Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

High Tech Wheels
2005 Acura RL
By Alain Gayot

In short: A luxurious, quiet, sure-footed and tech-savvy sedan.

The Honda Motor Company may have been the first to go upscale and establish a separate brand to capture an evolving public, but with the introduction of this completely new sedan, let’s figure which crowd they’re really after. Not a large automobile and not V8 powered, the RL inserts itself by default in the middle range rather than in the top segment. Considering the staggering amount of standard equipment that comes with its $50,000 price tag, the Acura RL has the chance to compete in a crowded market as a top contender in its class.

Take for starters one of its biggest assets: the drivetrain. If you have read some of our previous automobile reviews, you know that we are fans of four-wheel drive systems of any type, because of the handling and security they deliver. With this complex SH-AWD system composed of electromagnetic clutches and lateral g sensors, torque is distributed as necessary to all four wheels independently. A pictogram gauge on the dash will show you the actual activity. All this hardware has added quite a few pounds to the sedan. So in an effort to keep weight low, aluminum is used a lot in the car’s construction, along with magnesium and carbon fibers.

A forerunner in the high-tech world, it has super easy-to-use computer DVD navigation and a Voice Recognition system that picks up hundreds of commands. Add to that — an industry first — an active noise cancellation device that comes on as soon as the engine is started via keyless ignition. Although we did not use it, you may receive real-time traffic updates via XM Satellite radio feeds. As a side note, many of the listings in the database (restaurants etc.) are out of date.

Despite its smaller size, the interior cabin is comfortable for all and you get an instant feel of luxury. It would be hard to consider this a sports car, but you can really get it moving with the 300 horses and the use of paddle shifters on the steering wheel. It’s a great road car and functions well in the city. So where does this leave you? Okay, let’s throw in the fact that its emission system meets the strict CARB LEV2/ULEV standards, that it has a killer sound system and a very safe traction control system. Well, if you are in need of upgrading to the newest technology, it’s time to head to a dealer and set up a test drive.

Warranty/Service:4-Year/50,000 mile limited warranty; 6-Year/72,000 mile powertrain warranty; lifetime seatbelt warranty, toll-free customer assistance, 24-hr. roadside assistance.

Price as tested: $49,470

Technical Specifications

Performance Data

Vehicle type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower: 290 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 256 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic with Sequential Sportshift paddles

Curb weight: 4012 lbs
Wheelbase: 110.2 in
193.6/72.7/57.1 in
Turning circle: 39.7 ft

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS
independent front and rear
Super Handling all-wheel drive, traction control, vehicle stability control

Safety: front air bags, side abdomen and curtain air bags, tire pressure monitor, OnStar, 5-star rating in all crash categories

0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds

Top Speed: 133 mph (governed)

EPA City: 18 mpg
EPA Highway: 26 mpg

Countless standard tech goodies, voice-recognition navigation, Real Time traffic, surround sound stereo, all-wheel drive, beautiful interior

Tech goodies have suffered some gremlins, could use more torque, exterior a little dull

Check out other Acura models
See all of our Automobile Reviews
Visit the Acura website

Photography: Walter Mladina

  (Updated 07/22/08 HC)