2003 CL New Car Test Drive
Sport coupes often demand the driver sacrifice comfort and convenience for sport. The Acura CL minimizes this. It's an easy car to live with. The CL is designed for drivers who want the comfort and quality of a luxury car but the handling, power, and sporty image of a coupe. The CL achieves all of this with a cabin that's comfortable, convenient and luxurious, a smooth, quiet ride, agile handling, and plenty of power. Though it won't draw stares from kids on skateboards, it is attractive and sporty.
The CL Type-S boasts a more powerful engine, a sports suspension, and anti-skid control. The suspension is a bit stiff and degrades the smooth ride quality of the standard CL. A new six-speed manual gearbox is available for 2003 Type-S models, along with the five-speed automatic with Sequential SportShift. We preferred the automatic for similar reasons. The manual adds unwanted roughness to this smooth, elegant coupe.
Styling revisions distinguish 2003 CL models. Interiors receive some minor revisions, but more important are new safety features: The LATCH system has been added to the outboard rear seats to better secure child safety seats, the driver gets a new dual-stage, dual-threshold front air bag, and OnStar has been added to the optional Navigation system package.
Acura CL is available in two versions, CL and CL Type-S. Both are well equipped. In fact, only one option is available: Acura's navigation system, called NAVI ($2150), which comes bundled with the OnStar telematics system.
Both models are powered by Honda's 3.2-liter V6. The standard CL makes 225 horsepower, which is a lot of power for this class. The Type S makes an even more impressive 260 horsepower, thanks a number of subtle engine tweaks. Both models come standard with a five-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift. Type-S offers a six-speed manual gearbox as a no-cost option.
CL ($28,200) comes loaded with luxury features. Standard equipment includes antilock brakes, traction control, front and side airbags, auto-on Xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, remote keyless entry, heated outside mirrors, leather seating with eight-way power for the driver and four-way power for the front passenger, wood trim, automatic climate controls, Bose audio with a six-disc CD changer in the dash, an adjustable steering column and a power moonroof.
CL Type-S ($30,550) comes with more horsepower, a suspension tuned for more responsive handling, and an electronic stability program.