Learn More about the Acura CL
- CL is an acronym for "Contemporary Luxury". It is classified as a sporty coupe but still offers luxury and comfort to the owners.
- The first Acura to be built in the US was the CL. It was manufactured at the Honda plant in Marysville, Ohio but was designed in California. This is the same plant where the TL and the Honda Accord (CL's predecessors) were built. The CL was originally on the Accord coupe platform.
- The CL has been Acura's only mid-sized luxury coupe. Since the pull-out of the CL, the Acura has yet to release another car in the said category.
- Debuted in 1997, the CL started Acura's system of giving its cars alphanumeric names, save the Acura Integra. For six years (1997 to 2003), Acura sold the CL coupe worldwide.
- When the CL was introduced, it had four different versions (the 2.x Base, the 2.x Premium, 3.0 Base, and the 3.0 Premium). The Premium models boasted added features like the heated leather seating and the Bose stereo system.
- Even in its debut, the CL already had the edge over its competitors because it was engineered for performance and handling. The 1997 model had four disc-brakes for premium stopping capabilities and two ventilated front disc brakes for cooling. It was also installed with anti-lock brakes for sudden stops. Comfort-wise, the CL had wishbone front and rear suspension and an independent stabilizer bar with coil springs.
- Honda's target market for the CL was the empty-nester population, especially for the 2003 model. The company wanted them, who are experiencing life without children, to enjoy or re-enjoy a coupe instead of the SUV or minivans needed for family use.
- Honda opted to do away with the manual transmission for the 2001 model. The company only built 3,511 models with manual transmission (2,691 without navigation and 820 with navigation). But contrary to the expectations of Acura, there was a greater demand for the vehicle.
- Between 2000 and 2003, about 31,000 units of the CL were sold.
- Unlike the US CL, the Canadian CL has a daytime running lights and a windshield washer fluid level sensor equipped.
Acura CL: Not the Worst but Maybe Not the Best
The Acura CL debuted as a coupe for performance but Honda decided to throw in luxury and comfort-giving you the best of both worlds or, in this case, of three worlds. The CL was sold internationally from 1997 to 2003, giving almost everyone a chance to drive it. However, it was not as well-received as Acura would have predicted. Indeed, the CL may not have been the best from the brand but it definitely falls outside the "just-junk-it" category. Some of the factors that pull it down in the list of the most awesome cars are listed below.
Shifting problems and leaking
The main concern about the Acura CL is its transmission system. Downshifts, slips, and leaks are observed particularly for the automatic transmission models. This is especially true in the case of the 2001 CL, whose transmission fails usually at around 40,000 miles and causes problems with the shifting. This is generally an effect of debris blocking the transmission fluid's flow caused by excessive wear of the third gear clutch pack. In fact, this problem caused Acura to extend the warranties on the automatic transmission models to 7 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Another problem faced by CL drivers is the difficulty to start or restart the engine (after letting it sit for about 20 minutes). Especially true for the 2001 model, the vehicle has the tendency to stall during the cold months. This is caused by a faulty gear in the transmission; the gear tends to overheat and break, causing the transmission to lock. This, then, is what causes the stalls or sudden stops. A recall was ordered by the NHTSA to the second generation models (2001-2003) because the problem was, of course, an accident in the making. A usual remedy done by Acura CL owners is replacing the fuel pressure regulator and powertrain control module.
The CL is a 2x2 in seating so there's not much space to have in front or in the rear. Taller or bulkier passengers would not exactly fancy this sport coupe.
Why should I change my engine oil at the recommended service interval? Also, can I use oil additives?
The oil in your engine is crucial in its day to day operation. Not only does the oil lubricate the engine parts, it also helps in protecting the engine from too much heat and friction between these components. As you use your Acura CL, the engine oil deteriorates in the long run. Also, the engine oil has special additives that enhance its performance. These special additives eventually get consumed, or they break down as you drive your car. Following the recommended service interval will prevent costly damages in the engine brought about by extreme heat and friction.
Changing your engine oil more frequently than what is recommended in the owner's manual will be just a waste of your time and money, and it will be bad for the environment. Also, there is no need for adding oil additives to your engine oil. As long as you are using high-quality oils that have the Starburst symbol, it is enough. Oil additives are also a waste of time and money, plus they can damage your engine.
What does it mean if my "Malfunction Indicator Lamp" stays lighted while I'm driving?
If the malfunction indicator lamp stays lighted while you are driving, this could mean that the fuel filler cap is loose or missing. This usually happens when you recently refuelled. Tighten the cap until you hear a click. That should make the indicator lamp light go away immediately. However, if it still stays lighted, it could mean that there's a far greater problem in one of the emissions control systems in your engine. If this happens, you need to have your vehicle checked by your trusted car maintenance guy.
What type of gasoline is recommended on my Acura CL? And can I use specially blended fuels for summer and winter?
Generally, Acura recommends gasoline bought from major gasoline brands. It is imperative that you choose fuels that have efficient detergent additives. Fuels with detergent additives prevent the deposits build up in the fuel and engine systems.
And yes, you can very much use specially blended fuels for summer and winter. In fact, this will help your Acura CL perform better because summer and winter blended fuels will prevent hot or cold start problems.
Can I use winter tires on my Acura CL?
Yes. It is actually recommended that you use winter tires to improve your Acura CL's performance during the winter. The winter tires provide additional grip when the road is covered with ice and snow, making you and your ride safer.
Sometimes, I feel that my brake pedal sinks while I'm stopping on a red light. Why is that?
This happens when engine vacuum increases in your brakes. Engine vacuum occurs under various conditions. It is at its highest when all or most of the accessories are off and the accelerator pedal is released and at its lowest when all accessories are on and the accelerator pedal is stepped on.
The Short-lived Acura CL and Its History
At the end of the 1995 model year, after its sedan version was renamed the Acura RL, the Acura Legend coupe was discontinued. This change of name was due to Acura’s decision to name its models alphanumerically, except for the Integra. For the 1997 model year, the Legend coupe was replaced by the CL, a name that stands for “Contemporary Luxury”. The production of the Acura CL stopped in 1999, but it was again revived in the year 2001 until 2003. The CL takes pride in being the first Acura model that was assembled and produced in the United States. It was made in Honda’s plant near Marysville, Ohio.
1997–1999: First generation Acura CL
The first-generation Acura CL debuted in the spring of 1996 as an early '97 two-door midsize coupe model. Initially, this model was offered with a shared Honda Accord’s 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine, hence the name 2.2CL. The said engine was able to crank out 145 horsepower. In the fall of 1997, a 3.0CL, which was powered by a new 200-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine, arrived. A 4-speed automatic transmission was standard on the 3.0 CL and optional on the 2.2CL. Both versions come with standard dual airbags and antilock 4-wheel disc brakes.
For the 1998 to 1999 model years, the CL got a face lift, a good revamp, and a 2.3L (F23A1) engine that’s able to achieve 150hp. It was also offered in four different versions–the 2.x Base, 2.x Premium, 3.0 Base, and the 3.0 Premium. Premium models come with several additional features, including a premium Bose stereo system and heated leather seats.
2001–2003: Second generation Acura CL
In the spring of year 2000, Acura introduced the second-generation Acura CL. This front-drive, near-luxury coupe, which was released as an early 2001 model, was slightly bigger and heavier than its first-generation predecessors. However, it retained its appearance and four-seat layout. The 2001 Base model was powered by a 3.2L V6 engine that produced a whopping 225 horses. The 260-horsepower version of the said engine was in the new performance-oriented CL Type-S, which is said to be Acura’s Sport edition. The Type S was also outfitted with 17” wheels, larger brakes, a more solid suspension, and firmer seats. A five-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift gate was installed on both models. Front side airbags and antilock all-disc brakes were also standard.
The 2003 CL Type-S model, which was introduced in 2002, was equipped with a close ratio 6-speed manual transmission with a Limited Slip Differential. Due to declining sales, the CL was dropped from Acura's lineup and was replaced by the Acura TSX sedan in 2004.