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Acura CL History + Evolution
The Acura CL was manufactured by Honda under the Acura brand name from 1996 until 1999 and from 2000 until 2003. It is a midsize coupe. Contrary to popular belief, the CL is not related to the Acura Legend and the first-generation TL. The CL was indeed created because of the discontinuation of the Legend coupe but it doesn’t share the same chassis.
All Acura CL vehicles were made in Honda’s plant in East Liberty, Ohio. The CL is the first Acura model that was manufactured in the United States. Unfortunately, even though the Acura CL was a pretty good car, it never gained traction like some other Acura coupes.
First Generation (1996-1999)
The first generation of the Acura CL was unveiled during the 1997 model year. It is available in 3.0-Liter J30 V6 rated at 200hp or a 2.2-Liter I4 engine at 145 hp. The 1998 and 1999 models have the 2.3-Liter with 150hp.
The CL has a “Premium” trim level with a 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engine. It also has leather upholstery with heated front seats and an Acura/Bose stereo. The Premium trim level was discontinued in 1999 and the leather upholstery and the trunk cargo net became the standard for all the CL models. The first generation CL also featured galvanized body panels which help in preventing rust.
Second Generation (2000-2003)
In 2001, Honda released a completely redesigned Acura CL featuring a 3.2-Liter SOHC VTEC J-series V6. It also has a navigation system that was also included along with the Type-S model for Acura’s “Sport” edition. The regular CL has 17″ wheels, slightly larger brakes, firmer suspension, and firmer seats.
In 2002, the CL Type-S was introduced with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission with a helical limited-slip differential. The center console light was removed from the 6-speed CL. Because the manual transmission had been dropped, the Acura CL received criticisms. However, it still created more demand than Acura had anticipated.
For the 2003 model year, the car received cosmetic changes. These changes included the removal of the 5-watt road/fog lamps replaced with non-functional air vents. The grille’s color was changed to match the body color. The side mirrors were redesigned to have a more square shape, tinted glass and full-body matched paint. It also had a blacked-out interior and updated 17×7″ spoke wheels.