2000 Acura TL Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Excellent value, comfortable front seats, powerful and efficient engine, SportShift transmission is fun to use.
- Cheap interior bits, cramped rear seat room, excessive body roll in turns.
Jack-of-all-trades but master of none, the TL provides an impressive mix of luxury, sport and affordability.
Acura's torch bearer into the rapidly growing near-luxury market is the TL, and it's pitted against some stiff competition in the form of the Audi A4, the Infiniti I30, the Lexus ES 300 and the Mercedes C-Class. Each of these models is already well established in the marketplace, which puts the pressure on Acura not only to meet but to exceed what those cars have to offer. The wildly popular '99 TL, with its promise of luxury, performance and value, had no problem meeting the challenge. It will likely be front and center for 2000 as well.
The TL is based on a Honda global platform, but its wheelbase is 2 inches longer than the Accord's. Unfortunately, for some reason the rear seat pays the price, becoming cramped when a tall driver is at the helm, and there's no underseat room. Storage space, on the other hand, is in abundance, including the deep center console and 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.
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 automatic transmission is quite user-friendly.
The TL offers near-luxury equipment without a hefty price, and you get more than just air conditioning and a smattering of leather. You snag a power sunroof, a 180-watt sound system with an in-dash CD, heated front seats, steering-wheel audio controls, rear heat/air vents, micron air-filtration system, traction control, and four-wheel antilock brakes because it's all standard. The super-simple navigation system is the only option, but this year it has been improved by having a matte finish to prevent fingerprint smudges. Its new database has coverage of the entire continental U.S. on only one DVD.
The TL is a car that offers sporty styling and near-luxury features for a price that is well below the class average. The TL continues to deliver performance and value in typical Acura fashion.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRolloverNot RatedDynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
- Side Impact TestNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintNot Tested
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test0
More About This Model
Home Depot is all about DIY. That's "do-it-yourself" for those of you not in the know. I despise what the DIY brainwash does to me. How it works: I enter my local Home Depot looking for a screw to fix a drawer knob. Something strange happens while inside. The desire of a simple wood screw is sneakily replaced with the desire to remodel...something. Anything. When I'm inside Home Depot, I am the invincible DIYer. So I walk out with a two-handed manly man's drill, sheets of drywall, premium wood deck sealer and 14 tubes of caulk (on sale). For reference, I live in an apartment and have the mechanical inclination of a fern.
There's a new DIY thrill for 2000 -- the five-speed sequential automatic transmission found in the 2000 Acura 3.2TL Sedan. You too get to shift all five gears yourself, rather than having the car do it. To see which one is easier on the soul, we put together a comparison test. The results follow.
Home Depot vs. Acura 3.2TL SportShift Transmission
The Battle of the DIYers
When we last drove an Acura 3.2TL, it was during our comparison of 1999 entry-level luxury sedans. In that test, the TL placed third out of eight cars. It was beaten out by an Audi A4 2.8 (second place) and a BMW 328i (the winner). Ultimately, we picked the BMW due to its "...world-class driving pleasure, top-notch build quality, functional ergonomics and state-of-the-art safety." However, all three of these cars were closely matched. The TL excelled in value. It was the least expensive car in our test, yet it offered a high level of standard equipment. In the rest of our categories, the TL did well, but it never managed to take first place in any of them.
It would seem that consumers agree with our findings. The current 3.2TL (introduced in Sept. 1998) has sold considerably better than the previous-generation TL it replaced. According to Automotive News Data Center, year-to-date 3.2TL sales (as of Sept. 1999) are 40,736. Compare this to the meager 13,862 sales Acura pulled in for the previous TL during the same period in 1998.
But wait, there's more! For 2000, just one year after its introduction, Acura has given the 3.2TL additional content. This includes the aforementioned five-speed SportShift transmission, improved engine power and emission characteristics, a new navigation system, and new airbag safety systems. As the rest of the car is basically the same, we will reserve most of our commentary for the new 2000 changes. As such, we recommend you also read our full '99 3.2TL Road Test, as well as our Comparison Test: Near Entry-Level Luxury Sedans.
We were perfectly happy with the '99 3.2TL's four-speed transmission. It offered clean shifts and the SportShift option was easy to use. So things only get better in 2000 with the five-speed transmission. It doesn't look much different from the cabin. The shift pattern is still arranged in the standard fore-aft line, except for now there's a detour to the back-left for first gear.
The main advantages of the new transmission are quicker acceleration and better fuel mileage. Effectively, the five-speed transmission offers a shorter first gear (for better acceleration) and a taller final gear (for better fuel mileage). Acura says that in the EPA highway driving cycle, preliminary figures show a 2 mpg increase to 29 mpg. The closer ratios also help the transmission better match driving conditions, meaning that the engine won't be caught flat-footed as often.
To activate the SportShift, the driver pulls the shift lever to the left from "drive" and into the extra shift gate pattern. Once done, the driver can manually control which gear the TL uses by pushing forward or pulling backward on the lever. As before, an LED display on the dash indicates which gear the transmission is in. A level of safety is built into the system, as the transmission's shift logic will not allow a downshift that would cause the engine to over-rev. It will not automatically shift up at redline, however, which means you can bounce off the rev limiter as much as your heart desires. We don't recommend this, of course.
Compared to leaving the transmission in "drive," we found that the SportShift makes slightly quicker gear changes. Curiously, the SportShift downshifts took less time to execute than upshifts. As a whole, we were impressed with the new transmission. It seemed to be as responsive as the old transmission, but now with an extra gear. The SportShift feature works well, but like most automanual transmissions, its value is limited mostly to enthusiasts or people driving over hills or mountains.
With the new transmission and engine improvements, Acura says the 2000 should accelerate from zero to 60 about half a second less than a '99 model. If that proves to be true, than a 2000 TL would have placed second in our '99 entry-luxury sedan shootout behind the BMW with a time around 7.1 seconds. The half-second gain is impressive, seeing as how the official maximum horsepower and torque ratings (225 horsepower and 215 foot-pounds of torque) haven't changed. Rather, Acura says the engine improvements give the 3.2TL 5.5 percent better low-end torque. The extra torque comes from a new intake manifold, revised intake ports, and larger intake and exhaust valves. These changes also allow the 3.2TL to meet low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards and ultra-low-emission vehicle (ULEV) standards for California.
The other big change for 2000 is the navigation system. The previous hard-disk based system has been scrapped for a single DVD disc that covers the entire United States. Acura says the DVD database has been programmed to include nearly eight times as many points of interest when compared to the previous system. Acura also changed the console-mounted LCD screen to make it less susceptible to glare and fingerprints. As before, the navigation system is the only option available on the car. The DVD can be updated annually for a small fee by taking the car to an Acura dealership.
We were able to confirm that the 3.2TL's navigation system is still easy to use, highlighted by clear voice prompts and maps. We also found that entering destinations now takes fewer keystrokes. As for the bigger database and improved route calculating, we'll withhold judgement until we get more substantial time with the car.
The final major change to the 2000 Acura 3.2TL is the addition of seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants. The front passenger seat is equipped with a detection system designed to determine when a small child is sitting in the seat. It does this with seven sensors mounted in the seatback. When a child's head is determined to be in the path of the airbag, the airbag is disabled in the event of a side impact.
The added content found in the 2000 Acura 3.2TL should only add to the car's popularity. However, we can't help but notice that Acura has improved the car in areas in which we never felt were problems to begin with. The side airbags are certainly welcome, but there's still a lack of rear seat room for large passengers and a lack of quality in the leather seat upholstery. And for pure driving pleasure, the TL still falls short of the BMW 328i or Audi A4. But these problems are minor. The 2000 3.2TL is a very competent sedan. Acura should give itself a pat on the back for offering even more content for a still low MSRP of $28,400.
Used 2000 Acura TL Overview
The Used 2000 Acura TL is offered in the following submodels: TL Sedan. Available styles include 3.2 4dr Sedan. The Used 2000 Acura TL comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed automatic.
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Should I lease or buy a 2000 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.