The 2001 Acura RL marks Acura’s flagship front-drive luxury sedan. RL stands for refined luxury. Solidly constructed and priced just right, the RL is quiet, smooth, and athletic. Despite the fact that rivals such as BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz now offer V-8 engines with more horsepower, the RL may still be the best luxury sedan on the market. Its V-6 engine with 210 horsepower still provides plenty of punch. One can’t help but feel that a future Acura RL with a V-8 engine and rear drive would put this already popular luxury sedan over the top in popularity and more fiercely fend off growing competition.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Acura RL
The 2001 Acura RL shows no significant changes, although floor mats now come standard and the cargo area has an emergency trunk release.
The Acura RL compares to the Lexus LS430. It sits on a 114.6-inch wheelbase, which remains somewhat shorter than the wheelbase of the LS430. The RL has a length of about 197 inches, roughly the same length as the LS430. The vehicle’s curb weight totals 3850 pounds.
The 2001 Acura RL has a rather conservative look, although the front end looks bold with crisp creases in the hood, a sizeable horizontal-bar grille, high-intensity discharge headlamps, integrated fog lights, a manual sunroof/moonroof, and chrome accents.
The Acura RL seats up to five occupants. Front headroom totals 38.8 inches and front legroom stands at 42.1 inches. While a longer wheelbase should result in more interior room, surprisingly the RL doesn’t provide ample rear legroom for taller adults. The 2001 Acura RL offers 35.4 inches of legroom in the back seat. Therefore, the back seat still comfortably seats tall passengers, they just can’t stretch out during long rides. The seats feel comfortable and absorb vibration. Both the front and back of the vehicle have a multi-zone climate control system, allowing anyone in the car to adjust settings to their own optimum comfort.
The RL offers 14 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk with a pass-through section to the interior for the transport of longer items.
Like most Honda vehicles, the dashboard looks attractive and laid out with practicality and ease of use in mind. Standard features include leather seats, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tachometer, tilt steering, a multi-adjustable driver’s seat, a stereo/CD/cassette audio system, floor mats, and the highly advanced Vehicle Stability Assist for better handling.
The satellite-linked DVD-based navigation system provides the only factory option for the Acura RL. A single disk covers the entire U.S. High in the center of the dashboard, well within reach of either the driver or passenger, sits the touchscreen navigation system.
Performance & Handling
The RL offers a quiet, smooth, and peaceful ride. Acceleration feels brisk. The vehicle handles great on curves. The Vehicle Safety Assist works in conjunction with the vehicle’s anti-lock brakes and traction control systems to eliminate skids when accelerating, cornering, or maneuvering to avoid accidents.
The RL utilizes rack and pinion steering with independent front and rear suspensions. Its smooth ride results from the suspension’s low-friction ball joints, the valves’ Teflon seals, a liquid-filled rear trailing arm, foam-filled B and C pillars, and honeycomb floor panels.
The RL’s longitudinally mounted V-6 engine has its centerline mounted in line with the vehicle’s axis, rather than transversely like most front-drive vehicles. This longitudinal engine placement gives the 2001 Acura RL a smaller turning radius and makes it easier to maneuver the vehicle while driving in the city.
The RL includes a dual stage front passenger airbag that inflates with more or less force depending on the speed of the collision. Frontal side-impact airbags come standard and the passenger side airbag does not deploy if sensors detect a small child in the passenger seat. The 2001 Acura RL earns four stars for driver and passenger safety in frontal crash tests.
EPA Fuel Economy
Acura RL: 18/24 mpg city/highway
- Smooth and quiet ride
- Brisk acceleration
- Vehicle Safety Assist for better handling
You Won't Like
- Front drive and V-6 engine inferior to competitors
- Bland exterior styling
A wallflower in the luxury sedan market.
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