Acura’s first stab at a small luxury sedan was the Vigor, a model introduced in 1991. Featuring an inline 5 cylinder engine, the car failed to compete against the BMW 3-series – its targeted market – and barely held its own against the similar size Lexus of the day. After three less than stellar model years, the Vigor was dropped from the Acura line up, but replaced by the TL, a car that truly has energized the Acura line up. Where the Vigor lagged, the TL has excelled: so much so the TL is the best selling Acura and a strong competitor against similar cars from Mercedes, Infiniti, Cadillac, Lexus, and BMW.
Sometimes failure is the strongest catalyst for change. Okay, the Vigor wasn’t a total flop, but it certainly wasn’t a car that could compete successful in the midsize luxury car category. As with so many products developed by Honda, the company is a quick learner and the evidence has been borne out in the TL, the most popular selling Acura on the market. The current TL is no slouch, neither will it bust your budget. Here is what you get for the princely sum of approximately $33,000:
Potent Engine — A 24 valve V6 motor powers this baby to produce 258 horses and 233 lbs of torque. Featuring VTEC technology, the TL’s engine squeezes out every ounce of power while producing an ultra low amount of emissions.
Tranny Wonder — A six speed manny tranny is standard and a 5 speed automatic shift gate transmission is optional. Both transmission choices work effortlessly and are precision tuned to provide maximum response.
Wheels and Brakes — 17 inch tires and aluminum wheels help the TL navigate every curve and bring the sedan to a sure stop every time. 4 wheel drive disc brakes, ABS, brake assist, stability assist, and traction control round out the safety features found in every TL.
Suspend This – For ultimate driving satisfaction, every TL comes equipped with an independent double-wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension. Add in gas filled shocks and stabilizer bars and you have a vehicle that can conquer the toughest corners as well as do justice on the famed Nurburgring race track.
Luxury Abounds – Creature comforts abound for the TL driver and its passengers. An 8 speaker ELS surround system envelopes the cabin, a HandsFreeLink makes phone conversation while driving a breeze, and heated seats ward off the coldest chill that a dark winter’s morning has to offer you.
Safety, Safety Everywhere – Front and side airbags along with a seatbelt tightening system provide the ultimate level of safety for all cabin occupants.
Now in its third generation, the TL continues to be updated to compete with the BMW 3 Series, its chief rival. Although most critics still give the 3 Series the engineering lead, the TL is proving to be more reliable in the long run. Count on Honda to further close the overall gap when the fourth generation TL shows up in about three years time: maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a new leader in the midsize luxury car class. If the TL does wrest the lead from BMW, current owners will not be surprised as they continue to heap praises on a car that already leads many consumer satisfaction surveys.