Sacramento, California – Acura has been taken to task for not having a flagship car, or a car that stands head and shoulders above the rest of its fleet.
Even though most people couldn’t afford the iconic Acura NSX rocket ship, at least people knew it was at the head of the class.
Acura might have solved this perception problem with the freshened 2011 Acura RL. It has been dismissed by some as merely a loaded version of Acura’s TL sedan, and there is some support for that argument.
But the current RL is significantly loaded above the TL, and it does stand out at the top of the Acura line. My week in the middle-level RL with a Technology Package certainly confirmed that in my mind.
This RL is true luxury. The opulent standard features, classy interior feel, super silky ride and library reading room-quiet interior justify a starting price just north of $50,000.
It’s a rich-looking transporter, with fine fit and finish and an aggressive-looking grille. Exterior lines remind me of Lincolns of old – and that’s not a bad thing.
On the fly, this RL feels like it’s riding on a cloud of smooth air. Very little sound makes its way into the cockpit, even when you ask the 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter VTEC V-6 for maximum effort. Accelerations are hard enough to press you into the seat, but there is little engine growl accompanying the movement. A velvet glove, to be sure.
When applied, the four-wheel, ventilated disc brakes put a quick end to the RL’s bite, and their impressive stopping power lends an air of security.
Safety features run the gamut, from wall-to-wall airbags to electronic gadgets designed to override the mistakes of a reckless or inattentive driver.
The well-laid-out interior drips with leather and other finely polished materials. An exhaustive list of standard features includes look-at-that goodies such as a power rear sunshade and 10-way power front seats.
What’s not to like? Can’t find much of anything.
All-around vision is good. Back seats are spacious and comfortable. Big trunk. Tech package list of wow devices includes an active front-lighting system, rear parking sensors, a navigation system with voice recognition and heated/ventilated front seats.
I’ve noticed that some reviewers, apparently straining for criticism, have dissed the RL’s six-speed automatic transmission, as opposed to seven- or eight-speed gearboxes found in other rides. Really?
If that’s the deal-breaker, maybe you should be reviewing something else … like the opera.
As for me, I’ve lumped the 2011 RL into my “must test drive” list for folks asking about luxury sedans.