As the brand's flagship, the Acura RL was once a compelling buy in the premium luxury class. That was back in 2005, when it was completely redesigned to debut Acura's new styling prowess and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. Six years later, however, the 2012 Acura RL
shows its age with a frumpy grille and no plans for a V-8 engine.
The Acura RL is still a comfortable ride, with an array of technology for drivers to stay in touch. And with 300 horsepower from its V-6 engine, the 2012 Acura RL is sporty. But the biggest reason not to buy an Acura RL may come from Acura itself: The 2012 Acura TL, which has been continuously improved, redesigned, and has increased in power and fuel efficiency, while the RL sat stagnant. The competition from Lexus and Infiniti pack V-8 engines and rear-wheel drive, so the RL sticks out even more in the segment. It may get a redesign in 2013, possibly with a V-8 engine, so if you want to get a good deal on a well-equipped luxury car, now's the time to act.
Engine: 3.7-liter V-6
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Models: RL, RL with Technology Package, RL with Advance Package
For 2011, a new six-speed automatic transmission improved fuel economy and highway efficiency by two mpg, but that's still behind the seven- and eight-speed boxes from German companies. A new color called "Sea Coast" was also added to the Acura RL lineup, as well as thin-thread stitching on the wheel and a new Dark Burlwood interior trim. Power folding mirrors and a rear backup sensor are also included, as well as a wheel mechanism that promises to reduce interior noise.
The 2012 Acura RL gets Acura's "Power Plenum" shield design, which looks gawky compared to the rest of the RL's softer lines. You can easily find it in a crowded parking lot, but whether you want to is another story.
Inside the 2012 Acura RL, 10-way power-adjustable, heated/cooled front seats and a host of high tech toys make a strong impression. Resonators in the wheelwells reduce interior noise by 15 percent, compared to the outgoing model, and the interior can be optioned with maple wood trim that lines the dashboard and door panels.
Performance & Handling
The Acura RL has one powertrain choice: a 3.7-liter V-6 with VTEC and 300 horsepower. Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive changes the amount of power to each wheel, as much as 70 percent to the rear wheels, and the RL does its best to combat understeer in corners. The electrically assisted steering is vague, and the Acura RL has an uncomfortably large turning radius.
The Acura RL employs Acura's Advanced Compatibility Engineering structure, which features high-strength steel and aluminum to dissipate energy in case of a crash. If ordered with the Advance Package, the Collision Mitigation Braking System can bring the car to a halt immediately, in case it detects an impending accident. Six airbags come standard, and active headrests in the front seats prevent whiplash in case of a rear-end collision.
EPA Fuel Economy
RL: 17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway
RL with Technology Package: 17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway
RL with Advance Package: 17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway
- Comfortable interior
- Advanced AWD
- Good audio system
- Guaranteed to be rare
You Won't Like
- No available V-8
- Outdated styling
- TL cheaper, more efficient, and powerful
Long due for a replacement
If You Like This Vehicle
- Audi A6
- BMW 535i
- Cadillac CTS
- Infiniti M35
- Lexus GS 350