First Drive: 2011 Acura RL

#Acura, #RL

In typical Acura fashion, our fully loaded RL was jammed with all sorts of technological goodies. Standard features include heated front seats, XM satellite radio, a Bose 260-watt, ten-speaker surround-sound system with noise cancellation, HID headlamps, six airbags, and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. Opt for the Technology Package, and Acura throws in navigation, adaptive headlamps, rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, and ventilated front seats. The Advance Package goes one step further, throwing adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigating brake system, and power-folding side-view mirrors into the mix.

Farewell Five-Speed; Say Hello to Six Gears
Mechanically speaking, the 2011 RL is virtually identical to 2009 and 2010 models. Honda's 3.7-liter DOHC V-6 is still nestled underhood in a transverse manner, and is still rated at 300 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 271 pound-feet of torque at 5000 rpm. That power is channeled to all four wheels via the company's advanced SH-AWD all-wheel-drive system. Not only can the driveline send up to 70 percent of the engine's torque to the rear axle, but it also can channel power to a single rear wheel, optimizing traction and helping rotate the car through fast corners.

The big news for 2011 lies with the transmission. Long dogged for retaining an antiquated five-speed automatic when competitors were switching to six, seven, and eight-speed designs, the 2011 RL finally receives an extra gear, bringing the grand total to six.The transmission is as smooth and well geared to the V-6's power range as the previous five-speed, but the additional cog helps bolster fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2011 RL at 17/24 mpg (city/highway), and improvement of 1 and 4 mpg, respectively. Driving conservatively, we saw a 23-24 mpg average over a 60/40 split of highway and city driving.

A Supple Ride, With A Dash of Sporty
Acura claims the RL moniker stands for refined luxury, but that doesn't mean the car can't provide the driver with a little fun while behind the wheel. Ride quality is softer than that of the TL, and turn in isn't quite as sharp, but body roll is kept to a surprising minimum, and the SH-AWD's torque-vectoring skills further help the car stay planted when pushed in corners.

Push you certainly can. The 3.7-liter V-6 never lacks the grunt needed to toss around the RL's 4110 pounds. Shift times of the six-speed improve slightly when in sport mode, but drivers who insist on selecting their own gear can do so with the new steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Edward A. Sanchez
I personally think this latest re-design looks like a step backward stylistically. It looks like a mid-late '90s Japanese design.
How many millions is Acura pissing away on this. Maybe in 2012 Acura can sell 4000 units.
Honda needs to get rid of all of the exterior designers from Acura . All of their car line up are ugly, with the exception of the TSX

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