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. Trigaux: On new Forbes 400 list of U.S. billionaires, 35 now call Florida their home

    Personal Finance

    The latest Forbes 400 richest people in America was unveiled Tuesday, with 35 billionaires on that list calling Florida home. That's actually down from 40 Florida billionaires listed last year when a full 10 percent listed declared they were Floridians by residence.

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., shopping center developer and  former San Francisco 49ers Owner, posed with his bronze bust last year during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. DeBartolo remains the wealthiest person in Tampa Bay according to the Forbes 400 list released Tuesday. 
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]
  2. Clearwater attorney accused of condo foreclosure trickery fights back

    Real Estate

    The Clearwater lawyer accused of tricking a bidder into paying $458,100 for a gulf-front condo now plans to contest a judge's order tossing out the sale.

    John Houde, left, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground, in August during a hearing Sixth Judicial Circuit court Judge Jack St. Arnold at the Pinellas County Courthouse. The judge agreed with Houde's allegation that he was duped by Skelton in thinking he bought a Redington Beach condo for $458,100 out of a foreclosure auction. Now Skelton is fighting back. 
  3. How a group of Florida tomato growers could help derail NAFTA


    Tony DiMare, a third-generation Florida tomato grower, has spent two decades contending with cheap Mexican imports, watching his neighbors abandon crops in their fields and sell off their farms when they couldn't match the price of incoming produce.

    Workers fill a trailer with tomatoes as they harvest them in the fields of DiMare Farms in Florida City. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images(2013)]
  4. Pinellas deputies go door-to-door at dawn to arrest unlicensed contractors


    Pinellas deputies began pounding on doors at 5 a.m. Tuesday, part of a widespread roundup of contractors accused of working without licences and workers compensation.

    Pinellas Sheriff deputies J. Short, left, and T. Festa, right, arrest suspect Randy Ronchi, center, in Largo early Tuesday, as part of a joint roundup of unlicensed contractors. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  5. HQ2 watch: As deadline looms for Amazon headquarters pitch, one metro bows out


    If there's one national business saga to keep up on these days, it's the frenzy by metropolitan areas — including Tampa Bay — to make their best pitches to Amazon in the hope of being chosen as the new location for the giant online retailer's second massive headquarters. HQ2, as it is called, would create …

    Cities across the country are trying to land Amazon's second headquarters, known as HQ2. In Birmingham, Ala., giant Amazon boxes were constructed and placed around the city as part of its "Bring A to B" campaign. [Ali Clark/Bring A to B Campaign]