2003 Acura TL

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starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Seating capacity

192.5” x 53.7”


Front-wheel drive



2 trims

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2003 Acura TL review: Our expert's take

Posted on 10/23/02
Vehicle Overview
Revisions are modest for the latest version of Acura’s luxury performance sedan, which went on sale on Feb. 5, 2002, as an early 2003 model. Two versions remain available: the standard 3.2 TL and the high-performance TL Type-S. For 2003, sedans equipped with Acura’s DVD-based navigation system also include General Motors’ OnStar communication system, which has become available as a result of an agreement between GM and Acura.

Honda’s luxury division first launched the TL as a 1996 model, redesigning it three seasons later. Styling revisions for 2002 gave the front-wheel-drive TL a more aggressive look, and the Type-S joined the lineup. Acura claims that the TL has been the top-selling luxury performance sedan in its class.

The TL sedan is produced in Marysville, Ohio, alongside the CL coupe. According to Automotive News, 69,484 TLs were sold in the United States during 2001 — a slight increase over the 2000 total. Acura’s TL duo competes against sedans such as the BMW 3 Series and Lexus ES 300.

The TL’s styling resembles that of Acura’s full-size RL sedan. The TL displays a pronounced wedge-shaped, cabin-forward profile, a raked belt line, and what Acura calls an “aggressive” shield-shaped grille that incorporates a large logo and standard integrated fog lamps. The TL measures 192.5 inches long overall, rides a 108.1-inch wheelbase and stands 53.7 inches tall.

A double-wishbone suspension is used at both the front and rear. For increased cornering ability, the TL Type-S has a sport-tuned suspension with firmer springs, increased damping rates and a larger rear stabilizer bar. Speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering is used on the 3.2 TL, while the Type-S uses torque-sensing, variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering for a sportier feel.

Aluminum-alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires on the 3.2 TL sedan, while the Type-S wears 17-inch high-performance Michelin tires. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights and a power moonroof are standard. Two new colors — Desert Mist and Royal Ruby — will become available in the fall of 2002.

Space is provided for five occupants on leather seating surfaces. An eight-way power driver’s seat is equipped with a memory feature. All models include automatic climate control with a micron air filter, keyless entry, an auto-up driver’s window, heated power front seats, wood-patterned trim and an Acura/Bose sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer. A lockable trunk pass-thru door is provided, and the passenger-side mirror tilts down automatically. The Type-S features deep-sculpted, perforated-leather bucket seats; a matching steering wheel; metallic-faced gauges; and a perforated-leather shift knob with a “Type-S” emblem. Trunk capacity is 14.3 cubic feet.

Acura’s navigation system, which now includes the OnStar communication system, is the sole factory-installed option. Pressing the OnStar button on the mirror provides quick access to an OnStar advisor 24 hours a day for emergency assistance, automatic door unlocking, accident notification and other services. An optional Personal Calling Package that includes a wireless phone and Virtual Advisor Internet services is also available.

Under the Hood
Operating with Acura’s Variable valve Timing and lift Electronic Control (VTEC) system, the 3.2-liter, 24-valve V-6 engine develops 225 horsepower and 216 pounds-feet of torque. With a dual-stage induction system, low-restriction dual-outlet exhaust and increased compression ratio, the V-6 in the Type-S trim generates 260 hp and 232 pounds-feet of torque. Both versions are classified as Low Emissions Vehicles (LEV).

Both engines team with a five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission, which permits semi-manual gear changes by moving the gear lever fore or aft. When the vehicle is set for automatic mode, Grade Logic Control reduces gear hunting when driving in hilly terrain. Traction control is standard, and a Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system is included with the Type-S. Responding to eight sensors, the VSA system applies brake force to either front wheel as necessary while managing the throttle and ignition systems. If vehicle response is outside the predicted range, VSA intervenes with the appropriate corrective action to keep it stable.

Three-channel all-disc antilock brakes come standard in the 3.2 TL, while four-channel ABS help halt the Type-S. Side-impact airbags and dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags are installed for front-seat passengers. LATCH child-safety seat anchors and tethers are installed for the rear seat.


Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.6
  • Interior 4.5
  • Performance 4.5
  • Value 4.4
  • Exterior 4.4
  • Reliability 4.3

Most recent consumer reviews


Acura: a highly rated car; top notch

Comfortable car w/ great pick up. all the luxuries '03 offers. It is solidly built, quiet, and smooth. very comfortable seating w/heat for cold winter days.


Cleanest and most reliable car ive owned.

This car meets every one of my vehicular desires and was the perfect choice to replace my 2000 Cadillac Seville. The perfect balance of sport and luxury and every part of the car is in working condition. The one previous owner took tremendous care of this car so it's made it easy for me to keep clean and maintain. Excellent car.


Love this car, owned it since new, still have it

comfortable seating for all, sports like feeling, good on gas , one big issue, the tranny went at 80,000 K; honda paid for most of the repair. otherwise it is a safe and reliable car with little repairs other than regular maintenance. Just wish other people would stop putting dents in my doors!

See all 64 consumer reviews


Based on the 2003 Acura TL base trim.
Frontal driver
Frontal passenger
Nhtsa rollover rating
Side driver
Side rear passenger


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Acura Precision
New car program benefits
48 months/50,000 miles
60 months/unlimited distance
48 months/50,000 miles
Roadside assistance
48 months/50,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
6 years old and newer from their original in-service date, with 80,000 miles or fewer at time of vehicle delivery.
Basic warranty terms
2 years/100,000 miles
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
182-point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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