2005 Acura TL

27,000 miles of those are mine.

I had planned on renting another vehicle for a road trip to see a friend and his parents in South Carolina this past weekend, but the rates were too high and selection would have been slim.  I thought this would be a good time to write about my daily driver instead.


I bought “TiLly” almost 2 years ago and have been very happy thus far.  I know I know, the Acura fanatics are screaming “What about the awful transmissions?!?!?!?!”  Yes, I considered that when I was scoping out replacements for my ’95 Legend, but the trans fluid had been changed twice before I bought it so I was confident all was well.  Naturally, I would have preferred a 6-speed TL Type-S, but those command at least double the price.

I bought mine with 117,000 miles and it now sits at 144,700.  I didn’t buy the car perfect, but it had some recent work done that put my mind at ease about upcoming service.  The inside trunk release has never worked and the driver side door actuator worked only in the cold at first and gradually stopped working completely in early 2017.  The previous owner said he changed the cabin filter and didn’t reconnect the trunk release inside the glove box.  That wasn’t completely true.  I now have parts ordered to fix the door and trunk release and my new mechanic said that the trunk release was in pieces when he inspected it and would have been impossible to reconnect as is.  He said the car overall is in ‘very good shape’ and one of the better TL’s he’s seen.  The complete laundry list of fixes was thankfully very short since the only worked I’ve done in the past 18 months has been oil changes and a new set of tires.  The lower control arm bushing is cracked (makes perfect sense once you see the oversized rubber) and the power steering pump is leaking internally (also very common).  I’ve never added power steering fluid since I’ve had it nor does the slight tear in the bushing affect performance, so neither is a priority.


I like, love, and loathe a lot of things about the TL and a few of those feelings are surprises.  I love, more like adore, the way it handles.  It’s the best handling car I’ve owned by a long shot mainly due to the 17″ low profile tires and tight suspension, but that’s the trade-off for having such a harsh ride on less than perfect streets.


I haven’t had the pleasure of riding in the back seat (yet), but the seats are very comfortable according to the passengers I’ve had back there. . . plus I think they are comfortable while I’m cleaning it.


The center stack is very well laid out and easy to use.  I have the base model so there’s no NAV, but who needs that as long as Google Maps is free?  Notice the [cheap] dashboard cover that I just installed a few weeks ago.  TL dashboards are known to crack and this one is no exception.  There was a small crack right above the glove box when I bought it and many more, much larger cracks developed soon after.  The first 16 months of ownership I had to park it outside in the sun which my only my ’89 Legend benefitted.

The highway gas mileage was a pleasant surprise also.  A 260hp car that achieves 33mpg is hard to believe, especially after experiencing full throttle at a stoplight.


The lowest mileage I’ve ever achieved was 18mpg.  That 18mpg would have been impossible in a 260hp ANYTHING on the city or highway just 20 years ago.  It’s really comfortable for 4 people and still not too bad for five.  The 10-way adjustable driver’s seat will fit nearly anyone like a glove, but not comfortable enough to avoid driver fatigue after 300 miles.  The onboard trip computer is a neat gadget, but not really useful for everyday driving.  I never realized how much time I spent SITTING in the car per tank of gas until I reset the trip computer after a fill-up.


The AM/FM/Cassette/6-CD changer sound system is 2nd only to the Nakamichi stereo in the LS400 I [foolishly] briefly owned.  All ranges are clear and easy to adjust if you prefer more or less of high, mid, or low.  The cup holder cover just broke within the last 2 weeks, another very common problem in TL’s.  The heated seats have never worked and I don’t even know if it is an easy fix or not.

This is my 8th Acura I’ve owned.  My first choice was another 4-door 5-speed Integra, but those are getting hard to find without being overly customized and/or completely rusted.

In order of ownership:

1987 Integra RS
1988 Integra SE 5-speed
1990 Legend LS
1989 Integra LS 5-speed
1998 Integra LS 5-speed
1989 Legend L
1995 Legend SE

There was a VW Fox (with intentions to flip it), Camry (temporary insanity), and Lexus LS400 (best car ever made, my ass) in that mix.  I haven’t strayed from Acura since 2004 and as long as I can find a well maintained 2008 model or earlier, I won’t stray again.  Many would agree that style and design are on the back burner at Acura now, so unless I get deal of the century on a 2009 or newer ‘beak’ Acura, none in the future for me. . . except maybe a TSX wagon.

Things of note:
Parts are still readily available and not overly priced.
I’m so confident with this TL, I’d go on a 5,000 mile road trip tomorrow.
Very happy that standard equipment Tire Pressure Monitor (TPMS) started in 2006.
It still looks pretty fresh 13 years later
0-60 time around 6 seconds.
Premium fuel required – I tried of course using regular and the car did not approve.
Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
Flashback 22 months ago and I’d buy this all over again.  I doubt anyone could find a 13 year old TL to rent, but if a 10 year old manual TL Type-S is out there to “borrow” for a week, I’d be all over it!  Absolutely do not buy if there’s no service records, especially transmission fluid changes.
Acura if you’re listening . . .
Bring back at least a little of the passion in the premier division of Honda.  Who am I kidding?  Toyota’s current line-up is more interesting.
On a scale from 1-100: (1-no way, 100-I’ll buy another house with more garage space)
Buy it now – 85
Buy it later at half the current price – 25 (transmission issues almost guaranteed)
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 75
Oooh and ahhh factor – 35
Recommended – (90 to buy / n/a to rent)

2 thoughts on “2005 Acura TL

  1. Did you get a logo magnet to stick on the car or is that photoshop? Nice advertising while you’re out and about! Interesting to read some of your perspective on TiLly. I didn’t know that TPMS became a thing in 2006. Your seats appear to have held up well. The 3GTL has such great balance, no wonder you’ve enjoyed it so much. My time with my Type-S was short-lived but delivered a lot of smiles per gallon.


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