Test Drive: 2011 Acura RL Review

The flagship Acura RL was built to compete with the likes of BMW 5-series, and Mercedes E-class.  Sales-wise, it doesn’t do as well as those two, and that is a shame, this is really a nice car!

My 2011 RL with the Advance package comes with a 300-horse, 3.7-liter V6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.  The 24-valve SOHC engine feels much more like 350 horses than it does 300 it is rated at.

A couple of things hit me every time I have an Acura.  The first thing is handling, there just isn’t anything that handles like an Acura.  For some people, the ride and handling of the Acura is too harsh, especially those coming out of a Lexus or some of the Mercedes models.  For me, the RL has the best ride quality, primarily due to weight I am sure, yet Honda did not ruin the handling of this large sport sedan.

The second thing that is obvious to everyone is how quiet the RL is.  Acura goes to amazing lengths to make this car extremely quiet.  This is a car where the quietness is noticeable right off the bat.  There is no road noise, no wind noise, and the sounds from outside the car are virtually non-existent.

All RL models come with SH-AWD, which stands for super handling all-wheel drive.  It is called that with good reason, it does indeed handle super and Acura’s all-wheel system is flawless, one of the best out there.  The all-wheel system is geared more to performance than it is bad weather, but the end result is a car that squats and goes when you floor it.

The exterior of this car is quite beautiful. If you have not seen one lately, the front end and rear end are not nearly as bold as in years past.  It has been greatly toned-down and is much more elegant the previous versions.  The old RL and TL turned a lot of people off.

Inside you will find pure elegance with a just-right mixture of leather and wood.  The dash is laid out for maximum comfort and accessibility.  All the controls are within easy reach and do not overwhelm you.  Acura has always had one of the best navigation systems in the industry and the RL continues that tradition.

The RL is a luxury car, make no mistake about that, and with it comes all the standard and safety equipment you would expect and a lot more.  My test vehicle has the Advance package which gives you the collision braking system, and adaptive cruise control.  Other items not always included on cars in this price range, are air conditioned seats, real-time traffic and weather, Xenon headlights, and power rear shade.  I can’t think of anything else that is not standard on the RL.

If you are in the market for a luxury car and the Acura RL is not currently on your shopping list, it should be.

What I liked most:  Handling and quietness.

What I would change if I could: Give me 50 more horses!

MSRP as tested: $56,010.

Fuel Economy: 17 city/ 24 highway easily achieved.

Acura RL in a few words:  A terrific luxury sports sedan.


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