Acura Shows Refreshed 2009 RL Sedan
By Chris Haak
Acura’s flagship RL sedan has had a rough couple of years. Since the most recent version hit dealers for the 2005 model year, sales have been abysmal. The problems with the car were numerous: it was expensive compared to the TL in the same showroom, it only offered V6 power when its competitors offered V8s, it was built on a derivative of the front-wheel drive Honda Accord platform, and the interior was actually smaller in some dimensions than “lower” Acura models.
Today, Acura revealed its 2009 RL, and attempted to address as many of the above concerns as it could, while still constrained by the basic dimensions and passenger compartment of the existing model (it’s not all-new, but a so-called MCE, or mid-cycle enhancement).
Changes to the 2009 RL include a shield-like grille similar to the ones found on the MDX and RDX crossovers (which many people dislike), an enlarged 3.7 liter V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. The interior has been enhanced with better materials, a redesigned center stack, and more rear seat room (which was likely accomplished by either thinning the front seatbacks, thinning the rear seatbacks, or both), and upgraded electronics. Electronic gadgets include real-time traffic monitoring, real-time weather monitoring, Bluetooth audio, heated and cooled front seats, and a USB connectivity port. The RL’s interior, already extremely nice, should be even nicer, although it’s probably still too tight inside.
The car’s rear end styling is an improvement (though it reminds me of a Civic coupe from a distance), but the grille isn’t an improvement to my eyes. Rumors are that the next TL may borrow a derivative of the next NSX’s V10 for its top engine. Hopefully, Acura will also be willing to move to a rear-wheel drive-based chassis for the next RL, and add some interior space to its flagship. To have a flagship that is outpowered and out-spaced by “lesser” vehicles is unacceptable. Acura is at a crossroads right now; they can either change the direction that their latest products have taken and go for a more premium customer, or they can drift closer to Honda, becoming to Honda what Mercury is to Ford.
The full press release is available here.
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