- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 21, 2004

Acura continues its effort to meld luxury and performance in its vehicles with the all-new RL luxury sedan. Taking the best of what Acura engineers have learned over the years and folding in a good dose of high-tech goodies, the RL has become a vehicle of high-tech, high-luxury features, excellent performance and exceedingly beautiful interior accommodations.

Even though the entire vehicle is a combination of wonderful mechanical equipment, it is the interior that has my complete admiration.

The RL is powerful, capable and accommodating. Slide behind the wheel of this automobile and you will be in a passenger compartment that is a fine combination of wood, leather and metal, as much a work of art as it is functional automotive hardware.

The real wood trim that runs from the contemporary center stack resembles the arching wood backbone of a fine stringed instrument. As it sweeps into the door trim, the wood tapers down so that it seems as though a musical artist could reach out and begin playing it.

The door-mounted grab handle and the wood trim on the door panel arch down in identical curves that are exquisite.



The leather seating surfaces are supple, yet hold you in place even during high-speed cornering, which is where the new RL equally shines.

The RL is powered by a newly engineered 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces an admirable 300 horsepower.

This is the same rating many big V-8 engines boast. This smooth-running but powerful engine combines the acceleration of a sports car with the smoothness of a true luxury vehicle.

The RL is a fun-to-drive, opulent automobile.

A major component in this vehicle’s extremely good road manners is Acura’s new Super Handling all-wheel-drive system. This system has taken 12 years to develop, but was well worth the wait. The main component of the AWD system is mounted at the rear differential to create a better weight balance.

Through its electronic controls, the system transfers the power of those 300 horses to the appropriate axle.

But taking the theory of AWD a step further, this system can transfer 100 percent of the power that is transferred to the rear axle to either of the rear wheels.

Advancing the handling characteristics of the RL even more are the sophisticated computer controls that actually sense the occurrence of oversteer or understeer in corners and send additional power to the appropriate wheel to reduce either of these occurrences.

How does this translate to better road manners?

It compensates for any minor errors a driver might make and helps keep the car under control, long before it is even apparent to the driver that there is a problem.

Much of the increased road manners must be attributed to the design and engineering that has gone into developing the body and platform of the Acura RL.

Making use of high-tensile steel and light but strong aluminum and strategically placing these pieces in all the appropriate places makes the RL a far superior vehicle.

The hood, front fenders and trunk lid are made by a new high-pressure injected-aluminum method of creating body panels.

According to Acura, this method increases the panel’s strength as it gives the panel a smoother finish.

The placement of high-tensile steel bracing within the structure of the body makes the body shell extremely rigid.

If there is less bending and twisting within the body, the suspension system can be engineered to absorb the irregularities of the road.

It can also react faster, with more accuracy, to driver input. This creates a suspension that is able to provide a luxurious ride while also providing exceedingly good handling characteristics.

Getting back into the interior, which is of course where we all spend most of our time with our vehicles, the Acura RL is equipped with plenty of features to make our experience more comfortable and safer.

Beyond the usual dual front air bags and three-point seat belts are side air bags and a safety cage that protects the occupants.

There are also plenty of electronic devices aboard that make our driving experience more comfortable.

The revised navigation system combined with controls for sound system and heating and air conditioning make travel less frustrating.

The navigation unit has real-time traffic reports through the XM satellite radio system.

Not only can this system alert you to traffic conditions, it can accurately tell you the speed of traffic flow.

Though this is available in only 20 metropolitan areas at this time, it is sure to expand as municipalities expand their roadway-sensing systems.

The XM satellite sound system is enhanced by the Bose sound system, which is the next best thing to being at a concert in person.

The driving experience is why you own a vehicle such as the RL and you will be very surprised at what a wonderful experience this automobile can be.

Acura has taken its job seriously and woven together all the components in a complete package.

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