My first week with my SH-AWD.... (long post, sorry)

By diyauto
( 1 )

15 minute(s) of a 15 minute read


My first week with my SH-AWD.... (long post, sorry)

Compliments of Keith Luken @


OK Well I have had my 4G SH-AWD now for a week and have put about 300 miles on it. For those of you that have followed my threads you know I agonized over what to get when I sold my 3G Type-S. I had a new car itch, but truly loved my 3G Type-S, I loved everything about it, the only 2 things I nit picked were the buzzy back deck and the now-a-days underpowered under performing ELS. The ride and styling still had me in awe! I owned 4 Acura 3G TL,s as you can see from my tag line, so clearly I loved the car. When the 4G was unveiled I was aghast in horror that Acura could ruin such a perfect car with such bad styling. I felt the 3G was the perfect size and to increase it by 2 inches in width and 6 inches in length would make it more like a crown vic that a luxury sports sedan. After driving the base 4G when it came out I was convinced this was the case, the car was soft, lacked road feel and the steering was like playing a video game.

Well roll forward to January and I had sold my Type-S and had driven a 4G SH-AWD a few times, but was still not wowed by the styling. I was considering the Genesis (yeah no flames, it is a gorgeous car and rides decent, actually better than base 4G) and the G37. I was really itching for a G37 because I had wanted a G35 last time I sold my TL, but just could not bring myself to part with the Acura TL. The thing that over and over turn me off about the G35/G37 is their small lo-rez navi and the limitations it imposes when driving. Also the technology in the car was not even equally to TL considering the G was a 3 year newer design. Pretty much the same things pulled at me this time again. The G NAV is looking extremely dated now when you look at the 4G TL and Genesis. The lack of voice controls in the G is the same thing, both the TL and Genesis are much more voice control oriented. And finally while the SOW sound system in the G was in some ways better then the ELS in the 3G, it is not in the same league as the Lexicon in the Genesis and the ELS in the 4G. So after 2 weeks of test driving all 3 vehicles numerous time I finally went with the 4G SH-AWD. This was no easy task as I wanted Palladium Metallic over Ebony and the SH-AWD in the South is as rare as the doo doo bird, let alone in a color combination you want. Literally in GA there are less than 10 cars. I would up getting the car from a dealer outside Nashville TN over 250 miles away. The transaction was fast and the price was decent, not as good as I would have liked, but better than any deal I was working in ATL. Teh dealer did everything over the phone and he even met me half way to deliver the car. The first day or 2 I kept questioning my decision as there are still things in the 4G I don' like, the styling is one, the clutter of controls and that cheap control knob being the second. Why did I buy a car I don' love to look at? I decided that any car I was looking at was going to be compromises, so I decided to determine what was most important to me. Ultimately I am buying a car to DRIVE. I love to drive and the drive is what matters. Right up there is my comfort and then the technology, I spend a lot of time in my car so being able to enjoy the ride, the comfort and listen to
music are important decision factors. The 4G excels in all my key areas. So now after a week and over 300 miles what do I think.....

OK first, the exterior. The Styling is growing on me, but I still envy the looks of a G37 or Genesis. I plan on getting Ron Jon's grill when he releases it in April/May which I think will transform the front end to be more appealing. The "Power Plenum" is just too damn distracting and does not flow with the car. On the PM is is not as obnoxious, and on dark cars painting the grill actually makes the car look hot. I also still am torn on the bulging front wheel wells and the sunken center to the hood. Acura wanted to stand out and the 4G will certainly do that. From the back the car still has the "big booty" syndrome the tapers as you go up. The side profile of the car is an are that the car really looks good. Again growing on me, but I still feel the styling will hurt sales of this car. The SH-AWD wheels really fill the wells nicely and add nice styling to the car over the small dwarfed Base car wheels.And what about the interior? Well Overall I have far less complaints with the interior. I prefer the BMW 5, TSZ and Audi style of flowing the dash so that the NAV is more swept in rather than a hump, but it is not al that bad. I prefer the gauges and MID location on the 3G, but the 4G is very functional. The SH steering wheel is fantastic, nice top grade leather in a fat rimmed perfect size. The center console is very stylize with the sliding cover over the cup holders attractively designed and the notch in the center arm rest allows good arm support, but still full access
to the cup holders. The arm rest cubby is large and deep and houses the AUX and USB inputs as well as another power jack. The upper
compartment is now a small slide out tray vs. the larger mire versatile space in the 3G. The seats are covered in high grade first rate leather that is so soft and supple to the touch that I rank way up there, far better than the 3G and now better than Infiniti, and probably on par with Lexus. The SH seats are even more bolstered than the 3G Type-S, making them a tad more snug, but still comfortable (unless you're wearing a bulky winter coat). I would give the 3G Type-S seats the nod for slightly better comfort while being sporty, but the 4G SH seats are more sporty and still very comfortable even for a long drive. The SH adds nice contrasted stitching to the steering wheel, and seats to really give them that extra look of being first class. The weakness on the interior is the center control stack. The overwhelming array of buttons so closely bunched with no logical separation for function makes it truly a dizzying quest for the right button. Also their I-Drive style control knob is rather cheap looking and feeling for what is a $43K car. The saving grace here is the Acura voice control, where virtually everything can be controlled by telling the car what to do!

The Technology..... Ok Acura has been know for its leading edge technology. In the 3G I would have said Acura was way out in front, but in the 4G I would not say in front, but int he pack of leaders for auto technology. Acura NAV is by far probably the best NAV I have seen. The 4G NAV is to NAV as what HD TV did for Home Theater. The screen is large and crystal clear and easy to read and its location makes it easy to check without wandering your eyes from the road for too long. The rearview backup camera is now higher resolution and greater color accuracy compared to the 3G and incorporates distance markers to help you judge distance. Acura voice control is the pinnacle of their technology, virtually everything in the car can be controlled via voice commands. Infiniti dumbed their commands down, I'm sure because the accuracy of their system was poor, but Acura's voice commands are extensive and the system is very accurate. Many of the commands are logical statements that you don't need to look up cryptic commands before using them. One area Acura took a huge step backward is the Bluetooth HFL setup. WOW, coming from my 3G TLs this one is a real disappointment. In the 3G you would hit the button and say "CALL Steve" and it would confirm your choice and call. In the 4G if you don't have a phone that is compatible with phone book import you are severely limited in how to set up contacts to a speed dial that only holds 20 entries. To add an entry to speed dial you either have to have called them or they called you, there is no manual speed dial entries unless your phone book was imported. Also now you have to hit the PHONE button to activate the HFL then the VOICE button to say the command. This is supposed to be an improvement how? The ELs in the 3G was leading edge sound system back in 04, but by 08 was trialing newer cars. The ELS in the the 4G sees some very nice gains, in power, functionality and sound. The ELS in the 4G is right up there with the Lexicon in the Genesis and may be a tad cleaner. The additional of IPOD integration and USB port for flash drives as well as Bluetooth audio means you are covered no matter where you store your music. They coudl add some functionality to sort the USB flash lsiting aplhabetically rather than the order they were copied. Add to that the ability to store up to 12GB of ripped music on the cars internal HDD and you can be listening to music the rest of your life without repeating song or
leaving the car! The XM tuner is much better such that XM no longer sounds sub FM quality as it did on the 3G.

And of course, what about the ride? Well of course I would save the best for last. The SH-AWD is such an awesome and amazing machine to drive. The suspension in the 4G AWD is so much more refined than the 3G Tpye-S. The 3G Type-S was excellent and usually beat the G35 in the skid pad tests as it really stuck in the corners, but the 4G AWD takes this to a new level. The 3G Type-S while firm and reasonable did transmit big bumps directly into the cabin in a slightly jolty manner. The 4G AWD feels stiffer, yet much more complaint, soaking up bumps and dampening them as to not send that full jolt right into the cabin. Take a 270 degree off ramp without slowing down, no problem, the 3G Type-S would do it, but you'd feel the tires start to roll a tad, the 4G AWD just takes it in stride as it yawns taunting you with "is that all you have for me sucker...". On rough roads you'll know it, but you'll feel it far less than on a 3G Type-S, on smooth roads the car is gliding as if floating above the road, but still giving you some road feel. The new EPS steering is a mixed blessing, it reduces engine drag, but I feel they still need to tune it in more, it is a little too light at low speeds, I miss the resistance of my 3G Type-S. The EPS seems over boosted at times taking some getting used to so you don't over correct in a quick maneuver.

And my over all conclusion.... The 4G AWD is an awesome machine. It has it's flaws and styling being the most controversial with beauty is really in the eye of the beholder. The car will evoke a reaction positive or negative, it will not get the ho hum "bland like every other car" reaction. The technology is first rate with some areas for improvement (HFL and USB file sort order), but I would venture to say the ELS sound better than many people's home theaters!. The Interior smacks of top quality, sure some plastics are a little cheap, but the parts of the car your interact with all the time look and feel high end. In the end if you like the styling or don't care about what the car looks like, it will be hard to beat this car. The Infiniti G is more sports sedan with luxury and technology as secondary factors, it also is a bit of a snug fit if you are in the 6 foot brad sized American class. The Genesis is a top rate luxury car, but lacks in handing and seating. Acura builds a solid car with great ride and comfort. If you doubt it, look back at my threads, I hated this car until I drove it. It is like in High School, you can date the blonde cheerleader that is an air head or you date the geeky gal that is fun to be with? I'm looking to impress myself more than others so I'll take the geeky gal ;-) The SH-AWD is like a drug addiction once you try it you are hooked!

BTW: Would I get this car again, yes in a heart beat, do I wish I got the G37, sometimes until I get in the TL and drive it!!

I'm not engine expert, but after test driving several G35 then G37 sedans vs. the TL what I find is Acura makes good low end torgue which is capable of getting the car up and moving very nicely. Of course the thing that hurts the 4G AWD is well the AWD looses and the weight, thats why they put a 3.7 in this thing. It still gets up and hauls ass, the G will have to spin up many more RPM, but it is a rocket. If you want straight line 0-60 the G is the way to go, if you want a more balanced car the TL is the way to go. The TL is very capable and feels quicker than it is probably is due to its ability to generate low end torque. I have never had a problem witht he get up and go of my TL, sure the G will be quicker, but there will always be something that is quicker! Infiniti is known vor their free revving engines that expel gobs of HP, but they need hiher RPM to do that. If anything I find the TL AWD very potent off the line, much more than my 3G Type-S, I find I have to baby the gas pedal. The low RPM torque int he TL has you doing 65 MPH before you realize you're in a 45 MPH speed zone That has been my biggest thing to adjust too, the car takes no effort to do 65 MPH at very low RPM. Those that say the TL needs a 6 or 7 speed auto have never driven one, sure it will help in some areas, but honestly Acura does a great job of generating torque at low RPM which makes their engine very efficient. Where a 6 or 7 speed migth help is a lower gear to get the car going even faster, but more importantly a taller gear for 70MPH driving to keep the revs low enough to gain back some of the HWY MPG the AWD looses. I find the AWD TL is difficult to get better than 24-25 HWY, where my 3G Type-S was easy to get 27MPG+

I posted a bunch of shots in the photo gallery...

I have not done much in the past, swapped out bulbs for LEDs, (the 4G has LEDs inside already). I did tint it, and will probably swap out the fogs for something that closer matches the HIDs. I am seriously considering the Ron Jon grill if it coems out in April at a reasonable price. Even though it is a lease I think the RJ grill makes the car transform into something a bit sexier. Even though it is a lease I still have to live with it for 39 months (an eternity for me).