Acura TL

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Acura TL
2004-2006 Acura TL
Parent companyHonda
PredecessorAcura Vigor
ClassMid-size luxury car
Body style(s)4-door sedan
ManualsService Manual

The Acura TL is a mid-size luxury car from Honda's Acura brand. It was introduced in 1996 to supplant the Acura Vigor and was rebadged for the Japanese-market from 1996 to 2000 as the Honda Inspire and from 1996 to 2004 as the Honda Saber. The TL is Acura's best-selling model, and it has ranked as the second best-selling luxury sedan in the United States behind the BMW 3 Series.[1] Four generations of the Acura TL have been produced to date, with the latest fourth generation TL premiering in 2008 as a 2009 model.

1996-1998 (first generation)

First generation (UA2)
Acura TL
Also calledHonda Inspire
Honda Saber
AssemblySayama, Japan
LayoutFF layout
Engine(s)2.5L Template:Convert/hp I5
3.2L Template:Convert/hp V6
Transmission(s)4-speed automatic
Wheelbase111.8 in (2840 mm)
Length2.5TL: 191.5 in (4864 mm)
3.2TL: 191.7 in (4869 mm)
Width2.5TL: 70.3 in (1786 mm)
3.2TL: 70.9 in (1801 mm)
Height2.5TL: 55.3 in (1405 mm)
3.2TL: 55.7 in (1415 mm)
RelatedAcura CL
Honda Accord
Honda Odyssey
Isuzu Aska
Isuzu Oasis

The TL debuted as 1996 model, first with the 1996 2.5 TL available with the 2.5 L 176 hp (131 kW) SOHC 20-valve 5-cylinder engine from the Vigor. The 3.2 TL used the 3.2 L 200 hp (149 kW) SOHC 24v V6 from the second-generation Acura Legend. The 2.5 TL was positioned as the sporty model and the 3.2 focused more upon a luxurious ride. The very first 1996 Acura TL rolled off the assembly line on March 28, 1995. Sales of the 2.5 TL began in spring 1995, but the 3.2 TL was delayed until fall because of a U.S.-Japan trade dispute.[2]

The first generation Acura TL had standard features including dual airbags, antilock brakes, automatic climate control, a cassette/CD player sound system, and power windows and locks. Leather was standard on the more upscale 3.2 TL, while the 2.5 TL featured a firmer suspension setup.


In 1997, Acura added a standard power moonroof to all TL models. Additionally, all Acura TLs received an added variable-speed intermittent wiper setting. The 3.2 TL has 205/65/15 Tires, a V6 motor, rimless windows and a Bose music system. The sport-targeted, 5-cylinder 2.5 TL was further fitted with new alloy wheels.


For 1998, Acura made several optional features standard on the 2.5 TL. 1998 was the last year of TL production in Japan, as the model was being redesigned for production in the United States.

1999-2003 (second generation)

Second generation (UA5)
1999-2001 Acura TL
Also calledHonda Inspire
Honda Saber
AssemblyMarysville, Ohio, USA
LayoutFF layout
Engine(s)3.2L Template:Convert/hp V6
3.2L Template:Convert/hp V6 (Type-S Models)
Transmission(s)4-speed automatic
5-speed automatic (2000 and later)
Wheelbase108.1 in (2746 mm)
Length1999–2000: 192.9 in (4900 mm)
2001–03: 192.5 in (4890 mm)
Width70.3 in (1786 mm)
Height1999–2000: 56.1 in (1425 mm)
2001–03: 53.7 in (1364 mm)
Curb weight3,447 lb (1,564 kg)
RelatedAcura CL
Honda Accord
Honda Odyssey
Honda Pilot
Acura MDX

In 1998, Honda revealed the TL-X concept car, showing a preview of the second-generation TL which would debut a year later. The second-generation TL (now called 3.2 TL) was released in 1999 and was now derived off the US-market Honda Accord platform. It was available with a newly-designed 3.2 L 225 hp (168 kW) SOHC VTEC J32 V6 mated to a four-speed electronic automatic transmission with SportShift.

The second-generation 3.2 TL (the 2.5 was dropped) was built in Marysville, Ohio, alongside the Honda Accord, at Marysville Auto Plant. These cars were imported into Japan and sold as Honda Inspire in the Honda Clio dealer network, and as Honda Saber in the Honda Primo and Honda Verno dealer networks. The main difference between the two cars were the front grille; the Inspire and Saber were also available with a 2.5 L Honda J-series V6 exclusive to the Japanese market.

The very first 1999 Acura TL (2G) rolled off the assembly line on August 4, 1998. The only option on the sedan was a hard drive-based navigation system. The 1999 TL's navigation system stored the maps in zones; there were 5 different zones for the U.S.


In the second year of production, the Acura TL was given slightly more features, including a 5-speed automatic transmission, with SportShift. The added gear allowed for slightly better fuel economy and acceleration when compared to the previous 4-speed automatic transmission with SportShift. In many vehicles, the 5-speed automatic transmission failed: as the third clutch pack wore, particles blocked off oil passages and prevented the transmission from shifting or holding gears normally. The transmission would slip, fail to shift, or suddenly downshift and make the car come to a screeching halt from expressway speeds. This problem was highlighted in the Los Angeles Times in September 2002. Consumer Reports took note and awarded the TL and CL the black spot, the worst rating for transmission reliability. In response to the recurring problem, the manufacturer extended the warranty covering the transmission to 7 yrs or 100,000 miles (160,000 km) on U.S.A. models. A class action lawsuit was settled to extend the transmission warranty for U.S.A. owners or entities but not Canadians to 7.75 years for all 99 to 02 and some 03 by VIN. For details see [1] Transmissions replaced prior to March 2005 usually fail again. Transmissions replaced 3/2005 and later include a redesigned third gear clutch pack reported to fix the problem.

Other notable changes include the addition of side impact airbags for the front passengers and a change of format for the navigation system. The 2000 TL switched the CD for a DVD-based navigation system. The entire continental United States became accessible with the navigation system; it was possible to drive from one coast to the other with the new navigation system.


For the 2001 model year, a redesigned coupe version of the TL was introduced, the 3.2CL. While it was mechanically identical to the TL, its sales never came close to that of its sibling model, and as a result, it was discontinued in May 2003. The 2001 added one feature that the 2000 didn't have, a new redesigned cupholder insert. The automatic transmission in many of these cars were also defective. In response to the recurring problem, the manufacturer extended the warranty covering the transmission to 109,000 miles (175,400 km) or 7.75 years for all 99 to 02 and 03 partial per VIN. Acura dealers replace the transmissions under warranty. Transmissions replaced prior to March 2005 usually fail again. Transmissions replaced 3/2005 and later include a redesigned 3rd gear clutch pack reported to fix the problem.


2002-2003 Acura TL

In 2002, the TL got a minor makeover, with a refreshed front fascia, redesigned taillights, a 6 CD in-dash changer as well as a few other features. A Type-S model was also added, adding 35 hp (26 kW) as well as Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon wheels, firmer seats and suspension. The automatic transmission in a large number of these cars were also defective. In response to the recurring problem, the manufacturer extended the warranty covering the transmission to 109,000 miles (175,400 km) or 7.75 years for all 99 to 02 and 03 partial per VIN. Acura dealers replace the transmissions under warranty. Transmissions replaced prior to March 2005 usually fail again. Transmissions replaced 3/2005 and later include a redesigned 3rd gear clutch pack reported to fix the problem.


Available only in Canada, Acura released an A-SPEC version of its popular TL Type-S. This edition was limited to 800 units, 400 in Nighthawk Black Pearl (NBP) and 400 in Aegean Blue Pearl {ABP}. The differences between the A-SPEC and non-A-SPEC were cosmetic. This trim came with a full painted skirt kit. The A-SPEC featured blue perforated leather accents found on the steering wheel, the shift knob ( which was also different), the seats and the door panels. The rest of the black leather was stitched with a matching blue thread. The front headlights, front grille and door handles were painted same as the body color instead of the chrome found on other trims. Side turning markers were also exclusive to this model. Aluminum accents replace the black ones on the center console and the doors. There were also aluminum Acura door sills on the A-SPEC. The wheels were also model specific. The A-SPEC also got a new spoiler with red lights on either side of it. To top it off there were subtle A-SPEC badges on the carpets and under the usual 3.2 TL Type-S badges.

2004-2008 (third generation)

Third generation (UA6/7)
2004-2006 Acura TL
AssemblyMarysville, Ohio, USA
LayoutFF layout
Engine(s)3.2L Template:Convert/hp V6
3.5L Template:Convert/hp V6 (Type-S only)
Transmission(s)5-speed automatic
6-speed manual
Wheelbase107.9 in (2741 mm)
Length189.3 in (4808 mm)
Type-S: 189.8 in (4821 mm)
Width72.2 in (1834 mm)
Height56.7 in (1440 mm)
Curb weight3,480 lb (1,579 kg)
RelatedHonda Accord
Honda Odyssey
Honda Pilot
Acura MDX

The first third generation Acura TL rolled off the assembly line on September 30, 2003. On October 6, 2003, the third generation Acura TL (the 3.2 moniker was dropped) was released for sale in North America. Developed mainly in the United States by a team led by Erik Berkman with bodywork by American Honda designer Jon Ikeda, the new TL is built in Marysville, Ohio, and is derived from the 7th generation US-market Honda Accord. It is powered by a 270 hp (201 kW; later revised to Template:Convert/hp, based on the new SAE measurement standard for horsepower and 233 lb·ft (316 N·m) of torque), 3.2 L 24 valve SOHC VTEC V6 engine mated to either a 5-speed automatic with SportShift or 6-speed manual. Manual transmission models featured Brembo 4 Piston front brake calipers, a Torsen-type limited slip differential, and stiffer anti-roll bars front and rear.

As of March 2004, Honda offers to the public a factory-sanctioned "tuner package" version of the TL: the TL A-SPEC. This version features a suspension tuned by Makoto Tamamura, an indication of the TL A-SPEC's aggressive engineering. In addition, an underbody kit, spoiler, limited edition A-SPEC steering wheel, "A-SPEC" badge on the back, and Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon wheels are standard issue on the A-SPEC package. When installed at purchase, the car's 4 year/ 50,000 miles (80,000 km) warranty applies to the package as well.

The third generation TL is also the first car in the American market to include a 6 disc DVD-Audio system, output through an 8-speaker 225-watt system, engineered by Panasonic and tuned by Elliot Scheiner. The system also plays back normal audio CDs as well as DTS audio discs, CD-Audio, CD-Rs and CD-RWs. The car is also equipped with a Bluetooth HandsFree Link (HFL) system, integrated with the audio system, to allow for hands-free usage of one's cell phone (provided the phone also supports Bluetooth and is compatible with the HFL's hands-free profile). The driver can simply voice-dial the number and carry the entire conversation over the car's built-in audio system; when receiving a phone call a display will show caller ID if it is supported by the phone. The driver also has the capability to transfer current calls between the car and his phone when exiting or entering the TL. There is also a phone book which can store personal phone numbers within the car's memory. With the built-in XM Radio tuner, owners can elect to pay a monthly subscription after the complimentary 3 months subscription expires from Acura for XM radio, which provides over 100 digital channels via satellite.

Sporting an Alpine-designed navigation system, the third generation TL also accepts voice commands [2][3] like "Find nearest police station" to "Go home." The navigation system features an Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon touch-screen LCD, which allows for easy viewing of the road ahead.

The JDM Honda Inspire debuted around 4 and a half months earlier (on June 11, 2003) and marked the branching out of the TL line from the Inspire. The Inspire is basically a seventh generation US-market Honda Accord V6 with minor trim changes, and the addition of Variable Cylinder Management, which shuts off half of the engine when not needed to boost fuel economy. The Saber was discontinued and the new Inspire is being sold at Clio, Primo, and Verno dealerships.

The TL became Acura's best selling luxury sedan in 2004 with more than 79,000 sold that year.[3][4]


The 2005 TL received a passenger airbag cutoff switch and extra stitching on the front seats. There were several minor changes made (such as changes in seat belt anchor mounts) which are not published.


The 2006 TL received the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and a new engine management system to help reduce torque steer. The new horsepower rating of Template:Convert/hp is due to a change in testing procedures, despite the engine remaining the same since 2004.


2007-2008 Acura TL

The 2007 Acura TL features a slightly revised exterior as well as a revised interior with a new steering wheel, redesigned gauges, and footwell lighting, in addition to new interior and exterior colors. The 2007 TL (non Type-S) received suspension changes to improve ride comfort. Also new for the 2007 model year were LED turn signal repeaters on the side mirrors and fog lamps in the bumper. Prior to 2007, the fog lamps were integrated into the headlight housing; Daytime Running Lights now occupy that space (Canadian models have had DRLs there rather than fog lamps since 2004). TL with navigation models sport a new rear view camera with image displayed on the navigation screen as well as XM NavTraffic. In addition to the new standard auxiliary audio jack, the sound system is now MP3/WMA compatible and offers Dolby Pro Logic II decoding and speed-sensitive volume compensation. The manual transmission option has been dropped from the base TL due largely to extremely low sales (roughly 1 out of 40 TLs sold across America were equipped with a manual gearbox).

2007 Acura TL Type-S

The most notable revision is the return of the Type-S edition of the TL. The Acura TL Type-S will receive the Acura RL's 3.5-liter V6 engine tuned for Template:Convert/hp and 256 lb·ft (347 N·m). of torque with either a 5-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. Exterior differences include quad exhaust pipes, restyled rear lamps and front fascia, lip spoiler, wider side sills, Brembo brakes, dark silver 10-spoke wheels, a "black chrome" grille rather than the standard glossy grille, and exclusive Type-S badging, plus an exclusive new color option, Kinetic Blue Pearl. The interior has Type-S badging on the steering wheel and headrests, more highly bolstered front seats, two-tone seats (only with the Ebony/Silver interior), metal racing pedals, carbon fiber trim, and red interior lighting (as opposed to blue in the base TL). Touch screen navigation is standard and the suspension has been firmed up. The only options are the aforementioned transmission and high performance summer tires (Bridgestone Potenzas) rather than the standard all-season tires (Michelin Pilot MXM4s).


The 2008 TL features an improved new immobilizer system, a separate Tire Pressure Monitoring System warning lamp and two new body colours. The navigation system has been updated to work in Hawaii, and the AcuraLink satellite capability has been expanded to incorporate 76 markets (up from 38 markets for the 2007 model).

2009 (fourth generation)

Fourth generation (UA8/9)
2009 Acura TL
AssemblyMarysville, Ohio, USA
LayoutFront engine, front-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Engine(s)3.5L Template:Convert/hp V6 (Base)
3.7L Template:Convert/hp V6 (SH-AWD)
Transmission(s)5-speed automatic
Wheelbase109.3 in (2776 mm)
Length195.3 in (4961 mm) (Base)
195.3 in (4961 mm) (SH-AWD)
Width74.0 in (1880 mm)
Height57.2 in (1453 mm)
Curb weight3,699 lb (1,678 kg) (Base)
3,948 lb (1,791 kg) (SH-AWD)
RelatedHonda Accord
Acura MDX
Honda Pilot

The 2009 Acura TL moves further upmarket with a more aggressive interpretation of Acura's latest styling vocabulary, known as "Keen Edge Dynamic." Featured prominently on the front is Acura's controversial "Power Plenum" upper grille. The size of the car has increased slightly as a consequence, and the wheelbase has been stretched 1.4 inches (36 mm) to 109.3 inches (2,780 mm). The car is also 6.2 inches (160 mm) longer overall, 1.8 inches (46 mm) wider and Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon taller. Rear legroom improves by 1.3 inches (33 mm) and rear shoulder room increases by Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon. The all-new package also improves structural rigidity significantly, thanks in part to the use of high-strength steel in 47.6 percent of the chassis.

The base TL will be front-wheel drive and is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes Template:Convert/hp and Template:Convert/ft.lbf of torque, an increase of Template:Convert/hp and Template:Convert/ft.lbf over the previous 3.2-liter V6. The new TL SH-AWD ("Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive") replaces the previous TL Type-S and is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces Template:Convert/hp and Template:Convert/ft.lbf of torque, an increase of Template:Convert/hp and Template:Convert/ft.lbf over the 3.5-liter V6 of the Type-S. The 3.7L engine also uses VTEC variable-lift timing on both the intake and exhaust valves (the base TL and previous models only applied VTEC to the intake valves). The SH-AWD model also includes some interior refinements over the base model and is tuned for slightly firmer suspension and steering feedback. It is visually distinguishable from the base model on the exterior by its SH-AWD badge on the trunk, quad exhaust pipes (as opposed to dual exhaust on the base model) and larger air ducts in the front bumper to cool the larger brakes (the base model's turn signal indicators in the bumper extend all the way to the center.) The TL rides on 245/50R17 tires, while the TL SH-AWD has 245/45R18 tires with optional 245/40ZR19 summer performance tires. Both models use electric power steering rather than hydraulic, and a revised five-speed automatic transmission featuring shift paddles on the steering wheel is standard equipment for both models. Acura has announced that a manual transmission will be offered in the 2010 SH-AWD model.

As before, the 2009 Acura TL continues to provide an extensive list of electronic convenience items, now including a central multifunction display, an eight-speaker 276-watt audio system with a six-disc CD changer, XM Satellite Radio, USB port connectivity (including full iPod control support), and Bluetooth Audio (for streaming music from a cell phone). Both models offer an optional Technology Package, which includes premium Milano leather seats, keyless start, a joystick-based (no longer touchscreen) navigation system updated with a new Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon full VGA display and the ability to provide weather information and traffic-based rerouting, and the Acura/ELS audio system with 10 speakers, 440 watts of power, DVD-A and DTS CD compatibility for 5.1 surround sound, as well as an internal hard drive with 13 GB of storage dedicated for audio. With the ELS audio system, audio CDs are automatically ripped to the hard drive upon insertion for future playback. The navigation system also stores its map data on the hard drive (as opposed to the previous models' DVD-based storage), producing faster boot times.[5]


  • The 2006 Acura TL won ConsumerSearch's "Best sports sedan with luxury touches" in Best Luxury Cars in September 2006.[6]
  • The 2006 Acura TL won ConsumerSearch's "Best blend of sport and luxury" in Best Sports Sedans in June 2006.[7]

US sales

Calendar Year Total American sales
1999[8] 56,566
2000 67,033
2001[9] 69,484
2002 60,764
2003[10] 56,770
2004 77,895
2005[11] 78,218
2006 71,348
2007[12] 58,545
2008 48,766


  • "2004 Acura TL A-SPEC: No assembly required to enjoy this factory-spec tuner package", an article by John Kiewicz on page 136 of the March 2004 issue of Motor Trend 2004 Acura TL A-spec
  • "Honda's Unexpected Gear Shift", an article by John O'Dell in the September 11, 2002 edition of the Los Angeles Times

External links