Skip to main content

2003 Acura TL consumer reviews

$28,980–$31,130 MSRP range
side view of 2003 TL Acura
87% of drivers recommend this car
Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.6
  • Interior 4.5
  • Performance 4.5
  • Value 4.4
  • Exterior 4.4
  • Reliability 4.3
Explore the 2003 Acura TL

Acura TL

Car isgreat in every way except Reliability. Windshield wiper motor failed...$400. Headlight burnt out...$1000. Module failed...$300. Too many things are breaking for a car only 7 years old. I won't buy another Acura again...they are much too expensive to maintain for the average budget person.


Couldn't be happier

I bought my 2003 TL as a used car with 50k on it in late 2006. 2 1/2 years later I still look forward to driving it every time I get in it. I've put about 28k on it in that time with a mix of city & highway and lately some rush hour traffic. Both the traction control and ABS brakes have saved my bacon at least once. The only rating I gave it under 5 stars was for handling but this is because it is a front wheel drive car which places certain limitations on the car. I gave it 5 for performance because for the money spent, it has more than enough power. If you're really into power, get the Type-S, most people won't need it. I got a ticket for going 96 mph (ouch) and at that speed the car still feels very solid. I haven't had any failures from this vehicle. I have spent money for scheduled maintenance only. I love the 7500 mi. intervals between maintenance. The only option on this year and model was the nav. I bought an example without it but added an aftermarket Pioneer AVIC unit which gave me a backup camera and bluetooth phone hookup in additon to the nav and iPod connection I was looking for. I spent a little more than the premium for one with the stock nav, but I got much more out of it as a result. Coming from a Saturn immediately prior to this car, I found the ride a little stiffer but with more comfortable seats and greatly improved connection to the road. I test drove a couple of Lexus ES models and didn't get that same feedback which I really like because I enjoy driving and don't want the car to insulate me too much from it. On the other hand, I don't want to feel every little detail of the road and the TL has the perfect balance for my tastes. I would totally recommend this car to a friend. Of course, finding an example that has low miles and has been cared for is important as with any used vehicle, but if you have it checked by a good mechanic before you buy like I did, you should be able to get a great car for half the price of a new econobox. I fully expect I will keep this car until it has at least 150k on it if not 200k. I talk to people with earlier model TL's and Legends all the time with that many miles on their cars and they don't have any major problems with their cars.


Great car

Just bought this 2003 TL with 60,000 miles on it from my local Acura dealership. Over the years, I have purchased other Acuras from this dealership and have always had excellent service when needed. As it turns out, I knew the owner of this car before I bought it and knew that he had regularly serviced and maintained the car. In addition, the CarFax listed every oil change and service that was performed on this car since he bought it from the same dealership. I am very pleased with this car. It looks and drives like a new car....quiet, responsive, comfortable and reasonable gas mileage. With the knowledge of the potential transmission problem, I did buy and extended warranty with it, so I feel quite comfortable with my purchase. I've never had any trouble with any of the Acura's or Hondas that I've owned (7 not including this one)over the years.


All Types of Problems

Got the car used from an Acura dealer. It was running okay until about 100,000 miles. The CD changer locks up, SRS light came on ($600.00+), the transmission is on the way out ($5,000.00). The center cup holder compartment lid will not lock, A/C-heater blower burn up. The drain plug is designed to strip out if over tighten. I now have a rubber one that expands when tighten. The transmission and SRS light are known big dollar problems. I would avoid this model and year for sure. Your just gambling the one you purchase doesn't have these known problems.


Caution - some TL's have transmission problems

The transmission just went out on our 03 Acura TL w/ 80K. Previous customers and consumer reports have indicated a known transmission problem with the model. Acura has quality products - just watch out for issues with the tranmission on the TL model.


Nothing like an Acura

Having owned many, many cars, there is NOTHING like an Acura in terms of reliability and driving pleasure! I've had English and German and Japanese sports cars; Cadillac DeVille, Mercedes, Chevy pickups, and every crummy cheap car you can imagine! (from Vegas to Renaults!) The Acura it smooth, economical (32MPG w/cruise set on 65!) safe, beautiful, comfortable, and rock-solid reliable! You'll thank me!


My first car

the car is my first but i been with cars a lot and its one of the bast i seein. My dad has a 1996 Acura RL 3.5 and its relly good and i meen the acuras or some of the bast cars and i relly like tham..


Pretty Good

Well known transmission issues plague this car - mine is on it's 3rd already. Had some problems with emission control on this car also. Overall however it is powerful (I have the TL-S) , with everything functioning properly on this car . It looks good still inside and out. I hear the newer 2007's have this car's transmission problems corrected.


What about the well-known transmission woes?

What about the well-known transmission woes of this approximate vintage of TLs? I hear lots about it, the dealer said "we see lots of them", and this web site doesn't mention them - even if only to explain or dismiss it. It's a complicated story, with confusion about what Honda covers and what they don't, upgrades to the original transmission - details which most of us don't know very accurately. Apart from having to have a new transmission - paid for by Honda, in my case, although not the pressure transducer which failed a year later - this has been a great car, lots of fun to drive - perhaps a little less solid on the road than my previous Pontiac Grand Prix GT, but way better for passenger for long distance cruising, very peppy, great brakes. I have never thought these nor the comparable Toyota E300/E350 series look like anything, but fortunately, once I'm in the car, it's the sensation of driving that matters, and that pleases me a great deal. Apparently, the newer TLs are rock-solid reliable. I'm annoyed enough at Honda that, although for the first time ever I was thinking of repeating the same car twice in a row - I am wondering about that now. But apart from this, they seem a great company with wonderful cars.


My First Car

Well I'm an 18 yr old male student, and I purchased my 2003 Acura TL when I was 16 turning 17 with my own hard urned cash. I payed 22k with tax 2 years ago for my Acura TL which was loaded without Navigation. I do not own the type S, but I drive a lot of cars and for the price of the car, you are getting a pretty powerful car. This acura drives very well. The ride is smooth, the tiptronic features puts some joy into driving an automatic car, the blindspots are small, and well this is the best car I have ever driven, and I drive a good amount of luxury vehicles (BMWs, Mercedes, etc). This is also the only Japanese luxury behicle I have ever driven (but not been in). Anyway it's hard to describe how drivng a car feels like, but essentually this car is an ideal car for drivers if it had more hp and was rear wheel drive. Although the front wheel drive system is amazing in the winter. The engine is very satisfying to accelerate with especially with tiptronic, and the engine is responsive. The only negative part about driving this car, are the wide turn radius. As for maintenance, my Acura had 121,000km, and it's first repair was at 120,000 when a transmition temperature sensor malfunctioned, and my hood latch rusted over. I went to the Acura dealership to fix this problems (because my mechanic, nor I can fix a faulty sensor) anit cost me 1k canadian with tax to fix both problems. The 6-CD changer is really cool especially since I don't have to open my glove compartment or my trunk to change CD's. It's all in the deck. I always considered my car compared to other luxury sedans as a practical luxury sedan. Why? Well it's not as pretty (or expensive) as a BMW, or Mercedes inside, but it's more comfortable. There is a lot of space for both the driver and all of the passengers, every feature is within reach, and comfortable placed, and well it really is a nice car to drive, and it doesn't have little features that your not going to use. However one drawback of the car is that the backseat might take a while before the air conditioning works well. Then again my back seat windows open all the way, something most cars don't so. The surrond sound system is also really nice, especially with the stock 8-inch sub woofer and it can be controlled from the steering wheel. My friends call my car "Idiotproof".