A PRESENT-DAY LEGEND
Acura RL Advance
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, Dec 7, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Back in 1986, Honda became the first Japanese car company to take on the Europeans and Americans with its own luxury brand. The car was the Acura Legend, and it raised the bar for what’s expected of luxury cars. More than anything else, it was the first luxury car with deadbolt reliability. Today, the car still exists, albeit under the name Acura RL. John-Fredrik reports on where Acura has taken the present-day Legend. By John-Fredrik Wright Aah, the RL—Acura’s take on the luxury sedan. Acura, per se, is luxury. It is after all Honda’s luxury brand. It does this job well, with a car in most car segments, and with great styling and comfort to back it up. At $56,000 the RL is substantially less expensive than the equivalent Mercedes, BMW, or Audi; but what it lacks in price (in a good way), it makes up for in impressive elegance and an exciting sporty feeling.
Walking up to the 2011 Acura RL, you might wonder where the high tech looking styling found on some of the other current offerings from Acura went to. This is mostly due to the fact that this iteration of the RL is getting a little ‘long in the tooth’. The next generation, due out in 2013, will no doubt reflect the styling themes of the other Acuras more. If you look a little closer, you can still see the sharp curves, just a little more refined on the RL. Maybe not as aggressively, but the Acura definitely carries some of the characteristic styling from the little ones; the TL and TSX. On the RL, these lines are a little more rounded and a little more sophisticated, rather than oozing sport and speed. But fear not; even if the exterior isn’t aggressive, the power in the RL will not let you down. More on that later, first let’s get the engine started… Most cars fitted with a keyless system, like the RL we are testing, have a start button. However, in the RL you will instead find a plastic key-looking object where you would usually insert a key. So, with the key in your pocket, turn the key/knob in the ignition, and let the engine come to life. Super-easy, and best of both worlds; a key-less key. Settling into the cockpit, you will first notice the comfortable, leather-appointed seats. Acura, along with Volvo, are the two manufacturers in the “reachable” price segment (price-range that will hurt your wallet, but not bankrupt it) with the most comfortable seats. They are, in my derriere’s opinion, definitely on par with the likes of the more expensive competition. The RL’s interior does not disappoint; the noise level is low and the overall feel is on par with the competition.
The cluster of dials and buttons that make up the center console, is not, unfortunately, as easy to understand as one would hope. There are enough buttons to win contests, but the usability is just not there. Furthermore, by moving much of the Bluetooth-pairing-procedure to the voice activated system, Acura made this harder than it needs to be as well. The good news is that it the Bluetooth system performs very well once it is set up, but the fact that I had to bring out the instruction manual to set everything up is a little irritating, because generally, the consumer electronics in today’s cars are intuitive. Driving on LA freeways you quickly notice how smooth the RL rides and how easily it is maneuvered through traffic. Visibility is great, and the blind spots are easily mitigated if you tilt the rearview mirrors correctly. Bumps on the road seem to disappear and the safety systems do their part to keep you out of trouble. As an added bonus, the adaptive cruise control does a great job of removing the work of constantly changing speed. Instead, just select a top speed which you don’t want to exceed, and then let the computers work out the rest. The RL will match the speed of the car in front of you up to that maximum limit. Luxury vehicles generally have a lot of go to them and the RL is no exception with its 300 horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine. Some luxury cruisers are a little ‘gushy’ with looser suspension tuning letting the vehicle roll around corners; the RL is definitely not that type of luxury car. Somehow, Acura has found a great balance between comfort (you want a little gushiness for a smooth ride) and sport, making the RL a pleasure to drive in any mood. The SH-AWD, Acura’s Super-Handling-All-Wheel-Drive, makes this car grip any surface and take off. Cornering at speed is easy, with the car feeling stable and in control all the time. And even with a lot of power under the hood, the RL does not seem like a rambunctious young adult, rather a sophisticated aristocrat with a little kick to it. Like a well-prepared chicken cordon bleu served on a Sterling silver serving tray from under a dome lid, rather than a spicy combo from Panda Express in a plastic box. Both are good, both have a lot of flavor (although the quality can be questioned in one of them); but the cordon blue—i.e., the RL—has a much more refined way of presenting itself.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT: Once a Legend, always a Legend. SPECIFICATIONS: Name of vehicle: 2011 Acura RL Advance Price: $47,700 (base) $56,010 (as tested with Advance Package and destination and hadling) EPA fuel economy rating: 17 mpg (city) 24 mpg (highway) Engine size and type: 3.7 Liter Aluminum-alloy V-6 with Belt drive, SOHC, VTEC® 24-valve
Horsepower: 300 hp @ 6300 rpm Torque: 271 (lb-ft) @ 5000 rpm Transmission type: 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters, Grade Logic and Shift Hold Control Drive configuration: Transversely mounted front engine, Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) Steering (type): Electric variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion (EPS) Suspension (front and rear): Front Independent double-wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar Rear Independent multi-link with coil springs and stabilizer bar Brakes and tires: 3-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), and Brake Assist P245/45 R18 96V high-performance all-season tires Dimensions: Length: 195.7 inches Width: 72.7 inches Height: 57.2 inches Curb weight: 4083 - 4110 pounds For more information about Acura products, go to www.acura.com