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CARS REVIEW - Acura TL Type-S – 2007 Review


Introduction

Something about your kid’s playset just didn’t seem right. All the parts were included and labeled, the necessary tools provided. Unfortunately, as your good buddy Bob pointed out, you were looking at the diagram backwards, hence, what was left ended up right, and vice versa. We’re guessing the same thing happened when Acura assembled the TL Type-S, a car that should be rear-drive, but somehow the plans got mixed up and the folks in the assembly plant mistakenly put together a front-driver. The product of this miscommunication is a sport sedan that suffers from one of the worst cases of torque-steer currently on the market, a shame since this stylish four-door makes for an otherwise appealing package.

 

What we Drove

We drove a pre-production version of the 2007 TL Type-S provided by Acura, meaning that it was an early build model and not destined for your local dealer. As such, we won’t pass judgment on the car’s build quality, but we can report on all other aspects, including how it was equipped and the price. Our Carbon Bronze tester was the variant with high-performance tires, which equates to a base price of $38,995 including a $670 destination charge. Given that our car was delivered without any of Acura’s dealer-installed options (there are no factory options), that sticker price represented the final sum. Our editors logged about 500 miles on the Type-S throughout Southern California.

 

Performance

As a regular driver, one that its master occasionally uses to squirt through traffic or in which she bombs down the highway at high speeds, the 2007 Acura TL Type-S performs admirably. The six-speed manual transmission, with its super-precise gates and short throws, is a joy to row, and the 286 horses under the hood are eager to please. However, tapping into that power requires a measured approach, as a dump of the throttle elicits little response unless the revs are high. More than the 256 lb.-ft. of torque on hand would help negate that problem. The result is more required downshifting than one might expect of a V6-powered sport sedan, and that’s when the stiff clutch becomes noticeable. We recorded 19 mpg overall.

 

Handling

As this is Acura’s flagship in terms of sport sedans, the TL Type-S leaves something to be desired. Sure, the suspension is stiff, the 235/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza rubber does a good job of maintaining grip, and the brakes are up to snuff even after plenty of abuse, but there are an equal number of counterpoints. The steering, though responsive and characterized by plenty of road feel, can be too responsive in mid-turn, causing a mild case of oversteer. Torque-steer is always a concern, and makes this TL feel downright unruly at times. Add a stiff ride into the mix, and you’ve got a sport sedan that’s short of finely-tuned.

 

Visibility

When driving a sporty car that’s well suited for darting in and out of high-speed traffic, it sure as heck better offer sufficient visibility. The Acura TL Type-S does, with large side mirrors, an ample greenhouse, relatively narrow pillars, and a rear window that gets the job done, albeit with two large headrests that do their part to muck things up. Whether merging on the highway or keeping an eye on the double yellow heading into a blind corner, the Type-S never prevented us from focusing on what we needed to see.

 

Fun to Drive

Rodeo dudes would love this car. Nothing compares to untamed, four-legged, stubborn muscle like a 286-horsepower front-drive sedan with hellacious torque steer. Though we’ve never attempted to ride eight seconds atop an irate bull, we’re betting that it’s no more difficult than holding on to the 2007 Acura TL Type-S’s steering wheel under full acceleration. Get past that, and the sportiest of TLs delivers a buckled-down ride, an eager V6 engine, one of the sweetest six-speed manuals on the planet, and a price that puts it in the realm of a daily driver and not a garage queen. Or should we say corral queen?

 

Front Comfort

Acura knows how to build comfortable interiors. The TL Type-S’s front seats are spacious, well-bolstered (especially on the back rest), thickly-padded, and feature large adjustable headrests. The driver benefits from a 10-way adjustable seat, while the passenger gets six power adjustments. Soft-touch surfaces on the window sills and armrests, including a center armrest that moves fore and aft for premium placement, increase the level of hospitality, as do the leather and alloy shift knob and leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt and telescoping functions. Since we were experiencing some unusually chilly mornings during the TL Type-S’s stay, the two-setting heated front seats came in handy, though we felt they took too long to warm up.

 

Rear Comfort

What you think of the TL Type-S’s rear seat will largely depend on your stature. Our six-foot-two-inch tall editor referred to this area as “tight” while our five-foot-eight-inch tall editor considered the TL’s rear seat accommodations to be “spacious.” Our more diminutive staffer noted generous foot and head room, sufficient leg room, a very comfortable seat with outboard head restraints, the wide fold-down center armrest, and the padded door sills and armrests. Rear vent controls on the center console are an added bonus. Nobody was all that crazy about front seatbacks that were only slightly padded, or the seat that was positioned too close to the floor.

 

Interior Noise

Sports-oriented vehicles are not famous for being especially quiet, and the 2007 Acura TL Type-S is no exception. Though far from loud, this TL suffers from noticeable tire noise, an unexpected amount of wind noise around the A-pillars at highway speeds, and suspension noise when traveling over bumps or potholes. All that while the engine, the one thing enthusiast drivers often prefer to hear as they ascend toward the rev limiter, was relatively quiet. There’s some audible action when VTEC kicks in, but even that is fairly well muted.

 

Loading Cargo

WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get. Without a fold-down rear seat, the trunk space you see in the TL Type-S is all you get for storing cargo. Thankfully, the fully-lined trunk is actually pretty big, with a wide opening, covered hinges that won’t damage items, ten tie-down points, and a handle on the inside of the lid. The lift-over height is low enough so that you won’t have to be a powerlifter to get items into the car, and the lockable pass-through, which can be opened from the trunk or the interior, will help with longer items, though it looks to be too small for things such as snowboards.

 

Build Quality

Our Acura TL Type-S test vehicle was a pre-production unit. We did not assess build quality, as it is our rule to praise or critique this aspect of a vehicle only when it is reflective of what consumers will find at the local dealership.

 

Materials Quality

It’s not uncommon to read a car review with phrases like “low-budget interior” or “the materials could be better.” You won’t be seeing those terms associated with the 2007 Acura TL Type-S. This car’s interior is constructed with outstanding materials, to the point that they make the near-$39,000 price look like a bargain. Soft leather covers the seats, armrests, steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake handle, while an attractive tight-knit mesh is used for the headliner and upper pillars. Padded plastics cover parts of the doors and dash, all with matching grains and consistent color. A patterned alloy decorates the doors and center console, with faux carbon-fiber and silver accents used to dress things up a bit more.

 

Acura TL

With only minor visual enhancements, Acura has really added some refined sportiness to the TL. The multi-spoke 17-inch alloys and smoked taillights give the Type-S a stealthy look, while the subtle rear spoiler and quad angle-cut exhaust tips hint at the car’s athletic character. Inside, the alloy and faux carbon-fiber touches add to the sporty feel. But the TL has been on the market for a few years now, and though we still applaud its clean lines and naturally aggressive appearance, there’s little denying that this luxury sedan could use a little freshening.

 

Storage

The TL Type-S would be a great roadtrip car. There’s room for all kinds of stuff inside, with large fold-out pockets on the front doors, deep cubbies on the rear doors, two rubber-lined slots forward of the shifter, dual cupholders between the front seats, a two-level armrest storage area, extendable pockets on the seatbacks, and a fold-down center armrest out back with two cupholders. There’s also a small cubby on the rear of the center console, a lockable pass-through that helps with carrying items such as skis, and a glovebox that’s a little small, but at least it’s lined. Clearly, road warriors would have no problems stowing their phones, beverages, snacks, wallets, and much more when embarking on an adventure in the TL Type-S.

 

Infotainment Controls

At least one editor finds the numerous buttons associated with the radio and navigation system to be a problem with the Acura TL Type-S; however, others counter that the controls are intuitive, clearly-marked, and easy to use. Buyers will have to make their own impressions, but it’s obvious that the large silver dials are radio volume and tuning, the slots are for CDs and old-school cassettes. If you can read, all the other controls, including those with tactile bumps on the steering wheel, can be mastered quickly. The touch-screen navigation system with voice controls is simple and easy to use, and the Real Time Traffic function is great. Unfortunately, the screen washes out in sunlight. The radio can also be controlled through the touch-screen interface.

 

Acura TL

Many luxury cars now feature climate controls integrated with their navigation systems. The 2007 Acura TL Type-S does not. Stacked on both sides of the center screen are large and clearly-labeled buttons for dual-zone system, while controls for the two-setting heated front seats are placed rear of the shift knob on the center console. It’s a relatively simple setup, making it easy to adjust the temperature of fan speeds while remaining focused on the road. That being said, the a/c and defroster buttons, lined up on the passenger side of the navigation screen, are out of reach for shorter drivers, suggesting that the TL Type-S’s ergonomics could use a little tweaking. The temperature readout is displayed above the center vents.

 

Secondary Controls

If not for that clear labeling that we’ve repeatedly praised, the secondary controls in the TL Type-S might leave us a bit flustered. The usual stuff, including buttons for the power door locks, power windows, and the seat memory functions are on the door panels – no issues there. Even the power mirror switches on the left dash are within the norm. Then there’s the stability control button on the left dash (instead of on the center console, as is typical), and the trunk release button where the hood release usually is (instead of on the door or next to the fuel door release on the floor). Neither represents a significant issue, though they require a little hunting to be found.

 

Competition

Acura has its hands full when competing in the premium/luxury sport sedan category, with entrants coming from all over the globe. The direct competitors include the Audi A4 S-line (the S4 is out of the TL Type-S’s bracket), BMW 330i Sport, Infiniti G35, Lexus IS 350, Saab 9-3 Aero, and the Volvo S60 R. Buyers interested in this type of sedan might also consider the Cadillac CTS 3.6, the Mercedes-Benz C320 Sport, and the Subaru Legacy GT spec.B.

 

2nd Opinion – Buglewicz

Acura TL Type-S – Buglewicz’s Opinion:
The drivetrain in this car is its greatest asset and its biggest liability. It’s a smooth V6 with good torque, excellent high-end power and all mated to a smooth shifting six-speed transmission. But it’s routing all that through the front wheels, dammit, which means a squirmy, lifeless steering wheel in your hands. It’s not too bad in a straight line, but power out of a turn and the TL will try to pull you into the nearest retaining wall. It’s frustrating, because the car is otherwise so likeable: excellent chassis dynamics, attractive styling inside and out, and a good bargain to boot at less than $40,000. The sooner Acura goes rear- or all-wheel drive, the better.

Keith Buglewicz

 

 

2nd Opinion – Perry

Acura TL Type-S – Perry’s Opinion:
When it comes to my opinion of the Acura TL S-type, I just have to borrow a long-gone but appropriate phrase from the hit television show In Living Color: “HATED IT!!” It’s bad when I can’t wait to get out of a $40,000 car to get back into my Tacoma pickup, and that’s exactly what happened. Issues I have with the TL are excessive torque steer; throttle position that is on or off, with no in between; a clutch that has a narrow engagement range; and light steering. Did I mention excessive torque steer? Yes I did, but it warrants mentioning twice. There are also the millions (OK, I exaggerate) of unnecessary buttons and switches on the dash and steering wheel.

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