Acura's best-selling model, the TL has ranked as the second best-selling luxury sedan in the U.S., right behind the BMW 3-Series. Introduced in 1995, the Acura TL debuted as a mid-size luxury sedan with front wheel drive that was produced to replace the Acura Vigor. Acura incorporated some of the most popular features from the Legend, while that vehicle was discontinued during the same year. The Acura was rebadged for the Japanese market in '96 as the Honda Aspire an as the Honda Saber from 1996 through 2004.
From 1996 until 1998 the TL was available in two engine sizes, a 5 cylinder 2.5 liter, a lavish sports car model and a 6 cylinder 3.2 liter luxury sedan. The first generation was assembled in Sayama, Japan and came with a 111.8 in wheelbase. Its 2.5L 176 HP engine came with a 4-speed automatic transmission. On March 28, 1995 the very first 1996 Acura TL rolled off the assembly line.
In 1999 the second generation was introduced and was available with only the more popular 3.2 liter engine. Much larger than the previous generation, the 1999 TL showcased sleeker updated styling along with a more powerful V6 engine. Acura was attempting to market to a younger generation, and in the Acura TL, it succeeded.
The second generation TL was also called the Honda Inspire and was assembled in Marysville, Ohio. The engine was the 3.2L 224 hp V6 and the 3.2L 260 HP. The transmission was a 4-speed automatic and after 2000 the 5-speed automatic was introduced. The second generation model featured a 108.1 inch wheelbase with an overall length of 192.9 inches.
Honda introduced the TL-X concept car in 1998, and this was a preview of the second-generation TL that would be unveiled in 1999. The newest TL was derived off the USDM Honda Accord platform and featured a newly-designed 3.2 L 225 hp SOHC VTEC J32 V6 that was joined to a four-speed electronic automatic transmission with SportShift.
The 2.5 was dropped for the second generation, and the 3.2 TL was built alongside the Honda Accord before being imported into Japan and sold as Honda Inspire at the Honda Clio dealer network, and as Honda Saber in the Honda Primo and Verno dealer networks. On August 4th, 1998 the very first 1999 Acura TL 2G rolled off of the assembly line. The only available option on the sedan was a hard drive-based navigation system.
For the 2000 model year, the Acura TL was given slightly more features, including a 5-speed automatic transmission with SportShift. The new gear allowed for better fuel economy and acceleration when compared to the previous four-speed automatic transmission with SportShift. Other additional changes on the 2000 model included the addition of side impact airbags for front passengers and a change of format for the navigation system. The CD was also exchanged for a DVD-based navigation system.
The following year a brand new redesigned coupe version of the TL was unveiled; the 3.2CL. Though mechanically identical, the '01 model never reached the height of sales that it's sibling model reached. In May of 2003 this coupe model was discontinued. The 2001 model featured a new redesigned cupholder, a feature that the previous years model didn't have. The warranty of these models were also extended by the manufacturer due to recurring problems with the automatic transmission.
For 2002 the Acura TL received a minor makeover that resulted in a refreshed front fascia, redesigned taillights, a 6 CD in-dash changer along with several other features. For this same year a new Type-S model was also added to the lineup. The Type-S added 35 hp as well as 17-inch wheels, firmer seats and suspension.
Acura introduced an A-SPEC version of its popular TL Type-S model that was available only in Canada in 2003. This edition was limited to only 800 units produced. Cosmetic differences were the only variations between the A-SPEC and non A-SPEC versions.
On September 30, 2003 the first third generation Acura TL rolled off of the assembly line. The vehicle underwent a complete redesign in 2004, mainly due to the customers that wanted a more powerful vehicle along with a sportier exterior. The new '04 TL was introduced with a redefined chassis, a 270 horsepower 3.2 L V6 engine along with the enhancements such as Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a DVD-Audio surround sound system.
The third generation of the Acura TL was assembled in Marysville, Ohio from 2004 until 2008. The third generation Acura TL was released for sale in North America on October 6, 2003. Derived from the seventh generation USDM Honda Acorrd, the new TL was developed mainly in the Y.S. by a team led by Erik Berkman with bodywork by American Honda designer Jon Ikeda. Powered by a 270 hp, the third generation is based on the new SAE measurement standard for horsepower and 233 lb-ft of torque, 3.2 L 24 valve SOHC VTEC V6 engine joined to a 5-speed automatic with SportShift or 6-speed manual.
Honda offered a factory-sanctioned ‘tuner package' version of the TL in March of 2004 to the driving public. Featuring a suspension tuned by Makoto Tamamura, an indication of the TL A-SPEC's aggressive engineering. Other features included an underbody kit, spoiler, limited edition A-SPEC steering wheels, 'A-SPEC' badge on the back, and 18-inch wheels that are all standard features on the A-SPEC package.
The first car in the American market to include a 6 disc DVD-Audio system, the third generation TL featured output through an 8-speaker 225-watt system, engineered by
Panasonic and tuned by Elliot Scheiner. In 2004 the TL became Acura's best selling luxury sedan with more than 79,000 sold in that year.
For 2005 the Acura TL received minor updates that included a tire pressure monitoring gauge along with higher horse power rating that was determined through new testing procedures. A passenger airbag cutoff switch along with extra stitching on the front seats were some of the updates featured on the '05 model. Brembo 4 Piston brake calipers for the front wheels were also featured on manual transmission models.
For 2006 the TL received the Tire Pressure Monitoring System, an updated and improved weight ratio, along with a new engine management system that aided in reducing torque steer. Though the engine remained the same throughout 2007, a new horsepower rating of 258 hp is due to a change in testing procedures.
For 2007 the Acura TL was updated with a slightly revised exterior along with a revised interior that featured a new steering wheel, new gauges, and new colors for 07 models. To improve ride comfort, the 2007 model received suspension changes. LED signal blinkers were added on the side mirrors and fog lights on the bumper. A new rear view camera with image displayed on the navigation screen along with XM NavTraffic on the new navigation models. The sound system is now MP3/WMA compatible along with the new standard auxiliary audio jack. The base model dropped manual transmission due to extremely low sales.
The Type-S edition of the TL returned. The new Type-S received the Acura RL's 3.5-liter V6 engine that was tuned for 286 horsepower and 25 lb-ft of torque with either a 5-speed automatic with paddle shifters of a 6-speed manual transmission. Differences were mainly focused on the exterior with the addition of quad exhaust pipes, newly restyled taillights and front fascia. Additional updates were focused on the lip spoiler, LED lights, Brembo brakes, dark silver 10-spoke wheels, exclusive Type-S badging along with new exclusive color options. The interior of the Type S featured two-tone trim on the headrests and steering wheel, racing pedals, carbon fiber trim and red interior lighting. Standard now was the touch screen navigation along with a re-tuned suspension.
For 2008 the TL showcased an improved new immobilizer system, a separate Tire Pressure Monitoring System warning lamp, along with two new body colors. The navigation system was also updated to now work in Hawaii. There is a rumor that Acura will unveil an all-new special generation of the Acura TL in 2009.By Jessica Donaldson