SAN FRANCISCO: Luxury in cars means different things to
different people. Some like their luxury to be American-esque, a la Cadillac and Lincoln.
Some like the European stylings of Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, et al. Still others are more
prone to the offerings of the burgeoning Japanese luxury marques. Welcome to the 2002
Acura 3.2 TL and 3.2 TL Type-S.
Though luxury tastes take many forms, the most enticing from an
enthusiasts perspective is the teaming of luxury and sport cars. Acura has been
putting more sport into the sport/luxury segment since its inception, over a decade ago,
with vehicles like the NSX and Integra GS-R. For 2002, Acura ups the luxo-sport ante to
better compete with the Europeans and Americans at the game they joined in mid-play.
The TL is the sedan counterpart to the CL coupe that was updated for
2001 and looks as good, if not better than the coupe (if that can actually happen!) and
gives Acura a real player for the "mid-luxury" segment, in Acuras own
words. Changes to the TL include, but are not limited to, freshened front and rear fascias
(with integrated fog lights on all models), more insulation in the doors and improved door
seals to lessen noise, vibration and harshness levels, an in-dash six-disc CD changer and
engine and transmission improvements.
As a real player in the sport/luxury segment, the Type-S model is
motivated by a 3.2-liter SOHC 24-valve V6 that features Hondas VTEC valve timing
gadgetry, an all-new, dual-stage induction system and numerous other performance
enhancements, which is good for 260 horsepower and 232 lb.-ft. of torque. The base model
is packaged with a not-too-shabby 225 horsepower/216 lb-ft. motor. Both models meet Low
Emission Vehicle standards, while California bound TLs are rated as Ultra Low Emission
All that power goes through a five-speed automatic with Acuras
answer to the "manumatic" craze, Sequential SportShift, along with Grade Logic
Control, which enhances shifting smoothness and reduces gear "hunting" when
ascending or descending steep grades. The transmission was top-notch perfect; the shifts
were Cadillac smooth and power delivery was instant-on in every situation.
The only gripe about the transmission was the manual shift mode. The
gear changes were not in concert with the movement of the stick and the computer brain
controlled the one-two shift no matter what input was received from the driver. We found
that it was more satisfying to leave it in drive (D5, each gear had its own detent) and
let the computer choose the gears while driving on tight, twisty roads. It just goes to
show that transmissions like this are little solace for those of us that want a real
manual in such a powerful, well-handling car.
To help get the vehicle around tight corners in a stately manner,
Acura has outfitted the Type-S with a sport-tuned double wishbone suspension (with front
and rear stabilizer bars), V-rated, all-season rubber on 17 inch alloy wheels and
Acuras Vehicle Stability Assist, all as standard equipment.
Theres a lengthy list of standard features that come with the
3.2 TL Type-S too. Some features of note include remote keyless entry; DVD navigation
system; automatic climate control; an Acura/Bose six-disc in-dash CD player; heated seats
with six-way power for the driver and four-way power for the passenger; Drivers seat
and outside mirror memory (the mirrors are also heated); automatic down and up for the
drivers window; automatic day/night rearview mirror; power moonroof; xenon high
intensity discharge headlights; speed-sensing intermittent wipers and the Homelink system.
We had a lot of fun with the DVD navigation system in the short time
we had the car. It was quite interesting punching in a destination and then letting the
system guide you there. It has a computerized female voice to command you and a host of
graphical representations to assist further. Even if you turn the wrong way, the system
recalculates its route and helps you get to where you want to go.
Safety features include driver and front passenger dual stage
airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags; four-wheel ABS; front seatbelt
pre-tensioners; a theft deterrent system with electronic immoblizer; emergency trunk
release; Acuras Vehicle Stability Assist; front and rear crumple zones and
side-impact door beams.
The total as-tested price, with no options to speak of, topped out
at $33,710.00, including the obligatory destination charge, which is a great deal
considering all the safety, comfort and convenience features this car offers. We loved
driving this car. It handled well in all situations we threw at it and was more
comfortable than we expected. The other luxury makes must be laying awake at night, trying
to think up the next best thing that might compete with the new 2002 Acura 3.2 TL and 3.2
TL Type-S. These cars are already winners in the 2002 sport/luxury class. By James E. Bryson © AutoWire.Net - San
Acura Home Page
Byline: By James E. Bryson © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name: The Winners in the 2002 Sport Luxury Class
Topic: 2002 Acura 3.2 TL and 3.2 TL Type-s
Word Count: 881
Photo Caption: 2002 Acura 3.2 TL
Photo Credits: Acura Internet Media
Series #: 2001 - 22
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