2002 Acura TL

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$28,880

starting MSRP

2002 Acura TL

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2002 Acura TL trim comparison will help you decide.

2002 Acura TL review: Our expert's take

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The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

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.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.7
  • Interior design 4.6
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value for the money 4.6
  • Exterior styling 4.6
  • Reliability 4.5

Most recent consumer reviews

4.7

Best car ive ever had. Never left me stranded.

Fun fast and comfortable. Except for paint seems to fade and midnight blue matches black . . I bought my type s in 2013 with 150000 miles for 5 grand in oregon and today i have 203500 and still running strong. My tranny does slip sometimes when it first starts up but once it gets to regular temperature its fine. I replaced the timing chain at 160000 and regular oil changes is all ive done to it. One thing i dont like is the ac vents are not in a good location but other than that i love my car. Ive drove back and forth to san diego to portland oregon 4 xs and its done great. Im gonna cry when it does break .

5.0

Just an overall beautiful, smooth, clean car

Bought for my son and I truly wish it were mine! Its beautiful inside and out. Low miles. Decent price. We added an alarm system, updated the radio/navigation system, and put a back up camera in all to compliment what was there. Very pleased as it is sons first car and he was very happy to own it. Gee has better options then mine!!

4.7

Best Car I’ve Had, Survived an Accident

My fiancé was the second owner of this car. He bought it around 200,000 miles from the first owner. Never had a problem with it. Transmission shift solenoid started to go out after I got to 220,000 miles, but never had the chance to replace it. This car was reliable. I trusted this car everyday with my life and my family’s life. And the other day I got t-boned by a driver that hit me at 50 mph in a truck. Then slammed into a head on collision with a telephone pole. I walked away from that accident with some soreness, bruising, and a mild concussion. This car did it’s job! It saved my life. I’m broken hearted that my car is totaled, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I was spared and able to go home to my fiancé and son. I would buy this car again and again no matter how old. I truly believed this car would make it longer than 230,000. I’m looking into buying another one at this very moment. Thank you!

See all 40 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Acura
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
Six model years and less than 80,000 odometer miles
Basic warranty terms
Precision Certified: 24 months or up to 100,000 miles
Powertrain
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
182-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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