2002 Acura TL Review


Pros & Cons

  • Excellent value, comfortable front seats, impressive power from Type-S engine, SportShift transmission is fun to use.
  • Average interior materials, cramped rear seat room, lacks the panache of some competing luxury sedans.
List Price Estimate
$1,308 - $3,136

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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

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.

2002 Highlights

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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2002 Acura TL.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Great car to drive
Bought my TL about 4 years ago, and didn't have any major issues. All acura and Honda buyers have ideas about the bad transmission problem but still does not maintain it the way it should be taken care of, i changed transmission oil every 10K and now its just over 300KM on my car and still running strong...Love the car
Great Car if you like 65,000 mile transmissions
P. Gerald,09/01/2015
3.2 4dr Sedan (3.2L 6cyl 5A)
Just don't buy one unless you like buying a transmission from Honda for $2500 every 65, 000 miles. No kidding. Honda set up a plant and sell you one for $2500 when the transmission goes out every 65,000 miles instead of fixing the design problems. Otherwise it's a great driver's car.
One of the best
My wife bought this one back in 02 TL type S new and it's been a very reliable car. Great power, fun to drive. Runs like the day we bought it. Not pleased with the Xenon lights. Acura wanted $1,200.00 to replace the ballast I got a new OEM one aftermarket for $150, then $150 to install. The 2nd i did myself. The xenon OEM bulbs are about $95 ea at any auto parts place. You can get aftermarket xenon bulbs to work for about $16 for 2 but supposedly can affect ballast. mine seem to work fine but i am now selling. My wife wants an 2015 MDX. I have to say I am impressed with the 02 TL overall. Acura will gouge the daylights out of you but it is a high performance car.
Great mix of Power/Gas Mileage
02 TL-S bought the car with 64k miles which is amazingly low miles for an 8 year old car. First thing that i noticed right away soon as i bought the car is the POWER the car is extremely fast and the gas mileage is pretty darn good for a 260 hp engine, audio system is also very good.Good old Honda reliability. Unfortunately owning this car is stressful because you never really know when your transmission is going to fail even though i haven't had that problem i know it's coming and there's nothing i can do about it. If this car didn't have these transmission issues i would literally want this car forever.

Features & Specs

17 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
225 hp @ 5600 rpm
N/A city / N/A hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
260 hp @ 6100 rpm
N/A city / N/A hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
260 hp @ 6100 rpm
17 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed shiftable automatic
225 hp @ 5600 rpm
See all Used 2002 Acura TL features & specs


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
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    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

More about the 2002 Acura TL

Used 2002 Acura TL Overview

The Used 2002 Acura TL is offered in the following submodels: TL Sedan, TL 3.2 Type-S. Available styles include 3.2 4dr Sedan (3.2L 6cyl 5A), 3.2 Type-S 4dr Sedan (3.2L 6cyl 5A), 3.2 Type-S 4dr Sedan w/Navigation (3.2L 6cyl 5A), and 3.2 4dr Sedan w/Navigation (3.2L 6cyl 5A).

What's a good price on a Used 2002 Acura TL?

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Which used 2002 Acura TLS are available in my area?

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Find a used Acura TL for sale - 3 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $19,300.

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Should I lease or buy a 2002 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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Check out Acura TL lease specials