Acura rolled out the 2009 RL at the Chicago Auto Show, so the appearance of the Honda version of the car, badged Legend, isn't the most searingly-hot news. What is frightfully obvious when you set eyes on the Legend is that the Honda version looks about a billion times better without the shield-style grille that afflicts the Acura in the most tacked-on fashion. Equally puzzling – and not a recent development – is why Honda trashed the established and respected Legend name for the anonymous and innocuous RL for Acura's top-tier sedan.

Competition in the RL's segment is brutal, and the same criticisms of the current model apply to its replacement. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the RL, mind you, it's nicely styled, and well appointed – although when faced with the preponderance of rear-driving V8 competitors, the RL can't claim superiority by chassis layout alone. Packing the 3.5-liter V6 that yanks the Accord around with authority, there's no need for a V8, nor is RWD a necessity with Acura's chassis wizards on the job, but buyers might remain unmoved.

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