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2008 Acura TL

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2008 Acura TL Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors


Acura's answer to premium performance sedans like the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G35, Audi A4 and Lexus IS is the TL, the only car in that category offered exclusively with front-wheel drive. While rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles can enjoy some performance advantages, the TL explores the limit of what is possible with front-wheel drive and a torquey V6. The TL is also comfortable, roomy and packed with a sophisticated lineup of standard equipment. It returns up to 27 miles per gallon on the highway and is priced considerably below its competitors. In 2007, enthusiasts celebrated the return of a TL Type-S, with more power, a stiffer suspension and distinctive styling touches.

You'll Like This Car If...

Fast, fun, comfortable and convenient, the TL is arguably the category's most well-rounded entry and almost certainly its best value.

You May Not Like This Car If...

While the TL's front-wheel-drive architecture is an advantage for some---especially those in wetter climates---other enthusiast buyers might prefer the driving dynamics associated with rear-wheel drive.

What's Significant About This Car?

In 2008, the TL is offered in two new paint colors, Polished Metal Metallic and Bold Beige Metallic.

Driving It Driving Impressions

One of the great beauties of the TL lineup is that, 95 percent of the time, the Type-S is just as comfortable as the base model and the base model is just as much fun as the Type-S. Still, when the road starts to get curvy and your right foot gets heavy, the quicker, grippier, more responsive Type-S easily earns its price premium. The five-speed automatic has been enhanced for the Type-S---which also gets steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters---to deliver smoother, rev-matching downshifts and quicker, crisper upshifts, while the six-speed manual is as tight and precise as you'd expect in an all-out sports car. With the six-speed manual transmission there is some torque steer (pulling on the steering) under hard acceleration in the lower gears. The TL has a pleasant around-town demeanor and reactive but comfortable highway manner.

Favorite Features

Comprehensive Navigation System
The TL's voice-activated navigation system provides real-time traffic info, Zagat restaurant reviews and includes a rearview camera. It even allows you to upload your entire personal phonebook into the Bluetooth hands-free phone system in one step.

Enhanced DVD-Audio System
The TL's impressive eight-speaker, 225-watt DVD-Audio Surround Sound system features DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II decoding, plus a six-disc CD changer that plays WMA and MP3 files. There's also an auxiliary input for portable MP3 players and such.

Vehicle Details Interior   photo

The TL's interior remains one of the roomiest, most comfortable cabins in the category (especially for rear-seat passengers). The DVD-Audio Surround Sound system provides a sublime listening experience, and an updated voice-activated navigation system provides real-time traffic information and includes an integrated rear-view camera. Type-S models have sportier seats with contrasting stitching, stainless-steel pedals, red (not blue) instrument illumination, dark aluminum and carbon fiber trim and an active noise canceling system that generates sound waves to counteract the bigger engine's additional noise at cruising speeds.

Exterior

Though the 2008 TL is essentially unchanged from its 2007 predecessor, the bold sedan, designed in California, can be confused with no other in the segment. That's thanks partially to its prominent grille and aggressive front and rear lower fascias. The more assertive Type-S is distinguished by a collection of darker trim elements, including black chrome grille and lamp treatments, plus wider side sills, a rear spoiler, dual circular exhaust outlets, dark 17-inch wheels and Type-S badges.

Notable Standard Equipment

Except for the navigation system, a base Acura TL is fully loaded with an impressive DVD-Audio Surround Sound system, power moonroof, HID headlamps, leather seating, power/heated front seats, Bluetooth hands-free phone integration, steering wheel-mounted controls and six airbags.

Notable Optional Equipment

A navigation system is the only option available on the base 2008 Acura TL. The step up to the Type-S includes navigation, a host of performance-oriented hardware and cosmetic upgrades, a choice of a more responsive five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission and the availability of high-performance tires.

Under the Hood

While the base TL has the excellent 3.2-liter engine and a slightly softer suspension, the Type-S gets a 3.5-liter version that delivers outstanding performance with almost no loss of fuel economy. The Type-S also gets a stiffer suspension, Brembo brakes, a more aggressive exhaust note and is the only model available with a manual transmission (which includes a limited-slip differential) and high-performance tires.

3.2-liter V6
258 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
233 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26

3.5-liter V6
286 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
256 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 (manual), 17/26 (automatic)

Pricing Notes

The 2008 Acura TL starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $34,000 and tops out at around $39,000 for a Type-S with high-performance tires. The navigation system is a $2,500 option, while the Type-S works out to a $2,000 premium. In light of the recent improvements and the car's general desirability, we expect our Fair Purchase Prices to reflect real-world transaction prices close to MSRP. Compare pricing and equipment with that of the BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS, Infiniti G35 and Audi A4, and you might consider the TL one of the best values on the road. We expect the TL's resale values to perform comparably to the 3 Series, G35 and IS and better than the A4.

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