Premium midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $9,300 – $21,300*

2005 Acura TL

2005 Acura TL

2005 Acura TL

2004 Acura TL

  • Acceleration
  • Build quality
  • Steering/handling
  • Cargo room

Acura’s latest TL strikes an impressive balance between sport and luxury, with the manual-transmission version adding an extra dose of athleticism. Toss in Acura’s traditional high levels of refinement, solid workmanship, abundant features, and record for reliability at hard-to-beat prices, and the current TL qualifies as another near-luxury pacesetter. Unfortunately, manual-shift models suffer annoying torque steer (pulling to the side) that compromises dynamic ability and driving ease.


Acura’s best-selling car was redesigned for 2004 with new styling, more power, and more standard safety features. Based on the platform of the front-wheel-drive Accord sedan from parent-company Honda, the TL was more luxurious–and more expensive.

Although the 2004 TL had virtually the same wheelbase as its 1999-2003 predecessor, it was 6.3 inches shorter in overall length. Interior dimensions changed little.

The sole engine was again a 3.2-liter V6, but it delivered 270 horsepower versus 225 or 260 on previous TLs. The sport-oriented Type-S model was dropped, succeeded by a six-speed manual transmission version with a firmer suspension, Brembo-brand front brakes, and a limited-slip differential. Other TLs had a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift gate. Rivals included the Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G35, and Lexus ES 330.

Antilock braking and 17-inch wheels were standard. Manual-transmission versions were available with high-performance tires, versus the standard all-season treads. An antiskid system, previously reserved for the Type-S, was now included on all TLs. Front side airbags were standard, joined by curtain side airbags.

Leather upholstery with heated front seats, aluminum interior trim, and a sunroof were standard. So were satellite radio and a new audio system with an in-dash changer that played CDs and DVDAudio discs. Other new features included Acura’s HandsFreeLink, which employed the audio system as a hands-free wireless link to any cell phone in the vehicle. A navigation system with voice command was optional. OnStar assistance was no longer available.

Yearly Updates

2005 TL
Little changed for 2005 on Acura’s top-selling model.
2006 TL
Engine horsepower/torque ratings were revised in accordance with a new SAE rating procedure, but otherwise the TL sedan stood pat for 2006.
2007 TL
New features and the return of a performance-oriented model mark 2007 for Acura’s best-selling car. Base and revived Type-S models were offered; a Type-S was last available for 2003. A navigation system with voice command was standard on Type-S, optional on base; for ’07 it included a rearview camera and real-time traffic information. Other changes included revised instrument panel graphics and one-touch starting on models with automatic transmission.
2008 TL
The 2008 Acura TL got slightly revised exterior styling, pending a redesign due in calendar 2008 as a 2009 model.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Only one engine is available in TL sedans: a 270-horsepower 3.2-liter V6, mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Engine output was revised to 258 hp for 2006, as part of the new SAE rating system.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.2/196
Engine HP 258
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 236
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic

Road Test

Acceleration is strong, though best above 3500 rpm. The automatic transmission downshifts smoothly and promptly, for good midrange throttle response. The manual gearbox offers silky short-throw action, though clutch engagement can be abrupt. A manual-shift TL accelerated to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, versus about 7 seconds for one with automatic.

A manual-shift TL averaged 17.7 to 23.3 mpg, while an automatic-transmission model averaged 23 mpg. Acura recommends premium fuel.

Stable and controlled, the TL delivers a tauter ride than comfort-minded rivals such as the Lexus ES 330. Manual-transmission models’ performance-tuned suspension yields an even firmer ride, especially with optional performance tires.

Sharp, agile, and well-controlled, the TL is helped by a rigid body structure. Nicely weighted, linear steering feel adds to enjoyment, though occasional torque steer is evident when flooring the throttle at low speeds–especially with a manual transmission. Little cornering lean is evident. Strong, smooth brakes inspire confidence–the manual model’s Brembo units, in particular.

Wind rush is modest, but tire roar intrudes, especially with the manual’s optional performance tires. The engine note is sporty yet muted at high rpm, and hushed otherwise.

An excellent dashboard design features big, unobstructed gauges and logical presentation of large, clearly-identified controls. Acura’s impressive sound system boasts cutting-edge DVD Audio capability. HandsFreeLink is easy to use and allows drivers to keep both hands on the steering wheel while using a cell phone. The navigation system takes time to master and complicates some adjustments, but works well. Cabin atmosphere favors sport over poshness, but overall, the TL serves as a near-luxury benchmark with solid assembly, superior fit/finish, high-quality materials, and amenities such as standard leather upholstery and heated power front seats that are options on many rivals.

Firm, comfortable front seats offer good lateral support for spirited driving. Space is sufficient for 6-footers, but cockpitlike design makes for a cozy feel. Some testers have said the seats are firmer than necessary and too sharply contoured. Rear head room is tight for tall riders. Seats are small and oddly shaped, low to the floor, and lack thigh support. Leg room is adequate unless a front seat is fully back. Entry-exit requires negotiating a narrow lower door frame.

Smallish in size, the trunk is usefully shaped with low liftover but a rather narrow opening. Lid hinges intrude, but are covered to prevent cargo damage. The rear seatback does not fold, but has small center ski pass-through. In-cabin storage is modest.


Model Tested: 2005 Acura TL w/automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 7
Steering/Handling - 7
Quietness - 8


Controls/Materials - 9
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 10

Total: 68


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.9 189.3 72.2 56.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
12.5 17.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.7 42.8 37.2 34.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 TL 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brake noise
Description: Front brakes squeal on vehicles equipped with optional Brembo brakes and improved brake pads with a different friction material. (2004)
Description: Brake pedal may feel spongy or have excessive travel due to air in the brake lines requiring replacement of the VSA modulator. (2004-06)
Engine noise
Description: A vibration and low buzzing sound in 5th gear caused by normal engine vibration at around 1,500 rpm, requiring a vibration damper near the rear motor mount. (2004)
Power seat
Description: The driver’s seat may lose its memory function, requiring replacement of the control unit under the seat. (2004-05)
Steering noise
Description: The power steering may groan, particularly in cold weather, due to a bad seal at the inlet tube O-ring. (2004-07)
Description: The front windows may not go completely up or may bind and reverse direction due to problems with the weather-strip and/or window channels and/or the window regulator. (2004-08)
Description: The power windows main switch may become distorted or come off if vinyl protectant such as Armor All gets on it. (2004-08)
Windshield washer
Description: Numerous electrical items (power seat memory, windshield washers, power mirrors, automatically dimming mirror) may quit working if the fluid in the windshield washer jug freezes and the driver tries to spray the windshield, causing a fuse to blow. The original 7.5 amp fuse may be replaced with a 10 amp fuse and a sticker should be installed in the fuse box cover. (2004-05)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may illuminate and a trouble code for the coolant sensor may be stored, but the problem is most likely a software glitch in the engine control module. (2006)

Recall History

2004 TL
Description: Gear failure due to heat build-up may result in transmission lockup, which could result in a crash.
2004-05 TL
Description: The power-steering hose may deteriorate prematurely and leak power-steering fluid, leading to smoke and increased risk of fire.
2004-05 TL
Description: The windshield-wiper motor may become inoperative because of corrosion caused by water leaking into the wiper-motor-breather port.
2005 TL
Description: Loose terminal in main fuse box may cause fuel pump to lose power, causing engine to stall without warning or fail to start.
2005 TL
Description: A coil wire inside the fuel pump relay may break, causing the fuel pump to lose power and the engine not to start.
2006 TL
Description: Front impact sensor bolts could loosen or fall out, possibly resulting in delayed deployment or non-deployment of front airbags.
2007-2008 TL TL
Description: Power steering hose may deteriorate prematurely, resulting in cracks and leakage. If power steering fluid leaks onto a hot catalytic converter, this can cause a fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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