What the Acura CL Is Known For
The CL was the first Acura to be designed, engineered, and manufactured in the U.S. The CL was considered a more affordable, entry-level luxury vehicle than the TL and a step up from the Integra. Acura marketed the CL as a sport-luxury coupe intended to compete with the BMW 318is, BMW 328is, and Lexus SC300.
While most Acura and Honda models are best known for reliability, the first generation Acura CL had persistent issues with the driver’s side window. The second generation CL had an airbag inflator recall and suffered from transmission problems around 40,000 miles. Despite this, the Acura CL was still considered a relatively reliable car with its most redeeming feature as one of the least expensive luxury vehicles on the market.
Acura CL Models
The first Acura CL was produced in 1996, but was not available in most areas until a year later. The Acura CL was available in a 3.0 liter V-6 with 200 horsepower or a 2.2 L engine with 145 horsepower. The 1998 and 1999 models CL models were available in either a four- or six-cylinder and the 2.3 liter offered a 5-speed manual transmission with an optional automatic transmission. CL's equipped with the 3.0 liter came standard with a four-speed automatic transmission. Prior to 1999, leather upholstery was a premium trim option, but became standard on all CL models after 1999.
Following the 1999 production year, the Acura CL was discontinued until the second generation model came out in 2001. The 2001 Acura CL shifted up-market to compete with higher-end performance coupes such as the BMW 328Ci, Volvo C70, and Mercedes-Benz CLK320. The first generation’s CL's 55-watt fog lamps were replaced with non-functioning air vents. In addition, the headlights and taillights were redesigned, and the grille and handles now matched the body color. Due to complaints, the CL's rearview mirrors were redesigned as a square shape to cut down on wind noise. The second generation Type-S featured 17 inch12-spoke wheels.
The 2001 to 2003 models were very similar in style and engineering. All CL editions had a 3.2 liter VTEC engine. The regular CL offered 225 horsepower, while the Type-S boasted an enhanced 260 horsepower. The 2001 and 2002 models were available with a 5-speed automatic transmission and the 2003 Type-S had a 6-speed manual transmission.
The last Acura CL produced was the 2003 model.