Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2012 Acura TL VS 2011 BMW 3 Near Phoenix, AZ

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2012 Acura TL

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2011 BMW 3

Safety Comparison

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Acura TL are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the TL deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The TL’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The 3 Series Sedan’s side airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The TL’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver's blind spots.

Both the TL and the 3 Series Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Acura TL is safer than the 3 Series Sedan:


3 Series Sedan



5 Stars

4 Stars

Head Injury Index



Chest forces

42 g’s

53 g’s



5 Stars

4 Stars

Head Injury Index



Chest forces

41 g’s

57 g’s

More stars indicate a better overall result. Lower numbers indicate better individual test results.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ( IIHS) performs roof strength tests. In that test the TL earned the top rating of “Good” because its roof supported over four times the TL’s weight before being crushed five inches. The 3 Series Sedan was rated lower at “Acceptable.”

For its top level performance in frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the TL as a “Top Pick” for 2012, a rating only granted to 120 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 3 Series Sedan was not a “Top Pick.”

Warranty Comparison

Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the TL 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than BMW covers the 3 Series Sedan. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the 3 Series Sedan ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Reliability Comparison

The engines in the TL have a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the 3 Series Sedan have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Acura vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Acura third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 13th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Acura vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 41 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 21st.

Engine Comparison

The TL’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 50 more horsepower (280 vs. 230) and 54 lbs.-ft. more torque (254 vs. 200) than the 328i Sedan’s standard 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl. The TL’s optional 3.7 SOHC V6 produces 5 more horsepower (305 vs. 300) than the 335i Sedan’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Acura TL FWD is faster than the 328i Sedan (automatics tested):


3 Series Sedan

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

6.9 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.5 sec

4.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

95.1 MPH

94.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the TL gets better fuel mileage than the 328i Sedan:


3 Series Sedan




18 city/28 hwy


20 city/29 hwy

18 city/28 hwy



18 city/26 hwy

17 city/26 hwy

The TL has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the 3 Series Sedan (18.5 vs. 16.1 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the TL’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the 3 Series Sedan:


3 Series Sedan

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

13.1 inches

11.8 inches

The TL’s brakes have 13% more swept area (the area covered by the brake pads) than the 3 Series Sedan with its standard brakes (522 vs. 464 square inches), so the TL has more braking power available.

The TL stops much shorter than the 3 Series Sedan:


3 Series Sedan

80 to 0 MPH

198 feet

224 feet

Road & Track

70 to 0 MPH

158 feet

165 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

123 feet

Road & Track

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the TL has larger tires than the 3 Series Sedan (245/50R17 vs. 205/55R16). The TL’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 3 Series Sedan (245/50R17 vs. 225/40R18).

The TL’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 328i Sedan’s standard 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the TL has standard 17 inch wheels. Smaller 16 inch wheels are standard on the 328i Sedan. The TL SH-AWD ®’s optional 19 inch wheels are larger than the 18 inch wheels optional on the 3 Series Sedan.

The TL has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 3 Series Sedan, it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the TL is 4.1 inches wider in the front and 4.2 inches wider in the rear than on the 3 Series Sedan.

The TL SH-AWD ® handles at .93 G’s, while the 335i Sedan pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Road & Track skidpad test.

The TL SH-AWD ® goes through Road & Track’s slalom 5.3 MPH faster than the 328i Sedan xDrive (68.4 vs. 63.1 MPH).

Chassis Comparison

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the TL has an electronically controlled liquid-filled engine mounts. A computer controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The 3 Series Sedan uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

As tested by Road & Track, the interior of the TL SH-AWD ® is quieter than the 335i Sedan:


3 Series Sedan

At idle

44 dB

51 dB

50 MPH Cruising

69 dB

71 dB

70 MPH Cruising

72 dB

74 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the TL is rated a Mid-size car by the EPA, while the 3 Series Sedan is rated a Compact.

The TL has 5.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 3 Series Sedan (98.2 vs. 93).

The TL has 1 inch more front legroom, 2.8 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear legroom and 1.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the 3 Series Sedan.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The TL has a much larger trunk than the 3 Series Sedan (13.1 vs. 12 cubic feet).

Ergonomics Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard power locks don’t automatically lock the doors. The TL’s standard doors lock when a certain speed is reached. This is an important feature for occupant safety. Locked doors are proven to open less often in collisions, and they are also effective in preventing crime at traffic lights. (The power lock’s automatic feature may have to be activated by your dealer.)

Consumer Reports rated the TL’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the 3 Series Sedan’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the TL has standard extendable sun visors. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The TL’s optional air conditioned front seats cool the driver and front passenger and help take the sting out of hot leather in Summer. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer air conditioned front seats.

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