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Acura 3.2TL Navigation (2000)

By Tom Hagin

Acura Full Line Video footage (9:07)
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price$ 30,400
Price As Tested $ 30,855
Engine Type VTEC SOHC 24-valve 3.2 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
Engine Size 196 cid/3210 cc
Horsepower 225 @ 5600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft) 216 @ 4700 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length 108.1"/70.3"/192.9"
Transmission Five-speed automatic
Curb Weight 3517 pounds
Fuel Capacity 17.2 gallons
Tires (F/R) 205/60r16 91V all-season
Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel drive
Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content 75 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A
EPA Economy, miles per gallon
0-60 MPH 7.5 seconds
1/4 (E.T.) 16.0 seconds @ 87.5 mph
Top-speed 142 mph
* Sequential multi-point fuel injection

Every year since 1987, the Acura division of Honda has always been able to take the existing award-winning technology found in its carriage-trade vehicles, add some sparkle and lots of luxury, and create a unique vehicle and inspire new loyalties.

Built on a stretched Honda Accord platform, the Acura 3.2TL comes fully loaded for around $30,000.

OUTSIDE - The exterior styling has been described by some as being too conservative, but most agree that the 3.2TL is a handsome design. Offsetting its subdued looks is a tasteful amount of chrome around the windows and on top of the door handles, which adds brightness and a bit more luxury. Honda would rather concentrate on engineering so improvements over the last generation 3.2TL includes a 70 percent increase in torsional rigidity with bending resistance that is 80 percent stronger. Adding a four-point strut tower bar under the hood and a set of damper stiffeners in the roof's rear pillars has helped bolster its strength for a more substantial feel on the highway. Xenon high-intensity headlights and tinted glass are standard, as is a set of 16-inch alloy wheels shod with Michelin all-season tires.

INSIDE - This is where 3.2TL upstages many others in its class. Wider and longer than the Accord, the car moved from the compact class to gain a midsize designation from the EPA. The resulting extra room inside is dramatically more than the original series. The glass area is expansive and the beltline and dashboard are low, which translates into lots of visibility from inside. Its wraparound instrument panel is designed so the controls are within easy reach. A pair of broad, comfortable front bucket seats are covered in rich leather upholstery, while in the center of the dash is a satellite-linked DVD Navigation system on models so equipped. Other standard features include steering wheel controls, a 180-watt stereo, power windows, mirrors and door locks, glass sunroof, keyless entry, HomeLink system, and heated front seats and outside mirrors. The trunk offers 14 cubic feet of space with low lift-over sill height for easy cargo loading.

ON THE ROAD - The 3.2TL is powered by a 24-valve, 3.2 liter single overhead cam V6 engine which produces a respectable 225 horsepower and 216 lb-ft of torque. It uses Honda's patented VTEC variable valve timing, which automatically changes the camshaft's profile to maximize efficiency and performance. The engine is a more compact design now, built in a 60 degree cylinder bank shape instead of the 90 degree design of the old engine, and it weighs 18 percent less than the old unit. It's also mounted transversely (sideways) in the engine bay rather than lengthwise as in the previous version, which saves space under the hood. The power delivery is smooth and linear across its entire RPM range, and the car has very good acceleration from a stop. Mated to this is an electronic five-speed automatic transmission with what the company calls SportShift. This allows the driver to slide the shifter to one side and shift the automatic transmission like a manual. Traction control, a system developed to limit wheelspin on slippery roads, is standard.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - The 3.2TL rides on a stiff unit body chassis that Acura calls its "global" platform. This means that variations of it are used in other Acura and Honda products around the world. Mounted to this are front and rear subframes to carry the loads of the engine and suspension systems. Its four-wheel independent suspension includes unequal-length control arms up front and a multi-link design in the rear. Both ends use coil springs, gas shocks and anti-roll bars. Handling is very good, albeit somewhat soft, with a bit of body roll and understeer built into the design. Its speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering is quick and responsive, with a nicely weighted feel and good road sensations. Four-wheel disc brakes provide the stopping power, and an anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard and side-impact airbags, traction control, ABS and side-impact door beams are standard.

OPTIONS - Floor mats: $125; destination: $455.