- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004

With a 300-horsepower VTEC V-6 engine, a revolutionary all-wheel drive system, and a host of hi-tech gear, the all-new 2005 Acura RL is prepared to run with the big dogs that make up the luxury performance sedan category.

The new 3.5-liter engine delivers a 33 percent power increase compared with its predecessor, and torque has risen to 260 lbs.-ft., a 12 percent increase. In spite of developing much more power from the same displacement, the new RL engine meets much tougher emission standards and delivers comparable fuel economy to the previous RL’s engine.

Complimenting the engine is a new five-speed automatic transmission with sequential sport shift, paddle shifters, and grade logic. It feeds power to what Acura calls “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive,” a standard feature on all 2005 RLs. This unusual full-time system distributes power front-to-rear and side-to-side in the rear. What makes the system unusual is its ability to speed up rotation speed of the outside rear wheel during aggressive cornering to help the car turn more effectively under power.

By monitoring driver input and driving conditions, the SH-AWD system determines the optimum front-rear and left-right torque distribution. This information is sent to the rear differential, where direct electromagnetic clutches continuously vary front-rear torque by up to 70 percent in either direction. Rear torque can also be apportioned between the rear tires by up to 100 percent on either side.

There’s more to SH-AWD than splitting torque. During cornering the speed of the outside rear wheel is greater than the average of both front wheels. This prevents the efficient transfer of torque to the outside rear wheel in a typical AWD system. To counteract this condition, the SH-AWD system’s rear differential is equipped with a built-in acceleration device that can “overdrive” the outside rear wheel. This acceleration device uses a planetary gear to speed up the outside rear wheel’s rotation relative to the front wheels. According to Acura, the result is a significant enhancement in vehicle maneuverability during cornering.

Until recently, satellite radio was used exclusively to deliver a variety of programming to subscribers using a special receiver. In an expansion of the types of information available to drivers, the AcuraLink real-time traffic feature is the first standard system to offer personalized traffic information relative to the driver’s current location and destination. Frequently updated traffic information is displayed graphically on the RL’s navigation system allowing drivers to avoid congestion.

So how does all of that happen?

AcuraLink uses the XM NavTraffic service to provide traffic information for freeways in 20 major metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and Chicago. Coverage is slated to expand to other cities as traffic information in those cities becomes available. Flow, accident and construction information is collected by NAVTEQ — the leading global provider of digital map data for vehicle navigation systems —from many sources, including local police and transportation departments. It is then delivered to the XM studio and transmitted by XM’s satellites to the RL’s navigation system where it is displayed on the map. AcuraLink is standard on the 2005 RL in the 48 contiguous states.

For those who do a lot of night driving, the new RL is equipped with adaptive headlights for increased illumination and visibility. The low beams swivel up to 20 degrees in either direction in response to vehicle speed and input from the steering wheel. During straight-line driving the headlights perform like conventional systems by illuminating the road directly in front of the car. When entering a curve, the inboard light swivels to illuminate a larger area of road surface throughout the corner, minimizing blind spots.

Inside the RL, state-of-the-art electronics abound, including a 10-speaker Bose DVD-Audio system, a voice-activated navigation system, CX and a Bluetooth-based wireless phone interface.

And to make sure you can cruise blissfully on any kind of pavement surface, road, wind and other intrusive noises are neutralized through the application of noise compensation technology, which monitors cabin noise and adjusts the sound balance accordingly.

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