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The Acura TL has traditionally been one of the better choices available for a midsize luxury sport sedan. Though the TL typically does not deliver the excitement or prestige of competing European sedans, it counters with exceptional value and above-average durability and reliability.
The current (fourth) generation may have upped the ante, but cutting-edge technology and bracing performance are nothing new for the TL. Older TLs are still known for their engaging handling and plentiful amenities and should make a fine choice for a used luxury sport sedan.
Used Acura TL Models
The current (fourth)-generation TL debuted for the 2009 model year. Compared to earlier TLs, the current model boasts a brasher look, highlighted by aggressive lines and a dramatic-looking front grille. The current model offers more interior room than the third-generation TL, as well as more power under the hood, and its ride is more compliant than that of its predecessor. There have been only a few changes since. Most notably, 2009-'11 TLs had a five-speed automatic transmission (compared to the newer six-speed auto) and a more controversial-looking grille.
The third-generation TL was available for model years 2004-'08. This TL was distinguished by its chiseled exterior styling, firm suspension tuning, powerful V6 and impressive level of standard equipment. Both a six-speed manual transmission and a five-speed automatic with shift paddles were available.
Two versions of the TL were offered in this era: base and Type-S. Base-model TLs built in model years 2004 and '05 were rated at 270 hp, while 2006 and later models were rated at 258. Note that this revision merely reflected a change in the standard horsepower rating system -- the TL's engine was unchanged.
Type-S Acuras were equipped with a 286-hp 3.5-liter V6. They also featured a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo high-performance brakes and unique styling elements that included quad tailpipes. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, the Type-S was on hiatus for the first part of the TL's model cycle and didn't hit the market until 2007.
Both versions of the TL came with an attractive, well-built interior designed with a more sporting intent in mind. In road tests, we were impressed with this Acura TL's comfort and dynamic abilities but ultimately found that its front-wheel-drive setup hampered its ability to match the handling dynamics offered by top rear-drive sport sedans. The Type-S upped the performance ante somewhat, boosting power while adding crisper handling.
For a majority of shoppers, a used TL from this era will provide a good mix of fun, comfort and convenience at a reasonable price. Changes during the model cycle were few, but the TL received a midlife freshening for 2007, including minor exterior and interior styling tweaks and an upgraded navigation system.
The second-generation Acura TL was built from 1999-2003. Though it was less exciting than more recent models, our editors gave this TL very positive reviews during its run. Improvements were made throughout this period, and the car had a number of TL firsts, including Honda's VTEC variable valve timing and an optional navigation system. The powerful Type-S version, which debuted in 2002, should be strongly considered by buyers interested in increased performance. Regardless of specific trim level, just about any used second-generation model should serve the used-sedan shopper well.
The original Acura TL debuted in 1995 as a replacement for the unloved Acura Vigor. Two versions were offered: a 2.5 TL with a 2.5-liter inline-5 engine and a 3.2 TL with a 3.2-liter V6. Both models were available throughout the first generation's run, which lasted pretty much unchanged through 1998. As there is now little price difference between the two, we suggest consumers interested in a first-generation used TL go for the more powerful 3.2.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Acura TL page.