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Car Tech Video: 2009 Acura RL

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Car Tech Video: 2009 Acura RL

3:40 /

The Acura was one of the first cars we reviewed at CNET Car Tech. Does this '09 model refresh its predecessor or just offer more of the same tech?

>> Ah yes, the venerable Acura RL, the first of the super techno rides, won CNET's Tech Car of the Year award first time out, but it is a little long in the tooth? Let's see how Honda did a mid-year '09 refresh and cleaned it up. ^M00:00:15 [ Sound effect ] ^M00:00:24 >> Now, we've shot the RL 100 times so I'm gonna focus this time on the changes in this '09 mid-year refresh. First of all, the navigation screen doesn't change, it remains 8 inches, very generous, but we do have some additional data on the screen, Nav Traffic, which you see, we've had that there for a long time on this car but now, check it out, real time weather, and within the audio system quite a few improvements. First of all, check out that screen, USB, I'm playing music off a thumb drive right now, there it is in the console blinking away. You can also plug in an iPod to that USB port, and the firmware will give you an intelligent logical control to your iPod device, so that is a nice upgrade we like seeing. Also, we have Bluetooth streaming on the head unit, the A2DP technology, so if you've got one of these modern smart phones that is a music player and has stereo Bluetooth, you can wirelessly play it through the head unit. You got several ways to back this guy up; one you can use the rearview camera but still, no guidelines or trajectory overlaid on the screen and you can also option rear backup sensors. At this point you should be picking up on a couple of things that tell you the technology's a little stale here. There's no hard drive running on navigation or audio system, nowhere to rip music to, for example, we don't have DVD video playback or rear seat entertainment available in this car, no HD radio, screen resolution on the nav is the same as it was when I first encountered this car 4 years ago, which is, by today's standards, kind of crunchy. Now, the '09 RL still has a legendary Honda Acura V6, it's nav 3 point 7 liters, putting out 300 horsepower and 271 foot pounds of torque. What's notable is their Vtech, variable valve technology is now applied, for the first time, to the exhaust side of the head not just the intake, in the past it was always intake, so now they can control for emissions and burn and not just for charging the cylinders. As a result this car's particularly clean. Mileage is fine, 16/22 are your EPA estimates, so we're looking at a sub 20 mile per gallon car in mixed driving. Five-speed automatic is your only choice, well, a 5 speed's not that impressive these days, but do you need those cogs or can the engine and transmission work together without them? In this case I think the latter. Oh, by the way, another mid-year change for '09, you can go for the paddles at any time and grab a gear, no more need to put the gear shift in sport first. Now, the big acronym on this car is CMBS. What the hell's that? Well, it's Collision Mitigation Braking System; bottom line is this car's got a forward looking sensor that's gonna determine if you are asleep at the switch and about to hit something. If so, it's going to apply the brakes, slow the car down somewhat, and as part of that, because it's all the same parts, that also the adapted cruise control system. Now, pricing an '09 RL is an exercise in simplicity made possible by the fact that we have the high-trim car, the RL with CMBS, that denotes a fully-loaded RL beyond just that one option, so about $54,000 plus destination. The only tech option of any note would be the backup sensors for like 500 bucks. ^E00:03:39

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