2005 Acura TL (526)

Overview:

This week I tested the 2005 Acura TL in the Pacific Northwest. Traveling through the Columbia River Gorge National Park for about 150 miles from just East of Portland to Hermiston, OR is a beautiful sight.

The stress of finding my way around was lessened by the fact it was equipped with a NAV system. GPS is wonderful and this feature is a must for those who travel a lot, or their job takes them to new territory much of the time. Daughter Jenny is in sales and decided to include this option on her Acura TL. That was another reason why I was pleased to be able to give the TL a good test. What a lovely car. It is no wonder this is Acura’s top selling sedan.  

Back in the late 80’s I owned a Lincoln Mark IV with a first generation Navigation system called ETAK. It functioned with cassette tapes you’d select from depending on the locale and if your system wasn’t calibrated regularly it wasn’t terribly accurate. It wasn’t GPS back then and was frankly more trouble than it was worth. It was simply an expensive toy. We’ve come a long way baby.

And this one has all the latest features and has made a simple but important change over others I’ve reviewed. You press a button to give voice status rather than being interrupted all too frequently in other systems.

General Info:

Parts – Engine – USA, Trans – Japan. US/Canadian 65%, Japan 20%.

Assembly – Marysville, OH, USA

Class:  – Midsize

Cars:  – MDX, NSX, RL, RSX, TL and TSX.

Handling & Performance:

A pleasure to drive – comfortable seats on long drive, perfect suspension from the 4-wheel double-wishbone design. Although you will likely never sense the stability program feature, this is one of the best innovations to come along in many years. This is where the computer applies power and braking to the wheels that need it to help you control the car in stressful maneuvers. I’ve tested this feature on the track and obstacle courses and it truly works wonderfully.

Styling:

Very much a contender to BMW and Mercedes and Audi.

Fit and Finish:

In the top 10% of cars we have to choose from.

Cost:

Not bad for this kind of quality.

Conveniences:

In addition to sporting many great features, Acura (like Lexus) has a great customer care program. The price includes a 4 year / 50,000 mile warranty, toll free customer assistance and 24 hour roadside assistance service. The very nice XM Satellite radio initial activation is included along with the first 3-months service for free.

Consumer Recommendation:

It would be fun test-driving all of them, but for me it is a relatively easy choice. I would flip a coin between the Cadillac CTS, Volvo S40 and this Acura TL. Yes, I’ve got it down to three but would be willing to leave the final choice to chance because I know I wouldn’t be disappointed with either of the three.

The competition:

Acura TL $33-35,000, BMW 3 Series $28-44,000, Saab 9-3 $26-42,000, Chrysler 300 $23-34,000, Cadillac CTS $30-49,000, Lincoln LS $32-43,000, Mercedes-Benz C-Class $26-54,000, Volvo S40 $23-28,000, Audi A4 $26-44,000, Lexus IS 300 $29-31,000, Infiniti G35 $30-33,000.

Good News:

Loads of great features, great performance and stability program safety, great styling and Japanese quality, even though it is built in the US where employee care is not as good. I’ve watched them work in Japan in similar industries and since I’ve grown up here I see a difference in work ethics – there IS a difference.

Bad News:

Japanese care and quality will cost you a premium. Is it too much for the difference? Only you can decide that.

Standard Equipment:

3.2 liter 270 horsepower V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans with sequential sport shift, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, power steering, 100,000 miles between tune-ups, dual front and side air bags, side curtain airbags, VSA (Variable Stability Assist), remote entry with security system and immobilizer theft deterrent system, Navigation system with voice recognition, leather seats, 8-speaker surround sound system with DVD and 6 CD and cassette players, XM satellite radio, climate control, 8-way driver power seat with lumbar support, 4-way passenger power seat, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, power window and door locks, hands free telephone interface and homelink system, computer information system, power moonroof with tilt and auto open / close feature, Xenon HID headlights and heated power mirrors.

Gas Stats:

20 City and 29 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $34,900.

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