Should I Buy a Used Acura TL?

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

Vehicle Overview

The 2004 model year saw the introduction of an unofficial third-generation Acura TL. Although this was the first time just the TL moniker was used on an Acura model, two previous generations of mid-size luxury sedans used the letters TL after a set of numbers designating the engine.

The TL was available initially with a 3.2-liter V6 engine that was rated at 270 HP for 2004-2005 and then reduced to 258 HP in 2006 thanks to new SAE certification ratings. The V6 could be paired to a five-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual, both sending power to the front wheels.

In 2007 a more powerful Type-S arrived on the scene powered by a 286 HP 3.5-liter V6, also paired to either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual.

Trims Packages

From 2004-2006 the TL came in a singular trim that could have various items added to it. In 2007 a Type-S edition was added.

Top 3 Reasons to Buy

  • Reliability – Although the TL does have a few issues, for the most part owners have been very satisfied with reliability.
  • Style – Many owners love the look of the 2004-2008 TL and consider it to be the best looking generation of TL, especially the TL Type-S.
  • Sophistication – For many owners, the TL was their first luxury car purchase as they were looking for a more sophisticated car.

Top 3 Problem Areas

  • Transmission – Both the five-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmission have had issues. The automatic with irregular shifts and not engaging gears, while the six-speed manual has been plagued with third gear issues.
  • Dashboard Cracks – Owners have found dashboard cracks form on their TLs, specifically around the passenger airbag.
  • Rattles and Squeaks – many used cars develop rattles and squeaks, but the TL appears to be especially susceptible to them in the rear.

Before You Buy

Ensure all recalls have been performed on the TL as each year has a few listed on the NHTSA website. Check for dashboard cracks around the passenger airbag and listen for any squeaks or rattles during a test drive.

Feel for any unusual behavior from the transmission as well, regardless of transmission type.

Best Bang for Your Buck

The 2004 and 2005 TL have had far more complaints lodged with the NHTSA than other model years. Despite these cars having higher horsepower ratings, the lower ratings of the 2006+ cars were just from a new rating procedure and not an actual decrease in power compared to the previous model years. Our advice would be to look for a regular 2006-2008 TL, unless more you want more performance. If that’s the case, look for a Type-S instead.

Recall and Crash Test Database

2004 Acura TL NHTSA Recall Database
2005 Acura TL NHTSA Recall Database
2006 Acura TL NHTSA Recall Database
2007 Acura TL NHTSA Recall Database
2008 Acura TL NHTSA Recall Database
2004 Acura TL NHTSA Crash Test Rating
2005 Acura TL NHTSA Crash Test Rating
2006 Acura TL NHTSA Crash Test Rating
2007 Acura TL NHTSA Crash Test Rating
2008 Acura TL NHTSA Crash Test Rating
2004 Acura TL IIHS Crash Test Rating
2005 Acura TL IIHS Crash Test Rating
2006 Acura TL IIHS Crash Test Rating
2007 Acura TL IIHS Crash Test Rating
2008 Acura TL IIHS Crash Test Rating

Looking for more information? Visit our Acura TL Forum

GALLERY: Acura TL 2004-2008

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

More by Mike Schlee

Join the conversation
  • Thatguy88 Thatguy88 on Aug 13, 2014

    As the owner of a 2001 CL-S, I can vouch for how good these cars are. Even with the transmission issues (mine was replaced by the previous owner at aroun 93K), there's an inherent goodness to these cars that makes them both very sophisicated and very fun to drive On top of that, the engines in all the trims are absolute riots.

    • See 1 previous
    • Thatguy88 Thatguy88 on Aug 15, 2014

      I don't see why not. It's a good car. Plenty of pick-up and go, svelte styling (in my opiinion), handles very well for its size, very fun to drie on back roads. On top of that, I haven't had ANY transmission issues since that replacement.

  • Calvin L Miller Jr Calvin L Miller Jr on Aug 13, 2014

    As a previous owner i liked the car alot. The cracked dash drove me nuts especially since it comes out of no where. Seats were not so comfortable either which became a issue during long drives. Just hated driving the car for more than 40+ minutes. For what does break which is often nothing major plastic pieces, radio had to be replaced[got a used one], and nav gave out towards the end. Theres no fold down seats which is a big deal if you have only one car, Pass thru was rarely worth the trouble. That said i would recommend the car if the seats are comfortable for you.