What’s in a name?

 

The Acura brand debuted in North America in 1986 as the “second channel” or luxury/performance brand from Honda.

 

It was a masterstroke. Suddenly the little solid and stolid Civic that people had come to love as youngsters was offering Honda reliability with luxury to the same people who were starting to make their way in life.

 

It wasn’t long before Toyota (Lexus) and Nissan (Infiniti) jumped in hoping to cash in on the success of Acura. With the Legend sedan and Integra sporty coupe, Acura hit the ground running and people were fighting to get their hands on an Acura.

 

And then something funny happened. Even though Acura had huge equity in the Legend and Integra, the Legend somehow became the larger 3.5RL and the Legend name was abandoned.
To fill the slot left by the Legend, there was briefly the Vigor but that was dropped as Acura went alphanumeric across the board with the 3.2 TL and (if memory serves) 2.7 TL.


Let’s look as this week’s tester the 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive) and that’s a mouthful if there ever was one.


With a superb engine and incredible AWD system that rivals anything on the market today, I wish this sedan had a name that makes a statement.


The SH-AWD system on the 2010 Acura goes a generation or two beyond simple AWD as we know it.


It is one of the very few, Audi’s quattro driver select being another, that makes it possible to take advantage of what is called “torque vectoring,” a catchall phrase that barely describes how the system works.


The 3.7-litre unit in the TL is big for a V6 because the centrifugal force of the revolving mass of the internals has to be finely balanced.


Leading-edge engine mapping makes sure the right amount of fuel is available for reasonable gas mileage, in this case 12.3/8.1L/100 km city/highway with the standard five-speed automatic or 11.9/8.0L/100 km city/highway in the six-speed manual transmission option that is available for the first time on the TL.


Although it was available on other Acura models, the SH-AWD system in the TL is the most aggressive and responsive.


Considered a mid-size car, the TL as tested is bigger inside and out than some domestic full-size cars I can think of and it is also priced about the same as one or two I can think of.
While the name may have changed, the spirit and excellence that made Acura a synonym for quality is still very much in existence.


And with its combination of responsive engine and superior handling, the 2010 Acura TL with SH-AWD is a very formidable piece of performance sedan.