1997 Acura TL Review

Pros & Cons

  • Typical Acura luxury, refinement, and reliability.
  • Cramped back seat.
List Price Estimate
$915 - $2,207

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Acura's all-new TL replaces the defunct Vigor in the lineup, and heralds the debut of a new nomenclature scheme at Honda's upscale division. Seems consumers were getting too cozy with names like Legend, Vigor and Integra, and weren't paying much attention to the fact that these were Acuras. By switching to letters and numbers, Acura hopes to focus more attention on the Acura brand name. Within several years, all Acuras will be designated by alphanumeric names, except the NSX, which won't be changing.

The TL comes in two flavors: 2.5-liter five cylinder (2.5) and 3.2-liter V6 (3.2). Each model gets unique front styling, though at first glance you'll be hard-pressed to see the differences. The V6 is shod with larger tires as well, though the 2.5TL is marketed as the sportier version. Hmmm....

Inside, the TL is sumptuously comfortable, as long as you're riding in the front seat. While the TL is larger inside than the Vigor it replaces, the rear seat is still no picnic for big passengers, and the rear windows won't go all the way down. Smaller people will feel quite comfortable on the supportive rear bench. Classy gauge markings compliment tasteful wood appliqués on the dash, which is laid out in typical Acura fashion: perfectly. The quality of the interior materials and the feel of the switchgear approaches that of the vaunted Lexus ES 300, though some glossy plastic on the armrest door handles detract from the ambiance.

Exterior styling is attractive, but unadventurous. Still, we prefer the Acura to the Infiniti I30, which looks like a Maxima with lots of aftermarket garbage hung on it. The TL looks sleek, with a long, high hood, small greenhouse, and abbreviated rear deck. The tail treatment is too close to Toyota's Avalon, and the rear bumper fascia is too characterless for a near-luxury entry.

Overall, we like the conservative TL. It should compete fairly well in this crowded price segment, if it can manage to steal some attention from the I30 and Oldsmobile Aurora.

1997 Highlights

Vigor replacement designed to do battle with new Infiniti I30 and the Lexus ES300 in the near-luxury segment. Cleanly styled with room for four, the new TL-Series comes with either a 2.5- liter, inline five- cylinder, or a smooth, 3.2-liter V6.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Acura TL.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Good car but not great
divergentdan,01/08/2013
I bought a '97 TL because the trannys on the 99-03s are notorious for failing. Bought the car with 138K and now it's up to 176K. I've replaced radiator ($150), axles+tie rod ($450), fuel pump ($250), starter ($150). Also replaced regular things (battery $100, rotors and pads $300). The car does tend to overheat, but it's usually caused by air in the cooling system so you just need to bleed the system when it does and it takes care of the problem 95% of the time. Gas mileage is just OK (26-28 highway, 24 combined). Slow windows is a universal problem. Otherwise it's a good car.
'97 TL, an Excellent Car
Clay,12/31/2005
Excellent car in every way. At 110,000 miles the dealer replaced the o2 sensor and the spark plugs under the free Acura extended emissions warranty (up to 150,000 miles). Otherwise the car has been extremely reliable with only regular maintenance. Regular maintenance costs were low. The paint and the fit and finish of all interior and exterior parts are still great after eight years of use. And it's still comfortable and fun to drive with good acceleration, braking, and handling.
Great Reliable Car
TRayner,07/12/2002
Have enjoyed the car since purchase. Very sharp simple design and cleans up very well. The placement of the fog light switch and criuise control button is hidden behind the headlight stalk. Very bad position. Love the leather interior and the factory sound system is excellent. Factory Michellins are adequate but a bit loud. Trunk is a bit small with a small opening, so loading luggage has to be planned. No problem ups to 100,000 miles and counting. Do keep the transmission fluid changed since the Acura don't have changeable filters.
lIZ REVIEW OF 97 TL
LIZ BECKER,03/19/2002
Overall the car is pretty solid, my only complaints are the road noise and the sheer wind factor on the driver's side. Cush claims this is a design problem and cannot be fix. I find this hard to believe in a car that when was new sold in the 30's. The sheer wind factor can be very irrating and would love to be able to fix. Cush dealership is great would buy from them again.

Features & Specs

MPG
18 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
176 hp @ 6300 rpm
MPG
17 city / 22 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
200 hp @ 5300 rpm
MPG
18 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
176 hp @ 6300 rpm
MPG
17 city / 22 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
200 hp @ 5300 rpm
See all Used 1997 Acura TL features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1997 Acura TL

Used 1997 Acura TL Overview

The Used 1997 Acura TL is offered in the following submodels: TL Sedan. Available styles include 2.5 4dr Sedan, 3.2 4dr Sedan, 2.5 Premium 4dr Sedan, and 3.2 Premium 4dr Sedan.

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Which used 1997 Acura TLS are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 Acura TL?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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