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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 Thu, Dec 4, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

POWER PLENUM By Harold Osmer

Imagine you are at a stop sign waiting to turn right. Cross traffic is moving along at 30 miles per hour. You see a narrow opening and wonder if you can make it. Acceleration in a basic sedan or SUV might well cause you to wait for a larger opening. New high tech, high power vehicles can get you into the opening but not without added drama. All you really want is to pull seamlessly into the traffic flow. Enter the Acura RL.

Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system provides solid grip in the above situation. SH-AWD utilizes torque vectoring to adapt power application to the wheels during aggressive cornering maneuvers. There is no torque steer, no breaking loose of the rear end. Handling is quick, positive, and a lot of fun when tackling your daily driving route. We had some rain during our test drive and found our way around a user-friendly parking lot early one morning. The SH-AWD system really works well. An all-new VTEC 3.7 liter V6 engine produces 300 horsepower with 271 pound-feet of torque. This new engine meets ULEV-2 emissions standards but yields only 16/22 mpg. It is smooth and quiet. Couple that engine to a five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission and the RL goes zero-to-thirty about as quick as anything out there. You can either shift automatically or use the steering wheel mounted F1-derived shift paddles. However, the power and handling that are such a delight on city streets disappeared on the freeway. For whatever reason, accelerating from 60 to 80 takes way too long. Our test car downshifted when directed, but would leave you behind that semi for many miles on a two-way highway.

Interior appointments on the RL are very nice. Leather, wood, and positive switch action speaks to the quality found at the top of Acura's lineup. Sound deadening and fully adjustable front seats add to the comfort level. Multiple front and side curtain airbags and four-wheel anti-lock disk brakes keep safety off the worry meter. The Acura RL suffers from a (very generalized) high tech malady. Why do drivers have to take a training class in order to understand the environmental, navigation, and radio controls in a new car? Acura's system is not impossible to figure out, but these things should be more intuitive. We were left wondering how many nifty built-in features are left unused by the average car owner. The 2009 Acura RL is a solid, quality sedan. It's also expensive, lacks freeway responsiveness, and has overly complicated interior controls. I like this car enough to let much of this slide. But with so many other vehicles available in this price/market segment, I'd think hard before buying an Acura RL.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT Exceeds all expectations, but will that be enough to succeed? For more information about Acura products, go to

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2009 Acura RL Price: Base $46,280, as tested: $53,700 options include: CMBS/PAX Package Acura Navigation System With Voice Recognition(TM) and Rearview Camera GPS and DVD Navigation Aid With 8-In Color Screen, Voice Activation and Zagat Survey(TM) Restaurant Guide, Adaptive Low Beam Xenon High Intensity Discharge Headlights With Automatic Leveling and High Beam Halogen Headlights Engine type: 3.7L V6, 24-Valve, SOHC Horsepower: 300 @ 6300 rpm Torque: 271 lb.-ft @ 5000 rpm EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 16/22 Drive configuration: Full-time All Wheel Drive Transmission type: Sequential Sportshift(TM) 5-Speed Adaptive Manually Interactive Automatic Transmission With Overdrive Suspension: Front: Independent double wishbone with Coil Springs, Gas Charged Shock Absorbers and 30-mm Stabilizer Bar Rear: Multi-link independent with Coil Springs, Gas Charged Shock Absorbers and 19-mm Stabilizer Bar Wheels and tires: 18-inch Alloy wheels SBRP245/45VR18 98V Michelin(R) Pilot HX MXM4 All-Season High-Performance Tires Brakes: 4-wheel discs with ABS Electronic Brake Force Distribution Front Power 320-mm Ventilated Disc and Rear Power 310-mm Ventilated Disc Brakes Overall length/wheelbase: 195.8 inches/110.2 inches Overall width: 72.7 inches Overall height: 57.2 inches Curb Weight: 4083 pounds Warranty: 4-year/48,000-mile bumper-to-bumper; 6-yr/70,000-mile powertrain


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