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2008 Acura TL

2008 Acura: Tried, tested and true Add to ...

Honda’s Accord platform has been used as the base for a station wagon, sport coupe, luxury sedan, hybrid vehicle, minivan and high-performance sedan over the years. Not to mention the Acura TL.

In 2008, the TL came in two varieties: base and Type S. You could choose from either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. The TL didn’t really qualify as a ground-shaking, pavement-destroying road missile, but with a relatively modest weight of 1,613 kilograms, the Type S could go from 0 to 100 km/h in the seven- to eight-second range and offered enough power to make things interesting.

Power came from Honda’s 3.5-litre twin cam V-6 with i-Vtec variable valve timing. Honda pioneered this now-standard engineering feature and the Type S powerplant was slightly larger than the bog-stock TL. It also pumped out 28 more horsepower and an additional 20 lb-ft of torque. All smoothly delivered.

The automatic featured steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, as well as a floor shifter, which was a nice touch. A couple of other intriguing features on the Type S included a limited-slip differential and four-wheel-disc Brembo brakes, with ABS. The front brakes were, and are, four-piston caliper units and the Type S featured top-flight stopping power on par with any of its European rivals.

The Type S was essentially a luxury sedan with a dash of performance, rather than the other way around. It was loaded with convenience features and goodies. For example, full leather interior, climate control system, heated front seats, Bluetooth capability, six-CD stereo with MP3 download and power sunroof all came with it.

You could also order a Navi system, which was optional with the stock TL, but came standard on the Type S. This was a bilingual Navi, mind you, with the ability to recognize some 600 verbal commands. Unfortunately, “get lost” was not one of them.

As well as a higher price tag and more stuff, the Type S had a firmer ride than the regular TL, thanks to a sport-tuned suspension, and it featured some nice little styling cues to distinguish it from the regular version. For example, alloy wheels mounted on 17-inch tires, discrete badging, cool-looking dual chrome exhaust tips and a trunk-mounted spoiler.

There were a couple of ways to look at the TL. You could argue that it was basically an Accord wearing a track suit, or that it was an upscale sport sedan with its own identity and cachet. You decide.

One safety recall from Transport Canada to report. It concerns a possibly faulty power steering fluid hose that, if things got hot enough under the hood, might split and leak fluid, which could in turn result in an engine fire.

To this we can add an alert from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a possibly flawed aftermarket front-end suspension ball joint, manufactured by Affinia Corp. and sold at NAPA and UAP outlets. It could break and cause an accident, and Acura is, or has been, notifying customers with the affected vehicles. This little glitch goes back to models manufactured from 2004 to 2008.

NHTSA has five technical service bulletins on file for this year of the TL. Two involve engine anomalies in the form of squeaky drive belts and “knocking” noises, while another has to do with a software alert, and a relatively minor mis-labelling issue. The most noteworthy of NHTSA’s TSBs concerns the manual six-speed transmission, which could exhibit signs of premature synchromesh failure, especially in third gear.

Consumer Reports likes the TL. So much so, in fact, it gives it a “good bet” designation in terms of overall reliability. There are apparently some issues with the electrical system, but nonetheless CR gives the 2008 TL its highest possible rating. Some comments from owners: “Wide turning radius,” “Navigation could be easier to use” and “Lotta car for the money.”

It’s the same message from market research company J.D. Power, which gives the ’08 TL high marks in most categories. It has some problems with the interior mechanical features and powertrain quality design, but otherwise, it’s all good and this iteration of the TL gets high marks for overall dependability.

Prices have dropped by about half for the TL. From a base price of just less than $43,000 in 2008, it’s down to around $21,000-$25,000. The Type S is fetching $2,000-$3,000 more than the base model, depending on options and extras.

globedrive@globeandmail.com

Tech specs

2008 Acura TL

Original Base Price: $42,700; Black Book: $24,600-$26,800; Red Book: $21,600-$23,900

Engine: 3.5-litre V-6

Horsepower/Torque: 258 hp/233 lb-ft for base TL; 286 hp/256 lb-ft for Type S

Transmission: Five-speed automatic and six-speed manual (Type S only)

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.3 city/7.8 highway; premium gas

Drive: Front-wheel

Alternatives: Infiniti G35, Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS350, BMW 328, Jaguar S-Type, Audi A4

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