What's New for 2001
Standard equipment now includes floor mats and an emergency trunk release.
Acura's torchbearer into the burgeoning near-luxury sedan market is the 3.2TL, and it's pitted against some stiff competition in the form of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti I30, Lexus ES 300, Mercedes C-Class and Volvo S60. Each of these models is well established in the marketplace, which puts the pressure on Acura not only to meet but to exceed what those cars have to offer while simultaneously keeping price in check.
The wildly popular TL, with its promise of luxury, performance and value, has had no problem meeting the challenge, racking up more than 100,000 sales during its first two years on the market. It will likely be front and center for 2001 as well, despite its status as a carryover model.
Based on a Honda global platform shared by the Accord, the TL's wheelbase is 2 inches longer than its pedestrian sibling. Despite this stretch, the rear seat becomes cramped when a tall driver is at the helm, and there's no underseat room for feet. These are not problems in the Accord. We suspect the Acura's more rakish roofline is the culprit, and while some detractors call the TL dull and uninspired in terms of styling, many of our staffers like its angular, chiseled look.
Storage space, unlike rear seat room, is in abundance, including a deep center console and substantial map pockets in the doors. The driver's seat is quite comfortable, although having only the seating surfaces upholstered in leather is disappointing, and the lack of seat height adjustability for the front passenger doesn't win points from our editors.
The only engine is a peppy 3.2-liter V6 that utilizes VTEC technology to produce 225 horsepower and 216 foot-pounds of torque, while still getting 19/29 mpg in city/highway driving. The V6 remains strong in every gear, and it can scoot from zero to 60 in under 8 seconds. This puts the TL ahead of much of its competition in the horsepower race, and we can confirm that it definitely gets out of its own way. The standard SportShift automanual transmission is quite user-friendly, thanks to a shift gate located close to the driver and an intuitive shift pattern.
The TL offers near-luxury equipment without a hefty price, and you get more than just air conditioning and a smattering of leather on the seats. You snag lots of standard equipment, including a power sunroof, a 180-watt sound system with an in-dash CD player, heated front seats, steering-wheel audio controls, rear heat/air vents, micron air-filtration system, traction control, and four-wheel antilock brakes. A super-simple DVD-based navigation system with a smudge-free touch-screen is the only option, and it includes coverage of the entire continental United States on a single disc.
Offering sporty styling and near-luxury features for a price that is well below the class average, the TL continues to deliver both performance and value in an attractive package.