Slip behind the wheel of the '09 Acura TL and there's no mistaking what this sport sedan is all about.

With its dual-cockpit setup and enough buttons and dials to dazzle a starship captain, the TL's interior screams “driver's car” with every fiber. The first thing noticed is the cluster of 3-dimensonal, concentric circles that stare back at you like a bulging pair of cartoon binoculars.

It's an aggressive design that gives equal balance to the tachometer and speedometer, as if to suggest you put on your driving gloves before engaging the ignition.

The steering wheel, itself, acts as the driver's command center, with Formula 1-style paddle shifters and more than a dozen other buttons and rocker switches that position controls for the radio, hands-free phone, voice-activation and climate system within easy reach.

That proved too many buttons for some judges, but we suspect over time most drivers will appreciate having those controls close at hand.

There's more fun to be had with the TL's center stack, also chock full of sound system and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning buttons, plus a supersized BMW iDrive-like human/machine interface that regulates the nav system and other devices operated through the car's 8-in. (20-cm) LCD screen.

The IP flows neatly into the door panels and wraps comfortably around both front occupants. The metallic treatment along the IP and doors adds to the high-tech theme and pulls together the gray trim and Milano leather seats. “Very sassy,” says one tester of the color palette.

The judges find quality to be top-notch, citing the workmanship of the woven headliner, soft surfaces that enhance comfort and the “excellent fit and finish” all around.

What set the TL apart in the Premium-Priced Car category is quality craftsmanship, high value, unsurpassed execution and an element of otherworldly cool.

Capt. Kirk is waiting to be beamed aboard.