- Lots of smooth power
- A satisfying driver
- Comfortable interior
- Outgunned by V-8s
- Only five gears
- Not amazing in any area
The 2008 Acura RL is a fine luxury sedan, but others offer V-8 power and more distinct styling.
Truth be told, the Acura RL needs to be replaced. Are the experts at TheCarConnection.com cruel and going out on a limb to proclaim this? Nope. Acura told us so. Company officials already showed the 2009 Acura RL to the world at the Chicago auto show in February 2008. With the new car waiting in the wings, it's kind of hard to get excited about the 2008 Acura RL, which has a nondescript look and doesn't seem to excel in any single field, though it's competent in nearly every way.
Acura's flagship sedan was last redesigned in 2006. Then it became the larger and more luxurious all-wheel-drive sport-tourer that we recognize today. While a rumored V-8 never materialized, the 2008 Acura RL's standard 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine delivers a respectable 290 horsepower. It comes mated to a five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic that can be taken through the gears manually, via either a console shifter or steering-wheel-mounted, F1-style paddle controls. It's a silky powertrain--it's just not a V-8. Handling is fine with the Acura RL, and it feels much smaller than cars like the Mercedes E-Class and has standard all-wheel drive. An A-Spec performance package includes a track-tuned suspension package that lowers the car by nearly three-quarters of an inch, as well as 18-inch wheels.
Interior room is actually fairly good, but the RL's swoopy interior style puts the emphasis on the driver and the front passenger. It's a more techno-friendly package than anything from Germany, but it's also pretty and well built, with fine materials. It's not much larger than the mid-size Acura TL, though.
Other standard features include a keyless access/starting system, as well as a Bose audio system with DVD-Audio. Options include a cutting-edge Technology Package, which features Acura's Collision Mitigation Braking System. Radar sensors in the car's front end detect approaching obstacles and apply some braking, to lessen the potential impact with the obstacle ahead. Active Front Lighting, Adaptive Cruise Control, and the navigation system are bundled with the Technology Package.
The RL's optional satellite navigation system includes a real-time traffic-monitoring function for major U.S. cities that can warn the driver of road delays ahead and suggest alternate routes.