By the sales figures alone, Acura's RL appears to be a model not long for this world. In 2010, sales of the company's premier sedan amounted to only 2037 cars, making the sedan its slowest-selling model in the U.S. Despite that meager total, Acura remains committed to the nameplate
Although plans for a larger RL and an eight-cylinder engine were eschewed during the global financial meltdown, the company still plans on rolling out an all-new model in the next few years. Until then, it's blessed the 2011 RL with a few modest tweaks designed to tide buyers over.
An Evolutionary Exterior
Those buyers, we're told, are typically much more conservative than those who spring for the popular TL. Perhaps that's why the sedan's design has changed so little over the past seven years. Despite receiving a makeover in 2009 to bring the car in step with Acura's current design language, the majority of the RL's exterior form dates back to the 2005 model year.
Angular fenders and the so-called Power Plenum grille design have invoked controversy on other Acura models, but the RL manages to wear them in a handsome -- if not forgettable -- manner. That doesn't change for 2011, as designers have limited exterior revisions to a new grille insert, along with a revamped trim piece for the trunk. New 15-spoke, 18-inch wheels also incorporate Helmholz resonators within their outer edges to help counter road noise.
In photographs, the RL may look larger than the TL, but the two are almost dimensionally identical. At 195.8 inches long, the RL is only three-tenths of an inch longer than the TL, and its 110.2-inch wheelbase is almost an inch greater.
The Techno-Cabin Continues
Remarkably, the two are almost identical when it comes to interior space. The RL offers nearly 99.1 cubic feet of passenger volume, eclipsing the TL by a sole cubic foot. Front and rear head, leg, and shoulder room are also within a half-inch of one another.
That said, the two cabins couldn't be any more discrete. While the TL offers an edgy, geometric, and perhaps futuristic cabin, the RL's passenger space uses softer, more traditional forms. Dark burlwood dash trim -- new for 2011 -- cascades into a rectangular center stack, which presents its controls in clean, well-arranged manner. An 8-inch screen displays information tied to audio and (if so equipped) navigation systems, but some settings -- primarily those tied to the climate control system -- are also shown on a slim LCD display located at the top of the dashboard.