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click above for high-res gallery of the 2009 Acura RL
Here in Chicago this morning, Acura unveiled the redesigned 2009 edition of its flagship RL sport sedan. One of the main criticisms of the current RL has been the anonymous face and rather bland overall styling. For '09, Acura has re-skinned the RL in an attempt to give it a more aggressive look with crisper contour lines and a much more prominent grille. According to Honda Sales EVP Dick Colliver, the face being shown on this car will spread to the rest of the lineup as the TL and TSX sedans are redesigned later this year. In spite of the sharpened focus, the overall profile of the exterior remains largely the same as the current model, which is not a bad thing. The handsome and functional interior is pretty much carried over, as well.

Under the skin, the new RL gets a new 3.7L V-6 with an upgraded VTEC valve-timing system boosting the output up to 300 hp and 271lb-ft. The Super Handling-All Wheel Drive system has also been revised with faster responses to changing conditions at each individual wheel to help improve the handling. One of the coolest features of the current RL and other Acuras is the AcuraLink system that can call up real-time traffic data to show you where there are accidents or road work in your vicinity. For 2009, the traffic data has been integrated into the nav system allowing it to automatically re-route you around congestion. We can't wait to try out that one during road construction season this summer.

[Source: Acura]

Redesigned 2009 Acura RL Debuts at Chicago Auto Show
Bold Styling, Larger Engine, and Improved Handling Help RL Raise The Luxury Performance Bar.

CHICAGO, Feb. 6, 2008 – The redesigned 2009 Acura RL luxury sedan made its world debut today at the Chicago Auto Show. Featuring bold, sleek exterior styling, an upgraded interior, advanced technologies and powerful new engine, the RL once again pushes the limits of performance, style, and luxury. The 2009 RL will go on-sale this spring at Acura dealerships nationwide.

The 2009 RL furthers cutting edge technology with the addition of new high-tech items including AcuraLink® weather, AcuraLink® Traffic Rerouting™, XM® Note, Active Sound Control, and Bluetooth® Audio to an already robust list of features found on the previous RL. To enhance handling, new chassis technology abounds in the drivetrain in the form of an improved Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ system, a revised steering 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, larger 3.7-liter V-6 that incorporates the first ever SOHC use of VTEC® valvetrain actuation for both the intake and exhaust valves.

"RL represents the very best we have to offer in terms of engineering, technology, performance, luxury and safety", said Dick Colliver, executive vice president, sales. "It's designed for a new generation of performance-luxury buyers looking to travel more quickly, more efficiently and more connected to the world around them."

For 2009, the RL will be offered in three different trim levels including RL, RL with Technology Package and RL with Technology Package Plus CMBS™. All RL's receive a potent new 3.7-liter V-6 engine, Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™, a Bose® Surround Sound audio system, Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® connectivity and a GPS-based solar-sensing climate control system. The Technology Package includes the satellite-linked Acura Navigation System with Voice Activation™ with rearview camera, AcuraLink® Real-time traffic, AcuraLink® weather, Traffic Rerouting™, a rear view back-up camera, Active Front Lighting System (AFS), ventilated front seats, and a wood/leather steering wheel and shift knob. The top RL package is the Technology Package with CMBS™ which also includes Acura's acclaimed Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and genuine wood instrument panel trim.

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.

Body and Chassis
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 stabilizer bars, 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).

The 2009 RL's new exterior styling is not only more aggressive, but delivers excellent aerodynamics and reduced rear lift at higher speeds. The RL's more athletic style foreshadows the power concealed by the new power plenum front grille and 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.

Inside, the 2009 RL features a more elegantly styled interior that includes more room for rear seat passengers, easier-to-use front seat belts, 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 with available genuine wood trim (included with the CMBS package) and metal-look accents is now fitted to the RL along with a matching wood-trimmed transmission shift knob. 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 (ASC) 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, AcuraLink® Traffic Rerouting™ 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, even richer audio sound, XM® Note, improved button legibility, and a USB connectivity port.

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 vehicle 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 impact forces through multiple load bearing pathways-and away from the passenger compartment. For 2009, to enhance safety a new Active Head 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 2009 RL the strongest, most powerful, best handling, safest and most luxurious sedan Acura has ever built.

The RL earned 5-star ratings (the best possible) for frontal and side crash tests, and for rollover resistance, from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The RL is the fourth vehicle in the history of the program to earn the top rating of "5-star" in all three test categories. Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (www.safercar.gov). In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the RL its top rating of GOOD in Side Impact Collision Evaluation (SICE) along with a GOOD rating for IIHS' frontal offset crash test. With a new Active Head Restraint System for front seat passengers, the 2009 RL is anticipated to receive a GOOD rating in IIHS rear crash protection evaluation.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm a long-time Acura fan and a current 2006 RL owner. I am incredibly disappointed in this redesign (and it's really just an exterior refresh, the interior is almost exactly the same). The grille just looks tacked on. I've seen spy shots of the upcoming TSX with the same grille and it looks much more integrated. It pains me to say it but Acura has lost its way. I hate reading all of the negative comments, but there's nothing I can disagree with. The previous (05-08) RL may not have been an exciting design, but it is a wonderful car to drive and the design should age well. This 09 refresh is a disaster. The one silver lining is that my 06 may be worth more - no one will by this 09 model. Acura has succeeded in doing one thing - getting the various Acura fansites to agree on their hatred of this model.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Cadillac CTS currently has the traffic feed / route around option in its Nav system. I believe you have to accept the suggestion vs. automatic though.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I can. Acura=Honda. 'nuff said...

      Honda will always make the ugliest econoboxes on the road. The evidence continues to mount...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Um, Acura, of all the possible reasons the RL has been faltering up to now, I don't think "not being ugly enough" was one of them.

      Seriously though, why hasn't it worked? Unlike the first RL, the new one certainly had the right HP (300), the right drive system (AWD), the right gadgets and gizmos (good sound, ten trilion speakers, one of the first MP3 players, the world's best nav system, and the first XM NavTraffic and route rerouting system), and damnit, it LOOKED [anonymously] GOOD. It drove nicely, too, and it was comfortable. Not to mention the safest car in America (five stars across all five NHTSA tests, baby).

      I guess you just can't go around selling 4-cylinder Integras with plastic wheels and crank-up windows for 16 straight years, then expect anyone to take your name seriously when you stamp it on a $47,000 car. That's it, isn't it?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Craptastic front end. The whole design seems confused.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think this is a great car.

      A great low $30s Avalon/Maxima/Azera/MKZ fighting car.

      $50,000 for a FWD biased Accord look-alike with no power down low is not going to sell well no matter how many ® and ™ gimmicks they mention in their press release.

      • 7 Years Ago
      >>> Hmm... I don't mind the front fascia, though it is a bit excessive.

      >>> I kinda like the back, but don't love it.

      >>> The interior is on point.

      >>> But the profile of the car bores me.

      That's the kindest review that's Acura Aztec is going to receive. They will put it on their printed ads: "Autoblog said: I kinda like the back, but don't love it."
      • 7 Years Ago
      Honda has clearly grown complacent and no longer cars about attractive styling, much as Detroit got complacent and stopped caring about quality some 40 years ago. How long before Honda's poor styling catches up with them?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Jesus. What a hideous monster. That painful gaping maw, the chiseled edges that mix with curves resulting in a discordant look, the mercedes S class tail-lights (not a bad thing, but a blatant copy) the trunk hump... The blandness of it all...

      My guess is that the target audience are geriatrics in florida who want to look styling but ultimately fail miserably?
      • 7 Years Ago
      If I am a luxury buyer and I am considering the RL segement I have to ask Acura:

      -Why no V8?! Non-Luxury Hyundai will put a 375hp V8 under my ass for a bit over $35k(with incentives) and you are still pushing a 300hp V6. Hyundai's second offering the 3.8 V6 gives the same output for $30k. And don't tell me it's just as strong and gets better fuel mileage as a V8. I am droppin' $50k, I make a good living and don't care that the V6 gets 2mpg better. We're talking $150 year difference. Irrelevant.

      -Market this however you want but I'm having a hard time droppin' $50 large on when the CTS is so distinct and doesn't hint at any other GM car like the RL hints at a Honda Accord.

      -And yeah I am wondering if this is the Accord platform with some tweaks and a $20k premium price tag. Take the chrome off the ass-end and you have an Accord.

      The Accord with a 6-speed stick and loaded is more appealing for $30k or even the Hyundai V8 which gives me every goodie, minus the awd, but adaptive cruise, adaptive headlamps, rear back up cam, 17 speaker Lexicon sound system, heated and cooled seats and a 375 V8 with manual mode and automatic.

      This RL is a tough sell just like always.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Not too long ago I heard a joke that goes a little something like this:

      "What do you get when you cross the Acura TL and the Mercedes S-Class with a dash of the 2006 RL?"

      ... it's no longer a joke. Someone actually went through the trouble to figure out.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Are we being punked?
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