By KBB.com Editors
Though many suggest that the prescription for a genuine luxury sedan must include an available V8 engine and rear-wheel drive, the 2009 Acura RL continues to be built for buyers interested in an alternative approach. Hitting dealer lots with a refreshed appearance and a bright new grille, Acura's top-of-the-line four-door also boasts a more powerful V6 engine, refined all-wheel-drive and suspension systems, a couple extra inches of body length, a quieter cabin, and an available Technology Package stocked with modern conveniences designed to make your time behind the wheel more comfortable and enjoyable. There's plenty to admire in the 2009 Acura RL, especially by those not intent on owning the quickest luxury sedan on the cul-de-sac.You'll Like This Car If...
Shoppers of luxury sedans will applaud the 2009 Acura RL's long list of standard equipment and its simple pricing structure, while those with a zest for driving may find themselves on curvy roads testing the capabilities of Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).You May Not Like This Car If...
Despite its powerful V6, shoppers considering the 2009 Acura RL may be turned off by the lack of rear-wheel drive and a V8 engine. Competitors from Audi and Mercedes-Benz promise superior fuel economy, and models like the Hyundai Genesis deliver surprising levels of luxury at a significant discount.What's New for 2009
Acura has treated its flagship RL sedan to a new look and numerous mechanical and technological advancements for 2009. Situated under the hood is a more powerful V6 engine, while the interior offers features such as Bluetooth audio and up-to-the-minute weather and traffic information.Driving It Driving Impressions
For everyday driving, the 2009 Acura RL's 300-horsepower V6 performs admirably, matches the EPA's fuel economy estimates, and delivers plenty of refined momentum for mingling with lead-footed commuters. Power is on par with cars such as the Lexus GS 350 but arrives at higher rpm and, as a result, makes the RL feel relatively sluggish when starting from a standstill. The accompanying five-speed transmission is smooth but can be slow to downshift, a trait that's noticeable when attempting to pass another vehicle; drivers can shift on their own schedule by using paddles on the steering wheel. Serving to offset any engine and transmission deficiencies is Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), technology that makes the RL sure-footed in inclement conditions and a delight on twisty roads. Braking is usually a worry-free endeavor, though we did notice a slight loss in effectiveness after an afternoon of spirited driving.Favorite Features
With the touch of a button on the 2009 Acura RL's console, XM Note allows you to capture up to 10 seconds of up to 30 songs heard on XM Satellite Radio, as well as the artist name and song title.
Falling under the AcuraLink umbrella are real-time traffic information, up-to-date weather forecasts, and a rerouting feature that steers drivers away from heavy congestion. Navigating your way through the chaotic evening rush hour just became more palatable.
As a flagship model, the 2009 Acura RL's interior disappoints as much as it impresses. Kudos go out for spacious accommodations, the Technology Package's triple-setting heated and cooled front seats, padding in all the right places, and a cabin that's both quiet and easy to enter and exit. We were less enamored by the driver seat's lack of lower support during long drives, perforated leather upholstery that felt like it had been borrowed from a Honda, an utter lack of storage provisions for rear seat passengers, and a sunken cargo floor that made taking heavy items out of the trunk a difficult task.Exterior
Most obvious among the 2009 Acura RL's exterior revisions is the large, shiny grille that is quickly becoming the marker for every model within the Acura lineup. Also new for 2009 are standard 18-inch alloy wheels, a reshaped rear end with revised taillights, and a more pronounced lip on the trunk lid that helps to make the sedan more aerodynamic. Overall, there's more RL to love, thanks to 70 pounds of added weight and a body that's been stretched by two inches.Notable Standard Equipment
Given the RL's luxury car status, Acura has fitted its largest sedan with not only the usual bits like a Bose sound system and power features tied to a driver-side memory function, but also a USB port located in the center console that offers quick and seamless access to tunes on your iPod, and an Active Sound Control system that does a commendable job of muting engine noise. Safety is addressed by a plethora of airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist, and a strong passenger compartment that helped the 2009 Acura RL achieve five-star ratings in government crash tests.Notable Optional Equipment
An available Technology Package has been designed to make commuting a bit less stressful in the 2009 Acura RL. At the heart of it all is a voice-activated navigation system that delivers current traffic and weather information, a timesaving traffic rerouting function, xenon headlights that swivel to illuminate the direction of travel, and heated and cooled front seats. The Technology Package can be ordered with Acura's Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS). CMBS is paired with adaptive cruise control and prepares the driver in the event of a sudden emergency by tightening the driver's seatbelt and applying brake pressure.Under the Hood
As part of Acura's redesign of the RL, 2008's 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 was replaced by a new 3.7-liter V6 shared with the 2009 Acura MDX. Coinciding with greater displacement are ratings of 300 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. The automaker's five-speed SportShift automatic transmission, complete with paddle shifters, continues to represent the single gearbox offering. In terms of fuel economy, the EPA suggests that the 2009 Acura RL will travel 16 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 22 mpg on the highway (down from 24 mpg in 2008) while burning premium fuel. Those figures are very similar to ratings for the Mercedes-Benz E350 4MATIC but are slightly less than figures reported for a V8-equipped Audi A6 quattro.
300 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
271 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22
Shoppers interested in purchasing a 2009 Acura RL can expect to spend about $47,000 for the base model; individuals inclined to drive home an RL with all of the available bells and whistles will be shelling out about $55,000. Those prices are in line with competing vehicles outfitted with standard or optional all-wheel drive, such as the BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS. Exceptions include the pricier Mercedes-Benz E350 4MATIC and the rear-wheel-drive but bargain-priced Hyundai Genesis. If the Acura RL has caught your eye, you'll be glad to know that buyers are typically paying a few thousand less than the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), but make sure you have the most current information by checking our Fair Purchase Prices before negotiating with your dealer. The 2009 Acura RL's resale values are comparable to those of the BMW 5 Series, yet both lag behind the Lexus GS.