Premium midsize car; Built in Japan
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $12,700 – $22,000*

2005 Acura RL

2005 Acura RL

2005 Acura RL

2005 Acura RL

  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Quietness
  • Ride/handling
  • Keyless locking/starting akward
  • Rear-seat room

The 2005-06 RL boasts a sporty demeanor, smart engineering, standard all-wheel drive, and Acura’s reputation for reliability and resale value. Other premium midsize rivals offer V8 power and higher nameplate prestige, but the RL is still an excellent value.


Acura redesigned its flagship sedan for 2005. The ’05 RL was four inches shorter in wheelbase and overall length than its 1996-2004 predecessor, but gained standard all-wheel drive, more power, fresh styling, and additional safety and convenience features. It came in one trim level with no options.

The sole engine was a 3.5-liter V6 with 300 hp. The only transmission was a 5-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual operation. Acura called the RL’s AWD system Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). It was designed to transfer power to the outside rear wheel in turns to help rotate the car around a corner. Front side airbags and curtain side airbags were standard. So were antilock 4-wheel disc brakes, antiskid control, steering-linked xenon headlights, navigation system, and keyless access and ignition.

Also included was the AcuraLink system, which displayed maintenance reminders, operating tips, diagnostic information, and vehicle recalls on a dashboard screen. It also alerted the driver to traffic conditions and accidents in major urban areas.

Yearly Updates

2006 RL
For 2006, the RL gained an optional Technology Package that included run-flat tires and adaptive cruise control, plus Acura’s Collision Mitigation Braking System, which signaled of approaching objects and applied the brakes and tightened the front seat belts if it determined a collision was unavoidable. The engine’s horsepower rating dropped by 10, to 290.
2007 RL
Acura’s flagship sedan shuffled a few features for 2007. For 2007, steering-linked xenon headlamps and a voice-activated navigation system moved from standard equipment to an available Technology Package. The option introduced a rearview camera and included the AcuraLink system providing OnStar assistance, real-time traffic conditions, and vehicle maintenance data. A second Technology Package, priced as a separate model, added run-flat tires, adaptive cruise control, and Acura’s Collision Mitigation Braking System, which signals of approaching objects and applies the brakes and tightens the front seatbelts if it determines a collision is unavoidable.
2008 RL
The 2008 Acura RL carried over with no changes pending a redesign due in calendar ’08 as a 2009 model.


transverse front-engine/all-wheel drive

Only one powertrain was available in 2005-06 RLs: a 3.5-liter V6 that was rated at 300 HP for 2005, and 290 for 2006. The sole transmission was a 5-speed automatic.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/212
Engine HP 295
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 258
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic



Road Test

The RL’s powerful V6 provides ample acceleration. We timed 0-60 mph at a brisk 7.0 sec. That’s almost on par with some V8 rivals, but RL can’t quite match their highway passing punch. Transmission shifts smoothly, responds quickly to convenient manual-shift paddles. Test RLs averaged 17.0 mpg in mixed city/highway use that included gas-eating performance tests, 21.0 mpg with more highway driving. Acura recommends premium-grade fuel.

Ride quality is remarkably supple even for a sports-luxury sedan. Only the sharpest bumps filter through. Handling is confidence-inspiring, with accurate steering, firm suspension, strong brakes, and traction-enhancing SH-AWD. The last behaves like other AWD setups in normal driving, but feels a touch more stable in aggressive maneuvers. The 2006 Technology Package’s radar-based cruise control and auto-braking systems impressed us in brief demo runs and seem to be worthy safety aids.

Inside, there are legible gauges and mostly sensible controls. But the center dash is awash in buttons, many duplicating functions accessible from a “master” knob for display on the large, clear dashboard screen; sorting it all out takes patience. At least the responsive, accurate voice control simplifies navigation use. Real time accident/traffic info is a boon for commuting, and the stereo can play DVD Audio discs. Cabin decor and assembly are top-notch. The RL is one of the quietest cars around–engine, road and wind noise are all impressively hushed.

There is ample head and leg room in front. Seats are all-day comfortable and supportive in spirited cornering. Some shorter drivers may feel a bit “buried,” but ample seat adjustments, tilt/telescope steering wheel help compensate. The rear seat area has enough head clearance for all but the very tall. Rear knee room and toe space are fine unless front seats are moved well aft. The bench seat is unusually supportive, but center floor hump compromises three-abreast comfort.

The RL’s overall cargo space is average. The wide trunk extends well forward, but lacks height for really big cargo. Sickle-shape trunklid hinges are covered, but eat up space; most rivals have compact strut-type hinges. The rear seatback has small pass-through but doesn’t fold.


Model Tested: 2005 Acura RL

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 7
Steering/Handling - 8
Quietness - 8


Controls/Materials - 8
Room/Comfort Front - 8
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 7

Total: 67


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
110.2 193.6 72.7 51.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.1 19.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.5 37.2 42.4 36.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2005 RL 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brake noise
Description: Rear brakes may squeal due to brake pad material for which there are revised pads, but revised pads should not be used where road salt is used in the winter because the pads won’t remove rust buildup. (2005-07)
Description: Brake pedal may feel spongy or have excessive travel due to air in the brake lines requiring replacement of the VSA modulator. (2005-07)
Engine stalling
Description: Engine may stall due to vapor lock on unseasonably warm days requiring installation of an improved fuel pump. (2005-07)
Audio system
Description: The audio system may quit working requiring a “reboot” by removing the No. 2 fuse for at least one minute. (2005)
Suspension noise
Description: Rattling noise from the front on rough roads and/or squeal when applying the brakes may be due to bad anti-rattle springs and/or brake pad material. (2005)
Transmission leak
Description: Over time, transmission fluid leaks may develop at the banjo bolt fittings requiring replacement of the sealing washers. (2005-2005)
Valve cover leaks
Description: Aluminum tire valve caps (on pressure monitors) corrode to the valve, especially in states where salt is used on the road. (2006)
Water leak
Description: Speakers in front door have gaskets that could cause water to enter the interior. The company issued a product update campaign, but power locks may continually cycle after the fix unless re-initialized. (2005)
Description: The wipers may not clear snow or slush due to insufficient wiper arm pressure. (2005-07)
Information stickers/paperwork
Description: Some vehicles had problems shifting into fourth gear and/or engine shudder for which the company was updating the computer program. If so, a punch mark appears above the 11th character on the VIN plate in the engine compartment.
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may illuminate and the trouble code points to a problem with the oxygen sensor, but may actually be only low battery state of charge. (2005)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may illuminate due to carbon buildup on the EGR valve caused by the fuel injectors spraying the EGR valve with fuel, requiring replacement of the EGR valve and fuel injectors. (2005-08)

Recall History

Description: A coil wire inside the fuel pump relay may break, causing the fuel pump to lose power and the engine not to start.
2005 RL
Description: Potentially damaged Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) control module can cause intermittent, minor brake application, but if the driver applies the brakes while the VSA is malfunctioning, the vehicle will come to an abrupt stop.
Description: The power-steering hose may deteriorate prematurely and leak power steering fluid, leading to smoke and increased risk of fire.
2005-2007 RL
Description: If replacement brake fluid is used that does not contain certain polymers, or that contains only small amounts, a part of the rubber seal located at the rear of the brake master cylinder may become dry, and a small amount of brake fluid could slowly leak from the seal into the brake booster. A leak of brake fluid could lead to a change in brake pedal feel and overtime, degradation in braking performance, increasing the risk of a crash.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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