It's what's inside that counts

| Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, 9:19 p.m.

Acura's midsize sedan, the TL, received some styling updates this past year, making it even more appealing than it was.

But probably more significant for consumers is the addition of a six-speed automatic transmission, which helped boost the car's highway fuel economy.

EPA ratings are now 20 mpg city/29 highway for the TL with the base 3.5-liter V-6 engine, up from 2 0/25 in the previous model, which came with a five-speed automatic.

No changes are planned for the 2013 version, which goes on sale this fall.

For the 2012 model, prices range from $35,705-$45,185.

The $35,705 price brings the entry-level, front-wheel-drive TL with the base V-6 engine. For $45,185, you'll get everything that's available in a TL, including all-wheel drive, a more-powerful 3.7-liter V-6, and both the Advance and Technology packages.

We tested the top-of-the-line model, which even had such extras as a power trunk lid, blind-spot monitoring, and one of the best audio systems around.

The 3.5-liter engine, rated at 280 horsepower, was given some friction-reduction technologies to help boost fuel efficiency, Acura said.

The six-speed automatic has Acura's Sequential SportShift feature, which allows for manual shifting without having to use a clutch.

Design tweaks included a new front bumper with improved aerodynamics, a new grille, revised headlights and a shorter front overhang.

There are smaller rear reflectors, new LED taillights and a thinner trunk-edge trim.

The changes were a “freshening,” rather than a complete makeover.

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