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The Acura 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 adds power to this picture and backs it up with a sports suspension and anti-skid control.
The 2002 Acura CL is smooth and tight, with a single-billet feel to the unibody. The ride is firm, and well-suited to a driving enthusiast's tastes. The CL delivers better brake pedal response than most Acuras we've tested, and it stops in short order, without jitters or swagger in full-on, panic-type braking.
At least in the Type-S, there's minimal understeer (a front-end push that puts an element of safety into a car's handling, but can become excessive with the typical front-drive layout). Driven aggressively, the Type-S bears up well, and its tail tucks in nicely when the driver lifts from the throttle.
There's plenty of acceleration-producing grunt in the engine, although it is biased toward higher rpm. You might never know how quick the Type-S actually is if you don't keep your foot on the gas pedal. The sequential shifter works well, even if it's more conservatively programmed than some from other manufacturers. It won't allow the driver to repeatedly bump the rev limiter in low gears without shifting up on its own.
The standard VTEC V6 revs freely with dual-overhead cams and multi-valves. It is rated at 225 horsepower. The Type-S delivers 260 horsepower. It gets its extra power from a higher volume intake system, less restrictive exhaust pipes, higher compression (10.5:1 vs. 9.8:1) and a higher redline (6900 rpm vs. 6300 rpm).
The Acura CL is built like a fine watch and is very pleasant to drive. It offers a good value among luxury coupes. Similarly equipped, the CL costs several thousand dollars less than the least expensive car among the competitors named above.