2009 Acura TL

2009 Acura TL


Interior of the 2009 Acura TL

The Acura TL is a mid-size luxury car from Honda's luxury Acura marque. It was introduced in 1996 to supplant the Acura Vigor and was a rebadged Japan-market Honda Inspire sedan until the third-generation version. The TL combines all of the traits that people love about an Acura a sporty car with the latest technology, into a near-luxury sedan that goes for a little more than $30,000. That’s probably why the TL is Acura’s best selling car. Its standard features include a Bluetooth hands-free cellphone system, XM Satellite Radio and leather seats.

The TL is also well-equipped for safety: it has anti-lock brakes, as well as stability and traction control systems. It received five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its frontal and rear seat side crash tests, and four stars in its front seat side crash tests. The TL is assembled in the United States at Honda's plant in Marysville, Ohio.

See Autopedia's comprehensive Acura TL Review.

Recent Changes[]

2012 TL
  • For the 2012 model, Acura offered new front and rear styling. Acura updated the controversial "beak" insert in the front grill, replacing it with a smaller insert that flows better with the headlights and creates a sleeker profile. Aside from cosmetic changes, the new TL is now equipped with Honda's 6-speed automatic multi-clutch transmission to improve performance and efficiency. This transmission features downshift rev-matching with throttle blip and the ability to downshift 2 gears at a time. Additional new features include ventilated seats, new 60GB HDD, blind-spot information system, and upgraded wheels. The 2012 TL retains both the base 3.5L 280 hp (209 kW) 254 lb·ft (344 N·m) and the SH-AWD models' 3.7L 305 hp (227 kW) 273 lb·ft (370 N·m) engines but now gets 2 mpg more in the city (20 mpg) and 3 mpg more on the highway (29 mpg), thanks to less engine friction and the 6 speed automatic transmission. The 6 speed manual transmission will continue to be offered. The 2012 model is also 3dB quieter on the highway.
  • The aging Acura TL is all-new for 2009. Though not set for sale until fall of 2008, Acura has released teaser images and some scant information regarding the second-generation model including rumours about the availability of two new engines. The first: a 280-horsepower 3.5 litre with power directed to the front wheels. The second (and more anticipated) is the 300-horsepower 3.7 litre mill already seeing service in the RL and MDX. Power from that engine will be planted into the ground by Honda's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) system, it is expected. The new TL was designed under Jon Ikeda. [1]
  • A tire pressure monitoring system is standard on all models. For vehicle with the 6-speed manual transmission, torque steer has been reduces through changes to the engine control module.

Styles and Major Options[]

As with most Honda vehicles, most options are dealer installed. Factory options are limited to 5 speed automatic or 6 speed manual transmissions, Navigation System with speed sensitive guidance that calculates travel times based upon how fast you are driving. Contains Honda's voice recognition system that controls 290 navigation, climate control and audio system functions. The 6-speed manual transmission model is available with helical limited slip differential High-Performance tires.


Today's actual prices for the Acura TL can be found at CarsDirect.

3.5 litre V6 FWD 3.7 litre V6 SH-AWD Trim3 Trim4
$35,105 $43,385 $Price3 $Price4
$Price1 $Price2 $Price3 $Price4

Gas Mileage[]

As seen on

3.5 litre FWD 3.7 litre SH-AWD Auto 3.7 litre SH-AWD Manual Trim4
c/h 17/25 18/26 c/h

Engine and Transmission[]

The Acura TL is available with two engine options. The base FWD model is equipped with a 280 hp 3.5 litre V6 while the range topping SH-AWD model is powered by a 3.7 litre V6 developing 280 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Both models come with a 5-speed Automatic as standard, however, the SH-AWD is available with a 6-speed Manual.


Please make sure to write information of the vehicle's performance in a third-person point of view. This section should include information about the car's acceleration figures, handling, braking, etc.

If using information gathered from Road Test articles from a reputable automotive source, then please make sure to cite the quote.


  • RECALL ALERT: On March 27, 2008, Acura issued a recall affecting 273,000 MY 2004-2008 TL due to a faulty power steering hose. [2]


Five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its frontal and rear seat side crash tests, and four stars in its front seat side crash tests.




The following colors are available on the Acura TL:

  • Royal Blue Pearl
  • Alabaster Silver Metallic
  • Desert Mist Metallic
  • Redondo Red Metallic
  • Nighthawk Black Pearl
  • Anthracite Metallic
  • White Diamond Pearl


The Acura TL's main competition include those sedans in the "near-luxury" category:

Unique Attributes[]

  • The remote entry key fob is driver specific. Each remote is programmed for a different driver. When activated to unlock the driver's door, the outside mirrors, driver seat position, radio presets are all changed to that driver's preferences.
  • The rear view mirrors will tilt downward when the car is placed in reverse (selectable via mirror adjustment control).
  • The navigation system is updatable via data DVD's.

Sports Sedan and Mods[]

A-Spec Performance Package (dealer installed) with sport suspension, 18 inch wheels, underbody and deck spoilers, performance brakes, sport steering wheel, and badging.


  • The voice recognition system often mis-interprets voice commands.
  • The steering wheel feel is considered too stale—not up to the level of a true sports sedan.
  • The trunk trim is minimal inside, especially for a luxury vehicle. Most dealers will add a trunk tray to spruce up the appearance of the trunk area.


Current Generation (2009 - present)[]

Third Generation (2004 - 2006)[]

The Third Generation Acura TL

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 penned by American Honda designer Jon Ikeda, the new TL is built in Marysville, Ohio, and is derived from the latest USDM Honda Accord. It is powered by a 270 hp (201 kW; later revised to 258 hp), 3.2 L 24 valve SOHC VTEC V6 engine mated to either a 5-speed automatic with SportShift or 6-speed manual.

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 in wheels are standard issue on the A-SPEC package. When installed at purchase, the car's 4 year/50,000 mile 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 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 Honda's 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 or her 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.

In early 2006 Acura began offering a dealer installed iPod interface for the factory audio system. This interface places a custom cable in the glove box and not only allows audio playback, but offers limited control of the iPod via normal audio system controls on the head unit and steering wheel. The system works in conjunction with software that loads voice recordings onto the iPod providing the ability to browse contents of the iPod audibly. Rear of a 2005 Acura TL Sporting an Alpine-designed navigation system, the third generation TL also accepts voice commands like "Find nearest police station" to "Go home." The navigation system features an 8 in 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 USDM Honda Accord V6 with minor trim changes, and the addition of Variable Cylinder Displacement, 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.

Honda is currently silent on the prospects of exporting the newest Acura TL to Japan, but sources point it out as highly likely, either being badged as the Honda Vigor (most likely) or Honda Saber. It is rumored that the TL might also make it to Europe, as the first and second generation Legends were popular there.

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

The debut of the Acura TSX took over from the TL as Acura's entry-level car for the United States; the TL is known for more as a luxury car, while the TSX is known for more of a balance between sport and luxury.


The 2007 Acura TL is due for a refresh before a 2009 redesign. It will most likely receive clear taillights, turn signal blinkers on the side mirrors, and additional power with a revised intake/exhaust system. The Canadian TL is confirmed to have XM satellite radio starting in 2007.


The 2006 TL received TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), a new computer (for manual transmission models only), and an active system to control torque steer. The new horserpower rating of 258 hp is due to a change in testing procedures, despite the engine remaining the same since 2004. The TL is still the best-selling luxury sedan in North America. Its main competitor is the Infiniti G35 sedan. Its indirect competitors are the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class, Cadillac CTS, Lexus ES, Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ, and the Lexus IS.


2005 Acura TL instrument cluster


2005 Acura TL navigation system

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. With a very competitive MSRP range, the TL is often seen as an "Unbelievable Value For the Money" among car critics.

Second Generation (1999-2003)[]

The second-generation 3.2 TL (the 2.5 was dropped) was built in Marysville, Ohio, alongside the Honda Accord. 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 Verno dealer networks. The only difference between the two cars were the front grille; the Inspire and Saber were also available with a 2.5 L Honda J-series VTEC V6 engine exclusive to the Japanese market.

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 USDM 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 very first 1999 Acura TL rolled off the assembly line on August 4, 1998. The only option on the sedan was a hard drive-based navigation system.


The Second Generation Acura TL

In the second year of production, the Acura TL was given slightly more features, including a five-speed automatic transmssion, 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 5-speed automatic transmission often failed; a major problem was wearing of the third gear clutch pack, which gave off particles which would block oil passages so that oil could not flow where it was supposed go to shift and hold the transmission in gear. 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. 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 hard drive for a DVD-based navigation system. Now the entire continental United States was accessible with the navigation system; one could theoretically drive from one coast to the other with the new navigation system. The 1999 TL's navigation system stored the maps in zones; there were 5 different zones for the U.S.

In 2002, the TL got a minor makeover, with a refreshed front fascia, redesigned taillights, an in-dash CD changer as well as a few other features. A Type-S model was also added, adding 35 hp (26 kW) as well as 17 in wheels, firmer seats and suspension.

For the 2001 model year, a redesigned coupe version of the TL was introduced, the 3.2 CL. 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 transmission was still a problem in these vehicles even today (2006).

First Generation (1996-1998)[]

The First Generation Acura TL

The 1996 2.5 TL was 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 very first 1996 Acura TL rolled off the assembly line on March 28, 1995.

Although it was designed to replace the Vigor, it also technically replaced the Acura Legend coupe. The 3.5 RL (Honda Legend in Japan) that debuted alongside the TL was a large car designed for a soft ride, in marked contrast to the previous two generations of Legends which were sport sedans with taut proportions.

Design Quirks and Oddities[]

  • The vehicle has auto-off headlamps, but not an auto-on feature. The lights also do not automatically come on when the windshield wipers are used.
  • The sunglass holder is located in the door trim panel, not the headliner or console.
  • The doors are very heavy, and the hinge points (natural stopping points in the door travel) are too far out, making it easy to ding the door of the neighboring car if you are not careful.


  • 2003 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study 3rd Winner (Entry luxury)

See also[]

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Honda Motor Company

Honda | Acura | Li Nian | Honda Racing Corporation | Honda F1 Racing | Mugen

Vehicle list


USA: Integra · MDX · RDX · TLX

Canada: · · · · · · · · ·

Mexico: · · · · · · · · ·

Hong Kong: · · · · · · · · ·

China: · · · · · · · · ·


CL · CDX (China only) · CSX (Canada only) · EL (Canada only) · ILX · Legend · NSX · RL · RLX · RSX · SLX (U.S. only) · TL · TSX · Vigor · ZDX




Advanced Sports Car · Advanced Sedan Concept · HSC · DN-X · ZDX Concept · RD-X

Keihin · Showa Corporation · Nippon Seiki · List of Honda engines

Honda Corporate website A division of the Honda Motor Company


  • "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.
  • "Honda's Unexpected Gear Shift", an article by John O'Dell in the September 11, 2002 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

External links[]

Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Acura TL. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Autopedia, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.