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2003 CL

Consumer Reviews

2003 Acura CL

$1,771 - $7,511  MSRP Range
2003 Acura CL

Review Score

4.7 out of 5 stars

4.7

31 Reviews
100% of drivers recommend this car
Score Breakdown
4.7 out of 5 stars Comfort
4.8 out of 5 stars Value for the Money
4.7 out of 5 stars Interior Design
4.7 out of 5 stars Reliability
4.8 out of 5 stars Performance
4.4 out of 5 stars Exterior Styling

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1 - 10 of 31 reviews

4 out of 5 stars

sleeper!!

by nasty nate from Raleigh on Wed Dec 29 2010

Bought used with 82,000. First thing (and I can not stress this enough) is avoid the automatic transmission at all costs, major recalls and why take the chance? It will take some digging but the 6 speed is where it?s at! Now, if you can find the 6 speed (only in the Type S and in the 2003 model) you have a super sleeper car that will dust most cars in its price range from stoplight to stoplight! I have personally put a few 3 series BMW's in their place. Outside of the 350z, M3, G35 or the newer Mustangs you should not have a problem getting the best of the other drivers. Another positive is there are not many on the road. It?s a smooth shifter and about the right amount of power to have fun on the on ramp and not get into too much trouble. Standard options are a laundry list of high end must haves. I recommend the touch screen Nav system if you can find it, only 800 of these made with the 6 speed but I got one! Because of the automatic transmission stigma you can get a really great deal on this car. Car is great on the highway as the bucket seats wrap around you and there is more than enough room in the back for two adults (provided they don?t play for the Knicks). Bose in dash 6 disc CD player has tons of power and clarity. Heated seats are a nice bonus in the winter (my girls friend loves this option) Negatives. Repairs are a bit more expensive than the usual Honda but that is the price of swimming in the deep end of the pool. Compared to BMW, Lexus etc. you will spend a lot less in the long run. Headlights are expensive, ($100 a pop) and these cars tend to have a problem with the head light assembly ($500). I test drove 5 of these and they all tend to drift a bit to the right, small concession really but it is something that I have noticed. Clutch repair is also very expensive (quotes from $700 to $2000) but I found a mechanic that works well on Acura?s for a fair price. I have read reviews that these things tear up brake rotors but I have not experienced that problem. I am not in love with the exterior styling but you can do small things to improve it such as a slightly lower tire profile and I also removed the Acura decals to give it a custom look. All in all the positives greatly out weigh the negatives and you can really pick up a super fun and comfortable ride for a great price. Have fun! Just remember no automatic transmissions!

4 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

22 out of 22 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Last of the Best Acuras

by CarGuy from SW Ohio on Fri Feb 25 2011

Best car I've ever owned. Bought my Anthracite/Black leather Type-S new in '03 and despite test driving every newer toy that's come along over the last 8 years including newer Acuras, I still prefer it's feel and solidity as well as the stealthy, understated style of my Type-S. I've enjoyed outstanding reliability-no repairs in 75k+ miles (brakes/tires ~ 40-45k) with an all around lead-footed average mpg of 24. I enjoy playing with the Auto-manual and never had any maintenance issues with it. Love the high-revving nature and silky smooth sound of the 3.2 VTEC, just drop down a gear and in a blink it's well past any traffic and into 3 digit speeds. Classy is the word to describe it's style and sound, not look-at-me boy-racer noisy. Despite some front drive understeer at the limit it feels light on its feet handling sharply with lightning quick and well weighted steering. Got 40K on oem MXM4s and my newer Pilot Exalto A/S are quieter and grippier. It would be the absolute perfect car if it were rwd, but as is this baby's a beast in the snow. Bose sound is outstanding! Love the interior layout with sloping, low dash, low beltline, and lots of glass/visibility compared to today's tank-like styles that have you looking through slits for windows. Incredibly comfortable leather seats which hug you in the twisties like none other. This car is so well balanced with room, quiet comfort, handling, and gobs of power. An everyday, all-weather smile inducer. I keep an eye on the automotive scene looking for something to replace it someday, but nothing new has the same blend of all the Type-S's qualities in one package, especially from Acura whose recent styling direction has been abominable. I may just keep it forever.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

13 out of 13 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Very Capable Luxo-Coupe

by RForceIntegra from NJ on Wed Mar 31 2010

I purchased a 2003 3.2 CL Type S about 6 months ago and could not be happier with the car. I am a huge Honda/Acura fan and have owned some Integras in my youth. I am getting a bit older now and prefer some practicality and luxury in a daily-driver. This car delivers boatloads of both at an excellent value, without sacraficing performance. The list of luxuries is long, some of my favorites are the power, heated leather seats. I truly think they could be the most comfortable seats ever made in a car under $80K in price. I also love how the passenger mirror tilts down when the car is in reverse so one can park carefully as to not damage the beautiful 17" wheels. Performance-wise, this car is no slouch. The CL-S can easily keep up with brand new cars in its class despite being 7 years old. The engine note is throaty at high revs, as the dual-stage air induction system allows more air into the engine, and you feel a surge of power thanks to VTEC technology. This car is rock-solid at 130mph and still pulling. The sport-tuned suspension delivers a smooth ride despite the fact that it was designed to handle, and it does handle well. My only complaint is slight understeer, probably due to the fact that the vehicle is front-heavy, but this is only noticeable when pushing it. Steering feels natural and responsive. One concern I have is with the automatic transmission which shifts a little rough. There have been reports that these do break, but with 72K miles on the car there is no sign of anything irregular. VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) is a good feature, especially when driving in the rain. Performance is not good in the snow, however, as the tires are not designd for it. For a coupe, this car is practical. It can fit 4 adults but I feel bad for the folks in the back seat. I do not have kids, but I suspect they'd be more than comfortable back there. Trunk space is plentiful. The Bose sound system with in-dash 6 cd changer and cassette deck is above average for sure. I miss my AUX jack from my last stereo, though. Overall, I like the fact that these cars were not produced in high numbers, so you don't see a million on the road. I feel like I am driving a unique car with classy styling. It is a performer with every luxury a purist like myself would ever need (remember, I started with Acura Integras) and more. The 2003 example is actually unique to only that year, then Acura ceased production of the CL all together. If you can get your hands on one of these cars with low-mileage that's been looked after, buy it!

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

11 out of 11 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

300,000 miles & still going.

by modave from Columbia, Missouri on Tue Oct 16 2012

It finally happened. The automatic transmission puked at 270K miles. I think it went that far because the previous owner took it in for service under the recall. $3K later, I'm back on the road. I purchased this 2003 CL Type S with 99K miles on it. Replaced one HID headlight ballast & bulb, both hood openers & brake pads myself. Dealers replaced the timing belt, water pump & spark plugs all 3 times. I change oil & filter religiously every 5K miles with Mobil-1 5-20 & Fram. Some annoyances: Weak seat belt retractor often leaves belt hanging out the door when exiting. Acura mechanic said he couldn't do anything but clean the pillar loop. Trunk lid springs aren't strong enough because of the extra weight of the rear wing. If you don't watch it, a gentle wind will blow the lid down on your head. Paper thin paint. Had front bumper repainted. Headlight lenses get cloudy too soon after polishing. Wish someone made glass replacements. Still the best car I ever owned. Never had a vehicle go this far without the AC needing service. I'd like to buy another Acura, but the last coupe they made was a 2006 RSX which is too small for my needs.

3 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Work

Does recommend this car!!

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

I LOVE MY CAR

by Khalid from on Mon Dec 10 2012

Look this car is just amazing. its fast! its comfortable! it reliable! THIS CAR DOESNT LOOK FAST FROM OUTSIDE BUT TRUST ME THAT 3.2L VTEC IS VERY FAST AND RELIABLE. I MEAN I PUSH THIS CAR EVERY SINGLE DAY AND IT STILL GOES LIKE A CHAMP. AND IT HAS 261,000 MILES.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Best Acura/Honda ever built, Great mileage!

by 6 Speed CL-S Lover from Walnut on Wed Jul 02 2008

Bought used '03 CL-S w/ 6 speed and 42 k mi. Have put on 45k mi as dailey driver commuter in past 2.5 yrs with NO problems. Pulling a consistent 27 - 28 mpg. (this beats even old EPA estimates due to my "creative hyper-mileage" driving such as coasting, keeping rpm's 2500 or lower (72 mph in 6th), and of course keeping the lead out of my right foot! Even before doing this I ave. 25-26+. Best mileage on long trip is 32! I know, hard to believe to get this with a 5 year old 260 horsepower 3400 lb sport / luxery coupe! This w/ stock rubber; plan to experiment with taller tires with which the close ratio gearing and wide power band should handle well. Have heard A/T will not do this good on mileage, but neither will many under powered 4 cyl's! The engine gets an A, but the 6 sp. tranny gets an A++. I doubt a Porsche, Ferrari or any other 6 figure exotic could shift any smoother or more positive. NO problems with clutch (orig.) or trans, hooks up nice, bullet-proof! Handleing was rated excellent in '03 by Car & Driver, "best front driver ever". Fact: Tested head to head in '02, the CL-S actually beat a BMW 330 CI on test laps, lateral G's, and matched it in performance! Mine is lowered a bit, enhanceing this further, and giving it a custom look. One other bonus: I'm a road & mountain biker. Even my tall carbon road frame at 61 cm, wheels & gear fit snugly and securely in the abundant trunk with room to spare. Show me another coupe, under 6 sec to 60, that DOES ALL THIS! Acura discontinued this model in '03, in favor of producing more SUV's. In light of $4.75 gasoline, was this a big mistake or what?! Nissan has no problem selling their hot-rod Altima's; the CL-S, even at 5 yrs old not only out-classes an Altima hands-down, but match's the 3.5 SE & SE-R in performance. Acura's loss, no problem, makes my '03 more of A CLASSIC! While initial quality and styleing ratings were not tops, check out the JD Power 3 year quality survey, completed a year after I bought the car in '06; Yep, CL named first place in the "Entry Premium" car class. "Sometimes a classic just takes a while to grow on you."

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Does recommend this car!!

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

CL Type-S 6spd

by Driven from Madison, WI on Wed Jan 06 2010

The Acura CL Type-S with a 6 spd manual is truly amazing. The car is classy yet sporty and has every option one could wish for. 260 hp can be felt in every gear and the car pulls as hard as any car I have been in when in 3rd gear. The CL is a sports coupe has performance and luxury and maintains perfect balance between the two. This is a must own car for any enthusiast.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

This might be the best car I've ever driven!!

by Car Girl from Los Altos, CA on Wed May 09 2007

This car is a dream. It looks modest and unassuming on the outside but is a monster under the hood and has sexy interior styling. The 260 HP engine (on the 6-speed manual) performs well at all RPM's, but is just begging to be let out of the corral. Watch Out! It jumps to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds! And, did I mention that the seats are heated and quite comfy? The built-in garage-door opener is neat, as is the 6-CD changer in the BOSE sound system. I also love the Acura Navigation compared to others I have used. It comes in handy when I am so into driving the car that I get lost!

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Does recommend this car!!

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4 out of 5 stars

This is a great car!

by docjgw from Quad Cities, Iowa on Tue Aug 22 2006

I bought this car new and have put 30,000 miles on it. It truly is a great car. Very fun to drive. The harder you push it, the better it responds. I have had no problems at all. If you are looking for a used car loaded with features at a reasonable price, strongly consider an Acura CL-S

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Does recommend this car!!

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5 out of 5 stars

My favorite car

by JoeMum from Temecula, California on Wed Sep 21 2011

I currently drive a CL base and it's fantastic. At first the car may look quite humble, not scary at all. In fact if you look at the front, I think the CL has the best smile out of all the cars. But however, behind that smile lies a 3.2 VTEC engine that is ready to tear up the streets. Hitting 0-60 in around 7 seconds for a FWD makes it is a fast and reliable car. Excellent handling when it comes to turns and condition. Super comfy and amazing sound system. Luxary at such a cheap price it's great :)!

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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Our Take on the 2003 Acura CL

Not having a beautiful mind, I don't usually talk to myself - really, Doc - but after a few miles in this week's examinand, I whistled and muttered, "Wow, this is the real deal."

A week later, after playing with the Acura 3.2 CL Type S in three states, I took it up to top off the tank for the repo man. Somehow the car, as if with a will of its own, shot right past the gas station and put another 75 miles on its odometer. That's a pretty good indication, considering that I was (somewhat reluctantly) wrangling two other vehicles in the same time frame.

I had sampled this coupe last year, and found it worthy. This year, in addition to a couple of appearance mods (bigger exhaust tips, new... Read More