- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Acura’s flagship sedan has become more youthful. The all-new 2005 RL is fun, powerful and loaded with gadgetry.

We all know those who go ga-ga over the newest toys on the market — and I don’t mean children. I’m referring to grown men and women who love the wizardry of gadgets. The 2005 Acura RL is stuffed with the latest in “I should have that.” The Keyless Access System is a reinvention of the car key. With this key fob in my pocket I could enter the locked vehicle just by lifting the driver’s door handle. To start the car, I just turned a knob on the steering column — no key needed to insert into an ignition.

At night when I opened the driver’s door, a pretty blue-green light illuminated the foot well. The interior was filled with elegant and thoughtful features that made a lasting impression on me: This is the car that sets the benchmark for the new direction in luxury.

The 2005 RL is well-loaded at $48,900. It includes perforated leather-trimmed seating, wood-trimmed dashboard, power moonroof, XM Satellite Radio, 10-speaker Bose sound system, OnStar, and power-operated sun shields for rear passengers.

This all-new flagship is a roomy, comfortable luxury sedan, yet its exterior has the stance of a youthful, sporty car. The RL is 3 inches shorter and more than an inch wider than the previous model. In the front, the hood slopes down to the sporty front fascia and angular headlights. The short deck lid in the rear accentuates the aerodynamic, wedge shape for a fast-looking performance-car design.

Acura calls its all-wheel-drive system “revolutionary.” The AWD system distributes torque not only from front wheels to rear, but also between the left and right rear wheels. Acura named the system Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, or SH-AWD.

When the all-wheel-drive Acura RL is driven under normal conditions, up to 70 percent of the torque is at the front wheels. However, under hard cornering, up to 70 percent of the available torque gets sent to the rear wheels. And, if needed, as much as 100 percent of this torque will be distributed to the outside rear wheel. A driver can feel inspired to push this car as though it were a sport-oriented rear-wheel-drive sedan, yet be reasonably reassured with the confidence of an all-wheel-drive system that he or she won’t lose control.

The new RL is powered by a 24-valve 3.5-liter V-6 engine. It delivers 300 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 260 foot-pounds of torque at 5,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with SportShift.

Paddle shifters are located on the steering wheel for the driver to manually “paddle” up or down to the next gear. Fuel economy ratings on this all-wheel-drive sedan are 18 miles per gallon city and 26 mpg highway.

Another new technology feature on the Acura is satellite-based real-time traffic information.

The system uses the XM NavTraffic service to deliver traffic congestion and flow information on the 8-inch navigation screen.

Acura says that, unlike local radio reports, the real-time satellite provides a constant flow of information, allowing drivers to avoid congestion and pick other paths to their destinations.

The 2005 RL is the first of the Acura vehicles to be built with Advanced Compatibility Engineering, which is designed to enhance passenger safety for the RL occupants, as well as those in the other vehicle during a frontal collision.

The Acura RL is inspirational in luxury and technology and merits a test-drive for anyone shopping the premium market.

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