Suggestion No. 3 – 2014 Acura TL
Thus far we’ve covered two cars, one familiar option and another that Mike may not have considered before. The Passat is like a hug from grandma; warm, comforting and colloquial. On the other hand Ford’s Fusion is akin to that pair of skinny jeans you’ve been eyeing but didn’t realize you could actually squeeze into; it’s hot with two “T’s,” thought admittedly a little short on back-seat space.
But now it’s time to take things to the next level. With the Acura TL we’re shooting for the moon and hopefully not pulling an Apollo 13 in the process.
In its most basic form, this fancy Honda stickers for $36,925 out the door (including $895 in delivery charges). Understandably that exceeds the 35-grand cap by a bit, but rules were meant to be broken so that’s just what we’ve done.
Even at that entry-level price you get a suitably premium sedan with an elegantly trimmed interior and impressive dynamics. Like the two mainstream offerings listed above this car is still front-wheel drive… unfortunately.
The entry-level TL features a 3.5-liter V6 engine that posts 280 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are delivered on premium fuel, which is required; Volkswagen merely recommends it in the Passat 3.6, while the Fusion will happily run on 87-octane regular, though with slightly reduced output. Like the VW and Ford this TL features a six-speed automatic transmission.
Higher-end versions feature a more muscular 3.7-liter V6 that delivers 305 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. They come with the company’s advanced SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) system and can even be had with a manual transmission.
But back to basics, the TL we’re talking about isn’t all that fancy. Still, it’s got nice features like leather, power front seats, an eight-speaker premium sound system, a USB port and Bluetooth plus heated side-view mirrors; it rides on 17-inch wheels. And guess what?! It even comes with doors and a steering wheel at NO EXTRA COST! Can you believe it?
For $3,730 more than the base model Mike could step up to a TL with the fancy Technology Package, which adds things like premium leather, a navigation system, backup camera and GPS-linked, solar-sensing climate control system into the mix. It brings it closer in content to the other two cars, though it adds a lot to the window sticker.