2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Acura Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Acura TL

It’s been almost five years to the day since I first reviewed the Acura TL, the incarnation of the “Acura Formerly Known as Vigor”. As with most models in view of a re-new, the TL has earned some additional badges in the Option Department to stay fresh. Enter the Type S, which is essentially a TL on designer protein. With the 2009 model about to be introduced, it will be interesting to see if it has corrected the sniggly bits discovered on the Oh-Eight. (Oh yes; there will be bits.)

2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S. Click image to enlarge

This week’s tester weighs in at an MSRP of $47,800, with the automatic transmission. Pricing shown does not include freight, taxes, or regional incentives.

The Cockpit

Ever get the feeling that you’re running out of steering wheel? The sporting nature of the S is getting somewhat crowded on the three-spoke tilt/tele wheel (if only we didn’t need those silly airbags). Cruise and audio controls are joined by driver information access, plus Bluetooth phone and voice prompting

2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S. Click image to enlarge

for everything from climate control to Navi destinations.

The shift paddles for the automatic prompt quick gear selection, with the range displayed below the tachometer. If only the paddles weren’t plastic, which makes the experience feel Civic-cheap. The headlamp switch sports an Auto setting, while the wipers get a speed-sensitive sweep. To the left of the driver is the control pod for the Vehicle Stability Assist, as well as the power heated exterior mirrors toggle.

Interesting to note is that the heat feature is a manual select. Venture Due South for the power trunk release. The driver’s door pod includes two memory settings for the driver’s seat, plus Auto ascent/descent windows for the driver and front passenger only.

The Centre Stack

The TL’s Navi system continues to be a treat to access and plot, though one would hope that the map resolution gets cleaned up for the next-gen. There’s a primary joystick toggle, as well as manual access keys to locate the needed feature. Climate control is dual zone, with Auto temperature control. The ELS Surround audiophile system boasts a 6-CD stacker, XM satellite radio pre-wire, and a Dolby tape deck, so you can dust off your Boz Scaggs collection.

Cubbies!

The locking glovebox gets flock lining, and just enough room to handle your Acura literature. There’s also a lock-out switch for the trunk release. Below the audio switchery are two compartments with flip-top doors, with good depth for cell phone swallow. The first of two 12-volt DC powerpoints is found in the lower compartment. Flip up the console lid, and you’ll find a flock-lined tray with coin holder, as well as a cable-routing access channel, for power cords or MP3 player connections. The lower compartment gets a night-light, 12-volt powerpoint, and the auxiliary audio input jack. The console lid does double duty as a sliding armrest.

A roll-top door reveals a dual-depth cupholder, with rubber tab cinch that is minimal at best. In real-world use, the cupholder proved to be almost too deep for easy beverage grab.

2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S
2008 Acura TL Type-S. Click image to enlarge

The rear seatbacks get hard plastic pockets, while a storage compartment is found at the rear of the centre console, below the HVAC outlets. Front doors get easy-access tip-out door pockets, while the rear door panels are a little more cramped for storage. The rear armrest holds a slide-out dual cupholder, with rubber tab cinch and minimal depth.

The overhead

The self-dimming mirror is joined by a Homelink transmitter system, and oversized courtesy lamps. The sunroof control allows for an ample Mother Nature gap, as well as a push-to-tilt feature. Dual vanity mirrors use roof-mounted indirect lighting.

Seat treat

In addition to memory settings, the driver’s seat gets 8-way power adjustment, with a power lumbar bolster. The front passenger is a solid runner-up, with 4-way power glide/recline. Both front seats benefit from two-step heating.

Cargo embargo

Nipping at 50 large requires a well-finished cargo hold, and the TL does not disappoint. Cargo net tie-downs are placed throughout, while the trunk lid gets ample finishing, right down to the hinges. Being a luxury touring job, the TL wouldn’t be caught dead with practical, yet middle class folding seatbacks. There is a lockable pass-through for longer items, such as blueprint tubes of the summer home plans.

Spare care

Oh look! A donut! A temporary rubber donut spare tire, that is, with tool and cargo net stowage in a rattle-free Styro-Biscuit. The trunk floor actually flips forward for easy access. Acura will change that donut for you, during the first four years of ownership, with no mileage limit.

The mill

It takes a special kind of shoehorn to wedge a 286-horsepower 3.5 litre VTEC V6 into a TL engine bay, so expect your future service costs to be anything but frugal. Fluid fill points are well placed and easy to check. The hood is held aloft by dual gas struts.

The Verdict

How techno-laden should a sporting sedan be? One has to wonder if a stomper such as a Type S should carry the additional gadgetry that the marketing teams at Acura have dubbed ‘required’ for the TL demographic. The Type S attempts to satisfy the cravings for cake and its ingestion. The problem is this; the TL is running out of real estate for the switches. And so, this departing generation settles in at a respectable 3.5 stars, with hopes that the the Oh-Nine has the room-for-improvement fixes.

Next week: 2008 Saturn Astra XR

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