Some would call it unfortunately styled. I’m not that polite. I call it a Butterface. I’m talking about the Acura TL, man, not Ke$ha. Butterface, for those not well-versed in rude jargon, means “nice body – but ‘er face is ugly.” Crude, I know. But it describes the current TL pretty well, when you think about it. The TL’s got a nice interior, it’s got great engines and powertrain selections, it’s reasonably priced, dead reliable, and it even looks good from the side and from the back! But when you get around to the front end… well, it’s horrendous. For reference, this is a picture of the current TL’s front end.

Yuck! What’s up with that buck tooth? Well, Acura called it a “power plenum” but mostly it was just terrible. The TL gets a “mild” restyle for 2012, and guess what’s changed?

Ahh! That’s so much better! Now that looking at the front of a TL doesn’t cause retinal tearing and permanent blindness, the world is Acura’s oyster. Well, maybe not, because it’s still a pretty big car for it’s class and it’s still FWD, but this can’t hurt. The scaled back the Klingon-forehead grille, and smoothed out the profile of the lower intakes. The lower grilles are still a bit busy, but it’s vastly better looking than the car it replaces.

The tail-lights out back have been smoothed out as well, making the TL seem less like an origami piece than before. It also seems like the trunk line doesn’t plunge quite as drastically, but it’s minor differences we’re talking about here. All the improvements have been made up front.

The TL is still using the same wheels and everything as last year, too. The only real news, mechanically, is the new 6-speed automatic transmission that replaces the 5-speed on auto TL’s. Other than that, it’s business as usual: base model TL’s get a 3.5L 280bhp V6 and an automatic, while the TL SH-AWD gets the bigger 3.7L 305bhp V6, torque-vectoring AWD, and the 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmissions. Kudos to Acura for still offering a stick shift in their performance model, something Lexus still hasn’t figured out. Mainly though, I’m happy they removed the ugly-stick beating from the assembly process. Thanks, Acura!