It just makes it reasonable to study the Acura TL, a car whose name has a luxury sedan written right into it, if you’re doing used Acura car research to locate a discount on pre-owned luxury cars. Between 1996 and 2014, the mid-sized luxury Acura TL, which replaced the Acura Vigor, went into production. While the initial Acura TL (1996–1998) was produced in Japan, Marysville, Ohio’s Honda facility eventually took over production.
The third-generation Acura TL was unofficially introduced for the 2004 model year. From the years 2004 to 2008, two earlier generations of mid-size luxury sedans used the initials TL following a series of numbers denoting the engine, yet this was the first time simply the TL moniker was used on an Acura vehicle.
The First-generation Acura TL
The Vigor, which was positioned between the tiny Integra and the roughly flagship-style Legend, was replaced by the Acura TL in 1996. Initially, there were two versions of the TL: the 2.5TL and the 3.2TL. The 2.5TL featured the uncommon 176 horsepower, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine from the Vigor, while the 3.2TL had the 200 horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 from the Legend. Despite the TL’s front-wheel drive, both engines were longitudinally positioned. The initial generation of the TL was not available with a manual transmission, unlike other Acura cars at the time. If you get an Acura TL available for sale from this generation, then make sure to check whether it is in good condition or not and discuss every possible detail with your car dealer before buying one.
The Second-generation Acura TL
The second-generation TL first debuted in 1998, solely in 3.2 TL form, with a 225-horsepower transverse-mounted V-6. The TL’s four-speed automatic transmission was swapped out with a problematic five-speed in 2000. In 2002, the TL received a redesign, and a new 3.2TL Type-S variant increased power to 260.
The Third-generation Acura TL
In 2004, Acura unveiled a redesigned third-generation TL, dropping the displacement prefix and renaming the vehicle simply the TL. The 3.2-liter V-6 was now capable of 270 horsepower, and the TL was now available with a six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, stronger sway bars, Brembo brakes, and high-performance tires. The 2004 TL A-Spec received larger wheels with lower-profile tires to go with a body package, tighter springs that decreased the ride height, and retuned shocks. Despite no technical modifications, the engine’s rating was increased to 258 horsepower in 2006.
Acura debuted the TL Type-S in 2007. It has a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 286 horsepower and a choice of a six-speed manual transmission with a limited-slip differential or a paddle-shifted five-speed automatic transmission. The Type S had Brembo brakes, a distinctive body, interior decor, and a firmer suspension. Its paint color was called Kinetic Blue.
The Fourth-generation Acura TL
For the 2009 model year, a bigger car with a contentious chrome grille that detractors compared to a mandoline vegetable slicer—the fourth and last TL—arrived. The new SH-AWD model, which succeeded the Type S, had a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6, and a highly complex all-wheel-drive system, as well as a harsher suspension. Base cars had a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that drove the front wheels. Starting in 2010, SH-AWD versions may be ordered with a six-speed manual. Sales plummeted in comparison to the third-generation TL, and a 2012 redesign featuring a subdued grille failed to stem the tide.
The Acura TL had been in production for four generations until 2014, and purchasers had always known they could rely on a variety of features. They were aware they would be receiving a mid-size luxury car with four doors, a cozy interior, lots of useful features, and a good ride. They might have faith in the Honda-powered engines, which, with regular maintenance, can last for more than 200,000 kilometers. Honda responded to the gearbox problems that some second-generation Acura TL cars (1999–2003) had by extending their warranties. So, if you are thinking of buying a used Acura TL and reliability is one of your concerns, it should not be that big of a deal.
Our Pro Tip and Verdict
The most coveted TL in terms of performance is the 2007–2008 Type S, while the A-Spec vehicles aren’t far behind. In addition, we believe the third-gen (2004-2008) manual-transmission TL is possibly the finest of the group, even though it has a major torque steer issue that was mitigated (but not completely resolved) in the A-Spec and Type-S versions.
The problematic five-speed automatic gearbox in second-generation Acura TLs from 2000 to 2002 (and some from 2003) was the focus of a class-action lawsuit and an extended warranty. It’s crucial to find out if the transmission has been changed if you’re thinking about purchasing a TL from this era. Transmissions that are both original and recently replaced are prone to problems.
Our recommendation is to go for a normal 2006–2008 TL unless you specifically desire a higher performance model. In such an instance, try looking for a Type-S. Include “used Acura TL for sale” in your search terms if you want to get a used car at a good price without compromising comfort.