The 3.2TL body is a significant departure from the previous generation TL. Based on a lengthened version of the Acura/Honda Midsize Global Platform, the new TL unit-body is 70 percent stronger in torsion, 80 percent stronger in bending, longer overall, has a wider track and more interior room than its predecessor. The front drive powertrain is now transversely mounted, in the interest of improved packaging efficiency.
The lines of the TL, which were designed by Honda R&D in Torrance, California and Raymond, Ohio, have a more aggressive, athletic edge, complemented by improvements in aerodynamic performance. Designed and engineered in America and assembled at Honda's Marysville Ohio plant, the TL has a six percent better Cd than the previous generation TL.
Here are some of the highlights of the TL's new body and its related systems:
- Dynamic, dimensional lines reflect a more youthful, aggressive spirit
- Cabin-forward silhouette
- Higher belt line and pronounced wedge shape
Quality and Refinement
- Tightly controlled noise and vibration
- Heat-rejecting green glass
- Full frame windows for improved sealing and reduced wind noise
- Gas spring hood supports and new low-effort multilink trunk hinges provide easy operation
- Rigid door structures
- Jointless front and rear windshield molding
- Foam sound barriers in all body pillars
- Extensive asphalt-based sandwich melt sheet used in rear wheel-house regions
- Fiberglass hood insulator
- Triple door seals
- Increased density dashboard insulator
- Extensive use of asphalt melt sheets with resin applied to floor and dashboard lower
- Additional engine room dashboard insulator
- Increased rigidity of steering hanger beam, steering column shaft and accelerator cable bracket for a reduction of vibration in the steering wheel and the gas pedal
- Midsize car total interior volume (110.8 cu ft)
- Large 14.3 cu ft trunk
- Generous interior head, leg, shoulder and hip room
- Abundant step-in room for rear passengers
Ride and handling
- Torsional rigidity has increased by 70 percent from previous generation TL, with only a five percent increase in the weight of the body-in-white relative to the previous generation
- Four-point strut-tower bar
- Side-impact door beams
- Upper door panel stiffener structure
- Door lining pads
- Reinforced side-sills with added bulkheads for offset and side impact protection
- Strengthened front pillars and roof side rail sections
- Thicker, larger floor cross members for additional side impact protection
- Reinforced center pillars help reduce body deformation during side impact
- Rear-door catcher reduces rear-door intrusion into interior during side impact
- Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights
- Dual-stage passenger-side SRS airbag
- New front seat side airbags with occupant position sensors.
- Special shielding protects door-locking mechanisms and latches to make break-in more difficult
- Standard immobilizer and security systems cuts fuel to the engine and sounds an alarm in the event of tampering
- Auto-off headlights
- Full frame windows to make a break-in more difficult
- Reinforced door key cylinders to make a break-in more difficult
- Double-sided galvanized steel panels in all high-corrosion areas
- Anti-chipping primer applied to leading edges of hood and fenders
- PVC and wax sealer applied to underbody
- Anti-acid-etch clear coat on dark colors helps protect paint from acid rain
Concept work on the new 3.2TL started in 1995, when the driving ideas behind the TL's styling were just beginning to take shape. The inspiration for the spirit of the TL is San Francisco's exclusive Nob Hill area. Known for its fashionable international flair, upscale ambience and a uniquely youthful blending of formal and active lifestyles, Nob Hill sets the tone for the TL. A design team visited Nob Hill in 1995 and stayed in the famous Fairmont Hotel before beginning initial styling drawings of the new TL.
Carefully orchestrated styling elements lend the TL dynamic elegance. In bold strokes, it has a crisper, higher beltline and is more wedgelike, with the cabin positioned 95 mm farther forward than the '98 TL.
To foster a personal feel, the greenhouse is visually distinct from the powerful lines of the body, purposely not blended into a single amorphous shape. A pronounced shoulder to the upper body complements this feeling. High-gloss black accents on the B-pillars add a subtle upscale touch. Front-end styling is dimensional, with the bumper and fenders swept back (in plain view) from the new grille. Reflector-type High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights lend a technical feel to the front end. The rear styling is uncluttered, with the license plate inset in the rear bumper. A crisp break at the top of the rear panel lends a sporting edge, while the chrome logo and letters of the Acura name individually mounted across the rear panel make the car's luxury status apparent.
PRECISE FIT AND FINISH
Fine attention to detail is evident in the TL's fit and finish. Stiffened door structures, laser-welded blank door panels, special plastic-encapsulated door checkers and latches, and added sound damping materials all combine to tune the closing sound of the TL's doors. Special power window motors increase window speed and reduce noise. Window sealing has improved as well, with the move to sash-type door structures that seal more reliably.
Many details are very subtle:
- Jointless front and rear windshield moldings have a more finished look
- The windshield wiper stopping position has been lowered to improve visibility and reduce wind noise
UNIT BODY STRUCTURE
To achieve significant improvements in ride, handling and noise reduction, the engineering goals for the new-generation TL unit body centered around maximizing torsional and bending rigidity of the body without adding unnecessary weight.
The TL unit body utilizes a high-strength cabin and ladder type subframe with large box section rails and strategically placed reinforcements for maximum rigidity.
Significant advances in design efficiency make the TL's body-in-white 70 percent stronger in torsion, with only a 5 percent increase in weight as compared to its predecessor. Bending strength has been increased by 80 percent as well.
The TL utilizes highly rigid door structures with full-frame windows for improved protection, weather sealing and reduced wind noise. By laser welding the door panels, steels of different thickness can be used in the door. This allowed the designers to use the optimum steel thickness in each area and resulted in a stronger yet lighter door.
NOISE, VIBRATION AND HARSHNESS (NVH)
Throughout the body, features like foam roof pillar separators, wheel arch extension melt sheets and even vacuum-controlled hydraulic engine mounts are used to minimize noise intrusion into the car's interior. A total of 41.3 kg of noise attenuation material is used throughout the TL, resulting in a vehicle that is serenely quiet, making long trips less fatiguing and more enjoyable.
HIGH INTENSITY DISCHARGE (HID) HEADLIGHTS
Typically an extra-cost option (if offered at all) on competitive cars, the TL comes standard with reflector-type HID low beam headlights. Three times as efficient as conventional halogen lamps, the TL's HID system uses less electrical energy, yet produces almost twice the illumination with more than double the bulb life. The useful range of illumination on low beam increases 45 percent. This eliminates the need for separate fog lights. The TL's high beams use conventional halogen bulbs. An auto-off feature turns off the headlights 15 seconds after the driver's door is closed or the doors are locked.
KEYLESS TRUNK LATCH
For greater security and a more cleanly styled rear-view appearance, the TL's trunk has no key cylinder. The trunk lid can be released by the keyless remote, by a button on the driver's door panel, or by a backup manual release accessible through the pass-through in the rear seatback. The press-to-open keyless remote operation time has been shortened from 1 second to 0.5 second with 2000 3.2TL.
GAS-FILLED HOOD DAMPERS/LINK-STYLE TRUNK HINGES
In keeping with the TL's attention to detail, the hood is supported when open by gas-filled dampers. The trunk lid mechanism has been specially engineered with a link-style hinge that provides a more uniform opening and closing action and is less intrusive into the storage area within the trunk.
ADVANCED MATERIAL TECHNOLOGY
A wide range of advanced materials and technologies are used in the TL. Here is a listing of the more significant advances:
- Laser-welded inner door panel blanks increase strength while minimizing weight
- High-gloss B-pillars with improved scratch resistance
- High-strength steel door panels for greater dent resistance
- Side door protectors, front chin spoiler and side sill garnishes use body-color film manufacturing technology for greater chip and scratch resistance
- Body-color roof molding
- Lightweight fiberglass hood insulator
- Anti-acid-etch clear coat
- Chrome-plated injection molded door handles
- Low modulus material applied to front spoiler for improved curb impact resistance
- 57.5 percent of plastic materials are polypropylene or polyethylene and highly recyclable
WIND NOISE PERFORMANCE
Wind noise targets for the TL were set at a remarkably quiet level, which required an extensive amount of research and development to attain. All causes of wind noise were investigated, including crosswind components and their effect on total noise level. The work began on a computer simulation in early phases of development, then moved on to a full-scale wind tunnel later in the project. Besides the refined subtleties of the TL's body panel and folding side mirror shapes, many different new wind-sealing strategies were brought into play in the final car. The result is interior wind noise that is competitive with many far more expensive cars.