It would be unfair to criticize Acura for the current state of their sedan lineup because many automakers are struggling to sell their cars in a market that’s now heavily tilted towards crossovers. That being said, Honda’s luxury brand really botched the 2009 TL. How bad did the beak aesthetic affect sales? Not that much, actually. Customers lost interest in the TL several years before the fourth generation debuted. But it certainly didn’t help things. Fortunately, our featured Acura is not one of those models.
For millennials, Acura remained a pretty desirable brand well into the 2000s. Even with the loss of the Integra, the RSX, and the CL, the brand retained its sportiness with the TL and TSX. These models, and especially the TL Type S, will probably be collectibles at some point in the future. This particular TL is most definitely not an actual Type S, despite what the ad says. That’s a bit unfortunate, because those models were pretty potent. They employed the RL’s 3.5 liter V6 and were tuned for 286 horsepower, which is a pretty impressive figure for 2007, especially for something like the TL, which is slighter smaller than the American Accord from the same era. Then again, even this TL comes equipped with a potent engine: the 258 horsepower 3.2 liter V6.
It’s been about sixteen years since this generation originally debuted. In that time, we’ve seen a lot of changes in how sedans are styled. But this TL still looks just as good as it did when it originally sat on an Acura lot. I have a feeling the designers responsible for the 2008 Malibu looked to the TL for inspiration.
Our featured Acura looks like it’s seen a bit of action. The driver’s seat is torn up a bit and it appears that every seat boasts a bit of wear.
Leather equipped cars generally tend to tell better stories than their cloth counterparts. This Acura seems to be saying that passengers regular sat in the back. You probably wouldn’t be able to glean that type of information from cars that didn’t have cow hide in them.
Otherwise, the cabin seems like it’s in pretty decent shape. Ever wanted a car equipped with Bluetooth, a CD player, and a cassette player? Well here’s your chance! If I remember correctly, this was one of the last cars to feature a cassette player. If the Acura lacks a USB input or auxiliary audio jack, that’s actually a blessing. Why didn’t they ever give a Nobel Prize to the guy who invented the cassette adapter? He clearly deserves it.
In any event, this is still a nice looking car. This TL seems a little rough around the edges, with some cloudy light housings and the worn seats. But those don’t strike me as serious issues.
And the reliability of the TL is hard to beat. This strikes me as the ideal college car for the kid who wants something with a little pizazz.
With about 160k miles on the clock and some interior wear, it’s not the most collectible TL. But it’s still pretty solid. And the $4200 asking price is reasonable.
Source Hudson Valley craigslist
I was going to buy a 2003 Acura TL Type S, but when I went to test drive it there was a 2002 Audi A6 Quattro on the lot…I drove it and fell in love and bought it. Should have both the TL, the Audi was a money pit.
My 02 TL has been through 3 transmissions….sooooooo
“Baby it’s me! not you, your not doing anything wrong”.Maybe you might be doing something wrong to that TL,mine has 207,000 and still shifts smoothly.
I’ve only owned two cars with leather, both German brands though our New Beetle was of course Mexican, but not sure if the provenance of the leather. It’s seats definitely show wear and a few wrinkles, but no tears and still look quite good after 20 years. Our BMW E12 had thick, almost industrial old-Mercedes-like leather, though it was only twelve years old when we sold it. But most Japanese cars with leather seem to show wear and tears rather quickly, compared to their usually rugged cloth. Or is that just my misperception?
In Japan, the tiers of interior seating materials actually flipped. A high quality cloth is the premium interior instead of leather like is the US. Given that, I can see their leather interiors not being quite as nice as a leather interior designed to be the premium interior from the start.
With that said, the leather interior in my 21 year old Infiniti is still holding up just fine, but that’s a sample size of one.
We got the Hondas but not the Acura badge versions still plenty around they looked very smart when new, leather make great jackets boots and mini skirts but lousy car or truck interiors.
There was no Honda-badged version of this generation of TL. It was LHD-only and only sold in North America and China (though I’ve seen a few in Eastern Europe).
The slightly smaller TSX was in fact a rebadged “Euro Accord”.
The larger RL of this era was sold as a Honda Legend in some places.
I don’t get good leg support in Honda Accords or Civics. The Acura (TSX) does. After 60,000 miles it’s still in good condition, especially considering my poor maintenance of the interior.
Acura has been declining for many years now, first by changing their “legendary” model names to generic alphabet soup, then attaching hideous beaks on them, then somehow making CR’s least reliable list.
In retrospect though, the Acura beak is tame compared to newer Lexus fish mouth grille.
I worked with a guy who owned one of these, an 04 or 05 as I recall. He bought it as a CPO used car. Honda paid for two transmissions (though in fairness the second one was only leaking a little). I would be afraid to take the plunge on one this old and with miles this high. Everything is Honda, but unfortunately, so is that 5 speed auto behind the V6.
My other memory of the car is that it was not well insulated against road noise and mechanical vibrations. Whenever he would turn the key, you felt it through your entire body when the engine caught. And road noise was poisitievly Chrysler-like (not a good thing). It was, however, a really attractive car that nailed the styling part just right.
The 2007-2008 TL has a completely different transmission from earlier models. It’s not perfect in its reliability, but MUCH better than 2004-2006 and especially 1999-2003 models.
That said, the cooler line can corrode and burst – as happened to my 2008.
For the last several years I’ve bought my cars around a $2500 budget point. Usually get 2-3 years out of them and buy to the price rather than a specific car.
A year and a half ago I bought a 2002 acura RL. Not only do I expect more than two years out of it when it does need to be replaced it will be replaced by another acura sedan.
Awesome combination of gas mileage, performance luxury and reliability.
Long may they run!
Thought #1: A lot of people blame Acura’s downfall on the changing of its naming convention from actual names to “alphabet soup”. But Lexus had alphabet soup from day 1, so I’m not sure that blame is valid.
Thought #2: Both Acura and Lexus opened for business at precisely the right time. But in 1998, Lexus was once again in the right place at the right time. Some folks say they effectively invented the small luxury crossover with the RX series. Acura was nowhere to be found in that niche until way later.
That interior does remind me of my oldest son’s recently-acquired 2010 Malibu LTZ, which with a 265-HP 3.6, is a blast. Comfortable AND fun to drive.
I always liked these. And I never noticed the 2008-2012 Malibu’s resemblance, but you’re right. The side profile is particularly similar.
I will say, if you can find a genuine 2007 or 2008 TL Type S, go for it! We had ours (specifically a 5AT) in for about 5 years and loved it. Excellent car. We bought it as a temporary car, already a few years old, and it had about 35,000KM on it. When we sold it, it had 115,000. The only issue we ever experienced was replacing the Brembos. (Amazing brakes, by the way!). It was Nighthawk Black Pearl on Ebony/Silver leather, and it looked excellent. Great stereo, too. The engine loved to rev, and was always reliable and very smooth. I probably should have bought it when we sold it, but it was a bit too early for me to do so. Long story short, we adored our Legend LS Coupe 4AT, we really liked our TL Type S, and the TLX SH-AWD Elite felt like neither of those things.
I think the decline of the sedan could be rooted in these, as nothing since has looked as good, handled as good, gone as good or felt as good as this generation TL, every sedan has imitated it since but never quite had that complete blend, and what has come closest, or exceeded it in some metrics, have been numbed by EPS, distracting gadgetry and general hideousness. New car shoppers obviously aren’t going to buy a 13 year old car, but they may very well remember how good this 13 year old car was and how meh the 2020 is, “maybe we’ll see what these crossovers have to offer”.
As a BMW nerd I feel compelled to sing the praises of my 2006 330i (E90 chassis, 6MT). Bought it at just over 100k mi, now 175k. Keeps on kicking and still a joy to drive with plenty of grunt to zip through traffic.
Not at all diminishing these Acuras as they were sweet then and still are… just not the ONLY good sports sedans still out there. 😉
I am open to buying one of these at tax refund time.
Just never found the right deal at the right time yet.
I’ve never driven one. I am assuming it’s as good as I hear.
It does resemble the Malibu. That to me is high praise for both cars.
I am still surprised sophisticated styling like this went away so fast, just as it had been perfected!
I had a 05 TL 6MT, some woman hit me and totaled my car and I took the money and bought and 06 TL 6MT I bought it at 117,000 and now it has 140,000 and all i do is change oil, have not had a single issue with it.
Acura is a great example of how a company which is not GM can totally destroy its reputation in a few short years.
The Legend and Integra had more name recognition than Acura, so Acura dropped the names for meaningless Alphanumeric hodgepodges. Evan mentioned the Lexus had alphanumerics from the beginning, but no one had anything invested in those numbers. People knew what a Legend/Integra was. People didn’t know what a Lexus LS400 was, but they knew they wanted something fancier than a Camry. I still don’t know what a RL/TL is and Acura for a LONG time had the yoots enamored of their Integra. It’s hard to get young folks interested in a premium brand; GM would have KILLED to have younger people notice the Aurora, or Alero, or 89 Cutlass, and they didn’t. The yoots haven’t really gotten keen on the Infiniti/Lexus to that extent, even though the Lexus IS is a solid BMW rival and so is the G35. Then Acura destroyed that equity.
Acura came up with one fwd “luxury sedan”- which had distance between it and an Accord but was significantly more expensive- and a “sporty” car, the Integra. It quickly got leapfrogged by Lexus’ RWD, V8 LS400 and never really caught up. It didn’t play on the NSX, which no one bought anyway. The ES300 leapfrogged the Acura. Then Lexus came out with the Official Car of the Ms Clairol Empty Nester Gucci Bag Professional Wife who Lunches and Junior Leagues, and came up with a whole new niche to dominate.
I’ve seen more recent Acuras, and the sedans share wayyyyyy too much with the Accord. Same dash architecture with a little nicer materials. Not really worth the premium, plus they seem to have more issues with the transmission and climate control screens compared with the Accord. I’d definitely buy an Avalon before this TL.
A friend of mine bought a guillotine model TL Type S SH-AWD 6-speed with 410,000 miles. He paid quite a bit for it too. It needed a new set of ignition coils to solve a CEL, but then he drove it for about two years. It looked like an ordinary car with a tenth the miles, inside and out. I still wasn’t tempted to buy it for five grand with 430,000 miles. The guy who bought it new was known for putting a million miles on a series of Accords. I’m not sure why he pulled the plug on the TL after only 410,000 miles, but he replaced it with an Audi A6. I’ve tried getting through a three year lease with an A6 3.0T, and I would love to hear about this guy’s Audi experience.
My 2008 (unfortunately not a Type-S) has been great.
the 03 TL was design simplicity and perfection. in a world of round cars that looked the same… the 03 TL stood out. in a good way. then came the next TL. yuck.
My gal bought a 2006 TL from her mother. It has been meticulously maintained by the local dealer. The labor isn’t cheap but they take good care of it. They all have cracked dashboards and leather. She’s living with the dashboard but found and tiny upholstery shop at the Berlin Mart that replaced the entire leather interior for $1,600, parts and labor. The only problem is now you notice the dirty carpet. Anyone who goes that rout should always replace the really replace the carpet while the seats and benches are removed.
This gen was perfectly proportioned, certainly better than the preceding and succeeding TLs. The CL coupe was a looker as well. Too bad about the early transmissions. Amazing how Acura frittered away name equity and subtle, powerful design so quickly. The beak was horrendous.
Soon after we married in ‘98, my wife’s Mazda’s engine blew. We looked at the newly-introduced 1st gen TL, a Volvo S70 ( her idea), and a Nissan Maxima SE (my idea). The TL was such a hot seller that dealers had a tough time keeping them in stock; the one offered to us at the dealer here in Houston was a Canadian market car with a few equipment differences than the US version. We liked it well enough but decided to keep looking. I loved the SE but she thought it was too plebeian. We got the S70, which was a comfortable little tank but ultimate deep money pit that sent us flying into Toyota’s warm embrace.
Should have gotten the SE.
The current TSX and RDX are the only Acuras that seem interesting to me.