Unlike these other folks, I find Acura's razor-blade grille to be unattractive on all of the new/updated Acura cars (the SUVs aren't as bad, to my eyes). I'm all for a cohesive brand look, but to me, this theme doesn't cut it. The taillights look like something from the Mercury parts bin - but I think they'd look better on a Mercury.

Going down the road, though, the RL is extremely comfortable and up to most passing-lane challenges. I found the ride to be a bit harsh on a couple of especially rough sections of Michigan tarmac, but few if any vehicles (Jaguar XJ? Cadillac DTS? Hovercraft?) can completely mask such conditions. As others have pointed out, the SH-AWD system is superb. (It's fun to watch the torque-split graphic on the IP, which tells you how much of the thrust is going to which wheels; for instance, take a quick ninety-degree right turn, mash the throttle, and watch as SH-AWD feeds most of the power to the left rear wheel, maintaining the vehicle's stability.)

My primary beef with the so-called HMI is the fact that, despite the plethora of buttons and dials on the dash, you have to use voice commands to activate Bluetooth. And unlike Chrysler's MyGig, which gives you an audible list of options, I'm quite sure that you have to leaf through the owners' manual to find the proper Acura-ese terms to make it work. After taking the time to pair my phone, the Bluetooth didn't automatically relink to my mobile the next time I got into the car. Then the next time, it did. The next - didn't. I'll generously chalk this one up to user error, but I will say this, if you buy an RL, have the salesperson setup your Bluetooth for you, making sure that the auto-detect setting (if one even exists) is "ON." And please don't get me started on the XM controls...if I know what station I want, why can't I just keep cranking a tuning knob, rather than tapping one button until I get to the right category, then another button on the other side of the dash to tap through the stations in that category until I get to my channel of choice? If you owned this car, you'd get used to it, I know. But if you came from another manufacturer's products, I can almost guarantee that you'd be pretty frustrated with it for the first couple weeks.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

New Car Research

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