Acura RL

The Acura RL is a four-door sedan in the midsize luxury sedan class. The Acura RL is the flagship vehicle for Acura in North America, where the name stands for “Refined Luxury.” It is one of the most technologically advanced cars in its class.

More on the Acura RL
Acura RL Origins

In North America, the Acura Legend preceded the Acura RL. The first generation of the RL to hit the streets replaced the second generation of the Acura Legend. The 2012 version of the vehicle, which falls in the second generation of the Acura RL, is a rebadged version of the Honda Legend.

When Acura launched the Acura RL in 1996, the company decided to change how it named its vehicles. Instead of giving each model a name, like the Acura Legend, it decided to use an alphanumeric naming model. Part of the reason behind this switch is that many consumers referred to the vehicles by their model names and did not necessarily associate the vehicle with the manufacturer. Since Honda used the same names in other parts of the world, the old naming structure led to ambiguity between Acura and Honda.

About the Acura RL

The first generation of the Acura RL ran from 1996 to 2004. At its launch, this model was called the Acura 3.5RL, named for its 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The V-6 engine aligns with the car’s axis differently than in almost any other front-drive car. In other cars, the engine is mounted transverse to the car’s axis. With the change in placement of the engine, the Acura RL can make tighter turns, with a smaller turning radius. It also boasts better maneuverability when compared to other front-wheel drive vehicles.

Acura RL Features

In 2009, the Acura RL underwent a major update and facelift. The mid-model change added 10 horsepower to the engine with the addition of Honda VTEC technology. This also improves emissions, allowing the model to meet strict regulations. The update does not show much of a change to the body with the exception of the new Acura grille. However, changes to the inside of the vehicle are substantial. A better windscreen design, additional insulation, and a new noise cancellation system make the interior one of the quietest drives available.

Passenger comfort also improves with more comfortable front seats and more room for passengers in the rear. The RL offers a cutting-edge navigation system that is voice-activated and integrated with the vehicle. High-end audio components include an ELS digital audio sound system, USB connectivity and Bluetooth functionality. Coming in three packages — the base model, the technology model, and the technology plus advanced model — the driver can add as much or as little technological features as he wants.

The 2011 model has a six-speed automatic transmission that provides better gas mileage for the RL.

Acura RL Evolution

While the first generation of the Acura RL existed until 2004, it did go through several updates and refreshes. In each year from 1999 to 2004, the RL had modifications both cosmetically and under the hood. Such changes included adding the OnStar system in 2002, and in 2004, the navigation system became a standard feature in all Acura RL cars. The first generation Acura RLs was the last model to not have an engine that used VTEC, the variable timing system created by Honda. The 2004 Acura 3.5RL was the last Acura model to use the numeric designation for its engine.

In late 2004, the second generation of the Acura RL was unveiled. This new RL comes equipped with the V-6 engine, unlike many of its competitors that house a V-8 engine. Acura fitted the second-generation RL with the Super Handling All Wheel Drive system, which not only varies power from front to back but also from side to side in the rear. The Acura RL is the first car to have an all-wheel-drive system that acts this way. Not only is the engine changed, but the car has a much sportier feel. From 2005 to 2010, it featured a five-speed automatic transmission that also has a sequential sport shift mode. The driver can engage manual shifting using paddles mounted on the steering wheel.

Select an Acura RL Year

2012 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

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 that Acura calls "Sea Coast" was also added to the 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.

2011 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

RL receives a new front fascia and revised grille along with updated 18-inch wheels. The interior is freshened with new headrests, gauges, stitching and trim. The biggest news is the upgraded 6-speed transmission which improves acceleration and fuel economy - although RL still trails competitors with 7- and even 8-speed units. Other improved bits include nav electronics, subframe and transmission mounts.

2010 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

2009 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 2009 Acura RL is Acura’s luxury performance sedan.

2008 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

While the 2008 Acura RL may not necessarily be flashy or overtly powerful in terms of what it packs under the hood, it makes up for it with reliable all-weather handling, near-perfect safety features/ratings, and extensive interior functionality.

2007 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

As an offshoot of Honda, Acura cars were the Japanese auto-maker’s push into the luxury-minded car market, a full four years ahead of Toyota’s Lexus launch and Nissan’s Infiniti.

2006 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 2006 Acura RL provides the ideal combination of luxury and performance.

2005 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The RL is Acura’s flagship luxury sedan, and with a full makeover for 2005, it remains a worthy contender in a crowded field of competitors.

2004 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 2006 Acura RL combines luxury and performance.

2003 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

2002 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 2003 Acura RL is a mostly unchanged luxury flagship for the Honda subsidiary.

2001 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 2001 Acura RL marks Acura’s flagship front-drive luxury sedan.

2000 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 2000 Acura RL serves as the flagship model for the North American luxury car manufacturer.

1999 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 1999 Acura RL is a luxury sedan manufactured by Acura and a rebadged version of the Honda Legend as well as the flagship model for the Acura brand.

1998 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 1998 Acura RL classifies as a mid-size luxury car manufactured by Japanese automaker Honda Motors under the Acura brand.

1997 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 1997 Acura RL is a near-luxury sedan that is, in many respects, the upgraded version of the TL.

1996 Acura RL

Luxury, Sedan

The 1996 Acura RL is a luxury sedan manufactured by the Japanese luxury carmaker, Acura.