2001 Acura 3.2 TL Press Kit


2001 Acura 3.2 TL Press Kit

By setting sales records every month since its introduction in September of '98, the 3.2 TL has reaffirmed Acura's position in the mid-luxury segment as a premier performance nameplate.

Offered exclusively with a 3.2-liter, 24-valve, Variable Valve Timing and Electronic Lift Control (VTEC') V-6 engine, the TL combines one of the most powerful engines in its class with a new-generation platform that elevates handling responsiveness, quietness, roominess and luxury. Assembled exclusively in the United States, the new TL is designed to exceed buyer expectations with a remarkably high level of standard equipment.

Available in just one trim level with a comprehensive list of standard features, the TL is classified as a midsize car by the EPA. It has a roomy interior that's more spacious than those of its mid-luxury competition, cars like the Lexus ES 300, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series.

The 2001 model year 3.2 TL is designed to provide:

  • A sporty and refined driving experience
  • Class-leading engine performance and operating smoothness
  • Secure and refined dynamic characteristics at all road speeds
  • Sophisticated styling with a vibrant, sporting spirit
  • An unusually spacious and accommodating interior with ergonomically designed controls, fine materials and an impeccable level of fit and finish
  • A comprehensive approach to safety engineering that combines accident-avoidance technologies with advanced impact-energy management engineering and class leading Supplemental Restraint Systems (SRS)
  • An extraordinary level of value in the midluxury segment

The heart of the TL is a compact, 3.2-liter, 225-horsepower, VTEC V-6 engine. With exceptional low-end torque and high rpm horsepower, this 24-valve V-6 drives the TL to class-leading performance times, setting a new standard for refinement and smoothness, while delivering excellent fuel economy. Its first tune-up isn't required until 105,000 miles. The TL engine complies with tough LEV (Low Emission Vehicle) standards. California versions meet ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) standards. The 3.2 TL features an electronically controlled 5-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift and wide gear ratios for outstanding acceleration, effortless cruising and high fuel economy.

With significant advances in torsional and bending rigidity, the TL's unit-body is based on a new-generation platform that positions the front drive powertrain in a transverse orientation to create more usable interior volume while retaining optimum weight distribution. To enhance Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) control, the front and rear suspension are carried on isolated subframes, resulting in low interior noise levels. The TL's fully independent double-wishbone suspension, fitted with large 16" wheels and tires, results in stable and predictable handling. A compact multilink, double-wishbone rear suspension also contributes to the TL's spacious interior room.

With a wheelbase of 108.1 inches, the TL offers generous interior space, both for passengers and luggage. The interior volume, totaling 110.8 cu ft, places the TL in the EPA's midsize class, while most of the TL's competitors are classified as compact cars.

Known for its high level of standard luxury equipment the fully-appointed 3.2 TL comes with standard features that are often options from other manufacturers.

Graceful, athletic proportions reflect the TL's focus on delivering personal driving satisfaction. Distinctive and refined in its lines, the TL's exterior makes a strong stylistic statement, echoed by the sweeping cockpit-type feel of its leather-trimmed interior.

2001 Acura 3.2 TL - Powertrain

The 3.2-liter VTEC-equipped engine is compact, lightweight and fuel-efficient, representing the next generation of Acura V-6 powerplants. The 60-degree, 24-valve V-6 is mounted transversely in the chassis, improving packaging efficiency. It is coupled with a new 5-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission with Grade Logic Control that drives the front wheels with the assistance of a standard Traction Control System (TCS).


  • 225 horsepower at 5,600 rpm
  • A broad torque curve provides 216 lbs.-ft. @ 4100 rpm
  • VTEC increases low rpm torque and high rpm horsepower
  • Automatic transmission with 5-speed Sequential SportShift allows semi-manual operation
  • Compact, lightweight powertrain is 18 percent lighter than previous generation

Emissions/Fuel Economy

  • EPA fuel economy 19/29 mpg (city/hwy)
  • All 2001 3.2 TLs meet LEV standards; California models meet ULEV standards

Noise Vibration and Harshness (NVH)

  • Smooth running 60-degree V-angle
  • Full-floating piston pins eliminate piston slap during warm-up
  • Elimination of separate camshaft holders allows for a more compact, rigid cylinder head
  • Lightweight pistons and connecting rods
  • Three hydraulic engine mounts
  • Cast aluminum oil pan

The TL is powered by a new-generation 3.2-liter, 225-hp, 24-valve V-6 engine. Remarkably compact and lightweight, the TL power plant and transmission incorporate a wide variety of advanced technologies. Relative to the previous-generation 1998 TL, total powertrain weight has been reduced by 16 percent. The engine alone accounts for eight percent of that weight reduction, no small feat in light of the engine's improved power output, refined NVH characteristics and high fuel economy.

Die-cast and heat-treated, the compact aluminum block is extremely rigid, with a high natural frequency and minimal resonant vibration. The TL V-6's iron cylinder liners have their bore pitch set at a close 98-mm spacing to reduce overall engine size. The free-revving TL engine is oversquare with a bore of 89 mm and a stroke of 86 mm to give the engine a total displacement of 3210 cc. The TL engine's V-angle is 60-degrees -- a departure from the 90-degree V-angle used in the previous-generation TL. This narrower angle improves smoothness and reduces overall bulk and weight. Designed to work with special compact pistons, the block has an unusually short deck height, resulting in an overall reduction in the height and width of the assembled engine.

The pursuit of compact overall engine dimensions coupled with Acura's high durability standards drove the design of the TL crankshaft and connecting rods. A rigid, forged crankshaft and narrow 19 mm connecting rods allow for a reduction in overall engine length, and are a contributing factor in making the TL powerplant (as installed in the car) narrower than its competition from Lexus or Infiniti, even though it offers more displacement and torque. The TL's rods don't use conventional nut-and-bolt type fasteners, but instead employ lighter bolts (without nuts) called plastic-region fasteners. These bolts are designed to operate in the plastic, not elastic, region of the steel material, unlike conventional fasteners. This allows a downsizing of the rod bolts while maintaining the proper clamping force and strength margins.

With four-valve combustion chambers and a 9.8:1 compression ratio, the TL pressure-cast aluminum alloy cylinder heads reflect Acura's latest thinking in engine design. The single camshaft in each cylinder head is installed from the side, eliminating the need for bolt-on cam caps -- a savings of weight and complexity. Driven by the crankshaft via a glass-fiber reinforced toothed belt, the cams actuate the valves via friction reducing roller followers.

The Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC) valve train is a major contributing factor to the TL's remarkable combination of high power delivery and fuel economy. With the lift and opening duration of the large intake valves altered automatically based on engine rpm, the engine develops strong low-speed torque without sacrificing high rpm power.

Conventional fixed intake valve timing can't equal this broad-range flexibility. The VTEC-equipped 2001 TL engine delivers the power expected of an engine its size at middle engine speeds, but substantially more horsepower from 4600 rpm through the 6300 rpm redline than expected, coupled with considerable torque increases both at low and mid rpm and at high engine speed.

At low rpm, the VTEC intake valves follow a set of low-lift, short-duration cam lobes with timing that optimizes cylinder filling. Additionally, the timing of the intake valves are staggered and their lift is asymmetric, creating a swirl effect within the combustion chambers. This increases burn speed and improves combustion stability and EGR rate. As the engine accelerates through 3500 rpm, the intake rocker arms transition to actuation by high-lift, long-duration cam lobes designed to optimize high rpm output.

Controlled by a 16-bit, 32 Mhz Power Control Module (PCM) the TL's PCM monitors throttle position, engine temperature, intake manifold pressure, atmospheric pressure, exhaust gas oxygen content and intake air temperature and tracks the operation of the engine with position sensors on the crankshaft and both camshafts. The PCM controls the 5-speed automatic transmission. It controls fuel delivery to six injectors mounted in the new cast aluminum, tuned-length intake manifold. The intake manifold features a large plenum chamber to help maximize air flow and increase power and torque.

The TL high-flow dual exhaust system is designed to offer lightweight, minimal noise and vibration and excellent emissions control. Not only does the dual-exhaust design provide greater performance, its compact design reduces intrusion into the cabin and trunk areas.

Proper ignition spark timing is critical to engine performance and emission control.

Unfortunately, the correct ignition timing is a moving target, changing from one instant to the next depending on a multitude of factors. Too little spark advance for the conditions and efficiency suffers; too much and the onset of knocking (or pinging) can result in overheating and engine damage. To ensure a properly timed spark, the TL relies on a new generation knock-control system. Based on a centrally positioned sensor in the block that "hears" the first traces of knocking, the ignition timing is advanced to the point of peak efficiency, but not beyond, even if fuel quality is less than the specified unleaded premium. This fine spark control allows the TL to operate safely --- and more efficiently -- with greater spark advance than its predecessor.

Another refinement to the ignition system is the adoption of improved direct ignition coil units, which are positioned directly in the spark plug access bores. Less than half the weight of the units used on the previous-generation TL, the direct coil units are more compact and more reliable.

During development of the Acura V-6 powertrain, special effort was devoted to attaining higher standards of Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) control. Key competitive engines were analyzed to develop engineering targets for smoothness and noise control. The engineering exhibited in the TL reflects this effort with features like the compact, rigid aluminum block and its unusually high resonant frequency, rigid forged crankshaft, die-cast accessory mounts and stiff cast aluminum oil pan.

The TL's first scheduled tune-up is required at 105,000 miles; during that time only routine inspections and fluid changes are required. The roller-follower design of the VTEC valve train cuts friction and wear to the point that the screw-type tappet clearance adjusters need not be checked until 105,000 miles, at which point the platinum-tipped spark plugs are also due for replacement.

When the cruise control is engaged, the cruise control PCM directly commands downshifts to the transmission as required, allowing the TL to more closely maintain the set road speed even in hilly driving conditions. The convenient steering wheel-mounted cruise control buttons allow the driver to adjust speed in 1 mph increments or disengage the cruise control without touching the brake pedal.

Given the TL's formidable power output and the need for all-weather drivability, a Traction Control System (TCS) is standard equipment. This low-speed system operates at vehicle speeds below about 25 mph by applying one or both front brakes to control wheelspin when necessary. This independent wheel control provides a limited-slip differential effect that substantially improves performance on surfaces with split traction coefficients. Relative to the previous generation TL, which used throttle control only to limit wheelspin, the new TL delivers up to 30 percent better acceleration and climbs hills much more easily in start-up split-traction situations.

Though advances in usable engine power output play a significant role in the TL's quick acceleration, its 5-speed automatic transmission figures heavily in measured performance gains and seat-of-the-pants driving feel. Its gear ratio settings closely match the demands of varied driving situations. Plus, the transmission's tall 5th gear results in a lower cruising rpm for reduced engine noise and lower fuel consumption. In the EPA highway driving cycle, the TL achieves an impressive 19 city/29 highway mpg.

Linear solenoids provide precise, real-time control of the clutch on/off pressure in the TL's transmission. With superior clutch-engagement accuracy, the sophisticated control logic system operates smoothly under all conditions. To reduce noise, a bearing supports the idle shaft, and the gear-mesh contact ratio was refined. The wide lockup torque converter engagement area provides more positive engagement over a broader range of driving speeds.

Multiple safety and control strategies use interaction between engine and transmission controllers to manage overall powertrain operation. By limiting engine output torque and/or transmission clutch pressure, sharp driveline shocks are eliminated. The engine is also prevented from exceeding 5000 rpm in neutral and park.

By monitoring throttle position, vehicle speed and acceleration/deceleration then comparing these inputs with a map stored in the transmission computer, the TL Grade Logic Control System "knows" when the car is on a hill. The shift schedule is then adjusted automatically to hold the engine in a lower gear for better climbing power, increased downhill engine braking and decreased shift frequency.

To complement the TL's sporting nature, the standard automatic transmission features a sequential SportShift mode similar to the one originally introduced in the NSX sports car. Although somewhat different in design, the SportShift mode puts gear selection in the hands of the driver, much like a manual transmission. By moving the console-mounted transmission selector handle to the left of the drive position into a special SportShift gate, upshifts and downshifts can be commanded with a quick fore or aft motion. Gear selection is indicated by an LED display positioned prominently in the tachometer face.

To foster the immediate feel of a manual transmission, in SportShift mode, the transmission logic commands firmer shifts that are approximately 10 percent quicker than in automatic mode. Additionally, the system is engineered to deliver an unusually quick response time to shift commands as compared to other semi-manual automatic transmissions.

Typically, the TL's transmission responds to a shift command in just 0.35 second, with the total shift completed in just over 0.9 second from the initial lever movement. These figures are quicker than those of semi-manual automatic transmissions of sports cars costing more than twice as much as the TL.

The SportShift system parallels the operation of a manual gearbox, with built-in safety override features. The logic will not allow a downshift that would cause the engine to over-rev in the driver-selected lower gear; the transmission will stay in the selected gear until the vehicle comes to a complete stop and then will shift into first should the driver forget to do so. During acceleration, except for shifting between 1st and 2nd, the transmission will not up-shift automatically in SportShift Mode.

2001 Acura 3.2 TL - Chassis

Design goals for the second-generation TL chassis centered on enhancing its sporty performance while preserving its luxury feel. These seemingly contradictory needs required a clean sheet approach to design, embodied by the Acura/Honda Midsize Global Platform. This new-generation front-drive platform combines the packaging efficiency and performance of a transversely mounted front-drive powertrain with Acura's latest thinking on suspension and chassis architecture. Built on a unique underbody assembly 95 mm shorter than that of the previous TL, the new 3.2 TL is 30 mm longer overall and larger inside by almost every significant measure than the car it replaced.

Chassis architecture of the 3.2 TL reflects the pursuit of further luxury refinement while simultaneously advancing handling characteristics. The TL employs isolated front and rear subframes and carries its engine on vacuum-controlled front and rear hydraulic mounts. The double-wishbone suspension has geometric refinements that significantly improve the TL's response to steering input and its ultimate handling limits relative to its predecessor. Engineered to deliver a reduction in understeer at the limit of adhesion, the chassis rewards the enthusiast driver with a more neutral, responsive sporting platform. Cornering grip is enhanced as well, with larger diameter 16-inch wheels that are stopped by an upgraded ABS disc brake system with larger front discs and more rigid front calipers.

The net effect of these far-reaching changes is a substantial improvement in the car's handling precision and braking feel and maximum cornering grip relative to the previous generation TL. This latest TL delivers a more spirited driving experience and has higher ultimate limits than the car it replaces.

Here are the key areas of advancement to the new generation TL chassis:

Ride and handling

  • Refined double-wishbone front suspension
  • New multi-link double-wishbone rear suspension
  • Straightened rear suspension toe curve
  • Tire and wheel diameter increased from 15 to 16 inches
  • Rear suspension pillow joints added for better control of side-force steer (stability) and smoothness (ride comfort)
  • Lower roll center geometry and steering enhancements improve linearity of steering feel
  • Rubber-bushing isolated box-section front subframe
  • Rubber-bushing isolated rear subframe
  • Vacuum-controlled hydraulic front and rear engine mounts


  • Enlarged front and rear discs along with a drum-in-disc rear design allow separation of service and parking brake systems for superior linearity of brake action


  • Vehicle-speed sensing power steering with improved feel
  • Rubber coupling in steering column improves shock isolation and maintains linearity


  • Standard traction control
  • Standard anti-lock disc brakes
  • Excellent steering linearity
  • Excellent maximum lateral cornering adhesion

All Acura passenger cars employ double-wishbone suspension for the precise control of wheel motion it affords. For the new generation TL, Acura engineers redrafted the layout of the front suspension to take advantage of the stiffness of the new front subframe. The repositioned suspension arms deliver altered suspension geometry; the TL's roll center has been lowered by 36 mm to 57 mm, a contributing factor to the car's responsive handling and handling linearity. A strut tower bar also helps maintain precise suspension geometry during cornering. Relative to the previous generation TL, the new car rides on firmer coil springs and retuned dampers with higher compression and rebound damping rates.

To satisfy the conflicting demands placed on the TL's rear suspension, which includes offering sporty handling yet a smooth ride without intruding on interior or trunk space, Acura designers completely redesigned the new generation car's rear suspension. The multi-link system is very compact, a factor that accounts for a significant amount of the TL's spacious interior and trunk space.

The compact high-tension steel suspension links reduce weight and carry the rear wheels through a wheel path that's angled rearward to improve bump compliance. This geometry also provides a much straighter toe curve, meaning that during suspension motion, there is controlled "rear steer" taking place. Pillow joints are also applied to better control side-force steer while reducing component friction to improve ride comfort. The rear suspension's roll center has also been lowered slightly relative to the previous generation TL. As in the front suspension, rear spring rates have been increased and dampers recalibrated to improve the TL's handling during aggressive maneuvering.

The TL's chassis rigidity and NVH benefits from its robust front and rear subframes. In front, a perimeter frame consisting of a front member, side members and a rear bulkhead beam is used to form a very strong structure that contributes greatly to overall chassis stiffness and frontal impact crush resistance.

Like the front subframe, the rear subframe forms a large perimeter frame and is made up of large cross section members and smaller stringers that locate the rear suspension and also house the fuel tank. Both subframes are mounted to the body with rubber isolators that help dampen vibration by as much as 5 db in the low- and mid-frequency ranges.

To further isolate the cabin from vibration, the 3.2 liter engine is mounted to the subframe with two electronically controlled, hydraulic engine mounts and a side stopper mount. The hydraulic mounts are tuned to help minimize vibration throughout the operating range by controlling fluid transfer between two hydraulic chambers in the mount, thereby changing the damping frequency of the mount to help counter any engine vibration.

Given the TL's lofty design goals, its steering must strike a balance between the isolation expected of a fine luxury car and the immediate, intuitive response of an accomplished sports sedan. Both ends are served by the TL's speed-sensing power steering. With the assist modulation based on vehicle speed, the effort is light during low speed maneuvering then gets progressively heavier as speed builds to foster a feeling of accuracy and security.

To insulate the driver from road harshness without degrading steering precision, a rubber coupling is positioned in the bottom end of the steering column.

At 11.8 in (300 mm), the new-generation TL's large diameter ventilated front brake discs offer significant braking power and fade resistance. The front calipers are 15 percent more rigid than their predecessors, resulting in a marked improvement in braking crispness and pedal feel. With system-wide tuning of the brake components, the TL has linear brake pedal action, with a predictable effort gradient as the pedal is applied.

By separating the service and parking brakes on the rear wheels and increasing rotor diameter to 11.1 in (282 mm), further enhancements in brake performance were realized. The new drum-in-disc brake design employs the disc portion of the unit for braking while underway, while the drum is used only for the parking brake function. The parking brake is operated with a push on/off type floor pedal.

The ABS enhances steering control during hard braking. Speed sensors at each wheel send signals to the ABS control module; if the system detects impending wheel lockup, it first holds, then reduces hydraulic pressure to the affected wheel, letting it regain traction before full braking resumes. The ABS function is also highly effective on split-friction surfaces, in which one side of the vehicle has significantly less traction than the other.

In the highly unlikely event of an ABS failure, a warning light is illuminated on the instrument panel. In such a case, the control module cancels the ABS function, allowing the standard braking system to operate normally.

Given the new TL's pronounced sporting side, upgraded wheels and tires were a natural advancement for its current design iteration. Though tire width remained constant at 205 mm, tire aspect ratio was reduced to 60 percent, while tire and wheel diameter was increased to 16 in. The width of the cast aluminum wheels remained at 6.5 in, though the wheel styling was changed to a new seven-spoke design. The revised tire and wheel fitment, combined with the far-reaching benefits of the TL's new platform and suspension, have increased maximum skid-pad adhesion substantially compared to its predecessor, from 0.72 to 0.77 lateral g. To help provide sure-footed power handling in all weather conditions, Michelin all-season high performance V-rated radial tires are fitted to the TL.

2001 Acura 3.2 TL - Interior

The 3.2 TL body is a significant departure from the previous generation TL. Based on a lengthened version of the Acura/Honda Midsize Global Platform, the new TL unit-body is 70 percent stronger in torsion, 80 percent stronger in bending, longer overall, has a wider track and more interior room than its predecessor. The front drive powertrain is now transversely mounted, in the interest of improved packaging efficiency.

The lines of the TL, which were designed by Honda R&D in Torrance, California and Raymond, Ohio, have a more aggressive, athletic edge, complemented by improvements in aerodynamic performance. Designed and engineered in America and assembled at Honda's Marysville Ohio plant, the TL has a six percent better Cd than the previous generation TL.

Here are some of the highlights of the TL's new body and its related systems:


  • Dynamic, dimensional lines reflect a more youthful, aggressive spirit
  • Cabin-forward silhouette
  • Higher belt line and pronounced wedge shape

Quality and Refinement

  • Tightly controlled noise and vibration
  • Heat-rejecting green glass
  • Full frame windows for improved sealing and reduced wind noise
  • Gas spring hood supports and new low-effort multilink trunk hinges provide easy operation
  • Rigid door structures
  • Jointless front and rear windshield molding

NVH control

  • Foam sound barriers in all body pillars
  • Extensive asphalt-based sandwich melt sheet used in rear wheel-house regions
  • Fiberglass hood insulator
  • Triple door seals
  • Increased density dashboard insulator
  • Extensive use of asphalt melt sheets with resin applied to floor and dashboard lower
  • Additional engine room dashboard insulator
  • Increased rigidity of steering hanger beam, steering column shaft and accelerator cable bracket for a reduction of vibration in the steering wheel and the gas pedal


  • Midsize car total interior volume (110.8 cu ft)
  • Large 14.3 cu ft trunk
  • Generous interior head, leg, shoulder and hip room
  • Abundant step-in room for rear passengers

Ride and handling

  • Torsional rigidity has increased by 70 percent from previous generation TL, with only a five percent increase in the weight of the body-in-white relative to the previous generation
  • Four-point strut-tower bar


  • Side-impact door beams
  • Upper door panel stiffener structure
  • Door lining pads
  • Reinforced side-sills with added bulkheads for offset and side impact protection
  • Strengthened front pillars and roof side rail sections
  • Thicker, larger floor cross members for additional side impact protection
  • Reinforced center pillars help reduce body deformation during side impact
  • Rear-door catcher reduces rear-door intrusion into interior during side impact
  • Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights
  • Dual-stage passenger-side SRS airbag
  • New front seat side airbags with front passenger side occupant position sensor.


  • Special shielding protects door-locking mechanisms and latches to make break-in more difficult
  • Standard immobilizer and security systems cuts fuel to the engine and sounds an alarm in the event of tampering
  • Auto-off headlights
  • Full frame windows to make a break-in more difficult
  • Reinforced door key cylinders to make a break-in more difficult

Corrosion resistance

  • Double-sided galvanized steel panels in all high-corrosion areas
  • Anti-chipping primer applied to leading edges of hood and fenders
  • PVC and wax sealer applied to underbody
  • Anti-acid-etch clear coat on dark colors helps protect paint from acid rain

Concept work on the new 3.2 TL started in 1995, when the driving ideas behind the TL's styling were just beginning to take shape. The inspiration for the spirit of the TL is San Francisco's exclusive Nob Hill area. Known for its fashionable international flair, upscale ambience and a uniquely youthful blending of formal and active lifestyles, Nob Hill sets the tone for the TL. A design team visited Nob Hill in 1995 and stayed in the famous Fairmont Hotel before beginning initial styling drawings of the new TL.

Carefully orchestrated styling elements lend the TL dynamic elegance. In bold strokes, it has a crisper, higher beltline and is more wedgelike, with the cabin positioned 95 mm farther forward than the '98 TL.

To foster a personal feel, the greenhouse is visually distinct from the powerful lines of the body, purposely not blended into a single amorphous shape. A pronounced shoulder to the upper body complements this feeling. High-gloss black accents on the B-pillars add a subtle upscale touch. Front-end styling is dimensional, with the bumper and fenders swept back (in plain view) from the new grille. Reflector-type High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights lend a technical feel to the front end. The rear styling is uncluttered, with the license plate inset in the rear bumper. A crisp break at the top of the rear panel lends a sporting edge, while the chrome logo and letters of the Acura name individually mounted across the rear panel make the car's luxury status apparent.

Fine attention to detail is evident in the TL's fit and finish. Stiffened door structures, laser-welded blank door panels, special plastic-encapsulated door checkers and latches, and added sound damping materials all combine to tune the closing sound of the TL's doors. Special power window motors increase window speed and reduce noise. Window sealing has improved as well, with the move to sash-type door structures that seal more reliably.

Many details are very subtle:

  • Jointless front and rear windshield moldings have a more finished look
  • The windshield wiper stopping position has been lowered to improve visibility and reduce wind noise

To achieve significant improvements in ride, handling and noise reduction, the engineering goals for the new-generation TL unit body centered around maximizing torsional and bending rigidity of the body without adding unnecessary weight.

The TL unit body utilizes a high-strength cabin and ladder type subframe with large box section rails and strategically placed reinforcements for maximum rigidity.

Significant advances in design efficiency make the TL's body-in-white 70 percent stronger in torsion, with only a 5 percent increase in weight as compared to its predecessor. Bending strength has been increased by 80 percent as well.

The TL utilizes highly rigid door structures with full-frame windows for improved protection, weather sealing and reduced wind noise. By laser welding the door panels, steels of different thickness can be used in the door. This allowed the designers to use the optimum steel thickness in each area and resulted in a stronger yet lighter door.

Throughout the body, features like foam roof pillar separators, wheel arch extension melt sheets and even vacuum-controlled hydraulic engine mounts are used to minimize noise intrusion into the car's interior. A total of 41.3 kg of noise attenuation material is used throughout the TL, resulting in a vehicle that is serenely quiet, making long trips less fatiguing and more enjoyable.

Typically an extra-cost option (if offered at all) on competitive cars, the TL comes standard with reflector-type HID low beam headlights. Three times as efficient as conventional halogen lamps, the TL's HID system uses less electrical energy, yet produces almost twice the illumination with more than double the bulb life. The useful range of illumination on low beam increases 45 percent. This eliminates the need for separate fog lights. The TL's high beams use conventional halogen bulbs. An auto-off feature turns off the headlights 15 seconds after the driver's door is closed or the doors are locked.

In keeping with the TL's attention to detail, the hood is supported when open by gas-filled dampers. The trunk lid mechanism has been specially engineered with a link-style hinge that provides a more uniform opening and closing action and is less intrusive into the storage area within the trunk.

A wide range of advanced materials and technologies are used in the TL. Here is a listing of the more significant advances:

  • Laser-welded inner door panel blanks increase strength while minimizing weight
  • High-gloss B-pillars with improved scratch resistance
  • High-strength steel door panels for greater dent resistance
  • Side door protectors, front chin spoiler and side sill garnishes use body-color film manufacturing technology for greater chip and scratch resistance
  • Body-color roof molding
  • Lightweight fiberglass hood insulator
  • Anti-acid-etch clear coat
  • Chrome-plated injection molded door handles
  • Low modulus material applied to front spoiler for improved curb impact resistance
  • 57.5 percent of plastic materials are polypropylene or polyethylene and highly recyclable

Wind noise targets for the TL were set at a remarkably quiet level, which required an extensive amount of research and development to attain. All causes of wind noise were investigated, including crosswind components and their effect on total noise level. The work began on a computer simulation in early phases of development, then moved on to a full-scale wind tunnel later in the project. Besides the refined subtleties of the TL's body panel and folding side mirror shapes, many different new wind-sealing strategies were brought into play in the final car. The result is interior wind noise that is competitive with many far more expensive cars.

The cockpit-style interior has an intimate, driver-oriented feel, resplendent in luxurious materials like the hand-stitched, leather-wrapped steering wheel -- all assembled with great attention to detail. In all, the TL interior seamlessly satisfies the conflicting demands of both sport and luxury performance. The window switches throughout the car are illuminated, the LCD odometer display is brightened for better daytime visibility and the instrument panel script has a contemporary appearance.

Three key words drove the TL's interior design: emotional, personal and elegant. Emotional in its dramatic interior shapes and the individual feeling of the interior space. Personal in the connected, tactile sporting feel of the controls. Elegant in the fit and quality of fine interior materials.

The TL's interior designers looked to the wrap-around cockpit design of powerful pacific coast cruiser powerboats for inspiration. The flow of the TL's door panels into the instrument panel, then into the center console, echoes the same sort of personal, purposeful cockpit feel.

The TL's new interior capitalizes on the space efficiency afforded by the architecture of the car's unit-body design. Relative to the '98 TL, the redesigned multi-link rear suspension allowed the rear passenger's hip-point to be moved 10 mm rearward, opening up legroom in front and rear. With a 16-mm-lower cabin floor, but the same overall vehicle height, interior spaciousness was enhanced, and specially engineered door structures allowed increased interior space even though overall width of the new-generation TL is actually 15 mm less than before.

Relative to its prime competition, the TL is significantly roomier and offers more usable interior space, with room for five occupants.

To complement the TL's dual sporting/luxury mission, its standard power front seats have unique design features. Careful attention was paid to the stitching patterns in the upgraded, U.S.-sourced leather seating surfaces to ensure comfort over long periods of time. The supple, contoured seats with dual-density backrests provide an enveloping feel, but offer sufficient width for continuing comfort on long drives. To allow the driver to capitalize on the TL's elevated handling limits, firm side bolsters provide solid support during high-lateral-g cornering.

The driver's seat has heated bottom cushion and backrest, and the passenger's seat has a heated bottom cushion; the driver's seat is eight-way power adjustable, and the passenger seat offers four-way power adjustment. All five seating positions in the TL are equipped with three-point seat belts.

A highly accurate micro-processor-controlled instrument cluster keeps the TL's driver informed via a complement of analog instrumentation with illuminated pointers. The large diameter tachometer face includes a bold LCD digital indicator to track gear position when the transmission is in its semi manual SportShift mode.

Specially selected materials line the interior and lend the car an appropriately upscale ambiance. The instrument panel and door armrests are made with a special molding process that creates a softer-feeling surface with a uniform surface grain; the sides of the center console are backed with soft foam to cushion the driver's and passengers' legs. Wood-grain accents on the door panel and edges of the console warm the look of the interior.

Careful analysis of the prime competition led to the development of a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) for the TL that offers significantly faster temperature correction of the total passenger cabin. The TL's automatic system has a new compressor and larger evaporator and is assisted by solar glass, which reduces the heat load on the interior. In tests under hot ambient conditions, relative to the Lexus ES 300, the TL's front passenger area cools to a comfortable target temperature 15 percent sooner. And with the improved flow afforded by the TL's adjustable rear seat vents positioned behind the center console, the rear passenger compartment reaches a comfortable temperature a full 30 percent earlier than in the Lexus.

With a quiet blower unit, high airflow and an aluminum heater core, heater performance is similarly ahead of the prime competition. In cold ambient conditions the TL's front foot well temperature reaches the warmth target 15 percent sooner. The front to rear temperature differential is narrowed as well, meaning that rear seat passengers aren't left out in the cold.

A passenger compartment air-filtration system traps dust and pollen particles down to eight microns, helping to eliminate dust and other airborne particulates from the cabin area and also traps bacteria as small as one micron.

The latest generation of the Acura Navigation System is the only factory-installed option available on the well-equipped TL. In model-year '99, it proved to be remarkably popular with customers. In 2001, the Acura Navigation System returns with significant enhancements that boost its convenience and utility. There's a new matte-finish touch-screen that resists fingerprinting and is easier to read. Enhanced logic lets you type in your destination with significantly fewer keystrokes, and route calculation time has been reduced. You can also pre-program a route with up to five destinations, or have the moving map display icons for gas stations, restaurants or ATMs. And with a new DVD-ROM database with almost 14 times the storage capacity of the '99 system, the on-board system has 3.7 million additional points of interest, and covers the entire continental United States.

Like the similar system in the 3.5 RL, the 3.2 TL's unit uses Global Positioning System (GPS) data received from satellites, as well as its own inertial guidance system, to precisely pinpoint location and velocity. When asked to guide the driver from one location to another, the system provides both audio and visual cues, helping the driver find the proper destination quickly and easily and with minimal distraction. Verbal instructions such as, "Keep right" or "Next exit on the right" give the driver the basic direction. An LCD, located high on the center console, provides a moving map with direction arrows, detailed information on street names, turning instructions and driving distance. The navigation system also provides information and directions to local restaurants, theaters and points of interest.

The large six-inch, color LCD display has a picture-in-picture capability, so you can see the "big picture" map and get detailed turning instructions simultaneously. The system will also display your current position at any time, and a balloon function instantly shows the address of any location you select on the map. You can also search for a selected point of interest simply by inputting its phone number. The touch-screen display can also be used to provide manual control over the TL's automatic air conditioning operation. The voice guidance control has 11 different volume settings and automatically mutes the audio entertainment system front speakers momentarily when direction commands are given.

All freeway networks and major metropolitan areas in the U.S. are mapped by the system. The TL's on-board database can be updated annually by Acura dealers. The owner pays a minimal charge for annual updates.

A customized Acura/Bose Audio System is standard equipment on the TL. Designed and built as an integral part of the car, the system is engineered to take advantage of the TL's unique acoustics. All speakers have been carefully selected and placed, and the electronics have been specifically tuned to work with the car's interior. Bose equalization circuitry automatically maintains proper tonal balance at all times to produce natural, lifelike sound for drivers and passengers.

Another innovation in this music system is the Bose Nd woofer in the rear package shelf. Using a rare earth neodymium iron boron, its breakthrough design enables deep, powerful bass and high output from a remarkably slim, lightweight speaker. The music system comes complete with an in-dash CD player, cassette player, AM/FM stereo tuner and convenient steering wheel controls.

Another standard feature on the highly equipped TL is a glass moon roof with tilt-up and sliding action that can be used to increase interior ventilation or opened fully for open-air motoring. Its thin, efficient design is a contributing factor in the TL's abundant headroom.

CPU-controlled functions in the TL such as the various warning systems, illumination intensity, intermittent wipers, power windows, remote control security system, auto headlight system and more are divided among three separate CPUs. Communication among the CPUs is via a multiplex data bus, which requires considerably less wiring.

Offered in just one trim level, with a remarkably short options list, the TL has a formidable roster of standard comfort and luxury features.

Here are some of the more notable items:

  • Overhead sunglasses storage compartment
  • Large dual cupholder in the console with a removable liner for easy cleaning
  • Illuminated two compartment center console, with internal power port and hidden storage area
  • Padded center armrest slides fore and aft for comfort
  • Soft-touch instrument panel and interior panels
  • Glove box has a damper-controlled door and interior light
  • Four-disc CD storage tray built into dash (when not equipped with navigation system)
  • Trunk opening switch on driver's door panel and main switch in glove compartment
  • Sliding sun visor extensions
  • New illuminated power window switches at all positions
  • HomeLink" remote system operates three different devices
  • Speed-synchronized intermittent wipers
  • Dual cupholder built into rear fold-down armrest
  • Security system with remote keyless entry
  • Automatic day/night rearview mirror
  • Lockable trunk pass through

With the compact dimensions of the TL's multi-link rear suspension, the trunk volume is a generous 14.3 cu ft. A wide opening and low lift-over height eases loading and unloading. A lockable flip-down pass-through door to the passenger compartment expands utility further, for carrying long objects. A cargo net with multiple attachment points makes it easy to restrain cargo. The jack is in a closed compartment on the right side of the trunk, with a toolbox positioned nearby. A storage compartment is positioned on the left side of the trunk. A convenient hook just above allows plastic grocery bags to be secured in place. A tether with a hook allows the trunk floor to be secured in the raised position for convenient access to the spare tire.

2001 Acura 3.2 TL - Safety & Manufacturing

The TL is engineered as a total safety package with features designed to help in accident avoidance and to help protect the passengers in the event a collision is unavoidable. The best form of safety engineering is the type that prevents an accident from occurring in the first place. Accident avoidance items include standard Traction Control System (TCS), standard ABS disc brakes, Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights for enhanced visibility and 289.3 degrees of outward visibility.

Should an accident prove unavoidable, the TL protects its occupants with carefully orchestrated crash energy attenuation strategies developed on a super computer. Front and rear crumple zones, along with side impact enhancements help protect the passenger compartment. Standard driver's and front passenger's air bags with a dual-stage passenger's air bag and driver's and front passenger's side air bag system supplement the structural engineering in the 2001 3.2 TL.

The strength required to meet worldwide safety regulations was designed into the TL from the earliest stages of its development. In frontal impacts, straight-section frame box rails with large cross-sections feed impact energy directly into the main frame structure, without the need for stiffeners at changes in cross section. To exceed 2002 Federal head-impact safety regulations, the TL's interior has energy absorbing roof-pillar garnishes and roof lining designed to help reduce injury to the occupants. To better deal with offset-impact energy, reinforcements are placed at the roof side rails, side sills, A-pillars, and front and side frame members.

To help protect occupants during side impacts, the B-pillars are stiffened, a substantial cross member runs transversely across the floor pan, a tubular brace connects the two A-pillars inside the instrument panel, a bulkhead is positioned at the back of the passenger cabin and the rear doors have special catcher mechanisms to restrict intrusion into the passenger compartment. The doors have special reinforcements for side impact; twin side impact beams are placed in the front doors, with single beams in the rear doors. All four doors have a stamped steel stiffening structure at the tops of the door panels, as well as impact-absorbing door-lining pads positioned near the occupants.

The TL is equipped with a driver and front passenger air bag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS). The driver's air bag is located in the steering wheel hub, while the passenger's air bag is located on top of the dash. Both air bags are triggered simultaneously by means of three impact sensors located in the passenger compartment. To ensure maximum reliability, the sensors use gold-plated electrical connectors. As in all Acura automobiles, the front passenger's air bag is designed to deploy upward along the windshield and then back toward the occupant. This provides a large cushion to help protect the front passenger.

To enhance the protection of the front seat passenger during a variety of frontal impact collisions, varying air bag deployment power is used in the TL. The Honda R&D designed system, which uses a dual-stage inflator, is the first such design ever to be used on an automobile and automatically adjusts the deployment of the front passenger SRS airbag based on the severity of the crash. During a slower speed collision, the dual-stage inflator system for the dash-mounted air bag is triggered in sequence, resulting in slower overall air bag deployment with less initial force. During a higher speed collision, both inflators operate simultaneously for full immediate inflation, to correspond with the greater impact force.

The TL features seat-mounted side air bags for the driver and front seat passenger. The front passenger's seat is equipped with an innovative system designed to disable side air bag deployment and prevent injury to a small child if they lean into the side air bag deployment path. A series of seven sensors in the passenger seatback determine the height and position of the occupant to assist the system in determining if it is safe to deploy the side air bag. If the child is in the deployment path of the side air bag, the system will prevent the side air bag from inflating. When the child returns to an upright seating position, the side airbag will reactivate so it can deploy and protect the child in a side impact.

To allow a child seat to be securely positioned in any of the back seat positions, seat tether anchors are standard in the TL.

The TL features Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with double the total illuminating power of conventional halogen headlamps, enhancing visibility and active safety performance. The HID headlight bulbs also last twice as long as halogen bulbs and require less energy to operate.


The new TL is assembled exclusively in Ohio for markets worldwide. It is sold in the United States, Canada, Japan and other Asian countries. The vast majority of the TL's component parts are sourced and manufactured in the United States. Local suppliers were brought in on the project as early as possible to ensure the highest quality from the very beginning of mass production.

As part of Acura's ongoing effort to design and produce products where they will be sold, the move to produce the TL in Ohio was part of a natural progression. The TL is an international effort, combining Acura's resources in Japan with those of the Acura/American Honda product planning offices in Torrance, California, styling and engineering facilities completed at Honda R&D Americas -- Los Angeles and Ohio, the Anna engine plant and the Marysville, Ohio auto assembly plant.

With a local content of approximately 98 percent, the TL is classified as a domestic car by the EPA.

With Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc. (HAM), already drawing on 408 different suppliers to support its manufacturing activities of Honda and Acura products, the TL pushes that total to a new high of 414 suppliers.

In preparation for eventual production of the TL, manufacturing personnel reviewed competitive models and the 1997 production start-up of the Acura 2.2CL coupe. An extensive internal quality review of the Acura 3.5RL and previous-generation TL was also undertaken. With quality targets locked in, work was begun to ensure that the goals could be reliably met during the assembly process. Key areas targeted for new standards of excellence were:

  • Increased body accuracy
  • Paint appearance
  • Part fit and finish

Since producing its first engine in 1985, the Anna Engine Plant (AEP) has ramped up to a total production of 900,000 engines and related components per year. With 2700 associates and a total investment in facilities of $907 million, the Anna plant achieved a pace of 1000 V-6 engines per day for model year 1999. To provide the manufacturing capacity required for the TL, the factory's complement of 3500-ton casting machines was increased to four, and new manufacturing technologies and equipment were put in place for the TL's crankshaft and braking system.

With a start of production dating back to 1982, a total investment of $1.8 billion and more than 5800 associates, the Marysville Auto Plant (MAP) has attained a new quality standard with the production of the TL. Capable of producing a total of 1800 cars per day, MAP's flexible manufacturing environment allows seamless production of the TL on the same line as the Honda Accord despite vast differences between the two vehicles.

A variety of new manufacturing technologies are required to build the new TL:

  • New fluid-control paint system
  • New acid etch clear-coat paint system
  • Laser welding of inner door panels
  • Instrument panel modularization to increase consistency
  • Enhanced vehicle quality department