by J.T. Hills
SGN Contributing Writer
• Packed with high-end features
• Lots of safety features
• Mild redesign for 2009
• Lots of techno gadgets –
lots of buttons for them
• It still has a five-speed automatic
• No optional V8
For 2009, Acura redesigned the RL with a more aggressive styling and an all new 3.7-liter V6, the most powerful engine ever offered in an Acura sedan. The RL also features an updated version of the Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic transmission with a “smart” steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and a new straight-gate console gear selector. The top-of-the-line RL with Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) uses a millimeter-wave radar unit mounted in the grille to detect vehicles ahead and monitor potential rear-end collisions, to alert the driver when the likelihood of a collision increase. The CMBS helps reduce the impact on front occupants by pre-tensioning the front seatbelts and applying the brakes should a collision prove imminent. After a week with the 2009 Acura RL CMBS I’ve compiled a brass-tacks list of highly technical scientific data based upon observations, experimentation, tabulations, inspections and so forth. Here we go:
There’s a lot to like about the 2009 Acura RL CMBS, and there’s a lot that leaves you scratching your head, wondering what they were thinking
There’s unquestionably a lot of value in the 2009 Acura RL CMBS. There are few cars on the market that pack in as much technology under a single pricing plan and do so for under $55k. The RL has a new, more powerful 3.7-liter V6, a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, and has the most advance safety features.
If you’re a tech geek, you’ll completely geek out on all the options that come standard on the RL. There’s the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Voice-Activated Navigation with a rear view camera and real time traffic and weather. The Acura Bose 10-speaker sound system is excellent. The GPS-linked solar-sensing dual-zone climate control system with front seats that are heated and ventilated will keep you comfortable no matter the weather outside. The Acura RL has every conceivable option a consumer could want.
The other evening I dropped by Blockbuster and pulled into a spot next to a brand-new Jag. I get out and start to walk into the store, look back at the RL parked next to the Jag, and it hit me: For curb appeal, even with a restyle, the RL just doesn’t look as rich as its competitors. If I just spent, with tax and license, $60,000, when I pull into a lot, I want to see – and I want everyone else to see – I just spent $60,000.
That’s just for starters. Next, why is there no V-8 option on the RL? I know the 3.7-liter has 300 hp and it’s lighter in weight and more efficient than an eight-cylinder. But, really, for a flagship car of a luxury car line, a V-6 should be the entry-level model. Even Hyundai knows that. Another thing: Why is the flagship RL basically the same size as the mid-level TL? Also, what’s with the five-speed automatic transmission and not a six-speed? I would guess it doesn’t have the engineers over at BMW shaking in their lederhosen.
And another thing: The Acura driver interface is one of the most user-unfriendly devices out there. It has the knob like the I-drive system, but it doesn’t accomplish nearly enough. There are 20 other buttons on the center stack that you have to figure out how to use to set the climate control. Oh, and as for the voice recognition system, well, it didn’t seem to want to recognize my voice. I found myself screaming at it, and I don’t know if that looked schizophrenic. The Bluetooth connectivity should be far easier to set up. You have to use the voice recognition system and, well, it will have you screaming at your car and after 20 minutes your phone still wont be set up – that’s after spending 15 minutes trying to look how to set it up in the owner’s manual. Ohhhh, and the Collision Mitigation Braking System – a great idea – didn’t work in the test car. After three days of driving the RL, the whole dash lit up to tell me that it wasn’t working correctly. Hmm.
Um, other than those things, the RL really is fun to drive. The Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive System sure does work well.
OK, for a before-tax price of $54,860, what do you get?
Unlike many of its competitors, with the 2009 Acura RL CMBS, all the high end features come standard. A quick look at the favorites includes:
• 3.7-liter SOHC 24-valve VTEC V6
• Five-speed automatic transmission
with SportShift and paddle shifters
• SH AWD system
• Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes
• Aluminum front double-wishbone
and rear multi-link suspension
• Carb-certified ELEV2
• 100K miles no scheduled tune ups
• 18” alloy wheels
• Collision mitigation braking system
• Driver and front passenger front
airbags, side curtain airbags
• Vehicle stability assist
• Active front lighting system
• Xenon HID headlights
• Bi-Xenon headlamps with power-wash
and self-leveling system
• Rear parking assist camera
• Anti-lock braking system
• Vehicle stability assist
Comfort and Convenience
• Acura navigation system with
• AcuraLink communication system
with real-time traffic and weather
• Adaptive cruise control
• Acura/Bose surround-sound system
with 10 speakers
• GPS-linked, solar-sensing, dual-zone
auto climate control
• Power rear sunshade
• Driver’s and front passenger’s
10-way power seat
• Heated and ventilated front seats
• Dual zone climate control
• Bluetooth connectivity