The 2004 Acura TL stormed into the performance luxury sedan market with impressive styling, best-in-class horsepower, and a luxurious and technology-packed interior. It was an immediate hit with the motoring press and public alike, and became Acura’s best-selling model, a title it holds to this day.
In the face of new competition from Lexus, BMW , Infiniti and others, the 2007 TL has been impressively updated. To solidify its place as the standard bearer in its class, the TL is now available in two versions; the luxurious TL and the reintroduced high-performance TL Type-S.
As part of its comprehensive performance package, the new TL Type-S builds on the already impressive performance of the TL with the addition of an enhanced powertrain and much more. The Type-S engine is a 286-horsepower 3.5-liter VTEC(R) V-6. It is connected to either a 6-speed manual transmission or an all-new 5-speed automatic with F1(R)-style Sequential SportShift paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control.
The Type-S isn’t just a more powerful TL; it’s a complete performance package that features a re-tuned suspension, unique exterior styling and interior trim that distinguishes it from the TL. Just one drive proves that the TL Type-S delivers the emotional thrill of a high performance luxury sedan without sacrificing the comfort and convenience expected from it.
TL features numerous other refinements for the 2007 model year. The re-designed front end features a larger grille, fog lights relocated to the bumper, and black chrome or satin chrome trim on the TL Type-S and TL, respectively. In addition, the tail lights and rear bumper have been re-designed for a more aggressive appearance, and new wheels, side sills, and other details set the TL apart. The TL Type-S receives a unique front fascia with a ’splitter’ leading edge, wider side sills and rear fascia diffuser.
The interior is also subtly revised with a new 3-spoke steering wheel, new gauges and model-specific ambient lighting that is red for TL Type-S and blue for the TL. Models without navigation systems have a restyled center console that uses vacuum fluorescent displays for the audio system and climate control.
The TL’s combination of high-tech innovations like the standard 225-watt Acura/ELS Surround(TM) Premium 8-speaker Sound System with 6-disc CD, DVD-Audi o, DTS(R) and Dolby(R) Pro Logic(R) II set it apart from its competitors from the moment it went on sale. The improvements for 2007 build on these strengths while adding the all-new, enthusiast-focused TL Type-S.
The luxury vehicle market continues to expand, and the ’near luxury’ sedan segment is enjoying some of the greatest growth. This segment, which accounts for over one-third of the luxury market as a whole, is where the Acura TL competes. Although the TL has consistently been a top seller in this segment, it has increasing challenges from sporty sedans such as the BMW 530i and Lexus IS 350. Competition also comes from compact near-luxury sedans like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-class.
Behind the restyled grille of the 2007 TL is one of two engines. The TL receives a 3.2-liter 24-valve VTEC(R) V-6 powerplant, a smooth and powerful engine that delivers 258 horsepower at 6200 rpm and a broad torque curve that peaks with 233 lb-ft at 5000 rpm. The high-performance TL Type-S receives a larger-displacement 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine produces 286 hp at 6200 rpm and 257 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm.
The standard transmission for both the TL and TL Type-S is an all-new 5-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift and Grade Logic Control. Similar to the transmission in the RL luxury sedan, this two-wheel drive version features thicker and larger gears than the previous automatic for increased torque capacity. It is also more compact than the previous 5-speed automatic. TL Type-S models have an even more aggressive shift program, as well as the Paddle Shifters mounted on the steering wheel. The Sequential SportShift has been re-programmed to provide smooth downshifts by ’blipping’ the throttle between gears, matching revs and significantly improving overall driving smoothness.
Optional only on the TL Type-S is a 6-speed manual transmission. For 2007, the transmission has been strengthened for increased durability with the more powerful 3.5-liter engine.
Acura’s commitment to low emissions continues. Both the 3.2-liter V-6 in the TL and the 3.5-liter V-6 in the Type-S meet stringent CARB LEV-II ULEV emissions requirements.
Among the TL’s firsts in 2004 was the introduction of DVD-Audio and HandsFreeLink(TM) wireless telephone interface as standard equipment. For 2007, the TL continues its high-tech leadership with the addition of WMA and MP3 playback, Dolby(R) Pro Logic(R) II and speed-sensitive volume compensation to the audio system.
Additionally, 2007 TL Type-S models feature standard Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition(TM) and rearview camera as well as Active Noise Cancellation(TM). The navigation system is re-designed with a new, easier to read interface, and also incorporates AcuraLink(TM) satellite communication system with real-time traffic updates, as on the RL. On TL models without navigation, the climate control and audio system displays have been redesigned using the same vacuum fluorescent displays found on high-end home audio equipment.
When first introduced to the press and public, the TL impressed with its unprecedented levels of standard luxury equipment, a tradition continued by the 2007 model. With its standard 6-disc DVD-Audio system, plush leather seating surfaces, power seats for both the driver and front passenger, and keyless entry with a new One Touch Start system on models with an automatic transmission, the TL is designed to provide a truly comprehensive array of fine amenities as standard equipment. The only factory option on the TL is the DVD-based Acura Satellite-Linked Navigation System(TM).
Since its 2004 introduction, the TL’s clean lines have been described as ’Bauhaus with attitude.’ Bauhaus refers to the design philosophy of form following function. The attitude comes from TL’s assertive stance, large grille, narrow headlights and tasteful use of chrome highlights to impart an athletic and sporty demeanor unmatched by its competitors. The re-designed front end emphasizes performance by enlarging the grille opening and re-styling the lower fascia to incorporate the foglights. In the rear, the taillights and lower bumper valance have been redesigned. The TL Type-S incorporates special Type-S badging, a more aggressive front fascia, black chrome trim and a quad exhaust that emphasize its performance edge.
From the new 3-spoke steering wheel with integrated audio, cruise and voice navigation controls, to the new front seats that have been redesigned for improved comfort, the TL’s
interior has been subtly redesigned for 2007 to be more luxurious and stylish than ever. The re-styled gauges resemble spun aluminum with laser-etched numerals, and both the TL and the TL Type-S receive redesigned aluminum trim. Blue cockpit lighting and new Grand Anigre wood patterned trim that extends from the doors into the dash enhance the luxury feel of the TL. The sporty Type-S receives red lighting, carbon fiber-look trim, and the Type-S logo on the bottom steering wheel spoke and embossed on the front headrests.
What some consider being a problem
So what is that one thing, which will indeed damage this excellent new TL Type-S’ chances in its effort to compete head-to-head with BMW 3, Lexus IS, and Infiniti G35? You guessed it…front-wheel drive. Rightly or wrongly (depending on geographic location and weather), the majority of serious performance buyers prefer the feel and response they get from having their drive wheels out back. Most won’t accept fwd performance, no matter how strong or well refined.
Then again, Audi’s doing reasonably well with front-drive and available high-performance all-wheel drive. Maybe that is Acura’s ultimate answer, and Audi its most natural target.