Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The 2009 Acura RL is a low, sleek midsize luxury car that seats five. It has a great looking beltline and a tight, mean looking front and rear. In all, it's a look that puts the fun back into a midsize car. The tail lights sort of tuck into the trunk in a way that says speed while the headlights broaden the grill in a manner that bespeaks character. Even when this car is standing still it's easy to imagine it stretching around the curves on a mountain road or slipping into a tight spot in freeway traffic. The interior is just as exciting. Bucket seats, stick shift, fingertip controls and well laid out gauges all scream sport and comfort. And the standard leather upholstery and leather wrapped steering wheel add their touch of class. Priced from $46,280, it isn't cheap, but that's expected from Acura. The question is whether it delivers more than less expensive luxury sedans like the Lincoln MKZ. Powered by an overhead cam V6 300 horsepower 3.8 liter engine, the fuel efficiency rating is 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. The five speed automatic transmission delivers whatever is asked of it. And you can add to that a better than industry average warranty. The Acura RL comes in three models, all four-door sedans - the base, the Technology Package and the Technology and CMBS package. As you would expect, there are a host of great gadgets available. The base model comes standard with dual-zone climate control, 10-way power bucket seats, keyless access and starting, power sunroof, Bose sound system, wireless cell phone link and several other goodies. The other packages add even more freebies. According to the NHTSA the Acura RL is just about as safe as you can get, with a five star rating in every area they measure. The RL sports the high end braking system and airbags everywhere that you would expect, along with front-seat active head restraints and an emergency inside trunk lid release. Well then, is there anything wrong with the Acura RL? Actually, there are a couple of issues. One is the mileage. 16/22 is just too low for a car this size, especially with today's high fuel costs. Another is the seating capacity. As noted, the car is rated for five passengers, but only two adults can ride comfortably. The front seat is fine, but the back seat is just too small. Another problem is the price. A car this size is usually for young adults, either single or with new families. At this point in their lives, many of them cannot afford even to look at the RL. Still, with great styling inside and out, the 2009 Acura RL seems to be Japanese engineering at its best. It's worth looking at if you want a luxury mid-size car.