The 2010 Acura RL's 3.7-liter V-6 engine, 300-horsepower output, and 271 pound-feet of torque put it right on par with the competition on paper. Peaky power delivery, with max power coming above 5,000 rpm, gives the car a high-strung feel, though off-the-line performance is still brisk.
The car is as fast as previous RLs, Car and Driver says: "Acceleration also stays essentially flat, with the 0-to-60-mph run taking 6.5 seconds." "Acceptably eager, but never thrilling," is how ConsumerGuide describes the RL's engine. Edmunds finds the acceleration of the new RL a bit slower than others: "the 2010 Acura RL recorded a 0-60-mph time of 7.2 seconds (6.8 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip), and 15.3 seconds at 92.8 mph for the quarter-mile." However, Edmunds also asserts that the RL's 3.7-liter V6 "does not disappoint." Car and Driver reports the Honda VTEC system delivers "similar power peaks as before but more pull in the lower revs."
Ride quality is smooth and refined, and fuel economy is on par for the class at a middling 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. A reviewer at Automobile Magazine questions the RL's performance-to-fuel economy ratio: "I'd be content with the V-6's power if the fuel economy were better, but 16/22 mpg matches a Ford Flex with four-wheel drive and three rows of seats. How did Acura end up with mediocre fuel economy and mediocre performance from this engine?"
ConsumerGuide reports that the RL requires the more expensive premium-grade gasoline, and in testing, the RL "averaged 15.4 mpg in mostly city driving." Edmunds says, "It would be easy to overlook the lack of a V8 option if the 2010 Acura RL delivered exceptional fuel economy, but with an EPA rating of 16 miles per gallon city and 22 highway, the big Acura is not a fuel sipper."
Overall performance is less than impressive, however, due to the car's 4,000-pound weight, computer-controlled all-wheel drive, and electronic throttle tuning. The Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system wins praise from reviewers, though. "You can easily detect the torque heading to the rear axle and from side to side. The RL also passed my steep, snow-covered driveway test with flying colors, powering its way to the summit with no problems," asserts Automobile Magazine. Car and Driver concurs, saying "the RL's niftiest gizmo is its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, which selectively overspeeds outside wheels to induce yaw and create the impression of livelier steering. It works, keeping the RL near the top of our handling charts."
Imprecise in response to inputs and ponderous in quick driving, the RL doesn't have the zest for speed you'd expect from a luxury sport sedan. All that technology in the drivetrain helps a bit, however, as Edmunds reports the RL's handling is "significantly boosted by the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system that transfers power from front to rear and side to side. The result is that even a Sunday-only driver can corner like a Touring Car champ." ConsumerGuide Automotive keeps its impression of the RL's handling short, remarking, "Nimble, despite its size."
The five-speed paddle-shifted automatic is responsive, but lacks a sixth gear as found in many competing cars.
"This five-speed automatic's ratios are well spaced (though five speeds aren't many in an era when luxury cars have seven and even eight speeds), and the engine spins freely as you flick up through the gears using the shift paddles on the steering wheel," says Edmunds. Kelley Blue Book notes the five-speed is "smooth but can be slow to downshift, a trait that's noticeable when attempting to pass another vehicle."
Braking is generally good, especially on the daily commute. ConsumerGuide Automotive finds the RL's brakes to be "strong, fade-free" and notes they deliver "drama-free stops." Edmunds discovers more of a mixed bag, remarking "the brakes had good control with a firm feel and a short stroke, and decent stopping distances" in everyday driving, while on the track, "there was severe fade on the third attempt as the pedal went to the floor without even any ABS pulsing." Kelley Blue Book also points out the lack of enthusiast-rated brakes, saying, "Braking is usually a worry-free endeavor, though we did notice a slight loss in effectiveness after an afternoon of spirited driving."