2002 Acura CL Review

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High Gear Media Staff High Gear Media Staff  
December 17, 2001

If books shouldn’t be judged by their covers, certainly the Acura CL shouldn’t be judged by its looks. Even in racy Type S trim, the CL’s shape can only be described as smoothly sculpted, inoffensive, and unfortunately, similar to a lot of other coupes. Walking past it from the front, a somewhat car-savvy neighbor mistook it for a Toyota Solara, until he noticed the Acura emblem.

But honestly, the CL, and particularly the high-performance Type S we recently drove, is much more edgy and fun than its looks imply.

Top-notch powertrain VTEC

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The engine in the Type S incorporates a number of power-gaining enhancements. It has the same all-aluminum 3.2-liter VTEC V-6 as the CL, but with a more aggressive camshaft, revised intake valves and cylinder heads, and a larger fuel injection throttle body, plus additional strengthening ribs for the engine block. A higher volume induction system and a dual-outlet exhaust allow the engine enough heavy breathing to take advantage of the goodies. The modifications together add up to 260 horsepower at 6100 rpm and 232 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm: That’s 35 more horsepower and 16 more lb-ft of torque than the base CL. Despite the performance hardware, the Type S can go 105,000 miles before its first scheduled tune-up.

The VTEC (Variable valve Timing and lift Electronic Control) system on the Type S’s V-6 uses two different sets of cam lobes: one for low and mid revs, and another more aggressive one for high revs above 4800 rpm. The transition isn’t quite as pronounced as with some of Honda’s high-revving VTEC four cylinder engines, but the V-6 does undergo a personality change in terms of the way it sounds. At the 4800-rpm transition, the exhaust note suddenly becomes deeper and more urgent.

The five-speed automatic transmission features a manumatic-type control that Acura terms Sequential SportShift. A second shift gate closer to the driver enables the manual function. Tip the shifter forward to go up a gear, back to go down a gear. A red-tinted digital display near the tachometer shows you which of the five gears you’re currently in.

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