Acura updates the RL for 2009, which means changes to the styling, a bigger engine, and adding necessary features to the cabin tech.

Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
1
of 19

Acura makes few options available on the RL, but one, Collision Mitigation Braking System, uses this grille-mounted radar to detect imminent crashes. The system can cinch up seat belts, unlock doors, and hit the brakes.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
2
of 19

Acura's most controversial styling feature, the beak-like grille, gets enhanced for the 2009 model.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
3
of 19

Acura boosts engine displacement from the previous generation's 3.5-liters up to 3.7-liters. This V-6 now puts out 300 horsepower.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
4
of 19

In profile, the RL has fairly mundane looks. It is a modern four-door sedan with no special nods to sport or luxury.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
5
of 19

At closer inspection, big, Acura-branded brake calipers are visible in front. The RL uses an advanced all-wheel-drive system to move power from front to back, and from rear-side to side.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
6
of 19

As a reasonable-size sedan, the RL holds four passengers comfortably--or five with some closeness in the back seat--and luggage.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
7
of 19

Acura attempts to bring the RL up to Mercedes-Benz and Lexus standards with a little woodwork, but the car still falls short of that level of luxury.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
8
of 19

The RL's steering wheel is overloaded with buttons, similar to what we've seen in past generations.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
9
of 19

Acura keeps its gauge design very clean, but the cluster lacks an auxiliary display between the tachometer, such as you would see in an Audi or Mercedes-Benz.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
10
of 19

We complained about the five-speed transmission in previous RLs, but Acura seems to have remapped the shift points on this new one for performance. Cruising at near 100 mpg, we found the fifth-gear powerband wide enough to keep engine speed down to 3,000 rpms.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
11
of 19

Acura's navigation system has some nice features, and was the first to incorporate traffic reporting, but it is still DVD-based, making its performance and map storage capacity inferior to hard drive-based units.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
12
of 19

Inputting city or street names can be tedious with this interface.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
13
of 19

One new feature for the 2009 model year is weather reporting. This new feature complements the traffic routing also added to the navigation system.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
14
of 19

An iPod and USB connector sits in the car's console--another new addition for the 2009 model year.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
15
of 19

Navigating a USB drive is basic, merely letting you browse folders, as opposed to letting you sort by artist and album name.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
16
of 19

The RL gets a Bose-branded 10-speaker audio system. Strangely, Acura hasn't gone to the ELS system used in its other models.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
17
of 19

Another new, and welcome, feature is imported contact lists for the Bluetooth phone system, along with Bluetooth-audio streaming for the stereo.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
18
of 19

A back-up camera has also been added to the RL, although it is basic and doesn't offer any advanced guidance overlays.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
19
of 19
Up Next

Six generations of the Ford Mustang (pictures)