Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Acura RL AWD with the Advance Package: The Brand’s Flagship Sedan

Highlight: All Acuras are equipped with an all-wheel drive system.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $56,035 (base model lists for $48,085)

Seating Capacity: 5 occupants

Standard Safety Features (Advance Package): ABS; six front (and rear) side curtain airbags; side-impact door beams; tire pressure monitoring system; vehicle stability system with traction control; LED mirror integrated turn signals; active headrest for front seats to reduce whiplash; a radar-activated cruise control system; and Acura’s Collision Mitigation Braking System

Standard Equipment (Advance Package): 18-inch wheels; keyless entry; keyless starter; power moonroof; power rear sunshade; manual rear side sunshades; voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic updates; rearview camera; Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) front headlights; leather power (front) seats; remote operated rear seat headrests; power foldaway mirrors; genuine maple wood instrument panel trim; heated side mirrors with driver recognition, reverse gear tilt-down and integrated directional turn signals

Standard Audio: a BOSE 10-speaker Surround Sound System with DVD-Audio, 6-disc CD, DTS changer, AM/FM radio tuner and a XM-subscription-based satellite system

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Trim Levels:
Technology Package
Advance Package

Bluetooth Compatibility: Standard

MP3 Capability: N/A

iPod and USB adaptor: Standard

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.7-liter, 6-cylinder/300-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage: 17-city/24-hwy

What’s New:  The RL receives an all-new Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission for 2011, offering a modest improvement in fuel-economy. Also the brand’s flagship sedan styling is tweaked too with a revised front grill, a new wheel design, power folding side mirrors and available audible back-up sensors.

Pros: The RL is a highly technical, reliable midsize luxury sedan available in a number of configurations. Acura continues the theme of offering a simplified packaging system, depending on the model selected. Acura’s packaging system eliminates the need for standalone options.

Now although we reviewed the high-end RL with the Advance package, the base model is outfitted with such standard features as a leather trimmed interior, power actuated front seats, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a power moonroof, power windows, Bose’s Surround Sound audio system, a Bluetooth HandsFreeLink connectivity and a Multi-Information Display (MID) that allows easy access to multiple electronic functions. So, with these features alone, consumers should be able to snap-up the base model in the low $40’s, especially since sales are somewhat stagnant on the RL line.

Beyond being able to get a nicely equipped vehicle at a deep discount, the top of the line RL offers a highly advanced braking system known as the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS).Using the latest technology, CMBS monitors the distance and closing rate between the RL and the vehicle directly in front of it. CMBS then uses the information to continuously calculate the likelihood of a frontal collision as well as to alert the driver in different stages of urgency. If the likelihood of a collision significantly increases, CMBS will take actions such as to apply the brakes and pre-tension the front seatbelts. Now that’s what we call having big brother by one’s side.
Furthermore, the RL high-end package includes an Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) that uses a grille-mounted millimeter-wave radar unit to monitor the distance between the RL and the vehicle directly ahead. ACC can regulate the RL's speed to maintain a pre-set following distance interval between it and the vehicle directly ahead. If following distance becomes too close, the ACC system warns the driver and applies the brakes if necessary.
Cons: With this being Acura’s flagship vehicle, its time for a major redesign so that this vehicle remains competitive when stacked up against its competitors. The uneventful design has become quite dated.

Also while other automakers are pushing forward with a seven-speed and eight-speed transmissions, Acura is a little behind by offering a six-speed transmission.

Moreover, with this being Acura’s flagship vehicle, we expected the front seats to be both supportive and luxurious just like the best-in-class seats we found in its lower price sibling, the Acura TSX wagon we reviewed earlier this year.

The Verdict: Buyers in the market for a well-equipped, well-built, conservative design midsize luxury sedan should strongly consider putting the Acura RL on their shopping list. While this vehicle may not standout in a crowd, as it relates to the extremely conservative styling, buyers should easily warm-up to the vehicle since dealers will more than likely offer a super deep discounts on this vehicle to help make a deal.

Competition: BMW 5-series, Hyundai Genesis Sedan and Lexus GS

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