Wow, this Acura RL is a respectable car, but $54,860? Really? And I don't even get a six-speed automatic for that price?

Price complaints aside, the RL has a spectacular all-wheel-drive system. I had a blast drifting around corners last night on the snowy roads, and there was a lot of power going to the rear wheels. The chassis still isn't as brilliant as a BMW, but an all-wheel-drive 5-series would be a lot more money with a comparable engine.

I wish Acura/Honda would revisit the human-machine interface for everything related to climate control, audio system, and navigation system functions. Despite the plethora of buttons, knobs, and displays, none of the functions - ranging from adjusting the temperature to changing a radio station - strike me as intuitive. I think the right controls are present, but you don't find the correct set of buttons where you expect them. Why are the climate controls near the top of the dash? Why is the multifunction controller not where your right arm normally rests, the way it is in all the German sedans? I found the joystick/dial control to be awkward to use while driving. The previous generation products from Acura/Honda were much easier to use than the current crop.

I'm not crazy on the new corporate face Acura is attaching to the new vehicles, but I think it looks best on the RL. From the back, I had no idea what car this was as I stared out the window at the gym this morning. The silver paint doesn't do anything to make the back end look less generic, either.

I'd be content with the V-6's power if the fuel economy were better, but 16/22 mpg matches a Ford Flex with four-wheel drive and three rows of seats. How did Acura end up with mediocre fuel economy and mediocre performance from this engine? A BMW 535xi is rated at 17/25 mpg with the automatic, and it certainly moves better than this RL.

That said, for someone more concerned less with sideways vehicular shenanigans and instead desiring a quiet, luxurious sedan that will eat up highway miles, I can see how the RL is appealing. I guess I'm just too far removed from that demographic.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

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