*With the new 2014 Acura RLX about to hit the showrooms any day now, I thought I should revive the review I did of the 2009 Acura RL SH-AWD, which I actually tested towards the end of 2008. Here is an unaltered version of what I said back then…
The year 2008 has been a roller-coaster year for the automobile. Car companies are going through some of the hardest times they have ever faced, yet still some truly amazing and ground breaking cars made their appearance this year (a year that also included some duds).
In a year that started off with the new Ford Focus, possibly the worst car ever made (please point and laugh at anyone caught driving one), to the new BMW M3, which is simply spectacular.
So as 2008 draws to a close, I thought it would be appropriate to end the year on a high note, and the tweaked 2009 Acura RL fills that bill quite well.
The RL has been one of my favorite cars in its segment for a long time, but over the years the competition had really stepped up the game. There is the new Volvo S80 which is fantastic, and so is the Jaguar XF.
So how does the newly revised 2009 Acura RL SH-AWD stack up against the competition?
On the face of it, from a styling point of view, not very well. Thanks to its new nose design (seemed to have been inspired by an aardvark), this car looks ugly, which is a shame because the previous model looked quite nice, and the rest of this car still looks decent.
Thankfully it still has a decent engine, infact the new 3.7-liter V6 is even better than before. The new motor produces 300hp, which is more than enough on a daily basis. However sadly, Acura has not invested in a new gearbox, so you still get a five-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted pedal shifters for manual control. This is a good gearbox, but the competition has moved well ahead of the RL by now, and due to only five-speeds, the fuel economy really suffers, it is near impossible to achieve better than 14-liters/100km on an urban cycle.
There is more bad news, this time concerning its size; the RL is just not big enough, especially in the back. In fact this RL is no bigger than its cheaper brother, the TL, and since the TL gets the same engine and the same SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) system too, the reasons to buy an RL are getting smaller and smaller.
The RL does still offer you a brilliant interior, with an excellent sound system. You also still get a good navigation system, which I find to be better than the ones found in most of its competition.
It has gained new features too, like the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) which keeps a safe distance behind the car in front, an accident avoidance warning, which lets you know you are getting too close to an object ahead, and a reversing camera.
All in all the new RL is not a car that shouts out value for money, but when you start driving it, and enjoying its features, you can’t help but warm up to the car. I loved spending time in it. Sure it isn’t the fastest or best handling car in its class, but it is good enough. It might not be the biggest or most advanced car in its class either, but it has all the features you will actually need and use.
At just under $70,000, it might not represent value for money, but look at it this way, since it is a top-tier Honda product, it will last you 15 to 20 years without any problems, so if you want to buy a car to keep for a long, long time, this might just be the car for you.