1997 Acura CL: A Look Back at Acura’s Sporty Coupe

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Lisa Steuer McArdle
Updated on Apr 27, 2022 · 4 min read
It's hard to believe it's been over 18 years since we said goodbye to the
Acura CL. The luxury midsize coupe from Honda's Acura brand went into production in 1996, the year after the Acura Legend was discontinued, and had a reputation for exceptional reliability. 
While some thought the 1997 Honda Acura CL looked too much like the
Honda Accord
, its athletic performance and reliability made it worthy of consideration. Today, we're taking a look back at the Acura CL. If you're searching for a great used coupe, it's definitely worth a closer look.
Based on the highly reliable Honda Accord, the Acura CL offered the same engine, platform, and suspension.

The 1997 Acura CL

Acura was a newcomer in the back half of the ‘90s. Known for innovative design and ergonomics, the new Honda brand did some shuffling early on. Early models like the
, Legend, and Vigor didn't last very long. And in the middle of that shuffle, Acura introduced the CL.
The CL was a sporty coupe that built on the modest success of Integra as a luxury and performance car. According to
, the target audience was boomers with newly empty nests. 
The hope was that this group would be looking for something more exciting than a
family wagon
. Instead of the same tired large
, the brand wanted to offer the aging boomers something with a little more pizzazz.

1997 Acura CL performance

Based on the highly reliable Honda Accord, the CL offered the same engine, platform, and suspension. The 2.2CL was powered by a VTEC engine that got 145 horsepower. Its double-wishbone suspension helped to give it a more athletic performance.
According to Canada's
, the VTEC engine was a 2.2-liter and paired with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic transmission was also available, but it dampened the car's performance. The automatic transmission configuration worked great, however, with the optional 3.0-liter V6 engine.
The CL offers variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering with nice feedback. There is an anti-lock brake system along with 16-inch wheels. Its ride is stiff given the unit-body construction with rear-wheel arch extenders and a strut tower bar. 

A sharp-looking coupe for a great price

One big draw for the 1997 Acura CL is its appearance. While it's a sharp-looking car, it resembles the Accord too much for some tastes.
Yes, it resembles the Accord, but the Acura is more upscale with leather covering the door panels, seats, and steering wheel. The sheet metal used was visually appealing but didn't really set it apart from the Accord. It has a boat-tail rear end, which isn't everyone's cup of tea.
The posh interior is what really sets it apart. Its cabin is well-appointed and minimalist with an organized dash. It's well-insulated against engine and road noise even when accelerating.
There's decent room in the back for adults and an impressive Bose stereo system for quality sound. It also has a power-adjustable driver's seat with automatic climate control, cruise control, and tilt steering. 
Back in the day, you could buy a base model CL for just under that you'd pay for a top-shelf Accord. You'd pay a few hundred dollars for Acura badging.
Today, if you're looking for a good used car, you can find a 1997 Acura CL on average for $2,500 according to
. On the low end, you can expect to pay $1,750. On the high end, you might be looking at $4,175. 
Regardless of where you stand on its exterior appearance, the 1997 Acura CL's reliability is a huge advantage. Its similarities to the highly reliable Accord ensures that it's a car that you will spend way more time on the road than you will at the mechanic's shop.
Vehicles with stronger predicted reliability ratings often earn better car insurance rates. Learn how to save money on your car insurance with

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