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The Acura RL is the flagship car for North America luxury brand Acura. In Japan, it is sold as the Honda Legend, a largely identical vehicle save for different badging and trim. All RLs and Legends are built in Saitama, Japanmarker.

The first-generation Acura RL was a similarly rebadged version of the third-generation Honda Legend, and was first introduced into the North American market in 1996 to replace the second-generation Acura Legend. Previous to the 1996 introduction of the first generation Acura RL was the second-generation Acura Legend (1991–1995), equivalent to the second-generation Honda Legend, which in turn was preceded by the first-generation Acura Legend (1986–1990), equivalent to the first-generation Honda Legend.

The current second-generation Acura RL is a rebadged version of the fourth-generation Honda Legend and was introduced into the North American market in September 2004 as a 2005 model. The 2009 model year of the second-generation Acura RL is the product of an extensive Mid Model Change (MMC), reputedly the most extensive refresh in the 20+ year history of the marque.

News and rumors from early 2008 indicate that the fourth-generation RL/Legend will be introduced in late calendar year 2010 as a 2011 model and may receive a V8 engine and rear-wheel drive. With the 2008 economic downturn, however, some have said that the rumored rear-wheel drive Acura specific platform, which would likely debut with the Acura RL, and extended down the Acura line, has been shelved.

First generation (1996–2004)

In 1996, the replacement for the Acura Legend was introduced as the Acura 3.5RL. Known internally as "KA9", officially, RL originally stood for "Road Luxury." Acura dropped the Legend moniker because market research showed that consumers knew Acura products by their model names, "Legend" and "Integra", and did not necessarily associate the names with the manufacturer, Acura. In an effort to associate the model with the manufacturer, Acura changed the model names of its offerings to alpha-numeric designators used by many manufacturers at the time. 3.5RL thus indicated the displacement of the engine and the model designator. Acura also named the rest of its line with such alpha numerics as the 2.5TL and 3.2TL or the 3.2CL. Acura believed that no one would know what a "3.5RL" was, and people would naturally identify their cars as an "Acura 3.5RL", a strategy that seemed to be working so well with archrival Lexus, which was marketing not an "LS 400" but the "Lexus LS 400". Parenthetically, by the time the Acura 3.5RL was introduced, the top of the Japanese car luxury heap was no longer the Acura line-up but those cars sold by Lexus, and to a lesser extent, Infiniti.

The very first Acura 3.5RL rolled off the assembly line on January 4, 1996. The 1996 Acura 3.5RL was introduced to lackluster reviews. The automotive world had been expecting a true competitor to the Lexus LS to emerge. The 3.5RL fell short and was continuing to drop in sales until it was finally redesigned for the 2005 model year. The main problems holding back the car seemed to be the lack of an option of a V8 powerplant and rear-wheel drive. So in 1996, laying to rest predictions of a VTEC V8 powerplant, the 3.5RL was powered by a 3.5 L V6 engine, derived from the previous Legend's 3.2 L unit. The engine provided 210 hp (later 225 hp).

Of particular note, in the 3.5RL, was the continuation of longitudinally mounted V6 engine. This meant that the center-line of the V6 was mounted in-line with the car's axis, and not transversely (i.e, 90 degrees offset from the vehicle axis) like most other front-wheel drive cars. This longitudinal placement allowed for a smaller turning radius and easy in-town maneuverability. The decision to use longitudinal engine placement traces its roots back to the earlier second generation Acura Legend and Honda Legend sedans, internally designated as KA-7 series. Longitudinal engine and transmission placement allowed for a better weight distribution, typically closer to 56/44 front/rear weight distribution rather than the more traditional nose heavy 60/40 front/rear weight characteristic of most front-wheel drive, transverse engine cars. The theoretical ideal weight distribution for a car is 50/50 front rear. This is usually achieved with a longitudinally-oriented engine and transmission in the front of the car driving the rear wheels. Rear wheel drive allows for the weight of the differential and drive axles to be moved to the rear of the car.

1999–2004 Acura 3.5RL
In 1999, the 3.5RL received a front and rear facelift that included the addition of newer, more stylish xenon HID headlamps and integrated foglights along with new bumpers and hood. The difference, while seemingly subtle, gave the car a new more assertive stance. The suspension and chassis were stiffened, and new alloy wheels were offered. For safety, driver and front passenger side airbags were added. The Acura 3.5RL was back in the fold and sales increased.

In 2000, a larger navigation system screen was added. Along with that larger screen was the conversion to easy-to-replace DVD map databases. In 2002, another subtle change was given to the 3.5RL with painted lower trim and mudflaps along with redesigned alloys and a newer, sportier suspension setup. Perhaps more important was the engine which now was upgraded to produce and of torque along with more insulation in the engine compartment as well as the fact that OnStar was added in 2002. The 2003 and 2004 RL's received clear turn signals in the rear lights, another new wheel design, as well as various interior upgrades including new color schemes. For 2004, the navigation system came as standard as well as a more modern looking, redesigned center console and chrome door lock pulls. Absent a major redesign in 8 years, however, the 3.5RL's sales slipped to their lowest levels in the 2004 model year. Acura and dealers both provided generous incentives on the final models.

The 1996–2004 3.5RL's engine was the last in the Honda and Acura lineup not to use VTEC, Honda's variable valve timing system. This 3.5 L 90 degree V6 engine was internally designated as the C35A, and the last of the C-series V6 engines used in Honda and Acura lineups, being replaced by the newer J-series 60 degree V6 engines. The C-Series engine had a long history of being Honda's first mass produced V6 automobile engine, starting in 1985 as 2.0 L engine, internally designated as C20A, in the first generation Honda Legend. A larger displacement, 2.5 L C25A was first introduced in 1986 to North America in the first generation Acura Legend. The C-Series engine grew in displacement over the years to 2.7 L to 3.0 L to 3.2 L and finally the 3.5 L engine of the first generation Acura RL. Two notable, and exotic variants of the C-Series engines were the internally designated C-30A and C-32B, both of which used expensive materials such as titanium connecting rods, and were exclusive to the Acura and Honda NSX supercar.

As mentioned previously, the 3.5RL was the last Acura sedan to see a longitudinally placed engine and transmission. Subsequent Acura RL and Honda Legend sedans have reverted back to the more traditional Honda transverse engine arrangement.

The 2004 RL was also the last Acura to use the numeric designator (i.e., 3.5) for its engine displacement.

Second generation (2005–present)

A new generation car, known internally as "KB1", was launched in late 2004 for the 2005 model year, and is considered by many to be the absolute best vehicle for under $100,000. Still without the much-rumored V8 engine, it features a sophisticated all-wheel drive system Acura calls "Super Handling All-Wheel Drive" (SH-AWD). It integrates active differentials with the all-wheel drive system and traction control to improve handling, similar to the "ATTS" system featured on the 1997 Honda Prelude SH. At the time of its introduction, the Acura RL's SH-AWD was unique among all wheel drive systems because not only could it vary traction from front to back, but also side to side in rear using a technique called torque vectoring, becoming the first such system. The RL can direct up to 70% of available torque to the rear wheels, and up to 100% of that available rear torque can be directed to just one wheel. In combination with a specially designed planetary gear set which can over-drive the rear wheels up to 5% greater speed than the front wheels, the torque direction to one wheel, or torque vectoring, can have a steering effect. As the car speeds around a curve, torque vectored to the outside rear wheel will pull the rear end around the curve faster, just as paddling the outside oar of a row boat faster than the inside oar will cause the row boat to turn.

The SH-AWD all-wheel drive system was lauded by Popular Science as one of the best automotive innovations of 2004, and earned the 2005 "Tech car of the year" from Subsequent moves by both Audi and BMW to design and market their own versions of torque vectoring all wheel drive systems does bear out the innovative nature of the SH-AWD design.

The first-generation RL was powered by a 225 hp (168 kW) 90° C-series V6 non-VTEC engine. The second-generation RL uses a newer design 60° J-series 3.5 L V6 SOHC VTEC engine delivering 300 hp (224 kW; later revised to due to new SAE testing procedures). To give the car a more sporty feel, the car features drive-by-wire throttle control and a five-speed sequential sport shifting automatic transmission with shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel in the current, racing-car derived fashion.

As with the first-generation Acura RL, the second-generation Acura RL uses premium unleaded fuel rated at 91 (R+M)/2 octane.

A first for the RL is the use of aluminum 4-piston front brake calipers over 12.6-inch cast-iron ventilated front rotors. These multi-piston calipers are extremely rigid, and are derived from racing applications. In the rear, 12.2-inch cast-iron ventilated discs attach to their hub with lightweight aluminum collets and are gripped by one-piston aluminum brake calipers. The RL was equipped with a unique five spoke 17-inch alloy wheel with Michelin Pilot HX MXM 4 245/50-R-17 98V all season rand touring radial tires with a "V" (speeds <149&NBSP;MPH) rating.="" These="" wheels="" were="" one="" inch="" larger="" in="" diameter,="" and="" the="" tires="" 20 mm="" wider="" section="" than="" those="" found="" on="" first-generation="" Acura="" RL=""></149&NBSP;MPH)>

New features found on the 2005 RL include such useful items as a keyless entry system which allows the driver to both lock and unlock the car by touching the door handle, without having to use the remote control, and a keyless start system. A new 260 watt ten speaker Bose DVD-Audio 5.1 sound system equalized for the RL cabin features several Bose technologies. Bose AudioPilot is a noise compensation technology which analyzes background environmental cabin noise, uses an algorithm based on cabin acoustics to boost certain portions of the musical signal so that it may be heard more clearly above environmental sound "clutter" without any apparent change in volume . Bose Centerpoint processes stereo and matrix surround sound recordings to allow play through the 5.1 sound system even though the source may only be a stereo sound track. Bose Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) rounds out the suite. Always on, whether the stereo is on or not, ANC takes input from two microphones placed in the cabin to analyze drivetrain related low end frequencies entering the cabin. The ANC sends information to the sound system to create precisely shaped and timed reverse phased audio signal from the door speakers and the subwoofer. The result is a dramatic reduction of engine and exhaust noise. This is similar technology used by Bose in their acclaimed, and often imitated noise cancelling headphones.

XM Satellite Radio service allows access to over 100 channels of digital music, news and talk. XM Nav-Traffic (real-time traffic monitoring utilizing XM Satellite Radio), integrated Bluetooth hands-free technology for wireless phone use, voice recognition technology with over 560 voice commands to control navigation system and displays, wireless phone, audio system, heating and ventilation controls round out the cabin's technological tour de force. Heating and air conditioning systems were also tied into a solar sensor and GPS positioning so that cabin temperature would stay constant in a mixed sun and shade situation. Based on sun position and cabin orientation, additional cooling air would be automatically added to the sunny side of the car to keep that occupant comfortable while not freezing out the occupant on the shady side.

The Alpine Electronics DVD-based navigation system is integrated with an 8 inch LCD display and a multi use Interface Dial, which can act like a mouse moving up down left right, like a knob, scrolling through preset menus, and a selector by clicking. Unlike many in-car navigation systems, the Alpine DVD based navigation unit allows the driver to change destinations and routes "on the fly" while driving, rather than being locked out unless the car is park. The deeply integrated voice recognition system works with the navigation system and can also recognize city and street names. Also unique at the time was two way communication via AcuraLink satellite communication. Using a facility of XM Radio service, the system can send a variety of messages to the car including service appointment reminders (appointments first made via Internet) or important messages such as recall notices. The use of OnStar is carried over from the previous generation RL. Use of digital/analog trimode (two digital bands and one analog band) technology allows the 2005 RL OnStar technology to survive the planned 2007 phase out of the analog OnStar to all digital OnStar service in 2007.

Other unique features include the Active Front Lighting System, in which the high intensity discharge headlamps swivel with the steering up to twenty degrees, offering improved night cornering vision. Light emitting diodes (LED) replace traditional incandescent lighting is used for many rear tail and brake as well as in the side mirror housing integrated turn signals, and many interior cabin lights.

The 2005 RL was also the first Honda vehicle to use the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which is now proliferating throughout every newly-introduced Honda and Acura vehicle design. The ACE structure features extensive use of high-tensile steel and lightweight aluminum components in a front-mounted polygonal main frame, designed engage vehicles of differing size and weight in a frontal collision and spread the forces through multiple structural pathways, while preventing or minimizing cabin deformation. In practical terms, this means in an SUV versus ACE structure car collision, there is a greater chance that the ACE body structure will engage with the SUV's frame and dissipate collisioin forces around the passenger compartment. In more conventional non-ACE car structures, the SUV frame has a much greater chance of missing or over-riding the conventional car's major structural components and a greater chance of deforming the passenger compartment.

Engine bay of the Acura RL
2005 RL car structure features extensive use of somewhat "exotic" materials for a car at this price point including aluminum alloy hood, front fenders, trunk lid and frame, front and rear subframes, suspension arms, front knuckles and bumper beams. Magnesium is used in the intake manifold, and the two-piece center drive shaft is made of a carbon reinforced composite. The new RL features extensive aerodynamic design treatment including details such an industry first flush side glass, as well underbody covers and diffusers to reduce lift, resulting in a very low drag coefficient of 0.29.

The second-generation 2005 Acura RL appeared on Car and Driver's Ten Best list for 2005. The car also garnered an "Editor's Choice" Award for Top Tech Car. While critically acclaimed, sales have not met expectations, as the price of the RL is perceived to be out of its bracket. As the new RL offered more features and performance than the base version of its luxury competition's (i.e., the base six-cylinder BMW 5 Series), Honda Japan suggested that it could charge more, though Honda Canada disagreed. The RL's initial MRSP was $69,500 CAD, more than the BMW 525i and close to that of the V8-powered BMW 540i. At the RL's price point, most consumers expected a V8, furthermore they did not perceive Acura as being on par with its German rivals and expected more value from the Japanese marque. The damage from Honda Japan's alleged hubris was done, even though Honda Canada has since reduced the RL's price. In 2009, the new generation of the Acura TL was released and it is expected to offer tough competition to the RL, as the TL has essentially the same engine, the SH-AWD system, and many of the RL's features for only $44,900 CAD.


Premium White Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Opulent Blue Pearl | Ebony | Taupe

Redondo Red Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Carbon Gray Pearl | Ebony | Taupe

Meteor Silver Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Nighthawk Black Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Lakeshore Silver Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Celestial Silver Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Desert Mist Metallic | Parchment | Ebony

  • 2005 RL $49,100
2006 Honda Legend

For 2006, the Acura RL was also offered in a second trim level, the optional 'Technology Package' which included three new features adaptive cruise control (ACC), Collision Mitigation Braking System, and Michelin PAX System run-flat tires on unique PAX 235 mm x 460 mm A ("A" for asymmetric) aluminum alloy wheels with unique 245-680R460A Michelin Pilot HX MXM 4 all season grand touring type radials designed for the Michelin PAX System. The metric sized, run flat Michelin PAX System wheels and tires are equivalent to 18" x 9" wheels and 245/45-R18 conventional tires. The previously standard color-matched mud guards were deleted in 2006. All 2006 models had a slight change to the navigation system that also allowed the installation of an optional rearview camera. MSRP increased by just $200 for the equivalent 2005 model.


Premium White Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Opulent Blue Pearl | Ebony | Taupe

Redondo Red Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Carbon Gray Pearl | Ebony | Taupe

Meteor Silver Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Nighthawk Black Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Lakeshore Silver Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Celestial Silver Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Desert Mist Metallic | Parchment | Ebony

  • 2006 RL $49,300
  • 2006 RL with Technology Package (ACC/CMBS/PAX) $53,100

For 2007, the Acura RL was offered in three trim levels, detailed in the table below, including a "standard" or "base" package, a newly defined "Technology Package" and the highest level trim, the "Technology Package with CMBS/PAX". While ACC seems to have been dropped as a feature, in reality, is an extension of the CMBS system. An mp3 audio player feature (really any device with a 3.5 mm headphone jack) was added to all trim levels. An integrated rearview camera was added to the two of three trim levels. OnStar was deleted as a feature from all trim levels. Colors were added and deleted. MSRP increased by just $100 from the roughly equivalent 2006 trims.


Premium White Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Opulent Blue Pearl | Ebony | Taupe

Redondo Red Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Carbon Gray Pearl | Ebony | Taupe

Platinum Frost Metallic replaces Celestial Silver and Meteor Silver

Platinum Frost Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Nighthawk Black Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Lakeshore Silver Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Desert Mist Metallic | Parchment | Ebony

  • 2007 RL $45,780
  • 2007 RL with Technology Package $49,400
  • 2007 RL with Technology and CMBS/PAX Packages $53,200

Note that while the addition of the 2007 addition of a "base" or "standard" trim level synchronized the RL trim level terminology with all the other Acura models being sold at the time, this trim level addition has, and can continue to, cause confusion in the market place. The 2007 RL "base" level trim deleted a number of technology features, including navigation, the Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS), and real wood interior trim. The confusion comes with the introduction of the 2007 RL with Technology Package which was the rough equivalent to both the 2005 RL and the 2006 RL. The "2007 RL with Technology Package and CMBS/PAX" became the equivalent of the "2006 RL with Technology Package". Many incorrect references are made to the 2006 RL as the "2006 RL with Technology Package" when such cars actually are not equipped with ACC/CMBS and PAX technology.

2007 RL 2007 RL with Technology Package

(in addition to the base package)
2007 RL with Technology and ACC/CMBS/PAX Packages

(in addition to the Technology Package)
Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition Collision Mitigation Braking System
3.5-liter, 24-valve, SOHC VTEC V-6 aluminum-alloy engine Rearview camera Adaptive Cruise Control
Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) AcuraLink satellite communication system with real-time traffic Michelin PAX Run-Flat Technology
Acura/Bose 10-speaker Surround Sound System GPS-linked, solar-sensing, dual-zone, dual-mode automatic climate control system
XM Satellite Radio Active Front Lighting System
Keyless Access System Genuine curlywood maple interior trim

The 2008 Acura RL continues unchanged in the US market from the 2007 model. Colors were added and deleted. MSRP increases $500 in each trim:


Premium White Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Opulent Blue Pearl | Taupe | (Ebony is dropped)

Redondo Red Pearl | Parchment | (Ebony is dropped)

Carbon Gray Pearl | Ebony | Taupe

Platinum Frost Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Nighthawk Black Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Lakeshore Silver Metallic/Ebony | Taupe

Desert Mist Metallic | Parchment | (Ebony is dropped)

  • 2008 RL $46,280
  • 2008 RL with Technology Package $49,900
  • 2008 RL with Technology and CMBS/PAX Packages $53,700

In Canada, the 2008 Acura RL is available with two different models, Base and Elite Package. The Elite Package adds Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Active Front Lighting System (AFS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), heated and cooled ventilated front seats and burled maple wood trim.

2009 Mid Model Change (KB2)

2009 Acura RL
For the 2009 model year, the RL received an extensive mid-model change (MMC), and made its introduction at the Chicago Auto Show on February 6, 2008, billed as "the most extensive Acura MMC ever". The new sedan was designated KB2 in the VIN codes, differentiating it from the 2005–2008 KB1 chassis VIN code. The revised sedan was released on July 1, 2008 to dealerships. The engine is upgraded to 3.7L with . While on paper, the engine may seem to be the same unit as shared with the Acura MDX, it is actually a variant that introduces for the first time ever on a SOHC Honda V6, an implementation of the Honda VTEC variable valve train technology on the exhaust side for improved horsepower and torque. Heretofore, all previous SOHC Honda V6 with VTEC used the technology on the intake side only. The engine emissions has been improved to meet the stricter U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) TIER 2 – BIN 5 and California Air Resources Board ULEV-2 standards. Implementation of the SH-AWD was adjusted for earlier intervention and a more rear wheel bias for better handling dynamics.

The MMC RL suspension was upgraded with higher rate coil springs, larger diameter anti-sway bars and stiffer bushings all around. The MMC RL sports a new larger front anti-sway bar of hollow construction, 30 mm diameter overall with a 6.5 mm wall thickness and a larger rear solid anti-sway bar, 19 mm diameter solid. The pre-MMC models sported a solid 29 mm front and 17 mm rear sway bar.

Standard 18" x 8" seven spoke alloy wheels with 245/45-18 tires replace the previous years' 17" x 8" five spoke offerings for not only the base and tech package models, but also for the highest trim ACC/CMBS equipped model. Previous years' ACC/CMBS equipped models were equipped with [Michelin PAX System] run flat tires on 18 inch equivalent (460 mm diameter) five spoke wheels. Unlike the previous years (2005–2008), there is no A-Spec offering, which included a body kit, suspension, wheels and badging.

Changes to the interior include more comfortable front seats and slightly increased rear leg room. The passenger front seat now has the same full 10-way power control as the driver's seat and both front seats feature active head restraint systems and six levels of cooling ventilation, as well as heated surfaces. Controls for heating and air-conditioning have been simplified and additional individual vent control is available to driver and passenger. The shift gear no longer has a gated sequence, but goes straight down to match the new ones used for the current Acura TSX and Acura TL. The steering wheel and shift gear top are now trimmed with wood to emphasize the RL's upscale luxury feel over its other two sedan siblings.

Additional insulation, improved acoustic isolation windshield design, and a new implementation of the active noise cancellation system (ANC) combine to make the car's interior more quiet over a variety of different conditions. Whereas the pre-MMC models ANC was set to cancel out low frequency boominess from the engine and exhaust, the MMC system, called Active Sound Control, has been extended in range to cancel some higher frequency road and tire noise as well. Unlike its predecessor ANC, Active Sound Control is now linked to throttle position and engine rpm to provide a more quiet cockpit during normal cruising, but will allow more of the new "3.7L's muscular sound" to be heard during higher rpm, higher speed excursions.

An additional microphone as well as some switchable directionality has been added to the HFL (Hands Free Link) and Voice Activated Navigation and Convenience controls. The new microphone system provides more accurate system "understanding" of the driver voice only when the systems are in command mode. Extraneous sounds, such as other voices in the cabin and wind noise are better distinguished and filtered out by the dual microphone system. Directionality is removed when an HFL voice call is established so that all passengers may participate in the phone call as in the pre-MMC model. The new dual microphone system uses real estate that was previously used in the 2005 and 2006 models for OnStar control electronics. Voice recognition commands have been increased to over 700, up from 560 previously.

The DVD based navigation system improves on previous XM satellite linked traffic flow reporting to include rerouting based on current traffic conditions and new continuously updated real time weather reporting. The DVD Audio capable 10 speaker sound system remains, but integration with the audio system is improved with the addition of Bluetooth stereo and a USB port that allows integration and operation of Apple iPod and other mp3 type devices. Also new is the ability to display iPod or other mp3 device (such as a USB flash memory device) folder and playlist information on the car's 8-inch central navigation display screen.

New shifter and center console arrangements have been added including a Sport mode. The steering wheel paddle shifters have been reprogrammed for faster response, and the paddle shifters can now be operated in both Drive and Sport Mode. In pre-MMC models, the gear selector had to be put in manual mode for the paddle shifters to operate.

The 2009 RL is slightly longer in its exterior dimensions by . The height is up a scant , while the width, track and wheelbase remain the same, . The front end including the hood and the rear, including the trunkline have been revised along with redesigned headlights and taillights. One of the most controversial features of the 2009 RL may be its "Power Plenum" grill design, the first of three similar designs that have been recently revealed in the new-second generation 2009 Acura TSX, and the fourth-generation 2009 Acura TL.

Curb weights have increased. The MMC Base weighs in at 4083 lbs, the Technology Package weighs in at 4085 lbs, and the ACC/CMBS with no PAX now weighs in at 4110. The equivalent 2006 pre-MMC Technology Package weighed in at 4012 lbs, and the pre-MMC with ACC/CMBS/PAX weighed in at 4074 lbs.

The 2009 Acura RL continues to offer three trim levels in the US market. MSRP increases by $500 over the 2008 model for each trim. For 2009, the Michelin PAX Run Flat Tire system is no longer offered in combination with the CMBS/ACC package. ACC is now featured alongside CMBS as part of the package name, after a two year hiatus. In reality, ACC was always included as a part of the CMBS. Colors were added and deleted.


Alberta White Pearl replaces Premium White Pearl

Alberta White Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Crystal Black Pearl replaces Nighthawk Black Pearl

Crystal Black Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Opulent Blue Pearl | Ebony | Taupe

Redondo Red Pearl/Parchment/Ebony

Grigio Metallic replaces Carbon Gray Pearl

Grigio Metallic | Parchment | Ebony

Platinum Frost Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Silver Jade Metallic replaces Lakeshore Silver Metallic

Silver Jade Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Tuscan Beige Metallic replaces Desert Mist Metallic

Tuscan Beige Metallic | Parchment

  • 2009 RL $46,680
  • 2009 RL with Technology Package $50,300
  • 2009 RL with Technology and CMBS/ACC Packages $54,100

The 2010 Acura RL appears to continue with few changes, in the US market from the 2009 model, as indicated on the current website for the RL. Colors were added and deleted. MSRP increases $150 in each trim:


Alberta White Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Crystal Black Pearl | Parchment | Ebony

Opulent Blue Pearl | Taupe (Ebony is dropped)

Redondo Red Pearl is dropped

Grigio Metallic | Parchment | Ebony

Platinum Frost Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Silver Jade Metallic | Ebony | Taupe

Tuscan Beige Metallic is dropped

2010 RL $46,830

2010 RL with Technology Package $50,450

2010 RL with Technology and CMBS / ACC Packages $54,250

Production future

In 2008, Edmunds Inside Line "Future Vehicles" is claiming that the next generation Acura RL (third-generation RL/fifth-generation Honda Legend) flagship model will be powered by a V8. Power is expected to be sent to the rear wheels, and the next generation of Acura's SH-AWD system to be used on the next RL will engage the front wheels only if the rear wheels' traction is compromised. IL’s source claims that a 4.8L V8 producing is being developed and will feature cylinder deactivation technology to keep fuel economy up.

Other news and rumors indicate that Acura will be launched as an upscale brand in Japan, and the 2011 model year RL, with a V-8, will be part of that launch, as will the replacement for the Acura NSX. The NSX follow-on would be the so called "halo" car, with the RL heading the Acura line up as a luxury sedan flagship.

A July 10, 2008 Acura press release announced the upcoming fourth-generation 2009 Acura TL will come in two versions, one of which will have SH-AWD and the "...most powerful Acura engine ever...." If the TL is to continue as the model slotted below the Acura RL, the specifications of the 2009 TL would almost have to dictate that the future generation RL will have to be a larger, more powerful car, as indicated by the Edmunds article.

With the recent 2008 worldwide economic downturn, Honda has made some announcements that may change the future of Acura, and the RL in particular. Long rumored V-8's slated for the projected 2011 Full Model Change (FMC) may be a good deal further off, as long as 2015, according to an article in Edmunds Inside Line which cited a November 26, 2008 article in Edmunds Auto Observer

Before the 2008 economic downturn, Acura was also rumored to be developing a new multi-purpose rear wheel drive specific platform, possibly similar to the strategy used by Nissan's Infiniti line. This would allow Acura to better compete with so called Tier One cars (e.g., BMW and Mercedes Benz). In a December 17, 2008 announcement from Takeo Fukui, CEO of Honda, the introduction of the Acura brand to Japan in 2010 will be pushed back to an undetermined date, and the development of the V-10 NSX replacement will be cancelled. More recent articles, such as a February 9 Motor Trend Online article about the Honda CRZ state outright that the Acura rear wheel drive platform has been canceled.

A more recent October 2009 Car and Driver blog cites a dinner with Acura executives who acknowledge that the introduction of the new, larger, and in some guises, more powerful, fourth generation Acura TL makes it extremely difficult to market the current RL. They speak of a new generation RL in one or two year's time that will reassert itself as the Acura flagship, but not with a V-8 as the rest of the market has done in the BMW 550, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti M, Lexus GS 460 and the Mercedes E-Class. All of these cars are available in six cylinder and V-8 variants. Acura says the actual sell rate of V-8's is quite small, and in the coming world of $4.00 per gallon gasoline, not the way of the future

In November 2009, an Autoweek article indicates that the new Honda CEO Takanobu Ito told Automotive News that Acura is going to change course away from V-8 Tier 1 items to something different. Speaking of the worldwide economy before the collapse of investment banker Lehman Brothers, Ito said through an interpreter, "Pre-Lehman, we did have the idea to produce more multicylinder engines...I see the future of Acura as a merger of BMW and Audi--something between high technology and high performance." As a result of this midstream change, Acura will be in a "low-growth period of developing new products," Ito said. "We were thinking that we could come up with glamorous, gorgeous products that would sell. Now, our premium products will be expressed in advanced environmental technologies, rather than glamorous things attached to the product," he said. This leaves the future of the Acura RL somewhat clouded. On tap for 2010 is the new Acura ZDX crossover, and for 2011 is the Acura TSX Sport Wagon, a wagon version of the current second generation Acura TSX. No clear plans have been announced for the next generation Acura RL.


From 2005 to 2008, Acura RL has been ranked #1 and has achieved the best car safety score (46.4) in Informed for LIFE's "2003–2009 Vehicle risk index SCOREs".

  • The facelifted 2009 Acura RL has revised seats, thus improving the seat rating for the 2005–2008 models from Marginal to Good for the 2009, Earning it the IIHS's Top Safety Pick.

  • The Acura RL incorporates most modern, and some unique, safety features including:

  • Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure - ACE features extensive use of high-tensile steel and lightweight aluminum components in a front-mounted polygonal main frame, designed engage vehicles of differing size and weight in a frontal collision and spread the forces through multiple structural pathways, while preventing or minimizing cabin deformation. The Acura RL was the launch vehicle for the ACE body structure. In 2009, all production Acura vehicles featured the ACE body structure. The ACE body structure is one factor in Acura achieving an all time first in US automotive history, winning simultaneous top marks in both Government National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test ratings

  • Super Handling-All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) - In addition to the performance benefits, the front to rear and side to side torque distribution works actively to keep the car on the desired line

  • Vehicle Stability Assist (Honda Acura version of Vehicle Stability Control) - 4 channel VSA integrated with SH-AWD, ABS, yaw, lateral G, speed and steering angle sensors

  • Electronic Traction Control (uses individual wheel ABS sensor and engine modulation)

  • Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) (redistributes front and rear brake pressures as situation dictates)

  • Brake Assist ("learns" driver braking habits, rate of pressure and total pressure applied, and quickly activates full ABS in perceived panic stop)

  • Front Air Bags (2 ea) - including two stage activation which minimizes injury due to deployment geometry (deploying upwards rather than forwards into the occupant) and speed.

  • Front Side Air Bags (2 ea) - including Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS)

  • Side Curtain Air Bags (2 ea) for front and back passengers

  • Occupant Position Detection Sensor (OPDS) system detects weight and positioning of passenger in the front seat and will disable passenger front side air bag deployment if the system calculates deployment could cause injury to the occupant such as a child or small-statured adult is in the path of deployment.

  • LATCH child seat anchors

  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) - Provides individual pressure readings for each tire and tire position in a graphical display, and driver alert in the event of low or no pressure.

  • bumpers front and back

  • Optional Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) (2006-forward)

From the 2006 model year forward, the Acura RL features an optional Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), which can alert drivers of objects up to 330' ahead. If the driver gets dangerously close and doesn't take evasive action, the RL first provides visible and audible alerts. If the driver does not respond, the electronic pretensioning seatbelt system tugs on the shoulder belts. If the driver still doesn't react and the collision is deemed unavoidable, the RL retracts and locks seatbelts and brakes hard. Depending on the situation, all three stages may blend together as if one.

The same CMBS millimeter wave radar is also used to operate the optional Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) feature. The driver selects a cruise speed and can set a timed following distance of 2.0, 1.5 and 1.0 seconds. When the cruising, and the ACC detects a target, up to 330' ahead, the engine throttle will be modulated to keep the selected timed following distance. If throttle modulation does not provide enough slowing, the car will also apply brakes to help keep the selected timed following distance.

From 2006 through 2008 Michelin PAX System run flat tires were also offered as an option. This system allowed a car to run up to at while flat.

Michelin PAX System run flat tires require special equipment to replace them. Such equipment is available only at a limited number of specially certified tire and car dealerships. In April 2008, Michelin announced that it would discontinue its PAX run-flat tires. Unless special equipment is available, Acura RL flat tires are usually fixed by replacing the entire wheel/tire assembly. Unlike Honda dealers, Acura dealers were not required to become PAX certified service centers, which includes expensive training and specialized machinery. Acura dealers will generally take a flat tire-wheel assembly off and put a new PAX System on a vehicle, or refer the customer to the nearest PAX certified facility.

For warranty and safety reasons, it is not recommended that owners of PAX equipped vehicles switch to another type of tire assembly. Both Acura and Michelin have not been forthcoming about how current owners of PAX equipped Acura RLs can address this impasse once the current supply of PAX tires run out. However, if history is any predictor of the future, the PAX tire supply will not run out, and will be continued to be produced on a specialty basis, just as the ill-fated Michelin TRX system tires are still produced today.

The PAX Run Flat system was discontinued as an option on the Acura RL due to several reasons, not the least of which, may have been a class-action suit against Honda and Michelin. Other reasons may have been the difficulty in repair and replacement of PAX tires, which are generally special order, and require special mount/demount machinery and training and the paucity of PAX certified dealers throughout the United States. While RL's have reportedly low incidence of complaints with the premium Pilot MXM4 all season tires, the opposite was true of the top of the line Honda Odyssey Touring model minivan was equipped with Michelin Energy LX4 PAX tires that allegedly did not live up to their promise of long tread life and ease of replacement. In addition, during this time, Michelin announced that due to the low general acceptance of the PAX technology throughout the industry, new PAX development would be stopped, although tires would be provided for the foreseeable future. Other PAX equipped vehicles include the world's fastest production car, the Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4, and certain Rolls Royce and Audi vehicles.

On the safety front, it is also worth noting that the Honda Legend, marketed in most of the rest of the world where there is no Acura brand, offered some additional optional safety features, including Lane Keeping Assistance System , Intelligent Night Vision, front bumper mounted cameras to assist in parking and turning, and a standard pop-up hood for pedestrian safety.

The LKAS can, with the assistance of a front windshield mounted CMOS camera, make small steering adjustments using the car's Electric Power Steering system to keep a car in lane so long as the radius of the turn was more than 220 meters, which was the then legal minimum in Japan. The LKAS would relinquish control at the slightest steering input so the driver had control at all times.

The night vision system uses a separate heads up type display in front of the driver's side windshield. Far infrared cameras do not require a light source, and the software is able to detect human like figures, surround the image with a red box and give audible caution tones.

Bumper mounted cameras gave the driver a view out each front corner to assist in parking and also clearance down the road if the car were in an alley-like situation, where driver vision around the corner would require moving much of the car out into the path of possibly on-coming traffic.

The pop-up hood uses a series of sensors that can detect a pedestrian-like object being thrown onto the hood. An actuator will pop the hood up at the rear, close to the windshield, 10 cm (4 inches) to help minimize pedestrian injuries, especially head trauma. All markets feature energy absorbing hood and fender supports and deformable windshield wiper pivots to minimize pedestrian injury.


  1. Acura Media Newsroom: 2009 Acura RL - Introduction
  2. 2004 Acura RL Review and Specs
  3. c|net's Tech Car of the Year
  4. - Road test: 2009 Acura RL

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