Looking for a fast car? Not interested in boy-racer wings and body cladding? Honda Canada has a car for you in the 2002 Acura 3.2TL Type S. The Type S moniker denotes a higher-performance version of an already high performance car, a four-door sedan riding on a 108-inch wheelbase, powered by a 3.2 L V-6. There are lots of mid-size and large four-doors with V-6 engines, but this Acura’s powerplant generates 260 horsepower at 6100 RPM, and 232 lb.-ft of torque spread between 3500 and 5500 RPM. The power is prodigious, and the wide torque band removes the most common complaint about high-output Honda and Acura engines: the lofty power band, often crowding the redline of some other manufacturer’s designs. The engine is a 3210cc 24-valve belt-driven SOHC all-aluminum unit with variable valve timing (both lift and duration) and coil-on-plug ignition. The intake system uses a valved dual plenum design, and fuel injection is, of course, port-type and computer-controlled. The single knock sensor is centrally located in the block, which is unique to the Type S with spin-cast iron cylinder liners in a ribbed casting. Compression is 10.5 to 1. At 3485 pounds at the curb, the 3.2 TL is svelte for a largish sedan loaded with power accessories, but the strong acceleration and considerable top speed is the result of more than horsepower. The transmission is a five-speed unit with an extremely long 5th ratio of 0.470 to 1. The effect is that of a close ratio four-speed combined with a wide ration five speed, with the computer-controlled shift points determining the mode. While that’s an obvious performance advantage, the 3.2TL Type S returned 32 miles per gallon in real world driving conditions, with mixed city and highway driving, a remarkable number for a larger sedan with a high-output engine. The automatic is so good, in fact, that the standard Sequential SportShift toggle shifter is unneeded, and won’t allow severe engine braking anyway.
Handling is light and precise, courtesy of double wishbone suspension front and back, as well as V-speed rated 215/50 R17 Michelins. Brakes are the obligatory four wheel disc, with a separate parking brake acting on an internal drum cast into the rear discs. The brakes are busy, with both ABS and Vehicle Stability Assist duties, and for 2002 feature revised friction material in the front and a different pedal ratio for improved feel. There’s also a low-speed traction control system to reduce wheel spin off the line. Without it would be hard to keep from chirping the front tires, and even with the system, a hint of torque steer reminds you that this is a powerful machine. There are no options available for the 3.2TL Type S, mainly because there really isn’t much you can add to the already loaded car.
Service issues are fairly conventional. The engine access is about average for a V-6 front-driver, and the climate control system uses a micron-level cabin air filter. The basic vehicle warranty is five years or 160,000 kilometers, but distributors are covered for three years or 60,000 kilometers, and batteries for three years (50 percent coverage in the third year). Engine access is typical for a V-6 front driver.
Complaints are few with the TL3.2 Type S. A little more lumbar support would be useful, as would a manual transmisson option. Styling is conservative, which may or may not be a fault, depending on your taster. At $41,000, it is a good value, but a version with a little less content (delete the leather, auto trans and assorted power goodies) would make this excellent sedan accessible to more Canadians. In its current form, the 2002 Acura TL3.2 Type S is simply a fast, agile and comfortable mid-luxury sedan.