We have all heard it said by parents and teachers and others throughout life, "Don't judge a book by its cover."

The obvious response to a statement as broad as that for me at least is always, "Why not?"

But an interesting thing happened the other day on the freeway when the car I was driving, a 2009 Acura TL managed to impress me.

Let me back a few steps up here and explain.  You read the story I wrote yesterday regarding the Acura MDX we recently added to our automotive fleet, and while some of you have been critical of my decision to purchase the Acura over the BMW X5, almost as many of you voiced support of the decision.

In purchasing the MDX, the dealer manager Keb Barrett agreed to tint the front windows and arranged a time for the work to be completed.  On the scheduled morning this past week, I arrived at the dealership and intended to work in the lounge while the work was completed.  Keb came out of his office and told me I was welcome to drive one of the demo TL's that they had, and quickly returned with a key to one.  (As a side note here, Keb knows of my highly trained Agent skills, and wanted me to have a chance to experience the TL)

I took the key and loaded my briefcase into the car and proceeded to jump on the freeway and head to one of my job sites in Nashville.  It only took a few minutes or cruising at 90-100 MPH that the realization began to sink in that the TL is actually a pretty decent car.

I started to fine tune the radio and other settings including using the steering wheel mounted shifter paddles and honestly the Acura started to grow on me.  The TL truly is a pretty good car.

After finishing up at the job site, I headed towards home, a trip that included some back road driving, and again the TL held its own impressing with its handling prowess as it carved an arc through the corners.  The particular TL I had was not the TL SH-AWD model, and when pushed it was obvious that the wrong wheels were doing the driving, but other than some well contained under steer, the TL continued to impress.

And it was then the paradox of the TL revealed itself.

I got home and took the pictures you see below, and the TL that most of the world sees reared its ugly head.  The impressions made while behind the wheel of the TL quickly faded away as I was again reminded of the exterior, a shape I just can't seem to get my mind to like.

The rear of the car is fine, not pretty but certainly not bad.  The front end however is full of unresolved surfaces and creases coupled with the Acura nose that only a mother could love...

...and yet it drives so well.

Not like a BMW or Audi, but with a style distinctly its own - in a GOOD way.

And the interior is fabulous.  In fact I would go as far as to say it is spectacular.  I'll go even further to say Audi could learn a thing or two from this interior. 

But you still need to get out of the car, or worse be seen in the car.

And to prove my point, I drove to the post office with the TL, and as I was getting out of the car I saw someone do a double take of the car and my immediate reaction was to proclaim LOUD AND PROUD that the TL was not my own, but a dealer loaner.

And yet when settled into the drivers seat pushing the car to 9/10th's the nose is all but a distant memory.  That is until you pull behind something able to reflect back an image of the nose.

So whats a car enthusiast to do?

I won't give you the graphic description here of what I said to my friends in describing the TL (however if you e-mail me I will reply with the description, but the TL does so much right including the interior - that a true paradox exists with this car.

And it is that very paradox that makes me conflicted.

For as much as I want to tell you to run out and give the TL a chance, especially in the SH-AWD model which I was able to drive later in the day, I just can't get past the looks.

And if I was a marketing executive for Acura I would probably change the company slogan to something along the lines of, "Drive it first, then decide."

So perhaps that is exactly what the take away should be from this experience. 

Will Agent 00J be buying a TL anytime soon?


But that doesn't mean it isn't a great car wrapped in one of the worst nose jobs ever.

But until such time as plastic surgeons start performing nose jobs on cars, driving the TL is the only solace I can offer to help overcome the looks.

If Acura is banking on the test drive, they have a winner on their hands.

I am just not convinced enough people are willing to drive the TL because of their initial judgment of looks.

For the sake of Acura, I hope I am wrong.

Don't forget you can upload your photos on the go by sending them to

No one does a Gallery like, check out the A4/S4 Cabriolet and 2009 Geneva Auto Show Galleries

A special thanks to Keb Barrett at Gary Force Acura for loaning me a demo car - I promise I didn't beat the hell out of it!!!

Agent 00J Drives the Acura TL - Don't Judge This Book By Its Cover: The Surprising Revelation!

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