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Replacement for 2002 Acura TL Type S

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


Looking to replace a 2002 Acura TL-S. After 200000 miles and 15 years of service its time to replace it. My preference is for something smaller and more nimble with a maxium new price of $27,000.

Prefer a Sedan bodystyle
Should have nimble handling for its size class
4 wheel disc brakes
Reliable and durable, expect this car to last 10 years
Good fuel economy
Rear View Camera
Power drivers seat
Alloy Wheels

Do Not Want
Alternative fuel. No Diesels or CNG
Expensive Insurance
4 wheel drive
Poor Reliability
SUV, CUV or Wagon.

Turbocharging I'd rather not go this route but saying no outright would limit choices
Hatchback only if Sedan bodystyle is not an option. Mini for example
Hybrids. Prefer a standard gas but will not rule out a hybrid
Manual Transmission too often hard to get and only found on base models. Most of the benefits are gone with DCTs and CVTs.

Priorities: Handling / Safety & braking / Fuel economy

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Sedan

Car Needs: Daily commuter

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 25000
Maximum age: 2 years

Maximum price: US $ 26000

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Response from fredjeep

11:06 am June 22, 2016

Hello pmegumi,

I became a fan of Honda products while working for a Honda dealer for 8 years. (The Accord V6, Civic Si and the Acura TL were favorites.) When I began my time, Hondas were practical, economical, good looking and most of all Fun-to Drive! Now they are just a wannabe Toyota-clone appliance with driver fun/involvement blunted by tastes (and pocketbooks) of those who hate to drive.

If you like your TL's level of fun, refinement, luxury and driver involvment, I would recommend the Mazda6 or Mazda3. The mid-range 6 and top level 3 can be had within your budget. They offer everything you desire, including manual shifting transmission and a naturally aspirated - high revving engines in all trims. Both have georgous interiors and a chassis that is a gift from the driving gods. All this and MPG in the 30s. The 6 is bigger, quieter and more refined than the 3, but the 3 is more tossable and faster (at least with the 2.5L). Whichever you choose, both are an absolute hoot to drive!

When we were looking for our next new car in 2013, we looked at nearly all the choices. The Civic was bland and cheap, the Imprezza was slow and bland. The Forte and Elantra boring and dull. The Golf GTi/Jetta GLi were fun, but out of our budget as was the Mini. Finally we happend on the new for '14 Mazda3 and BOOM! This is what we were looking for. Within the first 2 miles of the test drive, my wife looked and me and simply said "yes". Our 2014 Mazda3 S Grand Touring Hatchback now has 25,000 miles and has been trouble free. During the commute it is a friendly economy car, but press the "Sport" button and it comes alive, eager to eat tarmac and chew up the curves. My co-worker has a 2015 Mazda6 S Touring and he has the same thoughts as I do. We love our Mazda and their stand against the flow of the rest of the auto-appliance industry. Mazda builds cars for those of us who love to DRIVE! With Honda's slide into mediocrity I am grateful we found Mazda.

Good luck with your search,



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Mazda Mazda6
Mazda Mazda3
Honda Civic

Response from mkaresh

1:17 pm June 24, 2016

Among current cars, I'd also suggest the Mazda3. But the next Civic Si could be an even better fit. No details have been announced yet, but given how good the new regular Civic is I expect the next Si to be an excellent driver's car.

A Ford Focus would probably be less reliable, but could be far less expensive to buy if they're discounting the heavily. Getting the manual transmission avoids the most common source of problems.


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Mazda Mazda3
Honda Civic
Ford Focus

Response from pmegumi

9:35 pm June 25, 2016

I managed to test drive a Mazda 3. The car handling was excellent, I didn't really find any issues that jumped out at me immediately from a driving standpoint. The S GT has the better dash with the central tach and digital speedo. I didn't like the digital tach in the i models and that's terrible with a manual (and hard to see during the day) The Auto tranny did a good job and was quite responsive. The interior was nice I found the seats to be confortable as well. The S GT model would probably be my choice.

I have not gotten a chance to test drive the new Civic yet. The 9th gen Civics were awful for me to sit in. I had less than 1" of head room and the two tier dash which looked like that thing from the mid 90s prelude which killed that car is awful to look at. I had a similiar problem with the related ILX, no headroom at all. The narrow windows on both cars and bad seating situation ended any chance for me to even consider them. I did sit in a demo 2016 civic at an auto show last year and I had about 3-4" of headroom. I'm curious to see how it drives as its the most likely alternate choice in my prefered size and weight class.

Doing my due diligence I am also looking at cars close to the TL-S in size, I test drove a Mazda 6 i touring, I liked that car as well, it doesn't quite have the razor sharp steering as the Mazda 3 but it did have a nicer more normal dash. Handling didn't seem quite as secure as the Mazda 3 or an Accord Sport but that may have been in part to the replacement tires as this used 6 had 70K miles on it.

Accord Sport now this car was an interesting case as it was the first CVT I drove. I hardly even noticed it under normal driving, but it does feel a bit odd when accelerating in more than a "normal" level. I thought it handled better than the Mazda 6 and felt more stable in the corners. It felt like a slightly heavier Mazda 3. If I could combine things, I would like the Mazda 6 engine and transmission in the Accord sport.

I had a Nissan Altima S as a rental for a week. The CVT in this car would do some odd things even during normal driving. Sometimes I would see the tach go up and down even when I am trying to go at a constant speed. This car handled decently and it had decent enough power. If I had a problem with the Altima it was with the zero gravity seats. I'm one of the people who don't find them comfortable. If it wasn't for the seats, I would give this car some consideration as its being heavily discounted making even the V6 model in my price range. The car was very stingy on gas, I got 33 MPG for the week.

I think normal stepped gear automatics are preferred for me over a CVT.

I was hoping to rent a Focus not an Altima but I'll take a look at one. Hatchbacks are not my preference and I do see lots of low mileage used ones for sale, that doesn't look good.


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Mazda Mazda3
Honda Accord
Nissan Altima

Response from dfj240

5:46 pm June 30, 2016

Might I suggest the Subaru WRX, or even the Subaru Legacy? Subaru is one of the most reliable manufacturers on the road. Both the WRX and Legacy tick pretty much every box that you've set forth as requirements. You can even have a top of the line WRX with a manual transmission, which I too share your love of. Subaru is now completely synonymous with the word safety, and they handle unbelievably well, especially with the AWD system. What's surprising is how well they do in the fuel economy department given the AWD. They won't compete for the most fuel efficient car award or anything, but it's hard to argue with mid-high 20's out of a turbocharged AWD car. I have a 2003 Acura CL Type-S with the optional 6-Speed Manual, and that car is just a huge grin of a machine. Comfortable, luxurious, powerful, efficient, and the limited slip differential makes it unbelievably nimble for being a relatively large car. I was recently looking at the new Accord, the TL-S, the Civic Si, and even went the Nissan route (which was sort of disappointing). I wasn't really captured by any of them and swept away. My wife was driving a entry level 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i, and it had run the miles up near 150k mark, and while it was still an excellent car for us, I figured I had better get her somethiing new before buying myself something. I was shocked when she refused a brand new loaded Toyota Highlander as a replacement, and instead stood firmly on "I'm not giving up my Subaru for that or anything else unless it's another Subaru." I was taken aback. Off to Subaru I went. Long story short, we ended up with a fully loaded 2016 Impreza Sport Limited, and she was giddy. I was still intrigued. Then I drove the new WRX, and it all made sense. It's an unbelievable automobile. It doesn't strike me as particulary beautiful or attractive, and looking at the features list, you might think that it's not particularly well-equipped, but I've also worked out some of the genius in the way that Subaru packages their cars. Instead of giving you automatic power windows on all the windows in the car, they give the driver (and sometimes the passenger) one, and that's it. Instead of offering dual multi-way power seats for both driver and passenger, they give the driver one, and that's it. In short, instead of offering all these extras and spending the extra money adding bits to the car that will only drive the cost of the car up, they focus on the mechanics and the feel of the car. The WRX was an absolute joy to drive. Furthermore, the resale value of the WRX is incredibly high. The consumer satisfaction ratings are excellent, and Subaru, as a brand, was voted together with Audi as being the only car companies with a full 100% recommendation rating from Consumer Reports for every car that they manufacture in the US. I have owned a lot of cars over the years, but up until a few years ago when I bought that 06 Outback, had never owned a Subaru. It had always been Honda, Nissan, Toyota, and the occasional experiment here and there. I was really blown away by Subaru, and will firmly suggest that you go take a look and take a drive. I think you'll find your value for money will go a long way there. If you are still set on Honda for any reason, I would suggest the Accord 4-Door, 4-Cylinder SPORT package. It is offered with a manual transmission and, in my opinion, also ticks all the boxes for you.


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Subaru WRX
Subaru Legacy
Honda Accord

Response from pmegumi

5:08 am July 3, 2016

Both the WRX and Legacy are on my list but they lose points due to AWD not being necesary where I live. That means its lowering fuel economy and increasing weight of the vehicle. WRX insurance rates are high and its a little over my budget unless I get the base WRX.

I was a little disappointed that Subaru toned down the concept I saw at the auto show on the 2017 impreza. I'll take a look at one as the local Mazda dealership is Subura and Mazda. I'm sure the WRX would easily outrun the Turbo Civic but for 98% of my driving I simply don't need that kind of power.

I recall I didn't like the seating position in the Impreza but the Legacy was good, but I was rather rushed at the auto show and details on the Subarus are a little fuzzy, I just recall I liked how the concept car looked.

I will take a look at a Legacy Premium or a 2017 impreza.

For some reason Honda goes out of its way to discourage folks from buying a Manual, they limit color choices and generally I can only find a manual accord sport in black (which I don't want)


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Response from mkaresh

3:21 pm July 3, 2016

I'm hopeful that Honda will offer the manual with a wider range of trim levels and colors in the 2017 Civic.


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Response from pmegumi

4:29 am July 14, 2016

That is my hope too. I'm considering holding out for a MT turbo civic. As much as a touring civic with a CVT might be nice, I probably would be happier forking over a little more for a V6 accord if I was going the non MT route. Sadly, V6 MT Sedans have gone the way of the dodo.

Looking over all of the safety tech, I'm not really sold on the adaptive cruise control, emergency brake assist or lane keeping assist. These technologies are still in their infantcy and 5 years down the line they will seem obsolete once they fix their shortcomings and improve how they work.I do find the rear view camera as handy.


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Response from pmegumi

4:06 am July 21, 2016

I'm starting to look at some used cars as possible candidates.

I looked at a used TSX but I noticed prices on the 4th Gen TL to be almost the same as a TSX. I certainly like the idea of getting another TL probably a 13 or 14 although its not going to be great on fuel use. However, I think the used Lexus market looks better. There are lots of used ES350s for sale loaded with everything I care for under 25K. For just a little more I see GS 350s. Same good stuff but uses double wishbone suspension and RWD.

I'd like the IS 350 but they seem to hold onto their value better than its GS and ES siblings. I don't really want the IS 250 as it sucks fuel and has weak power for a V6. If they had a 200t cheap enough maybe but I don't want to buy a new one or lease one.

Maybe late in the year I can snag an off lease Lexus.


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Lexus ES
Lexus GS
Acura TL

Response from mkaresh

9:32 am July 21, 2016

The ES is definitely the least sporty of the cars you just mentioned, though the 2013 and up does drive much better than previous generations. With the IS and GS the F Sport variants look and drive better than the basic car. As you note, the 350 is a far better engine than the 250. I tested an IS 200t recently. Decent engine, with much more torque than the old 2.5, but lacks the soul and power of the 3.5-liter V6 and fuel economy is just a little better.


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Response from pmegumi

2:01 am August 16, 2016

I finally got around to test driving a turbo Civic.

The car drove very nicely, I couldn't even tell it was a turbo. The car had plenty of power. The most notable things about the Civic is the NVH is higher than I experienced in an Accord/Mazda 3 and Altima S. The car didn't feel as stable as the Accord or Mazda 3. Steering was razor sharp like the Mazda 3 clearly quicker than the bigger cars I test drove.

Visibility was good, seats were good and I have 3" of headroom with the sunroof. Brake feel was slightly twichy but adjustment came quickly.

So far, no car I test drove screamed out this is the one to get. I'm wondering if I should test drive a new Mazda 6 since the one I test drove had 70K on it and probably had cheap replacement tires.

I go back over the test drive route with my TL-S just to compare things. Other than the Altima's seats I think any of the cars I test drove so far are a good choice, but none of them stand out. While it was my first intention to get a car that was smaller and more nimble, I find that has some tradeoffs with NVH and stability.

I think I need to test drive a few more cars. For new, maybe Subaru Legacy, Acura TLX 4cyl, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Camry and maybe something else? Used I was looking at Lexus ES/GS/IS but maybe BMW 320/328? I notice there is no shortage of used BMWs for sale. Recent 2013/2014 Acura TL/TSX are fairly rare in my area but there are lots of used ILX and TLX.


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Honda Civic
Honda Accord
Mazda Mazda3

Response from mkaresh

11:03 pm August 16, 2016

Have you driven any of the recent Acuras, TSX, TL, or TLX? It's sounding like one of these will be the best fit. Maybe an IS if you can find a 350 in your price range, which wasn't seeming likely.


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Response from pmegumi

12:12 am August 18, 2016

I have test driven an ILX. Just the lack of headroom in the car along with the narrow windows was enough to put the car in the "no" column. At least it didn't have the awful dash in the 9th gen Civic, but I didn't find the ride to be all that great and it felt a little jittery over slightly rough pavement. It didn't feel very stable in the turns and I wasn't impressed with the 2.0L engine. I can see why ILXs sit on dealer lots and odd for an Acura, lose value hand over fist.

I don't know about a used TLX. I see quite a few low mileage V6 ones out there, making me wonder about the car. It suggests people just gave up on it. I might go for a new 4 cyl if there is a good enough deal but that's going to have to be some deal vs a V6 Accord. When I factor in the 4 cyl's DCT/Torque converter tranny i wonder about the extra expense should problems happen out of warranty. Acura sales have been tanking but its being eaten up by their Honda conterparts. Makes me wonder what happened over at Acura, no longer are their cars "nicer Hondas" now they are "more expensive Hondas"

I'll look for a TSX tech or a TL and see. TSX doesn't come standard with a rear view camera if I recall correctly.


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Acura ILX

Response from pmegumi

2:10 am September 6, 2016

I did a few more test drives.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited. It was easy to drive, has lots of features and is the compact car size I was looking for. The car drives great as long as the road is very smooth but any decent sized bump or rut and you are going to feel that rear suspension give you a jarring jolt. I thought the EPS steering on the car was slightly overboosted for my tastes. I can see this car being a decent cross shop for Sentra/Corolla buyers but its not as good as a Mazda 3 or Civic (but significantly cheaper). If this is considered to be the 3rd best compact car I don't see any point in test driving any more compacts, if I go compact class its between a Mazda 3 or Civic.

2014 Lexus ES350. This car was whisper quiet, extremely smooth power delivery, totally isolated ride you feel very little even over bumps and if I thought I didn't like EPS steering on cars I test drove before this one, oy was I in for a surprise. The steering was completely numb, nothing, I couldn't even tell the car was moving. I'm sure I could get used to something like this eventually, but when I took my car over the same "test drive" course it was clear I don't want to pick this car given a choice. The seats were comfortable and the controls were all easy to operate, its clearly a well made vehicle and hardly a penalty box. I suppose for the right price I'd still take this car, just know that its going to be a comfy DD. No pleasure drives.

2016 Acura TLX base. I did test drive a used 2015 TLX and I thought the ride was jittery in corners and the 8AT was "lazy", but it could have been the result of poor replacement tires. I hear the 2016 was better from the acura forums so I test drove it. Yes, this car was much better it does a better job over rough pavement than the similar Accord and in Normal mode the Auto shifted very quick and was very responsive. Sport mode pushed that up a little more. The car interior was quiet and it handled well. It feels a little underpowered but its quick for a NA 4 Cyl. I still don't like EPS but I can live with this car's steering feel.

I just feel all of these cars I test drove are a downgrade from my current car.


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Hyundai Elantra
Lexus ES
Acura TLX

Response from pmegumi

12:06 am September 14, 2016

Well a bad torque converter on the Acura TL-S forced my hand.

Ended up getting a Honda Accord EX-L V6. It was the closet thing to the Acura TL-S in terms of engine feel, power and interior features. I seriously considered the Accord Sport, but I had concerns over the 19" rim/tire and the car was relatively spartan inside, it only cost a little more to get nicer features on the EX-L.

I orginally wanted a smaller lighter car, Mazda 3 and Honda Civic were the front runners. Both of these cars drove really nicely, while the Civic was faster and got better mileage, the Mazda 3 handed better and was the overall nicer performer. Either car would have been a good choice but I decided to get a V6 car before they go the way of the dodo to all of the Turbo 4s. Its very likely my next car will be one but I am going to put that day off for 10 years at least. They will likely still be around, with better turbos and we will have more reliability data on the fordless Mazdas and some good data on the Honda turbo engines.

Same deal with the Mazda 6, they were offering some pretty good deals on them and it was possible to get a nicely equipped one for about thousand or two less than the Accord Sport. I felt the same way, I'd rather wait for more data on them.

I'll keep these cars in mind since my mom is going to replace her 2000 Accord sometime next year.


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Response from NormT

10:38 am July 21, 2017

The old 2010+ Regal is a good choice about $22,000 on the street with 295 lb-ft of torque from the 2.0T. And can be had with 6-speed manual.

The new 2017 Malibu 2.0T Premier get epa 37 mpg on the highway and comparing the test data to the Accord V6, the Malibu runs rings aournd the Accord on just about every metric in Motor Trend testing. Where the Accord V6 is $33K, the Malibu 2.0T Premier is $26,000!

Hold the phone...Accord goes all turbo-4 in 2018. Now your Accord V6 may be a classic!

Buick Verano 2.0T can be had with 6-speed manual too.


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Buick Regal
Chevrolet Malibu
Buick Verano
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