2006 Acura RL

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The Acura RL is sporty and fun to drive. The Acura RL combines a free-revving, 290-horsepower V6 engine with all-wheel drive for improved grip and superior stability. The RL delivers the responsive handling of a sports sedan yet rides smoothly. It offers the latest in technology, including a system that can help you avoid rear-ending someone in stop-and-go traffic.

Exterior

The Acura RL looks sleek and sporty, attractive if not interesting. The sleek exterior styling is designed to suggest abundant power.

In front, a dramatically sloping hood leads down to an aggressive front fascia with angular headlight treatments, Acura’s signature five-sided grille, and distinctive lower air intake openings. The front end is smooth with nicely integrated bumpers and headlamps.

The rear is short to reduce aerodynamic drag and improve maneuverability. The rear three-quarter view is vaguely suggestive of some of the newest designs from BMW, which are controversial. Viewed from the side, the rear deck seems separated from the fenders.

Interior

Inside the Acura RL is a luxurious and functional cabin. The seats are comfortable for cruising yet supportive for hard driving. The wide armrests have a nice soft feel. This is a roomy car, though the back seats don’t offer as much room as some of the competition’s do.

The cabin is finished in handsome leather with attractive stitching. Real wood is used sparingly, tastefully around the cabin and it’s not too shiny. Acura says it used the finest materials and exacting attention to detail in the interior design. It shows.

As mentioned, everything described here comes as standard equipment, including the navigation system with voice recognition, which features a large, eight-inch screen. The AcuraLink satellite communications system delivers in-car traffic information in real time for major cities. It’s an impressive feature that could make commuting easier by helping drivers avoid heavily congested areas. It works best in cities that have the infrastructure to support it, and Los Angeles is the best example. Traffic flow is shown by color-coding the highways in three levels (low, normal, and hopeless). Unlike radio reports, which just hit the highlights and don’t provide detailed instructions for getting around tangles, this system uses live data from the highway departments and technology developed by XM Satellite Radio to give the RL driver the level of detail needed to change routes on the fly. The RL is on the leading edge of this technology, and commuters may find it’s well worth taking the time to fully master this navigation aid.

Driving Impressions

The Acura RL is a driver’s car, with agile handling and a taut, poised feel. It grips the corners, has excellent transient response and stops in a short distance. The ride is a nice balance, firm enough to feel expansion joints but not so firm as to be harsh, and it cruises easily and comfortably. The cabin is quiet, benefiting from a noise cancellation system that reduces road noise and tire noise but especially boom from the engine exhaust.

Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive improves the handling of the RL considerably. SH-AWD distributes power not only between the front and rear wheels but also between the left and right rear wheels. The system controls this distribution of power precisely to enhance handling. Essentially, the system overdrives the outside rear wheel in corners to reduce the understeer that is inherent with all-wheel-drive layouts. As a result, the RL doesn’t plow in corners. It simply motors around them.

Acura’s 3.5-liter V6 engine generates 290 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 5000 rpm. That’s impressive power from a V6. (You may note the 2005 RL was rated at 300 horsepower. That’s because of a new horsepower rating system set by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The 2006 RL is every bit as powerful as the 2005 model; nothing has changed. It’s just measured differently.)

Luxury cars with V8 models offer more power and more low-end response, but the RL delivers solid performance. The Acura RL can accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than 7 seconds, so it can compete with a BMW 530i. Acura’s 24-valve, single overhead-cam, aluminum VTEC V6 combines strong power with low emissions and reasonable fuel economy: The RL meets the government’s stringent standards as a LEV2-ULEV Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle and earns an EPA-estimated City/Highway 18/26 mpg.

The Acura RL embraces the agile handling and quick acceleration performance of a sports sedan. The RL is easy to drive and helps keep its drivers out of harm’s way, with the latest in all-wheel drive technology. Yet it rides nicely, coddles its occupants and exudes a sporty, luxurious ambience. Technology enhances convenience, comfort and safety. The new Collision Mitigation Braking System, optional on the 2006 RL, significantly enhances safety.


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