Special Coverage

2011 Chicago Auto Show

American Honda’s Acura near-luxury brand debuts a refreshed version of its TL sedan today at the 2011 Chicago auto show.

“The innovative TL is refined but retains its aggressive character,” Acura says in a statement, noting the ’12 TL boasts a completely new front fascia, including a new grille.

Industry analysts have disparaged the brand’s current “power plenum” shield-type grilles. In a photo Acura released to the media prior to the show the TL's power plenum has been reduced in size and now is ringed in chrome.

The ’12 TL’s exterior also receives a redesigned rear fascia, bumpers, fog-light surrounds and rear garnish. The TL’s headlights and taillights have undergone a color change.

Acura is expanding the use of its 6-speed automatic transmission to the TL. It was first introduced in 2009 in the ZDX and MDX cross/utility vehicles, as well as the Honda Crosstour CUV. No word on whether the 6AT will be optional or standard in the ’12 TL.

The ’11 TL mated a 5-speed automatic to either a 280-hp 3.5L V-6 or 305-hp 3.7L V-6.

The 3.7L V-6 was offered with models equipped with Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive technology, which apportions torque side-to-side and front-to-back.

The 6AT in the ’12 TL improves fuel economy, as do aerodynamic improvements and a new friction-reducing technology for the 3.5L engine, Acura says.

Interior upgrades for ’12 include the TL’s hard-disk-drive navigation system, which now has 60GB of storage compared with 12.7GB previously. There also is a blind-spot information system and ventilated front seats to the TL’s optional Advance package.

TL models with SH-AWD get optional 19-in. all-season tires for better snow and ice performance, the auto maker says.

Acura TL sales rose 1.3% last year, Ward’s data shows, to 34,049 units. However, the TL started 2011 poorly, as January sales tumbled 19.8%, in contrast with the brand’s overall 11.6% increase.