2008 Acura TL Type-S Review – Acura Tests Your Self-Control

Acura Expert Reviews

2008 Acura TL Type-S
By Holly R.


  • Super-stiff suspension (a sedan that drives like a sports car)
  • Easy to read gauges and controls
  • Super-comfortable seats
  • Superb acceleration


  • Headlamp beam pattern is not good (dark, curvy roads using the low beam setting was downright scary)
  • Bluetooth® was too hard to program (of course, I still haven’t been able to program my portable one, so take this criticism with a grain of salt)
  • The windows didn’t roll down or up smoothly and it would be hard and frustrating to just crack the window open for some ventilation

If you have self-control issues, you do *not* want this car. You won’t be able to afford to keep it after all the tickets you’ll get. With that said, this was my first car for a review. Wow, what a car! I was thrilled to drive it, to say the least.

Driving Impressions:
I was actually a bit terrified to drive this car. A 6-speed manual transmission! I’ve not driven a stick in almost 10 years! What started off as a somewhat shaky experience, turned into a comfortable ride within just a few miles. Once I hit the freeway, I’d bonded with the car. The car is just plain FUN TO DRIVE!

It was easy to shift and easy to accelerate up to speed when entering the traffic flow.

The windows are easy to see out of and I noticed no discernible “blind spot”. I was so comfortable in the cabin that I still felt as though I was in my own car.

Type-S steering wheel

The steering wheel has little “nubs” to anchor your thumbs when making sharp turns. The turning radius felt adequate when making u-turns, and I never felt like I needed another lane’s width to make the turn. Because it really IS a sedan, I didn’t expect the turning radius of a *true* sports car. I found a curvy road to be an extremely comfortable ride, and a very enjoyable experience in this vehicle.

The car felt solid to me. The trunk closed firmly. Not heavy, not wimpy, but solid. When closing the doors, they felt quite solid and seemed to close out any outside noise. I’m used to driving a heavy, heavy car, and this car felt similarly stable. It was a quiet ride, despite the stiffness of the suspension. I drove around with the stereo off, listening for any loose items. Any detectable noises that didn’t belong. Any kind of rattling. The only noise I was able to detect was when I had a small water bottle in the water-bottle holder (it didn’t fit firmly) and it was rattling around. I was unable to detect any rattling of the seat-belts (a huge annoyance in my opinion), doors, interior items, etc. Unfortunately, I didn’t look under the hood, so I can’t say if there were difficult to replace parts!

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics:
Acura TL Type-S center panel display When I first sat in the car, I noticed how comfortable the seats were. I’m really big on heated seats, and the heat was excellent. They heated up quickly and didn’t get too hot.

The instrument panel was really easy to see at night. Everything (radio, heat, mirrors) were within easy reach. I’d never driven a car with a navigation system and the light from the large 7″ display was at first, distracting. However, within just a few minutes, the soft glow from the display became pretty comforting.

The HomeLink® system was so easy to program. Within only a few moments, I had it synced to my garage, and in we went.

The built-in BlueTooth® Hands Free Link is a brilliant addition to this car. Especially with the new cell phone law going into effect this year. I only wish it were a wee bit easier to program, as it’s a fairly complex setup. But, if it’s your car, you’ll take the time to do it. I would.

Acura TL Type-S interior pedals with metallic finish home link

The stainless steel pedals are really SPORTY! I think they’d be really durable too. The only fault I could find with them is that I’d think they’d be pretty slippery if it rains. But, we do live in Northern CA, and not Seattle or Portland.

The Acura Navigation System was a breeze to program. I even tried to trick it by going the wrong way, and it would not be fooled. Granted, this was the first time I’d used one, but I thought it was really simple to use. I even cranked the stereo up, and found that it would dim the sound and I was able to hear the voice commands. Easily.

The rear-view camera seems a bit extravagant to me, and I found it pretty distracting. I do understand that some people really do need one, however. Those people would surely find it really easy to see what’s coming up behind you. The screen is large and easy to see.

The 286-horsepower engine make this car feel like a rocket-ship. At least, in my opinion. The 6-speed manual transmission adds to this. I revved it up a few times, but it didn’t sound or feel like I was winding it up too tightly (except for that one time that I down-shifted into 3rd gear when I meant 5th gear -oops).

Acura TL Type-S 286 hp 3.5L V6 Acura TL Type-S 6-speed

I never once, floored it (oh, but I sure was tempted!), but it has a very crisp acceleration in normal driving conditions. Even when I had it in 6th gear on the freeway, whenever I tried to pass someone, it didn’t lag and let me down. The response was always immediate and whooosh! I was past the car that was in my way.

Stopping quickly is as important as going fast and the Type-S is outfitted with Brembo brakes and 12 inch rotors. I was fortunate enough not to have to try an emergency braking scenario, but when I was in safe locations, I hit the brakes pretty hard. The car stops when YOU need it too, not when it WANTS to. And it braked solid – not wimpy. Super important in the rush-hour traffic around here.

For some, this car might feel a bit heavy in the turns. I’m used to a heavy car, so for me, it just felt pretty normal. I didn’t rail any corners, but I drove it fairly quickly through a few wide corners, and some on and off-ramps, and it felt SOLID in its cornering capability. I expect that this has to do with the car’s lower center of gravity, and it’s handling ability. Even then, I didn’t have to hit the brakes (or push the panic button) once. I took the on-ramp to Northbound 17 from Los Gatos Blvd pretty quickly, and between the cornering and acceleration, it was an exhilarating experience! Winding down a descent on one of my favorite roads, the car felt responsive and handled very well.

2008 Acura TL Type-S

The car is beautiful to look at. My heart sped up just walking up to it. All of my friends that saw the car were drooling (and frankly, jealous)! The paint and color on this model were just out of this world! The wheels are sexy and the dark metal rims will help hide any brake dust that will inevitably accumulate. The looks bely the fact that it’s really a 4-door sedan. The car looks as good coming as it does going, and it has a low, sporty, yet stylish profile.

For the car, the warranty (6 year/70k power-train warranty, and 4 year/50k limited vehicle warranty) and such, it really is a decent value. It’s spendy, but it’s definitely NOT a cheap car. As of July of 2008, hands-free talking is the LAW here in CA. This model already has the Bluetooth® built-in. Some of the newer cars have the XM-Satellite radio (plus free activation and 3 months of free service!), as this one does. The navigation system is really good and has a nice, large display. If you’re someone who gets lost easily, this addition alone is worth it’s weight in gold. The 17 inch alloy rims and Bridgestone Potenza tires that come stock with this car are sweet. The leather interior is luxurious. And I’m just mentioning the plush features. The TL safety features are right up there with some of the safest cars on the road (driver and passenger front and side airbags, side curtain airbags, side impact door beams, tire pressure monitoring system, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist). And the pricing for this model is similar to what I consider to be the safest car on the road: Volvo.

Would I buy it? If I wasn’t a bike racer and didn’t need to travel to races with bikes, teammates and my dog, yes. It would be a blast to own and drive on a daily basis. Besides being a sheer joy to drive (and look at!), the car has so many useful features. For those that want to go fast, you can. For those who can’t back up to save their lives, you have the back-up assist camera. For those who can’t navigate their way out of a paper bag – you have the easy-to-use navigation system. For myself, who CAN back up, and who has the gift of a great sense of direction – sure, I don’t need those things. But the navigation system was really fun to have, and if I had it, I’d make good use of it! If it were my car, I’d also take the time to program the Bluetooth® hands-free link. It’s great that it’s standard in this model, because in my car, it’s an add-on feature for a couple of hundred more (and an entire day to install).

As previously noted, the seats in this car were really, really comfortable and fit me like a glove. The seat heaters warmed quickly, and never got too hot.

The climate system was more than adequate and did its job quite well. In fact, the entire interior environment was well thought out, and everything was within easy reach, and in a sensible location (I didn’t have to hunt for the cruise control buttons).

I’m a big fan of stock stereos and the sound quality in this one was really, really good. My only gripe was a non-intuitive way to search for radio stations, but everything else about the stereo was simple and easy to use.

2008 Acura TL Type-S high flow exhaust

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 4.25 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.25 4.5/A-

Who should buy it?
Someone who wants a sporty car, in a 4-door sedan package. Someone who doesn’t have a lot of sports equipment to haul around (unless your sporting equipment is short, such as a set of golf clubs, a basketball, baseball glove, soccer balls, etc.). I was able to get my bike into the back seat area, which was great, but if you have a large bike, or teammates, forget it!

If you have great self-control, want a sports-car feel, and don’t really care much about your mileage, then this would be a great car. Seriously. It doesn’t suit my lifestyle, but if my lifestyle were different, I could definitely see myself in one.

2008 Acura TL Type-S Photo Gallery

Acura TL Specs

2008 Acura TL Specs

AcuraThe official website of Acura – www.acura.com

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  • neil g says:

    acura has toned down the front grille for 2012 but it still doesnt look as nice as the 2007 or 2008s…………and as far as the overall body style, the 2007 and 2008 are unique and they should definetly bring back a type-s that looks like those years but just with more technology and features like in the 2009-2012s………type-s rocks!!!!…………the inside is beautiful and all the red gauges and buttons are beautiful!!!!

  • neil g says:

    yeah lets rally to bring back the old body style of the 2007 and 2008s!!!!………….either that or lets tell acura to design a new 2013 TL TYPE-S!!!!!………….same technology of the 2010 and 2011 but with a sleek new design like the old type-s!!!…………do away with that beak looking front grille!!!!…………..ill be first on-line for the new-look 2013 type-s!!!!………….long live the type-s!!!!

  • reamz22 says:

    @ neil G I agree with this guy 1 Million % i love the acura tl-s 2008 im a proud owner of this car best vehicle ive ever owned!!I also must say the 09-present models i totally hate the wway it looks id rather go with the Acura TSX…

  • neil g says:

    i own a 2008 acura tl type-s and i must say that this is the best caR i have ever owned!!!……it is sharp outside as well and inside and it has all the toys that ill ever need in a car……….i love the way that all the gauges and the buttons on the steering wheel and everywhere else inside the car all light up red…………it is fast,handles great…..everytime i see one in the street i turn my head……..i dont know what they were thinking when they came out with this ass ugly new 2009 and 2010 TL.the thing that they call a front grille looks like a beak that is always smiling at you……….the back is not bad and the new technology is nice as well……..what they need to do is bring back the sexy,sleek,body style of the 2007 and 2008 type-s and just use all those new features and technology of the new models…………acura has a great product,but until they come out with a new model that i will like more than my 2008,i think ill stick with what i have.i get complimented on my ride on a daily basis and that is a great feeling………….thanks for your time……..NEIL G……….

  • Roger says:

    How can you review a car and not even pop the hood?

    • Derek says:

      Have you looked underneath the hood of a lot of current cars? Not much to see underneath the hood except a lot of plastic panels covering the engine and other parts the manufacturer wants to hide.

  • Derek says:

    The exterior color is Moroccan Red Pearl. I couldn’t tell you the paint code since we only have the car for a short period. You can visit an Acura dealership or throw the question out on one of the Acura message boards. The Temple of VTEC forums is a good place to start: http://vtec.net/forums/

  • alberto says:

    hey that is a sick car i have a black one but i was woundering if i could get the paiant code for that car cuz that color is nice it is on the driver door next to the seat

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