September 10, 2008 > Auto Review: Acura TL Type-S
Auto Review: Acura TL Type-S
The Type-S is Acura's "Hot Rod' version of its 5-passenger 4-door sedan. It gets a 3.5-liter V-6, that delivers 286 HP (and 256 foot pounds of torque) to the TL's front wheels. The base TL uses Acura's 3.2-liter motor with 28 HP less. Both engines use Acura's famous VTEC variable valve timing and lift technology and have 100,000 mile tune-up intervals.
Our test TL Type-S had the standard transmission that is used on both models, an electronically controlled 5-speed automatic. It can be manually shifted with paddles or used in the fully automatic mode. The engine is automatically revved up to match gear speeds on downshifts. A 6-speed manual with a limited slip differential (LSD) is also available on the Type-S.
The TL's EPA numbers are 18/26 mpg. In its EPA test runs, the Type-S produced 17/26 with the automatic transmission and 18/27 with manual. Both engines use premium unleaded gas.
We had very few complaints about the Type-S. Both my wife and I had the driver's door swing back and try to close on our legs while we were getting out. I'm not sure what caused this but it seemed to happen too often.
Under hard acceleration it produced a small amount of torque steer but was easily controlled. With the combination of LSD and the manual transmission, I would bet the torque steer would be eliminated.
The Type-S gets many suspension changes and upgrades to increase its performance over the base TL. Shocks and rear springs are stiffened and the anti-roll bars are stronger to control body lean during cornering. It also gets a special Brembo Brake package that features bigger and stronger front brakes to haul you down from those high speeds. Then Bridgestone High Performance RE-030 tires can be added to top off the package of "go fast" goodies.
If you are really serious about handling performance, Acura dealers have just the thing for you. Thy can install the A-SPEC KIT on your TL. It includes special shocks and springs that lower the car 1.2 inches. Next, larger and wider wheels with Yokohama AVS ES100 tires are bolted on. Rounding out the changes, aero body sections and a rear spoiler are added.
All the TLs get 4-wheel disk brakes with ABS, Election Brake Force Distribution, and Brake Assist. They also have a 4-channel Vehicle Stability System that includes Traction Control. Other safety features include front, side impact, and side curtain airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, and Xenon high intensity headlights.
TLs come with an advanced 225 watt premium sound system. It has a 6-disc CD system, 8 speakers and is MP3 compatible. The system uses active noise cancellation to reduce cabin noise while driving the car.
The base TL starts at $33,725. Adding the navigation system to the TL requires an additional $2,500 check (the nav is standard equipment on the Type-S). The Type-S (with either transmission) is $4,500 ($38,225) more than the base TL. Adding the high performance tires costs $200 more. Also, a $715 destination charge is added to these cars.
The TL is a very good 4-door sedan and does everything well. But it seems to lack pizzazz. My only comment is that its styling is clean and efficient but it lacks that "stand out in a crowd" look that you expect in a $35,000 performance car.
By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists