Acura Rl 2009 Detail Specification Video Reviews


From $46,680
Excellent all-weather handling, wealth of standard features, handsome interior, excellent build quality, superb stereo, seamless integration of complex technologies, top-notch crash test scores.

No V8 engine offered in status-conscious class, same power and size as the less expensive ’09 TL, so-so fuel economy.

The 2009 Acura RL has been heavily updated. Highlights include a more powerful engine, freshened styling, a revised suspension and new features.

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Almost two decades ago, a golden-mulleted Andre Agassi (he wasn’t always bald, you know) used his bad-boy tennis image to hawk Canon EOS Rebel cameras. “Image is everything,” a smug Mr. Agassi said. This is a lesson Acura’s executives should have learned, for around the same time, they decided to rename their flagship sedan from Legend to RL and (unknowingly) send it down a path of increasing anonymity.

While image actually has little to do with a tennis star’s skills, it does mean a great deal for the average luxury sedan buyer. The first-generation Acura RL was competent but bland to look at and even less exciting to drive. The second-generation RL that came out for 2005 was a step in the right direction, thanks to a more sporting personality. But even with a trick all-wheel-drive system and wealth of high-tech features, it was still seen more as a dour Pete Sampras than a mullet-man Agassi.

For 2009, Acura is trying again with a heavily revised version of the RL. On the docket is freshened styling, including completely new front and rear ends, a more powerful engine, revised suspension tuning, a quicker-responding AWD system and new features such as traffic rerouting for the navigation system, a USB port for the excellent Bose audio system, improved voice recognition capability and active front head restraints.

The new styling, which Acura says is meant to give the car a more aggressive look, hasn’t been much of a hit with our staff. But if you can get past the bagel-slicer grille and bustle-back trunk lid, the new RL has a lot to offer. The new, larger (3.7-liter vs. 3.5-liter) V6 now hits the 300-horsepower mark, and it comes matched to a quicker-responding five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, the latter done via steering-wheel-mounted paddles. Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system, which enhances handling by sending more power to the outside rear wheel to push the car around a turn, has also been modified for quicker reflexes. There’s also a slightly freshened cabin, firmer suspension tuning and bigger tires (18-inch versus the previous 17-inchers).

All told, the 2009 Acura RL continues to be a very smart choice for luxury sport sedan consumers focused on value. We’re fond of it, especially since similarly equipped competitors from Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz can cost upwards of $10,000 more than the Acura. But even with this year’s changes, the RL still lags behind much of the competition in terms of prestige. A V8 engine isn’t available, and this Acura is going to have a hard time displacing something like a 550i when it comes time to valet. Image isn’t actually everything, but for many buyers, it certainly comes close.