Make us your home page
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: Retooled Acura RL is a solid performer

The RL is Acura's flagship sedan, but you knew that, right? No? We're not surprised. As Honda's luxury division, Acura easily can be overlooked in the land of Lexus, BMW and the like. The latest RL has undergone a facelift much like its stablemate, the TL, that reins in the previous model's "beak" grille. Is that enough to help it stand out?

Appearance: Problem No. 1 for the RL is that while it's a handsome car, it's also generic. Peter likens it to a male TV anchor: polished but indistinguishable from the crowd. Even the new silver-tone grille seems subdued when compared with other Acuras. Our tester definitely benefited from its black paint, which was set off by chrome and silver-tone trim.

Performance: Handling is a strong point, given that the RL has Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, which is standard. The ride is engineered for comfort more than performance, but that's not a slight. Peter thinks the RL breeds driver confidence with its sure-footed and agile feel. The RL also now has a 6-speed automatic with sequential sportshift, which we found to be a refined gearbox that did its work smoothly. There are paddle shifters if you want to have a little fun by shifting for yourself. Now let's talk power plant: The RL, like all Honda vehicles, doesn't have a V-8 option. For most of us, the 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 can be a lively drive. Still, its competitors have optional V-8s, and there are those who like their luxury to come with some extra cylinders. A couple of nits: We felt the brakes could use a little more stopping power, and the mpg seems mediocre for a V-6 at 17 city and 24 highway. Lyra also found the turning radius to be a little too wide.

Interior: Our RL had the pricey ($4,000) Tech package option, which includes adaptive headlights that swivel when you turn, a backup camera, rear parking sensors, solar-sensing climate control and a navigation system that has features like Zagat restaurant ratings. As with most Acuras, the fit and finish are excellent, and the quiet cabin is an attractive mix of leather and wood grain. We also liked the comfortable seats, which are heated/cooled and have a 10-way power adjustment for driver and front passenger. The rear seats, although a bit snug, are comfortable with plenty of legroom. The 8-inch navigation screen sits high on the center console, but the buttons are small and clustered confusingly. Lyra wasn't fond of what she called the "barn door" armrest, which has a dual split lid. For our sunny weather, we liked the rear automatic power shade, as well as the manual shades for the rear side doors.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Build: The doors thud, the interior is quiet and the road feel is secure.

SH-AWD: I agree with Lyra on this — it may be the car's best feature.

Dash: I liked the simple layout and gauges.

Lyra Solochek

SH-AWD: Super indeed. Great grip on corners and in bad weather.

Reliability: Acura has a near-sterling reputation.

Rear shades: Helps keep the bright sun out.

The bottom line: We like a lot about the RL, which does many things well but lacks the look-at-me quality you expect in a flagship sedan. But it's definitely worth your consideration if style isn't your main concern.


Acura RL

Price: $47,200, $52,210 as tested


3.7-liter V-6, 6-speed automatic, SH-AWD

Horsepower: 300 at 6,300 rpm

Torque: 271 pound-

feet at 5,000 rpm

Curb weight: 4,083 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 110.2

Length, 195.7

Width, 72.7

Fuel economy:

17 miles per gallon city, 24 mpg highway

Safety features: Airbags and curtains, Vehicle Stability Assist, ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution, brake assist, ACE body structure, rearview camera, parking sensors, active front lighting system

Options worth considering: Tech and Advance packages


The Daily Drivers: Retooled Acura RL is a solid performer 09/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 16, 2011 1:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New DEP secretary says there's no conflict in political side businesses


    TALLAHASSEE — When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state's top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying …

     Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He will take the helm on June 5, with a salary of $150,000 per year. [Florida Governor's Office]
  2. New stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works


    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  3. Target Corp. reaches $18.5 million settlement with 47 states over data breach


    Target Corp. has agreed to pay Florida $928,963 out of a newly-announced $18.5 million settlement over a huge data breach that occurred in late 2013.

    Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corp. to resolve the states' probe into the discounter's massive pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. 
[Associated Press]
  4. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall' bill


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021


    TAMPA — Record rainfall in Los Angeles ultimately may end Tampa Bay's drought of hosting the Super Bowl.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 

Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)