The TL debuted as 1996 model, first with the 1996 2.5 TL available with the 2.5L 176hp (131kW) SOHC 20-valve 5-cylinder engine from the Vigor. The 3.2 TL used the 3.2L 200hp (149kW) SOHC 24v V6 from the second-generation Acura Legend. The 2.5 TL was positioned as the sporty model and the 3.2 focused more upon a luxurious ride. The very first 1996 Acura TL rolled off the assembly line on March 28, 1995. Sales of the 2.5 TL began in spring 1995, but the 3.2 TL was delayed until fall because of a U.S.-Japan trade dispute.
The first generation Acura TL had standard features including dual airbags, antilock brakes, automatic climate control, a cassette/CD player sound system, and power windows and locks. Leather was standard on the more upscale 3.2 TL, while the 2.5 TL featured a firmer suspension setup.
In 1997, Acura added a standard power moonroof to all TL models. Additionally, all Acura TLs received an added variable-speed intermittent wiper setting. The 3.2 TL has 205/65/15 Tires, a V6 motor, rimless windows and a Bose music system. The sport-targeted, 5-cylinder 2.5 TL was further fitted with new alloy wheels.