2000 Acura 3.2 TL (283)

Overview:

The 2000 Acura 3.2 TL is a lovely automobile. I hadn’t driven one for a few years but as I wade through the competition I have to tell you truly I could see myself owning one of these. I don’t know if I would add the Acura navigation system for the extra two grand, but I’d be real tempted.

They just seem to get better every time I test one. I had a first generation navigation system back in 1989. They weren’t satellite driven and thus less accurate. It came with the used car, or I wouldn’t have bought the thing. Surely a housewife doesn’t need it to get the kids to school or the dentist, (yuk, dentist, I hate going to the dentist), but if you’re in any business where you have to visit lots of unfamiliar places in a large metropolitan area, the navigator is easily justified.

I don’t want to belabor this Navigation thing, but I like it because it reduces stressful driving situations. Once you learn to trust its accuracy you come to rely on it. It empowers you by letting you know you can never get lost. Think of it men, now you really won’t have to stop for directions, which women remind us that we don’t stop until we’re so lost there is no way back. Well, when you miss your turn off, no sweat – the system immediately adjusts to a new suggested route. But more important you’re not likely to miss a turn because a voice feature will talk to you, even if your wife isn’t. You can gab with your passengers or if alone, you can sing along with the radio or listen intently to a program. Plus, no maps to perilously perch on the seat or steering wheel. Yeah, I know that’s not safe and people don’t do that, right? Wrong. In any case it is a great feature and I suspect it will soon be standard on most all cars when the price comes down.

Remember the time when televisions were priced beyond the reach of most. I remember folks watching TV through the window of an appliance store on Lake Avenue in Pasadena. It got so common they even brought folding chairs. Well it didn’t take long for our family to justify the purchase. Up ‘till then we sat by the fire and listened to radio. The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Straight Arrow and Inter Sanctum. Wow, life was simpler then.

Speaking of the “good old days”, what ever happened to the gas fillers being located in some secret place. Remember when they’d be located behind the license plate or tail light. Times have changed a bit. In fact the Audi TT marks the location with a larger than life aluminum contraption emblazoned with rivets and bolts so as to resemble the filler on an Indianapolis 500 race car.

Handling:

Speaking of race cars, this TL handles really well and it’s fast (from 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds). It also has a “Tip Tronic” kind of notched shifter like the Porsche for manual shifting up and down to give you the ability to shift “semi-manually”.

Styling:

Common, I guess, but nice. You may even mistake it for the Toyota Avalon. The lines are clean and elegant. I like it a lot.

Fit and Finish:

Typical Japanese workmanship. They are being Westernized in many ways but they still do the detail stuff well, and take pride in their craft.

Cost:

Not bad. That means it’s a little pricey but the quality and workmanship and reliability quotient is worth the extra.

Recommendation:

If it suits your taste and pocketbook go for it because this is a “keeper”.

The competition:

BMW 3 Series $26,990-34,990, Infiniti I30 $29,465-31,540, Oldsmobile Intrigue $22,210-25,840, Saab 9-3 $25,900-44,995, Volvo S40 $23,400.

Good News:

Clean and elegant styling, lots of features for the money, good handling, powerful, comfortable and smooth ride, one of the best navigation systems I’ve seen and nice attention to detail. A keeper.

Bad News:

Brakes are a little spongy and styling may seem plain and common to some.

Standard Equipment:

3.2 liter 225 hp V6 engine, 5 speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, speed sensitive power rack and pinion steering, front and side airbags, traction control system, theft deterrent system, remote keyless entry, satellite linked DVD Navigation system, leather seating, driver 8-way and passenger 4-way power heated seats, Bose stereo with cassette and CD system, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, climate control, moon roof, power windows and door locks, Xenon high intensity headlights.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 29 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $30,400 (includes $2,000 for the Navigation system).

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