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New Car/Review

Acura 2.2CL

by John Heilig


SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide


ENGINE:2.2-liter SOHC inline four
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE:145hp@5000 rpm/147lb-ft@4500 rpm
TRANSMISSION:Five-speed manual
FUEL ECONOMY:23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, 24.3 mpg test
WHEELBASE:106.9 in.
CURB WEIGHT:3009 lbs
LUGGAGE CAPACITY:8.0 cu. ft. (est.)
INSTRUMENTS:Speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, water temperature, digital clock.
EQUIPMENT:Power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, cruise control, air conditioner, AM-FM stereo radio with cassette and CD, power moonroof, anti-lock brakes, dual air bags.

I have to tell you a story about a problem I had with this week's test car, the Acura 2.2CL. I had to attend a function at Pocono Raceway that began early in the morning. I left the house before dark and had the headlights on.

When the function ended, the light switch said "on," but the lights were off. So was everything else. I was able to get a jump start and the car performed flawlessly for the remainder of the week. But in my ham-handed attempts to get the radio going again, I violated the security code. Three times. In order for it to work again, the radio had to be on for one hour. Then I could put in the security code properly.

If I owned the CL, I guess I'd be happy to know that if the radio was stolen, whoever took it would have a devil of a time getting it to work. And the next time I lose power, I'll take my time trying to get the sound system going again.

Other than the fact that the battery tends to run down when you leave the headlights on all day, the Acura 2.2CL is a pretty decent automobile. It was first introduced as the 2.2, with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine. since then, a 3.0CL, with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, has joined the lineup. I had an opportunity to drive a prototype of the 3.0 at the intro. While I liked the added power, it isn't necessary for the car. It does serve to change the character of the CL from a small peppy sport coupe to more of a touring car, but the added power isn't necessary.

The 2.2 isn't too shabby. It's rated at 145 horsepower, and drives the front wheels through a five- speed manual gearbox, at least in our tester. The manual box was nice. It had good ratios and was a pleasure to use. Since we did a lot of our running on turnpikes and Interstates, it proved to be adequate. On our one run into the city, the manual box made the CL more of an urban guerilla warrior.

It seems strange to have a luxury car with a manual gearbox, but combined with the four-cylinder engine, it makes sense. Other than the manual gearbox, though, we had all the other accessories one would expect to find in a luxury car.

The passengers sit in leather-covered seats. Up front, the individual buckets offer a decent amount of support. But since this isn't a car that you'll go racing with, added side support isn't that necessary. In the rear, the bench seat offered good comfort and support for two passengers.

Handling was excellent. Honda uses double wishbones front and rear in the CL, so that's an excellent combination. We took the CL back to my old office one time and had the thrill of heading up the winding hill. When the car was introduced we had an opportunity to try it on some even tougher roads than the hillclimb, and the car handled all of them quite well. The CL handles winding roads and Interstates with aplomb and there's no hint of any problems.

Being a coupe, you would wonder about the rear seat in the CL. We took it to see a play with another couple and they rode in the back. Except for some minor problems entering and exiting, the rear seat passengers had plenty of leg room and said they were quite comfortable back there. I was surprised that the rear seats didn't fold to provide extra trunk space, but I guess you don't get that feature in a luxury car. The trunk was decent, and I'd rate it at about eight cubic feet.

The 2.2CL is a very nice car. I like the styling and the unique style line down the center of the hood and trunk passed muster with my wife and the other couple we rode with. I suggest that if you go to your local Acura dealer, you check out the style line. From the rear, it gives the car a totally different look. Let me know what you think.