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BEHIND THE WHEEL

Luxury Cruising and Styling at an Acura Price

August 02, 1996|PAUL DEAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are flashes of nimbleness. But to find them, one must work that manual transmission with verve; often dropping it down to gears that might seem a little too low for the immediate purpose.

But trust us. Upper gearing of the CL is remarkably long-legged. Fifth, even on a freeway at full scoot, feels like an overdrive engaged 10 mph too soon.

In a way, that's a pleasantry. It shows the CL to be a svelte, entertaining car with a hidden talent for high-speed touring over long distances with minimum disturbance of one's body, reflexes or motoring anxieties.

Hey, maybe that's what CL stands for: Comfortable Loafing.

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1997 Acura 2.2CL

The Good: Elegant lines from sophisticated lineage of Japan's first luxury car maker. A cut above your brother-in-law's Accord. Amply equipped and a reasonably priced coupe slotted between $19,000 Acura Integra and $28,000 2.5TL.

The Bad: Engine could use some Vitamin B12.

The Ugly: Anyone's call on alien eyes as rear lights.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

1997 Acura 2.2CL

Cost

* Base: $22,100. (Includes dual air bags, five-speed manual, anti-lock brakes, power moon roof, power doors and windows, simulated wood trim, automatic climate control, alloy wheels, six-position power driver's seat, keyless entry, sound system with CD player.)

* As tested, $23,595. (Includes leather seats and door panels, plus destination charge.)

Engine

* 2.2-liter, overhead cam, 16-valve, in-line four with VTEC developing 145 horsepower.

Type

* Front-engine, front-drive, sport-luxury coupe.

Performance

* 0-60 mph, as tested, with manual transmission, 8.9 seconds.

* Top speed, estimated, 140 mph.

* Fuel consumption, city and highway, 25 and 31 mpg.

Curb Weight

* 3,009 pounds.

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