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June 17, 2009 > Auto Review: Acura RL

Auto Review: Acura RL

RL is the flagship and most luxurious of Acura's line of sedans. Our test RL had the highest trim level of the three that are offered. The base RL leads off the line with an MSRP of $46,680. Next, the Technology Package ($50,300) adds Active Front Lighting System (AFS), wood trim, heated and cooled front seats, and a voice recognition navigation system. The AFS allows the low beam headlights to swivel 20 degrees as you turn the steering wheel to minimize blind spots in the dark.

Then the RL with CMBS/ACC ($54,100) rounds out the line as a step up from the Tech Package. CMBS stands for Acura's Collision Mitigation Breaking System. It is a fantastic safety feature. A radar unit in the nose of the RL constantly measures the distance and closing rate between you and the car in front of you. It calculates the likelihood of hitting that car. If the system determines a potential collision may occur, its first stage sets off a loud alarm and flashes "BRAKE" on the instrument panel in front of the driver. As things worsen, its second stage applies light breaking. If the system determines a collision is inevitable, stage three applies full brakes and tightens up the front seat belts to protect the driver and passengers.

ACC stands for Adaptive Cruise Control. When cruise control is active, this system measures the distance between your RL and the car in front of you. As that distance diminishes, ACC modulates the throttle to help prevent a collision.

All RLs have Acura's 4-wheel drive system that measures how you are driving the car and directs power and torque to the correct wheels. They all get a 10-speaker Bose DVD audio system that uses an 8 channel digital amplifier and Bose Cabin Surround to deliver great sound to all passenger positions. The system also measures road and wind noise, adjusting to reduce their impact. A power moonroof, 4-wheel disk brakes, ABS, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring system are also standard equipment.

Under the hood sits Acura's 3.7-liter, 24-valve, V-6 engine with VETC technology (variable valve timing). It delivers 300 horsepower, 271 foot pounds of torque and is coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission and paddle shifters. This combination delivered 16/22 mpg on premium unleaded gas in its EPA testing.

The RL earned NHTSA's highest rating (5-stars) in all impact tests and its rollover resistance test. It is only the fourth car in NHTSA's history to get all 3 top awards. All RLs have electronic Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control to help the driver control the car in abnormal conditions.

Acura gives the RL a 4-year, 50,000 mile base warranty that includes a roadside assistance plan. The power train warranty is 6 years or 70,000 miles.

We liked driving the RL; a great car for long freeway drives. Its quiet, comfortable, relaxed style is just the ticket for long trips. Around town it handles well and has plenty of power. RL's safety systems truly represent a step up from lesser cars. It is easy to understand why the RL is one of the best selling cars in its class.


By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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