Acura's flagship, the new RL sedan, again proves that refined luxury need not be replete of performance adrenaline. The new 2009 Acura RL combines added performance, improved technology, more aggressive styling and safety features to Acura's premier sedan that was already top tier amongst luxury performance sedans. It would be hard to find a production car at any price that offers more advanced electronic technology or drive system sophistication. Now, the new 2009 RL allows the driver to be even more connected to the world-through improved connection with the road along with improved electronic connectivity to the world around them.
The previous RL offered an abundance of consumer friendly technology for the driver and passengers including satellite-linked Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™, AcuraLink® Real-time traffic information, Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® cellular phone connectivity, DVD-Audio stereo entertainment, Active Noise Cancellation, and GPS-linked solar-sensing automatic climate control. The 2009 RL furthers cutting edge technology with the addition of new high-tech items including AcuraLink® weather, a new Note function for XM® Radio, Traffic Rerouting™, Active Sound Control, Smart Entry, Bluetooth® Audio and HandsFreeLink® that now features over 700 voice commands along with substantially improved voice recognition. Technology abounds in the drivetrain in the form of improved Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™, a revised steering rack system, upgraded coil springs, better performing shock absorbers, larger rear stabilizer bar, and more aggressive wheels and tires. Performance improves with the RL thanks to a new 3.7-liter V-6 engine that incorporates the first ever SOHC use of VTEC® valvetrain actuation for both the intake and exhaust valves.
For 2009, Acura will again offer three different trim packages on the RL:
CMBS™ uses a millimeter-wave radar unit mounted inside the RL's new power plenum front grille to detect vehicles ahead to monitor potential rear-end collisions, to alert the driver when the likelihood of a collision increases, and to help reduce the impact on front occupants by pre-tensioning the front seatbelts and applying the brakes should a collision prove to be imminent.
RL with Technology Package plus CMBS™ also adds the convenience of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). The ACC also uses the radar system mounted inside the front grille to measure the distance between the RL and the vehicle directly ahead. To compensate for varying traffic flow, ACC continually adjusts vehicle speed by automatically applying throttle or braking to maintain a consistent following distance interval.
The innovation built into the new RL begins with the most powerful engine ever offered in an Acura sedan. An all-new 3.7-liter V-6 engine develops 300 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque thanks to an innovative new VTEC™ valvetrain system for both the intake and exhaust valves, a higher compression ratio, along with a special dual-stage magnesium intake manifold that enables the intake to function as a single- or dual-plenum manifold design based on engine operating parameters. In addition to developing improved power and torque, the RL engine meets tough CARB ULEV-2 emission standards and delivers good fuel economy. The RL's engine bay appears more upscale thanks to a new surround panel assembly that reduces visual distractions and focuses attention directly on the all-new 3.7-liter V-6 engine.
To handle the higher power of the 3.7-liter engine, a new version of the Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic transmission is fitted to the 2009 RL. Featuring new "smart" F1®-style steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and a new straight-gate console mounted gear selector, the RL driver now has more gear control than ever before.
The RL's acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD™) system returns for 2009, but is now quicker responding and better performing. There are numerous traction advantages of all-wheel drive, yet SH-AWD™ does a key function that is not available with traditional AWD systems- SH-AWD™ utilizes torque vectoring to increase the rotation speed of an outside rear wheel during aggressive cornering to help the car turn more effectively while under power. This "yaw" function reduces the cornering load on the front tires to minimize understeer, to improve handling balance, and to escalate total cornering grip.
The 2009 RL's new exterior styling is not only more aggressive, but delivers excellent aerodynamics and reduced rear lift at high speeds. The RL's more athletic style foreshadows the power beneath the new blow-formed aluminum hood. The RL's shape is taut and athletic, and its acceleration and cornering performance allow it to challenge the most capable German and Japanese sports sedans. Comfort, quietness and ride quality are also on a par with performance sedan competitors. For 2009, eight exterior colors are available-5 of which are new-including a new pearl pigment process that improves luster and shine.
To further enhance handling and ride comfort, the new RL retains a fully independent suspension system with front double-wishbone and rear multi-link architecture. For 2009 the RL features higher rate coil springs, larger diameter rear stabilizer bar, stiffer subframe mount bushings and improved design steering rack components. To further improve handling and looks, new 18-inch diameter 7-spoke aluminum wheels are matched with more aggressive tires (replacing the previous 17-inch wheel/tire offering).
Inside, the 2009 RL features a more elegantly styled interior that includes more room for rear seat passengers, easier-to-use front seat belts, front door-mounted pull pockets, softer arm rests, redesigned vents, larger/clearer lettering for HVAC controls, and easier actuation of climate control functions. A revised steering wheel and genuine wood dashboard trim (included with the CMBS™ package) and metal-look accents is now fitted to the RL along with a transmission shift knob with simulated wood trim. Complementing the steering wheel are upgraded gauges that incorporate brushed metal accents for enhanced appearance. For 2009, additional insulation, a more high-tech design of Acura's acoustic glass windshield, and a new Active Sound Control noise abatement system team to further reduce the RL's already quiet cabin.
The RL's perforated leather front seats now incorporate six levels of heated/cooled ventilation. Moreover, just like the driver's seat, the passenger front seat now has 10-way power adjustability. For 2009, the center panel controls are now more intuitive and are surrounded by a new background color along with improved quality wood patterned panels. These interior upgrades are complimented by advanced electronics that include a satellite-linked Acura Navigation System with Voice Activation™ along with the innovative AcuraLink® satellite communication system with Real-time traffic and (new for 2009) AcuraLink® weather. The RL is the first vehicle on the market to feature in-dash integrated, continually updated real-time weather information in a single-screen format. The spectacular Acura/Bose® 10-speaker Sound System with DVD-Audio returns but is now upgraded to include Bluetooth® Audio, a new Note function for XM® Radio, improved button legibility, a USB connectivity port, and even richer audio sound.
The 2009 RL retains Acura's extremely rigid Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure that features extensive use of high-tensile steel and lightweight aluminum components to take construction beyond conventional safety protocols while keeping overall vehicle weight in check. The ACE™ structure's front-mounted polygonal main frame is designed to help prevent cabin deformation by distributing forces through multiple major load bearing pathways-and away from the passenger compartment. For 2009, to enhance safety a new Active Headrest Restraint System is built into the front seats to improve neck and head protection in the event in a rear impact collision. To further aid in safety, the RL includes as standard a passenger seatbelt reminder, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), and six airbags. These advances team to make the RL the most powerful, best handling, most luxurious and safest sedan Acura has ever built.
*Based on 2009 EPA mileage estimates, reflecting new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.
Body and Chassis Features
Comfort & Convenience Features
V-6 powered sedans are the highest volume models in the RL's segment-the mid premium segment. Because they represent the core of the market, Acura decided to build the best V-6 powered luxury performance sedan possible. Replacing the previous 290-hp 3.5L V-6 is a new 3.7L V-6 that employs Acura's first-ever SOHC use of VTEC® for both the intake and exhaust valves. The 3.7L delivers 300 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque that is shuttled through a new 5-speed automatic transmission and an upgraded Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ system. By choosing not to use a V-8, which accounts for only 15-percent of the vehicles sold in this market segment, it meant that the RL would be lighter, more nimble, and better balanced.
Key 6-cylinder competitors in the RL's segment include the Audi A6 3.2, BMW 528i, Lexus GS 350, and Mercedes-Benz E350. However, with its SH-AWD™ system as standard equipment, the RL has a distinct performance and safety advantage over each of its competitors.
Powering the RL is a new aluminum-alloy 3.7-liter VTEC® V-6 that is mounted transversely. The V-6 produces 300 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque while meeting stringent EPA TIER 2 - BIN 5 and CARB ULEV-2 emissions targets. Federal EPA fuel economy is rated at 16/22/19 mpg** (city/highway/combined).
The 2009 RL comes with a new Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic transmission that includes larger counter shafts, revised gearing, improved clutches along with a new torque converter replete with an improved lock-up assembly. The new transmission is operated via a new straight-gate style console-mounted shifter or by way of a new "smart" F1®-style steering wheel paddle shifter system that now works when the transmission is in Drive (formerly the paddles only operated when in Manual mode). Grade Logic Control is paired with revised transmission shift programming to deliver improved performance and a crisper driving feel.
The RL's defining powertrain feature is Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive™ (SH-AWD™). For 2009 the SH-AWD™ system has been further refined to more quickly transfer a continuously variable amount of engine torque-split between the front and rear wheels as well as with the left and right rear wheels. To help the RL arc through corners with better chassis balance and more total grip, the torque vectoring SH-AWD™ system overdrives the outside rear wheel at a faster speed to generate "yaw" which helps the vehicle rotate into a turn for better, safer handling without understeer.
BODY & CHASSIS
The design of the 2009 RL body combines sophistication with a dose of performance edge to create a luxury performance sedan with an aggressive, dynamic personality.
The unit body chassis design is stiff for superior handling and utilizes a variety of steel grades in different areas where maximum strength is required. In addition, the hood, front fenders, trunk lid, frame, front and rear subframes, bumper beams and major suspension components are manufactured from aluminum to reduce weight. Some of these aluminum components are formed using an advanced "blow forming" process that allows intricate shapes to be created without increasing the weight of the part.
Careful attention was paid to smoothing airflow over, under and around the RL's body, across the windshield wipers and past the flush-mounted side glass. A cowl garnish was installed at the lower part of windshield to reduce air turbulence, while an advanced exterior-mirror design contributes to improved quietness inside the car. Under the RL, engineers further improved the myriad underbody aero panels to route airflow, improve cooling, and reduce vehicle lift at high speeds.
The 2009 RL receives a host of new steering system upgrades that deliver a more responsive, yet more linear steering feel. To further improve the RL's steering accuracy, engineers changed the diameter of the steering valves, improved the design of the steering rack guide, and incorporated an all-new compact noise isolation (CNI) steering joint. In addition, engineers developed revised electronic control parameters for the steering system.
The RL employs an independent front double-wishbone and independent rear multi-link suspension design that uses aluminum arms and steering knuckles which mount to aluminum subframes fit with stiffer frame-to-body bushings. For 2009, the new RL has further optimized chassis and suspension in the form of an upgraded electric assist power steering assembly, improved steering rack components, a new CNI joint, more performance minded coil springs, revised dampers, and a larger rear stabilizer bar. Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control, large 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and new 18x8-inch aluminum-alloy 7-spoke wheels with redesigned tires set new standards for RL dynamic performance.
Technology is present throughout the new RL including all forms of lighting. At night, to help the driver see around corners, the RL's Active Front Lighting System (AFS) incorporates Xenon HID low-beam headlights that can swivel laterally up to 20-degrees when certain steering angle and speed conditions are met. Daytime running lights, LED turn signals integrated in the exterior mirror housings and a Center High-Mounted Stop Lamp (CHMSL) dramatically increase the 2009 RL's visibility. High tech lighting is present in the interior as well, in the form of LED backlit gauges with progressive illumination.
The interior of the RL is more than just luxurious, sporty, and fully equipped with comfort and convenience features. Technology abounds in the form of the AcuraLink® satellite communication system that debuted the first ever U.S. application of Real-time traffic information as standard equipment. Standard on Navigation-equipped RL's, this feature includes continually updated traffic information for 76 metropolitan areas that the RL driver can easily access to identify traffic congestion on major roadways. The traffic information is delivered in real time via graphics displayed on the RL's navigation screen. This real time information allows the RL driver to re-route to clearer traffic areas without relying on sporadic radio traffic reports. For 2009, new technology comes in the form of Traffic Rerouting™, improved levels of restaurant information with Zagat® ratings, AcuraLink® Real-time weather information, and even a feature that allows for automated vehicle service appointments to be made while driving the RL.
Other RL technology features are equally appealing. As an example, the RL's innovative Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system is offered as part of the optional RL Technology Package plus CMBS™. With ACC, when cruise control is activated the system uses radar data to allow the driver to set and maintain a specific following distance interval between the RL and the car directly in front of it. Should the traffic speeds change, the ACC will compensate speed to avoid tailgating. If the driver's response does not sufficiently reduce the risk of a collision, the CMBS™ system will issue a secondary warning consisting of audible, visual and tactile elements as well as light braking to alert the driver to take action. If the closing rate increases so much that a collision becomes unavoidable, CMBS™ can initiate hard braking to reduce the vehicle's speed as well as pre-tension the driver and front passenger seatbelts to help reduce the severity of the crash.
The RL interior features luxurious styling, perforated leather-trimmed seats, and dramatic LED backlit gauges with progressive illumination. The 2009 RL further refines its premium nature with new wood trim for the dash and center console, a wood-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, redesigned 10-way adjustable (8-way power seat plus 2-way power lumbar support)* heated/cooled front seats, more spacious rear seats, and a more logical layout of HVAC controls with easier-to-read wording.
Premium technologies define the interior just as with the powertrain and chassis. Some of these technologies include: a GPS-linked, solar-sensing, dual-zone, dual-mode automatic climate control system; an Acura/BOSE® 10-speaker surround sound system with DVD-Audio 6-disc changer that provides 500 times the clarity of a typical CD system; USB port connectivity, AUX jack connectivity and DTS® changer; and standard XM® Satellite Radio with an all-new Note function for XM® Radio feature that allows the recording of up to ten seconds of music along with the name of the artist, song title, and even the XM® channel name that can be referred to at a later time.
*Power lumbar support previously listed separately
Premium interior features continue in the form of a new Active Sound Control system that is much advanced over the previous Active Noise Cancellation™ (ANC) system. Whereas ANC dealt specifically with the elimination of low decibel noise entering the cabin, the new Active Sound Control system has a much broader range including the elimination of unwanted high frequency noise. In addition, Active Sound Control is linked to throttle position and engine rpm to provide a quieter cockpit during normal cruising while allowing the 3.7L's muscular sound to be enjoyed during higher rpm, more spirited driving.
Yet, interior technology doesn't end with noise cancellation. When you want to be heard, a new high-directional array microphone system radically improves coverage area and voice "pick up" during noisy conditions- such as when the windows are down. In addition, standard Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® allows for hands-free phone interface that is compatible with many Bluetooth® phones (visit www.acura.com/handsfreelink for a list of applicable phones) for a seamless cellular telephone communication experience while still devoting the driver's full concentration on the task at hand-driving safely. Other interior technologies include a Multi-Information Display (MID), a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with specific tire and pressure indicators, a Maintenance Minder™ system, and a new Smart Entry™ keyless entry and start system.
Premium items commonly only reserved for top end luxury vehicles, such as power rear sunshade and rear door side glass sunshades, are standard with the RL. Plus, to further separate occupants from unwanted outside noises, additional sound proofing insulation has been applied throughout the RL's cabin.
The previous RL earned the highest possible safety ratings (5-star) awarded during frontal (NCAP) and side (SINCAP) crash tests for outboard positions and rollover resistance tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)*. The RL is one of a select few vehicles in the history of the government test program to receive the top ratings in all three categories.
The RL also earned a GOOD safety rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) for frontal offset and side impact tests. With the 2009 RL's front seats that incorporate a new Active Headrest Restraint System, the RL is expected to receive a GOOD rating in IIHS rear crash protection testing while maintaining the top rating in all other categories. If so, the RL (with its standard electronic stability control system termed Vehicle Stability Assist™) would achieve the IIHS's coveted TOP SAFETY PICK status.
With the RL, Acura embraces active as well as passive safety as essential goals. Active safety features can help a driver avoid an accident, and the RL includes standard items such as SH-AWD™, Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®), traction control, and 4-wheel disc brakes. ABS and Brake Assist team to further enhance safety and to generate greater driver control. Xenon HID plasma-arc low-beam headlights and an optional Active Front Lighting System (that allow for up to 20-degrees of lateral headlight movement during cornering) contribute to superior nighttime visibility and enhanced safety.
Safety takes a quantum leap when the RL is optioned with the Technology Package plus CMBS™. This package adds a technological tour de force comprised of the Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) systems that team to reduce the occurrence of the RL from colliding with the rear of another vehicle.
To specifically address occupant safety, the RL features Acura's innovative Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) front body structure. ACE™ is designed to help dissipate collision forces in frontal crashes, while enhancing crash protection for RL passengers.
The RL features a driver and front passenger dual-stage, dual-threshold airbag Supplementary Restraint System (SRS). Side curtain airbags that provide head protection for all outboard seating positions are also standard equipment. The RL has seat sensors that monitor the weight on the front passenger seat that will automatically turn off the front passenger side airbag if it detects an occupant who weighs less than 65-pounds. In addition, the RL's front passenger seat is replete with Acura's Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) that is designed to deactivate the passenger's side airbag if a small statured person (such as a child) leans into the side airbag deployment path.
* Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) New Car Assessment.
**Based on preliminary 2009 EPA mileage estimates determined during internal testing that reflects new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.