2011 Acura RL review: 2011 Acura RL

Also to improve efficiency, Acura equips the RL with an electric power steering unit, one of the highlights of its performance tech. The steering feels responsive and offers decent road feedback.

Another of the car's advanced features is the all-wheel-drive system, Acura's Super Handling All Wheel Drive, or SH-AWD. This system actively distributes torque between the front and rear wheels and vectors it across the rear axle to aid in cornering. SH-AWD inspires handling confidence in the RL, letting you take corners at speed. However, the suspension is tuned more for comfort, allowing a lot of travel in the dampers. The car doesn't bounce over bumps, but you can feel it stretch when pulled through a fast corner.

In sum
The Acura RL was ahead of the curve in 2005, but the competition has since caught up and passed it. Its engine tech only qualifies as average these days, although the new six-speed automatic transmission helps it at least stay in the race. Its real high points are the all-wheel-drive system and electric power steering.

Cabin tech suffers from a stale navigation system. The Bluetooth phone system at least keeps up with the latest tech offerings, and the stereo offers advanced sources such as Bluetooth streaming. The Bose audio falls a little short of the ELS system in Acura's other models, but not by much. Driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control help keep the RL a viable tech car.

The sedan format has the usual practicality, and it offers a surprising amount of trunk space for a medium-size car. Acura's grille has a unique look, but the profile of the RL is bland. The cabin tech interface is very usable, but ugly, and the center console has as many buttons as the cockpit of a 747.

Tech specs
Model 2011 Acura RL
Trim n/a
Power train 3.7-liter V-6, 6-speed automatic transmission
EPA fuel economy 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 18 mpg
Navigation Optional navigation system with traffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player MP3-compatible 6-CD/DVD changer
MP3 player support iPod integration
Other digital audio Bluetooth streaming, USB drive, satellite radio
Audio system Bose 10-speaker system
Driver aids Collision mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, rearview camera
Base price $51,350
Price as tested $52,210

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About The Author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.