Test Drive: 2011 Acura RL/Tech

?Acura RL raises the bar even higher for 2011?

Acura’s RL luxury sedan has long served as one of the marque?s most technologically advanced vehicles, and for the 2011 model year, the RL for steps up with significant upgrades and enhancements that once again raises the bar in the luxury sedan category. Further maximizing the performance of its potent 3.7-liter V6 engine, the RL gets an all-new Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission for 2011. In addition, the RL enjoys an even quieter cabin thanks to the first-ever use of a unique resonator wheel technology in a passenger vehicle.

The top-of-the-line Acura sedan continues to display bold, athletic looks, a 300 horsepower engine and Acura?s acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive? system. In the exterior appearance department, this latest iteration Acura RL gets a revised front grille, power folding side mirrors and available back-up sensors. Moving to the inside, the RL benefits from a new Sea Coast interior color, new Dark Burlwood textured trim elements and an improved feel, thin-thread stitching for the steering wheel along with a new bright Silver color for the gauges.

Drivers are kept more connected to the world around them by such advanced technologies as: available back-up sensors, a revised back-up camera angle for improved rearward visibility and improved dialing function for Bluetooth? HandsFreeLink?.

The 2011 RL is offered in three variations: RL, RL with Technology Package and RL with Advance Package which incorporates Acura?s Collision Mitigation Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control, power folding side mirrors and genuine maple wood instrument panel trim. All RL?s will feature as standard the 3.7-liter V-6 engine with VTEC? valvetrain operation, Super Handling All-Wheel Drive?, leather trimmed interior, power actuated front seats, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control system, power moonroof, power windows, Acura/Bose? Surround Sound audio system, Bluetooth? HandsFreeLink? connectivity and a Multi-Information Display that allows easy access to multiple electronic functions.

The 3.7-liter V6 incorporates the first ever SOHC utilization of VTEC? valve actuation for both intake and exhaust valves. The engine generates 300 horsepower while developing 271 pound feet of torque. The engine mates to an?all-new six-speed version of Acura?s Sequential SportShift automatic?transmission. The transmission features ?smart? F1?-style paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel, along with a new straight-gate gear selector mounted in the center console, that incorporates Grade Logic Control.

The RL?s distinctive styling displays emotion as well as performance and function. It is presented in a sleek, aerodynamic? package that leads off with the revised power plenum grille and redesigned aluminum hood that slopes radically upward from the aggressive front fascia with a sharply angled headlamp execution flanking the new grille and unique functional lower air intake openings. The beltline travels upward to the abbreviated deck lid, forming an overall exaggerated flying wedge that reflects the suggestion of speed from virtually every viewing angle. The larger, 5-tri-spoke alloy wheels are shod with Michelin performance rubber that properly fill up the wheel wells, and give further notice of the cars performance potential.

The Super Handling All-Wheel Drive? system, was the first all-wheel drive platform to distribute optimum torque levels between not only the front and rear wheels, but between the left and right rear wheels as well. It isn’t just a buzzy name or hyped-up terminology for marketing purposes — it really works. The car begs to be pushed beyond the limits of ordinary vehicles. The system thrives upon being driven hard — when common sense indicates that it’s time to back off the power entering a tight turn, the Super Handling system kicks in by responding admirably to added throttle with added stability and control.

The base price of my Acura RL, which was equipped with the Technology Package was set at $51,350 — add in the $860 destination and handling fee to arrive at the final sticker total of $52,210 before tax and license. There were no other options to be had. Factoring in the added content over previous RL models, the final sticker price isn?t really exorbitant at all, especially considering that the RL is every bit a luxury sedan, inside and out, with sporty performance as a serious major bonus. The interior ambience includes the richness of leather, genuine polished wood trim accents combined with an impressive inventory of advanced technological features.

SUMMARY: In the final analysis, the 2011 RL Tech from Acura represents a highly desirable, luxury performance / sport sedan that comes loaded with virtually everything one could possibly want in such a vehicle in its price range, and then some. Figure all this in with the powerful V6 engine, and you have a car that is able to comfortably compete in the marketplace with more expensive European sport sedans.

The RL is smooth, quick and comfortable, to complement its sleek, sporty appearance. It seems capable of satisfying almost anyone’s need for speed, while surrounded by Acura’s familiar sense of quality in fit, finish and attention to detail in the blend of comfort and convenience features and equipment.

AcuraLink’s real time traffic feature, integrated with XM NavTraffic? service offers traffic information for freeways currently in major metropolitan markets. The system monitors flow, accident and construction information, pinpointing concerned locations on the Nav system map. Stay tuned for automatic rerouting technology. Even if you’re stuck in traffic, the Acura/Bose audio system should ease the pain and calm your nerves with your favorite musical entertainment.

The RL for 2011 makes for one fine rapid transportation pod with technology aplenty ? steering delivers a precise level of input ? Oh, I almost forgot to mention the adaptive headlight system the allows the low beams to swivel through turns for enhanced visibility and safety.

To enjoy maximum performance in terms of acceleration and shift points, simply select the Sport mode and let the RL do the work for you, or utilize the paddle shifters to chose gears at will. Either way, the RL delivers a satisfying and exhilarating ride.