Acura TL Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.64/5 Average
3,066 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

The Acura TL has traditionally been one of the better choices available for a midsize luxury sport sedan. Though the TL typically does not deliver the excitement or prestige of competing European sedans, it counters with exceptional value and above-average durability and reliability.

The current (fourth) generation may have upped the ante, but cutting-edge technology and bracing performance are nothing new for the TL. Older TLs are still known for their engaging handling and plentiful amenities and should make a fine choice for a used luxury sport sedan.

Current Acura TL
As Acura's midsize sedan offering, the TL offers a roomy interior, a powerful V6 engine and available all-wheel drive. It also boasts a host of gadgets and gizmos that should keep most luxury shoppers satisfied.

There are two trim levels: a base model and the sportier SH-AWD. Base cars (which are front-wheel drive) are motivated by a 3.5-liter V6 that kicks out 280 horsepower. As its name suggests, the SH-AWD version is all-wheel drive, and it's powered by a 3.7-liter V6 good for 305 hp. A six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is standard on both trims and a six-speed manual is available on the SH-AWD.

Base models are pretty well equipped, offering standard features such as 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, a sunroof, leather upholstery and an eight-speaker stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer. In addition to all-wheel drive and a more powerful engine, the SH-AWD adds upgraded brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, sportier steering feel and performance-themed upholstery and metallic trim.

TL enthusiasts cherish the car for its cutting-edge gadgetry, and the current model does not disappoint. Standard features on base models include Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, a USB port and a dedicated iPod interface. Optional tech treats include a navigation system that offers real-time traffic and weather updates and a sound system with digital music storage capability.

In reviews of the Acura TL, our editors hailed its abundance of high-tech amenities, its roomy cabin and its sophisticated stereo system. They called out a few missteps as well, such as the car's bland interior and the fact that base models are hampered by uncommunicative steering and unremarkable brakes. Thanks to its much crisper handling and braking, the SH-AWD TL is a more compelling choice than the base model. The current TL is also one of just a few vehicles to earn a top grade in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's revised crash test standards.

Used Acura TL Models
The current (fourth)-generation TL debuted for the 2009 model year. Compared to earlier TLs, the current model boasts a brasher look, highlighted by aggressive lines and a dramatic-looking front grille. The current model offers more interior room than the third-generation TL, as well as more power under the hood, and its ride is more compliant than that of its predecessor. There have been only a few changes since. Most notably, 2009-'11 TLs had a five-speed automatic transmission (compared to the newer six-speed auto) and a more controversial-looking grille.

The third-generation TL was available for model years 2004-'08. This TL was distinguished by its chiseled exterior styling, firm suspension tuning, powerful V6 and impressive level of standard equipment. Both a six-speed manual transmission and a five-speed automatic with shift paddles were available.

Two versions of the TL were offered in this era: base and Type-S. Base-model TLs built in model years 2004 and '05 were rated at 270 hp, while 2006 and later models were rated at 258. Note that this revision merely reflected a change in the standard horsepower rating system -- the TL's engine was unchanged.

Type-S Acuras were equipped with a 286-hp 3.5-liter V6. They also featured a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo high-performance brakes and unique styling elements that included quad tailpipes. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, the Type-S was on hiatus for the first part of the TL's model cycle and didn't hit the market until 2007.

Both versions of the TL came with an attractive, well-built interior designed with a more sporting intent in mind. In road tests, we were impressed with this Acura TL's comfort and dynamic abilities but ultimately found that its front-wheel-drive setup hampered its ability to match the handling dynamics offered by top rear-drive sport sedans. The Type-S upped the performance ante somewhat, boosting power while adding crisper handling.

For a majority of shoppers, a used TL from this era will provide a good mix of fun, comfort and convenience at a reasonable price. Changes during the model cycle were few, but the TL received a midlife freshening for 2007, including minor exterior and interior styling tweaks and an upgraded navigation system.

The second-generation Acura TL was built from 1999-2003. Though it was less exciting than more recent models, our editors gave this TL very positive reviews during its run. Improvements were made throughout this period, and the car had a number of TL firsts, including Honda's VTEC variable valve timing and an optional navigation system. The powerful Type-S version, which debuted in 2002, should be strongly considered by buyers interested in increased performance. Regardless of specific trim level, just about any used second-generation model should serve the used-sedan shopper well.

The original Acura TL debuted in 1995 as a replacement for the unloved Acura Vigor. Two versions were offered: a 2.5 TL with a 2.5-liter inline-5 engine and a 3.2 TL with a 3.2-liter V6. Both models were available throughout the first generation's run, which lasted pretty much unchanged through 1998. As there is now little price difference between the two, we suggest consumers interested in a first-generation used TL go for the more powerful 3.2.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 3,066.00
  • Speed Demon with Benefits - 2007 Acura TL
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    Great car for performance and great mileage,30 mpg on highway @70 miles per hour.

  • Love my Acura TL Type-S - 2003 Acura TL
    By -

    My only complaint is that the car requires premium gasoline.

  • Perfect car - 2010 Acura TL
    By -

  • Great looking car, but pricey & poor fuel economy - 2006 Acura TL
    By -

    This is a great looking car with Acura reliability. I have a '97 Acura CL with 223,000 miles and the thing just keeps going. I have owned the 2006 TL for over a year and have enjoyed driving it, but the biggest downer is it comes nowhere near the advertised fuel economy. Check the forums online and you'll see other owners saying the same thing. This is the main reason I'm rating this car 3.5 stars and not 4.5 stars. Its way over 250 hp and with that power and weight you aren't going to get great gas mileage. The quandary here is that similar Accords do get very good mileage, and my TL isn't getting close to what is advertised. I'm getting 16-17 in the city and only 19 combined. If I do take a rare highway trip its around 25mpg, but the downer is the city driving, I feel like it should be at least 20 mpg. Take this into consideration when buying. Acura is one of the only car manufacturers that had a Sirius XM receiver as stock in 2006, this is a huge plus! The stereo is also pretty awesome for stock radio, even includes a subwoofer. If you like keeping your paint perfect, the touch-up paint for the White Pearl model straight from Acura is a complete joke & will drive you nuts fixing little marks & dings. Its not even close to a match due to the two-tone nature of the treatment. You'll be spending hours to get one nick the right color from one or two base coats of white and then a dozen or so of the stupid pearl top coats to get the darkness to match because the base coat is way way too light. What every happened to the simple days or just one coat of paint in a touch-up tube that matched pretty well? The dual climate control works but doesn't work well if the passenger wants it warm and the driver wants it cold, the workaround is you have to turn the temp up really high on the passengers side to get warmer air to come out that side if the driver is pumping the AC. This is true in my car even though both sides have their own digital temperature control. Weird. A final complaint is you can lightly hear the interior creaks and noises when going over speed-bumps doesn't seem quite as solid as you would think from an Acura. You only notice this when driving along in a quiet car with the radio off. Nothing serious, but my 97 CL doesn't have this problem. The real selling point of this car is looks and reliability, if you can do with the weak MPG this might be the car for you. Its fun to drive, will impress the neighbors and is a real rocketship. If you can find a black interior, do it - stays much nicer looking if you have kids.

  • Hate to part ways - 2010 Acura TL
    By -

    After six years of comfortable trouble free driving, I'm ready for a sportier vehicle with a convertible top. The Acura TL has been a great vehicle, fun to drive and very reliable. What's made it even more responsive is the Pirelli replacement tires. They take the turns well and perform well in the frequent Florida rain.

  • Second TL, dont know why i ever left - 2009 Acura TL
    By -

    I find it funny to see how many BMW drivers have switched to this vehicle. I thought I was the only one. this is my 2nd TL and I really don't know why I ever got rid of the first one. I recently traded in my 3 series BMW for this and needless to say I am not disappointed. The TL has a great features ( even on the base model ) that BMW does not offer. the acceleration is phenomenal and the ride is quiet and smooth. it is very easy to set up the electronics in the vehicle as well. the one thing I am missing from the Beamer is the how tight the steering is. in the Acura it is a lot easier to just push the wheel from side to side. also, the leather could be a little better quality. other than that, I think the car is amazing and would recommend it to anyone. as for the design... I think it is a very attractive car. the grill is aggressive looking while the rest of the car just looks luxurious. all in all I am pleased with the trade.

  • great car...very quick - 2012 Acura TL
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    I love my 2012 acura tl

  • Title? ? GARBAGE - 2002 Acura TL
    By -

    Do not buy this car, don't even think about it, if you want something sporty and luxurious go for Lexus Honda/Acura will never have my business again, this car is on its 5th transmission and I refuse to get it replaced again the car is known for its transmission problems and recalls the car has been wrecked once due to the cars bad transmission at 75mph it dropped into 1st gear and all the tires locked I spun off the road and had to get towed that was when I was told I'd need my 5th transmission 5 thousand miles in and its already sliiping and locking. Save yourself some trouble and never buy an Acura or a Honda this is dangerous and outrageous especially the fact that the company will only replace your transmission with one that has previously failed after usually giving you the run-a-round this is the worst purchase I have ever made and I advise any buyer to do research on this car before you buy it. It's awesome if you want to replace a transmission every 40-40k miles cheap interior,boring styling but to each his own I suppose have fun. You might get more use out of it as a yard ornimant because it probably wont leave your driveway one day!

  • Acura TL 2008 - 2008 Acura TL
    By -

    Is An Excellent car cant complain about anything

  • Don't believe what the dealer tells you - 2003 Acura TL
    By -

    Purchased this vehicle used (106K) to replace my aging 99 TL. Dealer told me that the timing belt had recently been changed. At 123K it failed and l had to replace the engine. Vehicle has been great ever since. Replaced shocks and struts last year and it drives like a new car. Giving the car to my son and replacing it with my 5th Acura. A 2016 RDX.

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