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Acura 2003 Model Year Change Summary Torrance, Calif. - 9/18/2002
Acura Overview

For the 2003 model year, Acura features performance upgrades on two of its most popular models and numerous other refinements across its entire product lineup. To make the CL luxury performance coupe even more exhilarating to drive, the Type-S model is now available with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission to go with its 260 horsepower engine. The award-winning MDX luxury SUV gets V-8-like performance from a new 260 horsepower (a gain of 20 horsepower compared to the previous generation) V-6 engine. In addition to the extra power, the MDX receives an all-new, compact 5-speed automatic transmission, a drive-by-wire throttle system and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) tuned to work seamlessly in conjunction with its VTM-4 four-wheel drive system.

The MDX, 3.2 CL and 3.5 RL luxury sedan also receive styling updates while the 2003 RSX and 3.2 TL will be available in new colors.

3.2 CL

While both the 3.2 CL and the CL Type-S are available with a 5-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission, the CL Type-S now offers a new close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission as well.

Models with the new manual transmission also feature:

  • Helical limited slip differential
  • Reduced curb weight of 3446 lbs. (compared to 3510 lbs. for the CL Type-S with automatic transmission)
  • Self-adjusting clutch with dual-mass flywheel
  • Short-throw shift linkage
  • Two hydraulic engine mount dampers to counter engine movement
  • The 2003 CL also receives an array of styling and safety enhancements including:
  • New 6-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels (3.2 CL)
  • New 6-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels (CL Type-S)
  • Revised grille with body-colored surround
  • Revised headlights with black accents
  • Revised taillight lenses with clear upper portion
  • New exhaust finishers
  • OnStar® is standard equipment on CL models equipped with the Acura Satellite-Linked Navigation System
  • Driver's Dual Stage Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)
  • CL enhancements (continued):
  • Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) System added for attachment of compatible child safety seats
  • Auto-up driver's side window
  • CL Type-S models with black interiors receive titanium-look trim on doors and center console
  • Perforated leather door inserts (CL Type-S)


The 2003 MDX receives a variety of substantial powertrain, styling, comfort and convenience updates. The new 260 horsepower engine and all-new transmission provide outstanding power in a state-of-the-art V-6 package. In addition, the MDX receives Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) to help enhance control during acceleration, cornering and accident avoidance maneuvers.

Enhancements for 2003 include:

  • Next generation engine increases horsepower from 240 to 260
  • All-new compact 5-speed automatic transmission
  • Drive-by-wire throttle
  • Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)
  • Revised suspension settings
  • 35 percent increase in dynamic torsional body rigidity for a smoother ride
  • Refined steering system for enhanced feel and reduced kickback
  • Available Acura DVD Entertainment System with headphones and remote control
  • Improvements to the optional Acura Navigation System including:
    o Voice recognition
    o Enhanced graphics.
    o Rearview camera
    o Expanded US data base coverage
  • Dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags
  • Additional front airbag sensors and new system control logic
  • New alloy wheel design
  • Auto-up driver's side window with auto-reverse
  • Rain sensing windshield wipers (Touring Package)
  • Auto on/off headlights
  • New exterior colors:
    o Midnight Blue Pearl
    o Sage Brush Pearl
    o Sandstone Metallic
  • New interior color - Quartz
  • Rear splash guards

3.2 TL

For 2003, the OnStar communication service becomes standard equipment on TL models equipped with the Acura Satellite-Linked Navigation System. In addition, the following exterior color changes have been made:

  • Firepepper Red has been replaced by Redondo Red Pearl
  • Naples Gold Metallic has been replaced by Desert Mist

Key TL features include:

  • 3.2-liter, 24-valve, SOHC, V-6 aluminum engines producing 225 horsepower (3.2 TL) and 260 horsepower (TL Type-S)
  • Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC™)
  • 5-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission with Grade Logic Control
  • 4-wheel independent double-wishbone suspension
  • 4-wheel disc brakes with ventilated front discs and ABS
  • Traction Control System (TCS) (3.2 TL)
  • Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) (TL Type-S)
  • Power moonroof
  • Leather-trimmed seats and door panels
  • 8-way power driver's seat with memory
  • Automatic Climate Control System
  • Acura/Bose Music System with 6-disc in-dash CD changer
  • Remote keyless entry system
  • Dual-stage, Dual-threshold Front Airbags
  • Side airbag system with front passenger position and height sensors
  • Available Acura Navigation System

3.5 RL

The goal for the 2003 3.5 RL was to subtly enhance the RL's already meticulous refinement inside and out. To accomplish this, the RL receives:

  • Three new exterior colors - Carbon Gray Pearl, Polar Blue Metallic, Champagne Mist Pearl
  • New interior color - Slate
  • Three new interior wood colors - Golden Camphor, Auburn Camphor, Eclipsed Camphor
  • A new taillight lens design with a clear turn signal portion
  • A new alloy wheel design
  • The LATCH system for securing compatible child safety seats


The RSX returns for its sophomore season after capturing a host of awards as a 2002 model including being named to Car & Driver's "10 Best" list. It comes in two versions, the 160 horsepower RSX and the 200 horsepower RSX Type-S. Both provide powerful, DOHC engines featuring Acura's innovative i-VTEC technology, sport tuned chassis and suspension systems and a long list of standard features. For 2002, the RSX receives a new exterior color, Redondo Red Pearl.

Key RSX features include:

  • 2.0 liter, DOHC, 4-cylinder, aluminum alloy engines generating 160 horsepower (RSX) and 200 horsepower (RSX Type-S)
  • i-VTEC™ "intelligent" valve-control system which adds VTC (Variable Timing Control) to VTEC
  • Computer-controlled Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)
  • 5-speed manual or available Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic transmission (RSX)
  • Close ratio 6-speed manual transmission (RSX Type-S)
  • Powerful 4-wheel disc brakes with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Automatic Climate Control System
  • Power moonroof
  • Premium music system with six speakers and in-dash CD player (RSX)
  • Acura/Bose® Music System with seven speakers and 6-disc in-dash CD player (RSX Type-S)
  • Meets Low Emission Vehicle-II (LEV-2) standards
  • Advanced safety features including state-of-the-art front and side airbags


The NSX has evolved into an icon in the supercar category. It's unique, mid-engine design, aluminum construction and high performance engine continue to make it a favorite of discriminating sports car enthusiasts.

Key features of the NSX include:

  • 3.2-liter, 290 hp, 24-valve, DOHC, V-6 aluminum alloy engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission
  • 3.0-liter, 252 hp, 24-valve, DOHC, V-6 aluminum alloy engine mated to an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission with lock-up torque converter and Sequential SportShift
  • Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC™)
  • Titanium connecting rods
  • Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)
  • Drive-by-wire throttle system
  • All-aluminum unit-body construction
  • 4-wheel all-aluminum independent double-wishbone suspension
  • 17-inch forged alloy wheels
  • Ultra-high performance tires
  • Driver's and passenger's front airbag (SRS)
  • Electronic immobilizer system
  • High Intensity Discharge headlights (HID)
  • Perforated leather-trimmed seats and door panels
  • Acura/Bose® Music System
  • Removable roof panel