Premium midsize car; Built in Japan
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $26,000 – $42,500*


2009 Acura RL Front


2009 Acura RL Rear


2009 Acura RL Interior


2009 Acura RL Front-2


2011 Acura RL Front


2011 Acura RL Rear


2011 Acura RL Profile

Pros:
  • Passenger room
  • Quietness
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Fuel economy
  • Interior storage space

Wanting only in the areas of price and power, Acura’s RL has offered a fresh take on the luxury-sedan formula. Count standard all-wheel drive, especially comfortable seats, and a handsome cabin among RL’s chief pluses. On the downside, RL prices when new have been high for the class, and rather strong resale value keeps used-car prices on the heftier side, too. Furthermore, the only available engine comes up just short of being sporty. Most competitors offer a choice of V8 power.

Overview

Redesigning of Acura’s premium midsize sedan for 2009 gave it freshened styling and additional power, along with what the Japanese-brand automaker called “more aggressive” styling. Acura’s flagship sedan had standard all-wheel drive. The sole powertrain teamed a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine with a five-speed automatic transmission. This combination replaced a 290-hp 3.5-liter V6. Higher-rate coil springs were installed, along with a larger-diameter rear stabilizer bar. Standard safety features included antilock brakes, traction control, antiskid system, front side airbags, and curtain side airbags. Bose Surround Sound audio and solar-sensing climate control were standard. Option groups, actually priced as separate models, included a Technology Package that had a rearview camera and ventilated front seats, plus a voice-activated navigation system with access to real-time traffic and weather information. New features included traffic rerouting and a note function for XM satellite ratio. A second Technology Package added 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. Also available were a wireless cell-phone link and heated/cooled front seats. With the RL, Acura competed against such models as the Infiniti M, new Jaguar XF, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Yearly Updates

2010 RL
Little was new for the 2010 model year.
2011 RL
The 2011 Acura RL receives a few new features including a six-speed automatic transmission and a revised grille.
2012 RL
There were no noteworthy changes to the 2012 Acura RL.

Engines

transverse front-engine/all-wheel drive

All RL sedans hold the same engine, a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, and feature Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. Early models had a five-speed automatic transmission, which was swapped for a six-speed for 2011.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.7/224
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 271
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic
6-speed automatic
16/22
17/24
15.4

Road Test

Acceleration is acceptably eager but never thrilling. Available power is augmented by excellent throttle response, thanks in part to the smooth, responsive five- and six-speed automatic transmissions.

Fuel economy is disappointing, especially for urban use. A test RL with the five-speed automatic averaged 15.4 mpg in mostly city driving. Acura recommends premium-grade gasoline.

Ride quality is a benefit. The RL is nicely comfortable and composed, without floatiness or excessive lean in corners.

Nimble despite its size, the RL sedan handles capably. Most testers have found the steering to be light and precise, though some complained of limited on-center steering feel. Strong, fade-free brakes offer controlled, drama-free stops.

Road and wind noise are very well squelched. The engine is often heard, especially during acceleration, but its sporty, refined note is a welcome intrusion.

Major gauges are large, clearly marked, and easy to read at a glance. The center console is loaded with small controls that are too similar in look and feel. Centered on the console is a tilting and rotating knob that acts as a primary control for the navigation system; mastering its use requires time and patience.

All told, the RL’s cabin is an exercise in understated luxury. Most surfaces are padded or richly textured, and assembly quality is top-notch. One test car suffered from a few unseemly squeaks from the console area, however.

Most adults will find sufficient headroom and legroom in the front seats. Some shorter drivers may feel a bit “buried,” but ample seat adjustments and a standard tilt/telescopic steering wheel help compensate.

Rear seats offer sufficient headroom for all but the very tall. Knee space should be fine behind all but the tallest front occupants, though foot room is limited. The rear bench seat is unusually supportive, but the center floor hump compromises three-abreast comfort.

Cargo space could be better. The RL’s wide trunk extends well forward, but lacks height for really big cargo. Sickle-shaped trunk-lid hinges are covered, but eat up space. Most rivals have compact strut-type hinges. The rear seatback has a small pass-through but doesn’t fold. Cabin storage is unexceptional.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2010 Acura RL w/Technology Pkg.

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.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 7
70%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 8
80%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 8
80%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 62

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
110.2 195.7 72.7 57.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.1 19.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.4 37.2 42.3 36.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2009 TL 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

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

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

Trouble Spots

Clock
Description: The time (clock) display changes randomly, requiring replacement of navigation unit with remanufactured one. (2005-09)

Recall History

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

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.