Vehicle Overview
Acura's RL luxury sedan is equipped with 290 horsepower, all-wheel drive and a host of standard luxury features. It competes with the Cadillac DTS, BMW 5 Series and Lexus ES. Little changed for 2008 besides an expansion to its real-time-traffic-monitoring coverage areas.

Acura calls the RL's drive system Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. It can apply as much as 100 percent of rear torque to the outer rear wheel in curves in order to enhance cornering and stability attributes and dry- and wet-weather traction. Up to 70 percent of engine torque goes to the rear wheels under full-throttle acceleration.

The RL has an optional Technology Package that includes active headlights that swivel up to 20 degrees to better illuminate corners, as well as a rearview camera and a navigation system with real-time traffic monitoring. A Collision Mitigation Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control and Michelin PAX run-flat tires are also optional.


Exterior
Acura says the RL has a "wide, muscular stance" and that the "dramatically sloping hood leads down to an aggressive front fascia with angular headlight treatments." Aluminum is used for the hood, front fenders, deck lid, subframe and suspension. Riding a 110.2-inch wheelbase, the RL is 193.6 inches long overall, 72.7 inches wide and 57.1 inches tall. Alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires.

Interior
The five-occupant RL has an interior trimmed with wood and leather. A 10-speaker Acura/Bose DVD Audio system, XM Satellite Radio and an OnStar communication system are installed. Acura's Keyless Access System does away with a traditional key for starting, locking and unlocking.

A wealth of standard features includes leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control and heated, power-adjustable front seats.

Working in conjunction with XM Satellite Radio, the optional real-time traffic monitoring system uses XM NavTraffic data. For 2008, AcuraLink expanded its traffic markets to 76 metropolitan areas. An 8-inch screen displays current traffic details, including flow, accidents and freeway construction. Drivers can then select the least-congested route. In addition, AcuraLink can relay maintenance and diagnostic information.


Under the Hood
Acura's 3.5-liter V-6 generates 290 hp and 256 pounds-feet of torque and drives a five-speed automatic transmission with paddle-style shifters on the steering wheel. All RLs have Acura's SH-AWD system.

Safety
Side-impact and side curtain airbags and an electronic stability system are standard. All-disc antilock brakes are installed. An optional Collision Mitigation Braking System uses a radar unit to measure distance to objects in front of the RL. If the system judges the distance to those objects is closing too quickly, it alerts the driver and, if necessary, applies brakes.

Driving Impressions
The previous RL was an excellent road car with a solid, heavy feel. That's still the case, but it's augmented by even stronger performance. A shortage of power is never a concern, and the automatic transmission shifts easily and promptly.

The ride is fine on smooth surfaces, but this sedan gets jittery on harsher pavement. Steering is firm and positive. The RL is extra-quiet but not eerily silent.

Space in the comfortable, supportive front seats is abundant, and snug bolstering holds occupants in place. Backseat space is less appealing, with marginal headroom and fair legroom and foot room. Trunk space is modest, but visibility is very good.

The RL's rich-looking dashboard sports instruments that are large and easy to read. Some controls, however, are cryptic or hard to find.

Real-time traffic information is a valuable feature, but trying to spot traffic indications on the video map screen is somewhat difficult. The map also washes out in sunlight and is excessively reflective.