1997 Acura CL 2.2 from North America

Summary:

A great daily driver that will make point A to B a lot more fun!

Faults:

For the high mileage of this car when I bought it, very little has gone wrong.

The CV shaft had a crack in it when I bought it.

The window motor on the passenger side is going out.

The slave cylinder in the clutch went out a couple days ago, but that was due to the previous owner who installed that part incorrectly.

All together about 600 dollars, which is very minimal.

General Comments:

I'm in love with this car. It's reliable, pretty speedy, and a blast to drive.

Having owned it a little over a year and driving it as hard as I have, it still starts up every morning with no problems. And that's saying something, because I'm a crazy teenage driver. While returning 30+ mpg ratings every fill up.

Downsides to the car... Hmm. Not the best in the turns, and it will lose most green light pulls.

From what I've heard also, don't buy the car if it's an automatic. They have been known to crap out quite frequently. But generally speaking; a wonderful first car. Comfortable, peppy, great mileage, it looks pretty good, and plenty of trunk space.

So if you want to kill someone, put them in your trunk, drive away quite quickly, and a great distance with no more than 30 dollars in your tank, while being quite comfy on the way... this is your perfect car.

Oh, and a sun roof. Who doesn't like sun roofs? That makes everything better.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th April, 2010

1997 Acura CL 3.0 from North America

Summary:

A commendable blend of reliability, performance, and comfort

Faults:

Nothing of real concern has ever gone wrong with this car, and I imagine that will hold true for many years to come.

Normal wear items have been replaced including brakes this week.

The only area of surprise has been the cars tendency to wear tires quicker than expected.

General Comments:

A wonderful luxury-sport entry, providing all of the well rounded traits expected with the Acura tag.

The engine is an absolute 10, being very well balanced in Hp and torque, while also able to pass gas pumps left and right.

The cabin has more room and trunk space than most competitors. Fit and finish are excellent.

I'll be selling her soon in order to purchase a 2003 CL. Suspension was tighter and more responsive than her Lexus and Infiniti counterparts.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th August, 2009

1997 Acura CL Premium 3.0 V6 from North America

Summary:

Nice coupe, but could have been much better

Faults:

An assortment of surprising issues, especially since I had never had such issues with a Honda/Acura product.

1) Driver's seat power return memory function constantly gave problems. Gave up after several iterations of non-functioning/fix/non-functioning again.

2) Driver's power window failed completely.

3) Front suspension issue – front securing nut of the lower strut bar came off, twice, causing some “interesting” moments of veering to the right under braking when it happened. On the second occasion, the car struck a curb, damaging the alloy wheel. Could have been much more serious if it had occurred at a high speed – I was lucky both times in that it happened at lower speeds.

The good news is that these issues were all covered under warranty.

General Comments:

This CL was very mixed bag, in my view. It was more costly to maintain, and less bullet-proof than other Honda/Acura products I have owned. The issues mentioned above obviously ranged from the annoying to the serious. Interestingly, this was the first Honda/Acura product I owned that was assembled in the US, although it is not possible for me to determine if the issues had anything to do with assembly, or were more related to design and component quality.

The overall performance was mixed as well. The V-6 VTEC engine was smooth and reasonably powerful, but Acura saw fit to limit top speed. The car would accelerate strongly to 100 MPH, but then the speed limiting logic would start to kick in, causing the car to act like it didn’t want to hear about 110 MPH or higher (even though the vehicle and driveline could easily have achieved 140 if not inhibited).

The car was a fantastic highway machine, with incredibly comfortable seats, a fuss-free climate control system that did a great job of temperature regulation, effective cruise control, a good stereo, and reasonable fuel mileage. It was notably quiet and relaxed, but with good power available whenever you needed it.

Off the highway, it was a different story. First off, the only transmission available for the V-6 was the automatic box, the control logic of which was garbage. The box could never be trusted to be sure of the correct gear unless it was cruising. For example, while slowly rolling in traffic, a moderate accelerator depression resulted in the car effectively saying “huh?” with an awkward pause that seemed to last for ages. This was especially bad in some situations, e.g. having a little forward motion while waiting for a gap in opposing traffic to make a cross-traffic turn. When your gap appeared, the tranny wanted to stay in 2nd gear (if you had any forward motion at all, even just a few MPH) rather than kick down to 1st to get you through without getting killed. Of course, you could mash the throttle to the floor, and it would at last kick-down; you would then scream across like you were insane! The box often was confused like that, and in stop-and go traffic, it was often best to try to manually shift between 1st and 2nd, although it wasn’t set-up very well for that. All told, I would have infinitely preferred the manual 5-speed, as offered in the 4 cylinder models.

Fortunately, I turned in the car at the end of the lease before I encountered what became well-known failures of these automatics that plagued Honda products for several years. So although it functioned poorly in many ways, it never failed for me.

The steering of this year CL, while having reasonably good feel and being well-weighted, was far too slow & low-geared for a coupe with some sporting pretensions. The turning circle was poor also. I understand these issues may have been addressed in later years.

I never felt the CL handled noticeably better than any Accord, on which the car was based. The suspension was fairly soft, and thus offered a good ride, and while not seeming to impart too much body roll, still didn’t support especially sporting handling. Normal FWD understeer was more pronounced by the weight of the V-6, and not helped by the slow steering. I thought it was a mediocre handler for a car that was marketed as a sport coupe.

So overall, the package was a bit of a paper tiger, trying to look like a luxo-sport coupe but being little more that an upscale V-6 Accord 2-door in terms of real performance.

What Honda/Acura did do very well with this car is offer a nice, clean, and handsome exterior styling exercise, with a very comfortable and nicely appointed interior. The driving position was excellent, visibility was superior, controls were effective and well-placed, and the quality of materials was very good, especially for the moderate price of the car.

This year and my example may have had some early production issues which were ironed out later, except for the auto transmission. Anyone picking up a used example of this first series CL may be well-advised to get a later year, and if it’s fitted with the automatic, find out if it has been replaced (yet) under warranty. It is my understanding that Honda replaced a large number of these for Accords, CLs and TLs in the late ‘90’s and early 00’s, generally granting an extended warranty for the box. It’s probably best to get an example that has had the tranny replaced.

If you don’t expect it to be a tossable sports machine, and you can live with its limitations, it was a very nice package. But I wouldn’t want mine back.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th June, 2009