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2004 Acura TL

Is it just a fancy Honda Accord? Automotive expert , Updated:

Is it just a fancy Honda Accord?

Call it a form of nepotism, but since the Acura TL is based on the Accord chassis and running gear the question that comes to mind was whether this Acura is really worth thousands of dollars more than its close relative, the Honda Accord. It didn't take long for us to find the answer. If you need the extra leather, 30 more horsepower, larger tires, sterner suspension, and more aero styling you can rationalize the extra funds. However, if you are practical the Honda Accord is the better value.

The Facts: Resale is higher with the Accord based on Costs of operation are lower with the Accord. The Accord is quieter. The Accord has more storage room by over two cubic feet. The Accord gets better gas mileage by over two gallons per mile. The warranty for the Acura is considerably longer at four years and 60,000 miles versus the Honda's standard three year, 36,000 mile program. The basic cost of the Acura is $34,650 (US) with the navigation system. The Accord with the same options cost $28,400 (US). Finally, the Accord turning radius is much better taking nearly three feet less r

Mom's view: The Acura is much more a driver's car than the Honda. It has a sharp turn-in, bordering on over steering, and the large tires make a rumbling noise that is distracting at times. Perhaps the worst feature of the Acura TL is a way too large turning radius the makes mall parking more of an adventure than I would like, and a front spoiler that scrapes its nose on pretty much anything the resembles an incline.

On the other hand, the Accord is much more pedestrian, bordering on boring, and does not have the snazzy interior of the Acura or the zoom potential. As the Accord, the Acura has an available manual transmission that is fairly easy to shift rapidly. In the Accord the manual transmission yields better fuel mileage. In the Acura it means getting the most out of an engine that needs at least 4000 rpm to be taken seriously. In fact, the reason I did not like the Acura, besides the fact that it scrapes its lower lip on every driveway entrance is that if you are in the wrong gear and want acceleration, you better be prepared for a wait. However, if you are an attentive driver and attuned to the demands of this Acura it rewards you with aggressive thrust.

Where the exterior is too boy racy for me, the TL's interior really glows, honest. The gauges are very easy to read with bright blue electroluminescent gauges with white and red trim. You also get leather upholstery. However, I did notice that the seat bottoms were getting a little lumpy in our test vehicle that only had 11,000 miles on the odometer. Storage wise, the door pockets have hard covers that make it difficult to reach items without the door open. Acura also has a trunk that isn't really large, although it has a terrific cargo net. In fact, it's the best we have ever tested. Another great feature was the GPS that worked well, but someone needs to understand that on the highest setting the street names all have to be there and large enough to read without your glasses.

Standard safety features include four-wheel antilock disc brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist, as well as stability control, seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants and side curtain airbags for front and rear occupants. The TL has not been crash tested, but Acura is predicting a five-star sweep of government front- and side-impact tests, and a top rating in IIHS frontal offset crash testing.