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2002 Acura TL

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2002 Acura TL
Available in 2 styles:  2002 Acura TL 4dr Sedan shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

19 city / 29 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 6
2002 Acura TL 4.3 20
$ 1,143-7,923
January 11, 2002

If your car-buying choice boils down to the 2002 Acura 3.2TL Type S vs. the 2002 Infiniti I35, you need to ask yourself this question: What do I really want?

There are degrees of separation between the two mid-luxury sedans -- but not a lot. So decision time boils down to price, need for fancy options, performance and luxury.

That said, let's cut to the chase.

* Price -- The Acura 3.2TL Type S -- with the "Type S" meaning you get the decidedly beefed up version of the base TL -- starts at $33,230. The Infiniti I35 -- the new-for-2002 replacement for the Infiniti I30 -- has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $28,750.

Simple, right? Sign up for the Infiniti.

Not so fast.

The Acura has an extraordinarily long and luxurious list of standard features, including a DVD satellite navigation system and power moonroof with tilt feature. In fact, the only additional charge above MSRP on my tested Acura was the $480 destination charge, bringing the sticker to $33,710. The options that brought the tested Infiniti up to the Acura's level (including a navigation system) increased the former's bottom line to $35,255.

OK, so now a consumer must consider the need for those...

* Fancy options -- Because virtually everything was included in the Acura starting price, the option issue centers solely on the Infiniti.

Here's how the options added up on the tested I35: $180 for a full-size spare tire (a standard practice in the industry, but paying for a full-size spare still offends my old-school sensibilities), $1,380 for a sunroof and sunshade package (the rear sunshade goes up or down with the push of a button), $1,700 for a "sport package" (including 17-inch V-rated tires and a sport-tuned suspension), $2,000 for a navigation system and trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer and $700 for a cold-weather package (with heat in the front and back seats as well as the steering wheel).

Do you want to spend about $6,000 to further spoil yourself above and beyond that offered in the basic Infiniti I35 package? While you're pondering that, let's move on to ...

* Performance -- The engines on the opposing sedans are close in both size and performance numbers. The Acura 3.2TL Type S has a 3.2-liter V-6 rated at 260 horsepower; the Infiniti I35 comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 255 horses.

On paper, things look pretty equal, but the Acura engine has an exceptional variable valve timing and valve lift electronic control system. Although both sedans responded well to a punch on the accelerator, the Acura had the edge in laying down torque and sustaining a blast over a quarter mile.

Give the edge to the Acura.

* Luxury -- We're talking about Acura and Infiniti here so luxury must figure into the thought process. In my view, however, I found it impossible to separate the two sedans. Both dripped with luxury inside and out.

The exterior skin of the 3.2TL Type is certainly sporty enough, giving a first impression of a projectile on wheels. The Infiniti's exterior look is more along the line of traditional Cadillac-like elegance.

Inside, the respective automakers crammed enough leather, wood tone and comfort/convenience features to give the illusion of $40,000 transportation.

I hate ties, but in my test models, the luxury race was a dead heat.

Which gets us back to the original question: What do you really want?

Given an unlimited budget -- something I will never experience in my lifetime -- I'd probably opt for the Acura 3.2TL Type S. The entire package of plentiful standard luxury features, a sexy look and a blazer of a motor is more temptation than I can resist if money is no object.

My only complaint with taking the Acura and running away is the number of numbers and initials after the Acura name -- "3.2TL Type S" is probably the best argument going against alphanumeric naming of automobiles. By the time you explain to your friends ex ly what you have, they've lost interest.

Otherwise, the Acura is a dream.

If I'm a discriminating buyer carefully counting my dollars -- welcome to my real world -- I'd go with the I35 without some of those pricy options. I mean does anyone really need a heated steering wheel? (Native Minnesotans are excused from answering.)

From the standpoint of frugality, getting a superbly engineered, luxurious and sweetly performing Infiniti I35 for just a touch more than $30,000 after tax and title is my definition of a steal.

Infiniti I35 at a glance

Make/model: 2002 Infiniti I35.

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, front-drive, four-door sedan.

Base price: $28,750 (as tested, $35,255).

Engine: 3.5-liter V-6 with 255 horsepower at 5,800 revolutions per minute and 246 foot-pounds of torque at 4,400 rpm.

EPA fuel economy: 20 miles per gallon city; 26 mpg highway.

Transmission: Electronic four-speed automatic.

Steering: Power rack and pinion with speed-sensitive feature.

Brakes: Power four-wheel discs with anti-lock.

Suspension type: Independent strut with coil springs and stabilizer bar on front; multi-link beam with stabilizer bar on rear.

Interior volume: 102 cubic feet.

Trunk volume: 12.3 cubic feet (with full-size spare tire).

Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons.

Curb weight: 3,342 pounds.

Front track: 60.2 inches.

Rear track: 59.4 inches.

Height: 56.7 inches.

Length: 193.7 inches.

Wheelbase: 108.3 inches.

Width: 70.2 inches.

Tires: P225/50R17 V-rated all-season tires.

Final assembly point: Los Angeles.

Acura 3.2TL Type S at a glance

Make/model: 2002 Acura 3.2TL Type S.

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, front-drive, four-door sedan.

Base price: $33,230 (as tested, $33,710).

Engine: 3.2-liter V-6 with 260 horsepower at 6,100 revolutions per minute and 232 pounds/foot torque at 3,500-5,500 rpm.

EPA fuel economy: 19 miles per gallon city; 29 mpg highway.

Transmission: Five-speed automatic with clutchless manual shifting option.

Steering: Power rack and pinion with torque-sensitive feature.

Brakes: Power four-wheel discs with anti-lock.

Suspension type: Independent double wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar on front; independent multi-link double wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar on rear.

Interior volume: 96.5 cubic feet.

Trunk volume: 14.3 cubic feet.

Fuel tank: 17.2 gallons.

Curb weight: 3,554 pounds.

Front track: 61.2 inches.

Rear track: 60.4 inches.

Height: 53.7 inches.

Length: 192.5 inches.

Wheelbase: 108.1 inches.

Width: 70.7 inches.

Tires: P215/50R17 93V Michelin MXM4.

Port of entry: San Diego.

    Expert Reviews 2 of 6

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