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2005 Acura RL Automotive Review

by Ann Job

2005 Acura RL Review

2005 Acura RL Road Test

Whoa! What's going on here? An Acura car that attracts attention?

A couple guys even stopped, got out of their vehicle, and walked over to inspect my 2005 Acura RL test car as it was parked on the side of the street.

This has never happened before. Despite their reputation for long-term durability, Acura vehicles have usually looked rather plain and unremarkable. Until now.

Redesigned and re-engineered for 2005, the RL sedan is arguably Acura's most stylish car ever. Its sleek lines and sporty look might even be characterized as masculine.

But there's more to the new RL flagship sedan than looks.
There more power, sportier handling and a high level of luxury features on this five-passenger, mid-size car whose starting price is more than $49,000. (Yes, this is up substantially from the $43,000-plus starting price for a 2004 RL.) The 2005 RL is the first Acura car with all-wheel drive. And it's standard.

The '05 RL is the first with a five-speed automatic transmission and paddle shifters at the steering wheel - a feature that's reminiscent of race cars. There's also a lot more power. The '05 car is the first RL with a full 300 horsepower, which is more than any other Acura, even the exotic-looking Acura NSX two-seater.

There's only one engine, though, for the RL, and it remains a V6.
Competitors in this luxury sedan segment include the 2005 Cadillac STS, which has a starting price of more than $41,000 for a V6 model. The 2005 Audi A6, which like the RL comes standard with all-wheel drive, starts at more than $41,000, too, for a V6 model. Same thing for the 2005 BMW 525i.

Keep in mind that the RL comes so well stocked with standard items - everything from sunroof and five-speed automatic transmission to heated front seats and Bose surround sound system are standard - that there are scarcely any add-ons.
The first thing I noticed about the RL test car was how the doors closed with a solid "thud" and how quiet the interior was reminding me of a Mercedes or a Lexus.

The engine, which has a confident note, sounds almost far away and faint. The engine does its work reassuringly and without a lot of noisy fanfare. The '05 engine remains a 3.5-liter, 60-degree V6, like the one in the '04 RL. But now it's a new design and can develop 75 more horsepower than the six-cylinder in the predecessor car. Torque is up, too, to 260 lb.-ft. at 5,000 rpm and compares with 231 lb.-ft. at 2,800 rpm in the predecessor RL.

2005 Acura RL Exterior

The new engine still surprised me as it moved the RL powerfully. I found myself traveling at highway speed while I was still on a short highway entrance ramp and had yet to merge into traffic.

Note that many competitors - the STS, A6 and BMW 5-Series - offer V8s as well as six-cylinder powerplants. But Acura is aware that while V8s help a luxury car's image, they account for only 15 percent of the sales in this vehicle segment. Besides, the RL's V6 has more power than the 255-horsepower STS, the 255 horsepower A6 and the 184- and 225-horsepower BMW 5-Series.

The RL isn't exactly thrifty with fuel, though, and premium is recommended for optimum performance. Rated at 18 miles a gallon in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway, I averaged only 20.1 mpg during a mix of city and highway driving.

The RL is more than a luxury car with good power. There are technology features, too, many of them used by the driver inside the car. For example, drivers of the RL don't need keys to start their cars, get inside or open the trunk. Instead, the RL has keyless access that means all a driver has to do is have the keyless fob with him or her — in a pocket, purse or in a hand. Then, a driver just walks up to the car and with a touch of the door handle, the car door opens.

There's no usual ignition key, either. The RL has what looks like a stump of a key that's permanently in the dashboard and needs to be turned, like a key would. In the event that fob should fail, Acura includes a backup, mechanical key. Since there was no need to remove a key from the ignition, I often forgot to turn the car off when I parked. I shifted into park, gathered my belongings and started to leave the RL, with the car still running!

The RL is the first car in North America to put real-time traffic information about construction zones, congestion and crashes on the navigation system map. The system uses XM NavTraffic and is available for freeways in 20 major metro areas including Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago. Another highlight: The car's information system includes Zagat ratings of restaurants.

But the RL voice recognition, which can be used to control interior temperature, radio, and phone, didn't always understand me, no matter how clearly or loudly I delivered my requests.

The RL's all-wheel-drive system does more than transfer power between front and rear wheels. It can modulate the power between the left and right rear wheels to help make cornering more precise and stable and thus contribute to sporty handling.
The all-wheel drive doesn't need to be activated by the driver.

In any event, the RL moved through a slalom without fuss, took curves and twisted mountain roads confidently and had a pleasant highway cruising demeanor.

2005 Acura RL Interior

Note the RL has Honda's Active Noise Cancellation in the interior which is designed to neutralize low-frequency booming sounds.
The interior of the test RL was pampering and pretty. The seats have perforated leather on them, and the audio system's surround sound is awesome.

A soft bluish light illuminates the RL's floormats and joins map lights in offering a welcoming interior. A pale blue light also shines down on the center console, and the instrument gauges have a blue light that seems to emanate from the center of each one.

Safety is noteworthy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the 2005 Acura RL is only the third vehicle in the history of the agency's crash testing program to achieve the top rating of five stars for rollover and for all seating positions in frontal and side impact crash tests.

The car comes standard with a new body structure that's designed to keep crash forces away from passengers. There also are standard curtain airbags, antilock brakes and stability control, among other excellent features.

For More Information Click: Acura RL
For the Acura 2005 Model Guide : Click Here