and grip remain pretty impressive for this front-driver. We drove it in a rather spirited fashion, but the car barely broke a sweat - it possesses a lot more performance potential than you could safely explore on most public roads.
Under the hood, the 3.2L motor benefits from the same magnesium intake manifold and valve cover components that are fitted to the 3.5L Type-S motor, and the base TL also gets a higher capacity 5-speed automatic. Otherwise, little else has changed. While power and torque are said to be the same as the 2006 model, there was something about the '07 model that we drove that provided a slightly greater sense of urgency than the last '06 TL 5AT I drove - perhaps it has something to do with the programming of the logic that manages the TL's new 5AT (which is a derivation of the RL's gearbox). Gearchanges are said to be quicker in the TL (and quicker still in the TL Type-S). The TL's drivetrain has always been one of its stronger points, and for 2007, Acura builds upon this excellence.
Overall, we feel that the revisions to the base 2007 TL make it a very compelling choice. The refined suspension tuning and upgraded transmission provide for a comfortable and capable car. Just about everything that was really good in the 2004-2006 TL has become a little bit better for 2007. The overall package combines an impressive level of performance but sacrifices very little in terms of overall comfort and luxury, and overall makes a bit more sense than the slightly compromised model that it replaces. The only gripe I would register against the 2007 TL would have to be about the new wheel design, but it's a small nitpick for an otherwise excellent vehicle.