Being on the market since 2004, the current generation Acura RL has failed to achieve the goals originally set out for it by Acura. In almost every category, it's not competitive against its rivals. This not stopping the automaker from giving the RL some much-needed improvements since its last facelift a couple of year ago. So this is a facelift of a facelift? Pretty much, and it's even uncertain whether Acura will replace the rapidly aging RL in the near future.
For 2011, the Acura RL receives a new Sequential SportShift six-speed automatic transmission, which is mated to the familiar 3.7-liter V6 with 300 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. This transmission has a new multi-clutch torque converter that has a higher torque maximum rating. In addition, there's a new converter lockup assembly that helps to improve acceleration and overall fuel economy. Acura is claiming the RL can achieve a 17/24 mpg city/highway rating and 20 mpg combined total. All told, this is a 2 mpg improvement over the 2010 model.
Using Honda's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, the RL is able to turn more effectively under power thanks to the system's torque vectoring ability. The car also has a new grille and wheel designs. Interior noise is lower thanks to a unique resonator wheel technology, an acoustic glass windshield, and increased use of insulation in the floorboard. Still with me here? Perhaps the most interesting update is the resonator noise reducing wheel, which uses a polypropylene Helmholtz resonator that encircles the center portion of the inside of the wheel.
This technology significantly lowers middle frequency noise - about 100 to 500 hertz. When combined with the floorboard insulators, there's a 1.3 dB reduction in interior noise. Other standard features on the base RL include 18-inch wheels, Bluetooth, a Bose 10-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, a power moonroof, and an infotainment display. Options include the Technology and Advance Packages. It seems that Acura has just about reached the end of the line with their supposed flagship.
Not that it's a bad car, it's simply not competitive for its class or even the one below it. The Acura TL is the better car by a long shot. Final pricing hasn't been announced, but it should be very close to the 2010 model.