Even when flogged to its limits, the RL delivers a civilized ambiance to those seated within. The 3.7-liter is smooth even as it approaches its redline, and the cabin is impressively insulated from wind, tire, and road noise.
A Fine Foundation, But What's Next?
The RL is a stylish, solid package, and at $48,000 for a well-equipped base model, it's reasonably affordable. Load it up to the $56,000 mark, however, and it's up against several other worthy competitors, including the Infiniti M, BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, many of which offer a little extra panache and prestige.
Ironically, the car's biggest competitor may come from within Acura's own lineup. The RL looks, feels, and drives like a mature spin on the TL, an impression bolstered by the two models sharing powertrain, dimensions, and content. This may have allowed the RL to cultivate its own small niche of followers, but as the TL itself moves slightly upmarket for 2012 while retaining a smaller price tag, the RL's already small customer base may quickly shrink.
Acura has all the foundations of a true premium luxury sedan in place with its 2011 RL, but in order to revert the nameplate's recent sales slide in an increasingly competitive segment, the next-generation needs to pack the visual pizazz and unique personality today's model lacks.
2011 Acura RL
Base Price: $48,060 (including destination)
Powertrain: 3.7-liter DOHC, 48-valve V-6
Horsepower: 300 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 271 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
L x W x H: 195.8 x 72.7 x 52.7"
Legroom F/R: 42.4/ 36.3"
Headroom F/R: 38.5/37.2"
Cargo capacity: 13.8 cu ft
Curb weight: 4112 pounds
EPA Rating (city/highway): 17/24 mpg