Acura struggled to draw buyers away from the Lexus ES300, BMW 3 Series and other near-luxury sedans during the 1990s. The 3.2TL, introduced last year, apparently ends that struggle because it is outselling the ES300.
The 3.2TL splits the difference in size and price between Acura's aged Integra, a sporty compact sedan, and the 3.5RL, a larger luxury sedan. The TL is based on the front-wheel drive Honda Accord platform and is built in Marysville, Ohio, on the same assembly line as the Accord.
The conservative styling of the TL sedan makes it look like a trimmer version of the Acura 3.5RL, but it also shows family ties to the Accord, from which it is derived. The TL's 108-inch wheelbase and 193-inch overall length are 2 to 3 inches longer than the Accord's dimensions.
The five-passenger 3.2TL comes equipped with leather upholstery, power front seats, automatic climate control, power moonroof and a five-speaker sound system with an in-dash CD player. The only option is the Acura Navigation System, which covers the continental United States on one DVD.
Under the Hood
A 3.2-liter V-6 engine (also made in Ohio) with 225 horsepower teams with a new five-speed SportShift automatic transmission. The transmission can be left in drive for full automatic operation or in a SportShift slot that allows shifting up or down through the gears by tipping the lever forward or back.
For 2000, the TL gains standard side-impact airbags mounted in the front seatbacks. Seven sensors in the front passenger seat determine the size and position of the occupant. The side airbag is disabled if the sensors detect a small child. The front airbag on the passenger side is the dual-inflation type that deploys with greater force in a severe collision.
Anti-lock brakes and traction control are also standard.