Used 2002 Acura TL 3.2 Type-S Review

Jack-of-all-trades but master of none, the TL provides an impressive mix of luxury, sport and affordability.




what's new

The TL Type-S makes its debut this year, sporting a 260-horsepower engine, sport-tuned suspension, Vehicle Stability Assist and 17-inch tires. 2002 also sees some styling revisions to the TL's front end and taillights. An in-dash six-CD changer, one-touch-up driver's window and two-position memory system for driver seat and mirrors are newly standard on both the 3.2 TL and the Type-S, and Acura has added insulation materials to the doors and reshaped the side mirrors to cut down on wind and road noise inside the cabin. Anthracite Metallic, Aegean Blue Pearl and Eternal Blue Pearl are the new exterior colors.

vehicle overview

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, Lexus IS 300, Mercedes C-Class and Volvo S60, 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.

Based on a Honda global platform shared by the Accord, the TL's wheelbase is 2 inches longer than its pedestrian sibling, but features a more cramped rear seat (attributable to its rakish roofline). TL's front end has been restyled for 2002, with a more aggressive grille, reshaped headlights, redesigned bumper fascia, revised badging and standard foglights. The rear end is freshened with clear upper lenses for the taillights. While some detractors call the TL dull and uninspired in terms of styling, many of our staffers like its angular, chiseled look.

The base TL 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 biggest TL news for 2002 is the debut of the high-performance Type-S model, which features a 260-horsepower engine, a sport-tuned suspension, a stability control system (called Vehicle Stability Assist) and 17-inch tires. Deeply bolstered, perforated leather seats, a "Type-S" shift knob and a metallic face instrument cluster distinguish the interior of the Type-S.

Both TLs offer 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 a new in-dash six-CD changer, heated front seats, two-position memory system for driver seat and mirrors, steering-wheel audio controls, rear heat/air vents, a micron air-filtration system, traction control and four-wheel antilock brakes. A super-simple DVD-based navigation system with a smudge-free touchscreen 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.






edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.