2007 Acura TL Type-S; photo by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Chris Chase
Acura TL, 2004-2007
The Acura TL was first introduced in 1996 as a redesigned version of the Vigor, which had served as the brand’s mid-range model since 1992. The car was originally known as the 3.2 TL, but by the time the third-generation version arrived for 2004, the numeric designation was gone, and the car was known simply as TL.
Like earlier TLs, the third-gen model was based on the Honda Accord. As with the car it replaced, this latest TL used a 270-horsepower, 3.2-litre V6 engine; this was an increase of 45 horsepower compared to the old car’s engine, and more even than was available in the sporty Type-S version of the outgoing car. In 2006, revised engine power calculation methods caused the horsepower figure to drop to 258, although engine performance was not affected.
Acura wouldn’t add a Type-S variant to the third-gen TL lineup until 2007. This car used a 3.5-litre engine with 285 horsepower.
2004 Acura TL; photo by Greg Wilson (top); 2007 Acura TL Type-S; photo by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge
Base model TLs came with a five-speed automatic transmission; a six-speed manual was the only transmission choice in a top-line model fitted with what Acura called the Dynamic Package. The Type-S replaced this package in 2007; the six-speed remained as standard here, and a five-speed auto added as an extra.
Where the previous-generation TL (built from 1998-2003) suffered from the troublesome automatic transmission as other Accord-based vehicles did, Consumer Reports suggests that this problem was exorcised for the third-gen TL. Still, the third-gen TL isn’t immune to transmission issues, according to this thread at AcuraZine.com. What the third-generation TL may or may not lack in drivetrain issues, it seems to make up with interior quality (squeaks and rattles) problems, says Consumer Reports.
Many TL Type-S owners posting at AcuraZine.com complain of engines pinging under load.
The TL’s EnerGuide fuel consumption estimates were quite reasonable, given this car’s luxury and performance aims: cars with the automatic transmission were rated at 11.6 L/100 km (city) and 7.6 L/100 km (highway); consumption increased to 11.7/7.7 with the manual transmission.
The 2007 Type-S was rated at 11.6 L/100 km (city) and 7.3 L/100 km (highway) with the manual transmission, but these numbers increased to 12.3/7.8 with the automatic.
2004 Acura TL; photos by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge
The third-generation TL performed very well in crash testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the car its highest “good” rating in both frontal offset and side impact tests; meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) granted the TL its top five stars for driver and front passenger protection in frontal impacts, and five stars for rear-seat occupant protection in side impacts. The only “low” score was a four-star rating for driver protection in a side impact.
According to Canadian Red Book, used TL values range from $17,550 for a 2004 base model, to $36,350 for a 2007 Type-S. I like the look of the 2005 model with the Dynamic Package, with carries a value of $23,000. That said, a 2005 Audi A4 3.0 quattro is worth just under $25,000, and a BMW 330 is valued at about $26,000.
Many will tell you the German driving experience is worth the extra cash, and the Audi’s all-wheel drive helps make up for the fact that its V6 isn’t as potent as the Acura’s. Then again, don’t forget the Infiniti G35, whose values range from $16,700 to $33,625 for 2004-2007 models; also, its rear-drive layout is considered by many to be preferable to the Acura’s front-drive-only setup.
There’s no doubt in my mind that a used TL would be a solid choice, but given this Acura’s strong competition, you’d be wise to consider all of your options.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008080; Units affected: 19,065
2004-2008: On certain vehicles, prolonged high under-hood temperatures may cause a power steering hose to deteriorate prematurely, causing the hose to crack and leak. Power steering fluid leakage onto a hot catalytic converter will generate smoke and possibly lead to an under-hood fire, which could result in property damage, personal injury, or death. Correction: Dealers will replace the power steering hose with an updated version.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008079; Units affected: 10,090
2004-2005: On certain vehicles, if water enters the windshield wiper motor breather port, which is designed to allow the motor to vent warm air during normal operation, it can result in corrosion inside the motor housing. This could cause the windshield wiper motor to become inoperative, which could result in a vehicle crash causing personal injury or death. Correction: Dealers will affect repairs.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2007088; Units affected: 12,143
2005: On certain vehicles, a manufacturing fault with the fuel pump relay could cause the coil wire in the relay to break. If this happens, the fuel pump will not operate and the engine may not start. If the relay fails while driving, the engine may stall without warning and a crash could occur. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if required, replace the fuel pump relay.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005086; Units affected: 1
2005: This vehicle may contain a loose terminal in the main fuse box that could cause the fuel pump to lose power. If the fuel pump becomes inoperative, the engine may not start. In the worst case, if the fuel pump loses power while driving, the engine could stall without warning, and a crash could occur. Correction: Dealer will replace the fuse box.
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.