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2001 Acura 3.2CL

2001 Acura 3.2CL

Acura introduced a new two-door high-performance luxury coupe based on the 3.2TL sedan platform. Only the high-performance 3.2CL Type S version was available at first, but last Friday at the Canadian International Auto Show, Acura unveiled the base 3.2CL
Author's Rating: Rating: 5/5 stars
56 Reviews from

By:   drivero
Aug 3, 2000
2001 Acura 3.2CL

Amazing luxury-sport coupe and value

Author's Rating: Rating: 5/5 stars

Pros: Looks, power, handling, interior, features, price, quality

Cons: dealers don't bargain much, seats only 4

Author's Review
My list of coupes to test drive ranged from the 3.2CL, to the BMW 3-series, the Mercedes CLK320, the Volvo C-70 and even the 4-door Lexus IS 300. Instantly I had to take the CLK off the list because it was back-ordered 4 months (I was driving a rental Cavalier after my Honda Prelude had been smashed by a drunk driver and needed a car asap) and not even available for a test drive, not to mention expensive ($42kish) and demanding premium dealer prices.

The Lexus was nice and sporty, but rather small on the outside and the interior, though futuristic and funky, was not luxurious enough for a car of the price. I wanted a coupe anyway. Then I drove the 323Ci and was in love. Sporty, fun to drive and refined. Problem was that when loaded up with the same options that come standard on my $32k CL, the bimmer was $38k and short about 90 horsepower from the Acura (very noticeable). Don't even think about touching a 328Ci for under $40k. Also the car suffered from dealer shortages and demanded full sticker. After reading a mediocre review of the C70 and seeing its price, I didn't even test drive. I know the 5-cylinder turbo is fast but I want something that is smoother and more linear and doesn't depend on a turbo to make power.

So I bought the 3.2CL. First of all, it made great economic sense--the car had such features as sunroof, leather, in-dash 6 CD changer and Bose stereo, xenon hid headlamps (amazing), vehicle skid control, traction control, and performance suspension/wheels all standard for $30,300. The navigation system on the CL worked far better than the 3-series one and I got that too for another $2k, paying a total of $32,000 for my CL Type-S including destination. Kind of close to sticker, but the CL is also in short supply and I was lucky the dealer knocked off a couple hundred after I bargained hard with them. They had mostly Type-S models (about 75%) and I had to wait about 4 days for them to get the black one I wanted.

I love this car! I thought after realizing the 323Ci would be too much money I would be bummed but during the test drive of the CL I fell for it just as much. First of all, it's very fast. Feels as strong as my brother's Mustang GT and much more refined. The engine loves to rev and is super smooth, making an intoxicating growl that sounds like a million bucks. I really have to be careful with this car because before I realize it I am going 90mph and can't even tell. The handling is also great. I would say its 95% of what the 3-series is and the steering is good too if not quite as telepathic feeling as the bimmer. Though the front drive CL doesn't have the BMW's weight distribution and the nose feels a little heavy and plows at extreme cornering speeds, the car still is a very sharp handler. The ride is smooth and quiet.

The front seats are very comfortable and supportive with good room, though the back was a little tight and there is no reason for this car to be a 4-seater if a Honda Civic has seatbelts for five. That missing center seat in the back has got to be the cars biggest flaw. Stereo sounds great, dash is looks great, and when people see the navigation system and the interior they are impressed. The back seat is at least more livable than the 3-series and the trunk is much larger. As far as styling goes, when I first saw the CL in pictures I thought it looked nice but a little too conservative. But pictures do not do this car justice, the styling details are great and the car gets looks. Driving the car is a joy!

Anyone looking for a couple MUST drive this. I imagine most people would be sold on it as soon as they test drive it. The 3-series is slightly more nimble and sporting and looks more aggressive, but is no where near as good a value and is rather small. As an aside, Honda cars (Acura is the upline Honda division) are known for their reliability, and BMW's are problematic. Several electrical glitches on my brother's '97 5-series have surfaced and the car left his wife stranded at 39,000 miles due to smoke coming from under the hood! It turned out to be the A/C. Buy an Acura!


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