Review: 2007 Acura TL
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2004 to 2008.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
A new higher-performance Type-S version returns to the sporty-but-practical TL line from Honda's upscale Acura division after a 3-year hiatus, although the base TL remains fun to drive.
The midsize 2007 TL personal/luxury sedan is generally handsome, roomy and comfortable. It's based on the Honda Accord and thus has a front-wheel-drive layout instead of the rear-wheel-drive setup found on many TL rivals. Front-wheel drive provides greater traction, but rear-wheel drive allows more balanced handling during fast driving.
The Type-S has a 3.5-liter 286-horsepower V6. The standard TL is powered by a 3.2-liter V6 with 258 horsepower, so it's also plenty fast.
The Type-S also has seats with extra lateral support and a clever noise cancellation feature that uses a pair of cabin-mounted microphones and the audio system to cancel exterior noise for a quieter interior. It works when the car is running, regardless if the audio system is on or off.
There also is a limited-slip differential for better traction during acceleration and enhanced handling during cornering. Most cars have single or dual exhaust outlets, but the Type-S has four chromed outlets integrated into the rear styling.
For 2007, the milder TL has a larger grille, redesigned bumpers with integrated fog lights, new headlight clusters, redesigned taillights and revised alloy wheels.
The TL costs $33,625, or $36,125 with a revised navigation system. The Type-S has a $38,125 list price and the navigation system comes standard with it.
Dealer-installed options include an "A-Spec" sport suspension kit for the growing number of car owners who want to modify their vehicle. It contains 18-inch (vs. standard 17-inch) tires and performance springs and shock absorbers that lower the TL's height.
The TL comes with a redesigned 5-speed automatic transmission. But the sportier Type-S can be had with a close-ratio 6-speed manual gearbox or the automatic transmission with steering-wheel paddles for manual-shift operation.
Estimated fuel economy for the 3.2-liter V6 is 20 mpg in the city and 29 on highways. The Type-S engine provides 19 and 28 with the automatic and 19 and 29 with the manual. Premium fuel is recommended for both engines.
Four tall adults fit, but those in the rear have little room to spare. Moreover, lower rear door openings should be wider for easier entry and exit. Also, the back seat cushion should provide more thigh support. A large rear center armrest contains pop-out cupholders that look fairly substantial. And back door windows lower all the way.
Gauges can be easily read, and clearly marked main controls are within handy reach, although some are rather small. All switches are illuminated to make them easy to find at night. Snap-out front door storage pockets are the type usually found in more expensive cars.
A "Maintenance Minder" system monitors operating conditions to indicate when maintenance is needed, and there is a tire-pressure-monitoring system.
Fun to Drive
The TL ride is supple, although the suspension is tauter than in more comfort-minded cars. Handling is sharp despite a nose-heavy weight distribution caused by the front-wheel-drive design.
Braking power is especially strong with the Type-S and its Brembo front brake calipers, also used for exotic cars. But the brake pedal has a somewhat touchy feel.
Rear seatbacks don't flip forward to increase cargo room, but there is a center pass-through area for objects such as skis.
The polished, rigidly built new TL shows that considerable thought and technical expertise went into it, and the Type-S version is a welcome addition.