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. 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. 1996-1998 (first generation) 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 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. 1999-2003 (second generation) 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. 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. The transmission would slip, fail to shift, or suddenly downshift and make the car come to a screeching halt from expressway speeds. 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 17-inch (430 mm) 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. 2004-2008 (third generation) 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. 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 18-inch (460 mm) wheels are standard issue on the A-SPEC package. 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. 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. 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 286 horsepower (213 kW) 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. 2009 (fourth generation) The 2009 Acura TL moves further upmarket with a more aggressive interpretation of Acura's latest styling vocabulary, known as "Keen Edge Dynamic." 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 0.5-inch (13 mm) taller. Rear legroom improves by 1.3 inches (33 mm) and rear shoulder room increases by 0.5-inch (13 mm). 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 280 hp (210 kW) and 254 ft-lbf (344 N-m) of torque, an increase of 22 hp (16 kW) and 21 ft-lbf (28 N-m) 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 305 hp (227 kW) and 275 ft-lbf (373 N-m) of torque, an increase of 19 hp (14 kW) and 19 ft-lbf (26 N-m) 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 SH-AWD model also includes some interior refinements over the base model and is tuned for slightly firmer suspension and steering feedback. 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.
Awards The 2006 Acura TL won ConsumerSearch's "Best sports sedan with luxury touches" in Best Luxury Cars in September 2006. The 2006 Acura TL won ConsumerSearch's "Best blend of sport and luxury" in Best Sports Sedans in June 2006.