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New Car/Review

1998 ACURA 3.0 CL

by Tom Hagin


SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price$ 25,310
Price As Tested$ 25,745
Engine TypeVTEC SOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/PPFI*
Engine Size183 cid/2997 cc
Horsepower200 @ 5000 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)195 @ 4800 RPM
TransmissionFour-speed automatic
Curb Weight3234 pounds
Fuel Capacity17.2 gallons
Tires (F/R)P205/55R16 89V
Brakes (F/R)Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive TrainFront-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle TypeFive-passenger/two-door
Domestic Content70 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)N/A


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
0-60 MPH8 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)86 seconds @ 17 mph
Top speed135 mph

* Programmed port fuel injection

Acura has targeted the empty-nesters or the post-family baby boomers as prime candidates for its new-last-year CL lineup. The CL also fares well with the value-minded car shopper, and many are surprised at how much car they get for the money. It comes as the four-cylinder 2.3CL, and our tester this week, the 3.0CL.

OUTSIDE - The CL is the first Acura model designed, manufactured and assembled in this country at the company's various Ohio operations. It uses crisp, hard edges offset by smooth, soft lines, and while its nose looks somewhat like the front of the new Honda Accord Coupe, the rest of its shell, especially the "bobbed-tail" treatment, creates a styling niche of its own. Thin strips of chrome surround the side windows and new grille, and last year's matte-black extensions under the side sills and bumpers are now painted body-color. The CL's trunk can swallow over 17 cubic feet of cargo, with a very low liftover height, and amazingly, there is no lock cylinder in the trunk lid. New this year are brightly finished alloy wheels with 205/55R16 Michelin performance tires.

INSIDE - Inside the CL is all the luxury an Acura buyer expects. The standard upholstery is a durable Moquette cloth, though the CL Premium package adds leather. Our car had the cloth, but a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, along with simulated woodgrain trim on the dash and door panels, are standard on all models. Large, thickly bolstered front bucket seats are comfortable and wide, and on 3.0 CL models, the driver's seat is powered eight ways. The driver's seat also automatically powers forward when the seatback is folded, giving easier access to the rear seating area. A rear fold-down armrest provides a pass-through from the trunk, and new this year are remote audio controls on the steering wheel. Standard 3.0CL features include automatic climate control, power windows, door locks and outside mirrors (also heated), lighted vanity mirrors, rear window defroster, cruise control, HomeLink transmitter, keyless entry, anti-theft alarm, Bose-brand CD stereo system and a power glass moonroof.

ON THE ROAD - The 3.0 model is powered by a 3.0 liter V6 engine with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. This all-aluminum lightweight V6 uses a 60-degree V-angle, versus the 90-degree angle of previous Acura engines. It needs to be this narrow, however, so it can fit inside the snug engine bay. It produces 200 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque on regular unleaded gasoline, and delivers its power to a front-wheel-drive transaxle. It uses Honda's patented VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) valve train technology, a system that uses an extra set of camshaft lobes to give both low-rpm efficiency and high-rpm power. The system works well and other manufacturers have begun using their own versions of the system in their production cars. Mated to this is a smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission with Grade Logic, a system that determines whether the car is going uphill or down, then automatically changes to the best possible gear.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Both CL models ride atop ultra-rigid unit-body construction with four-wheel double wishbone suspension that uses coil springs, gas-pressurized tube shocks and stabilizer bars front and rear. On 3.0 models, the front suspension is mounted to a rubber-isolated subframe to reduce noise, vibration and harshness. Double wishbone suspension does an excellent job of keeping the tires in constant contact with the road and the CL's suspension in particular uses unequal-length transverse links to help it tracking smoothly through corners along with many other benefits too numerous to list here. Variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering is no longer the wonder-system it was just a few years ago, but the CL's version is torque-sensitive, which varies the amount of power boost based on friction between the tires and the roadway. Three-channel, four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) are standard.

SAFETY - Dual airbags, ABS and side-impact protection are standard.

OPTIONS - Our test car had no options; destination added $435.