2012 Acura TL
2010 Acura TL
In 2009 Acura debuted its new (gen four) TL to near-universal pants pissing, thanks to the car’s unusual styling. Nobody in the media like the metalicious, aggressively beaked front end, and most bemoaned the rest of the edge-heavy styling, too. Mostly lost in the thousands of words written about the car was the fact that it happened to be pretty sweet to drive, had a subtle-yet-classy interior, offered a boatload of technology, etc. Why talk about all of that when there were good “schnoz,” “joker face,” and “Jimmy Durante” jokes to be written?
A couple of points about this:
1. Most car writers are as old as shit. They don’t like anything new, pretty much ever, unless it comes with a surfeit of free meals attached to it. (And even then, new is hard for them to swallow.) They actually remember who Jimmy Durante was, saw his films, subscribed to his newsletter.
2. Most car writers know ZERO about design or aesthetic appeal. They think the cars they grew up with are cool, and therefore good-looking, and base their analysis primarily on how close any new car is to mimicking the shapes of their archetypes for beauty. Ever wonder why the 2002 Ford Thunderbird, Chrysler PT Cruiser, or Chevy HHR exist? It’s because old dudes are easily cowed, scared suckers that want to look at more of what they know they like—auto journalists included. Please note: these are men that have no problem wearing khakis, white sneakers, a free polo shirt, and a fucking Rolex to any Michelin-starred restaurant in LA.
3. Acura, too often ruddered by the opinions of the group of gentlemen described above, caved to the pressure in just two model years and has “reworked” the styling on the TL.
Let me say that I totally get it if you didn’t/don’t like the styling of the initial 2009 TL. That’s fine.
The whole point of the thing, though, was to set the Acura brand—not exactly known for having signature styling element, now or then—apart from a herd of equally mundane sort-of-luxury cars. When you introduce new, bold styling language you have to prepare yourself for the fact that the assembled group of farting, gouty members of the media may not take a liking to it immediately, unless it happens to look like a 1969 Mustang fastback.
Designers that want to change the world are, frankly, a dime a dozen. It’s built into the creative DNA to want to do something different and revolutionary. Legendary brand-changing designs that actually make it to production then, are products of brave car companies that are willing to risk a lot to create something that is potentially memorable. Love or hate the TL, recognize the fact that Acura needs to sack up and let the designers to their thing (as the engineers have clearly done theirs). There’s a new NSX to get out, after all, and I don’t want to see it old-duded into being a Thunderbird.