With that in mind, it’s no surprise I thoroughly enjoyed a week behind the wheel of the Accord’s more sophisticated cousin, the 2008 Acura RL.
As Honda’s luxury division, it’s no surprise Acura shares similar views as its parent company and has a good idea of what attracts car buyers and keeps them coming back. Just like the Accord, there is a lot of value in the RL, Acura’s flagship sedan.
Although there are no significant changes from the 2007 model, does there really need to be? There’s a simple reason for the lack of any new features — the 2008 Acura RL is already considered one of the finest sedans in the premium mid-size category.
This year’s RL provides a long list of desirable standard features, and the base model comes at an affordable sticker price ($46,280) for the class. The RL is priced well compared to competition like the BMW 5 Series and similar models from Mercedes, Audi and Lexus.
The RL appeals to value-conscious buyers attracted to a classy sedan that offers maximum all-weather safety, handling and gets decent gas mileage (17-24 mpg).
This Acura delivers in three key areas: craftsmanship, price and refinement. Although not flashy like some of the competition, the RL has a wider stance than its earlier predecessors (first unveiled in 1996) and possesses a more aggressive body type.
Like many luxury sedans, the RL provides an agile ride and is capable of rapid acceleration. The RL’s 3.5-liter, V6 engine delivers 290 horsepower. In these get-up-and-go time that average considering some sportier models offer V6s with 300 or more horsepower.
But the RL still has been clocked at just less than seven seconds in the 0-60 mph standard, and that’s quick enough. It has auto-manual shift paddles and features a five-speed automatic transmission with an all-wheel drive system (SH-AWD) reportedly very adept at maintaining traction in severe driving conditions.
The Acura RL possesses strong braking and responds well on challenging, S-type roads, where it grips the surface for additional safety. Another plus is the noise factor is subdued.
Like many luxury-class models, the RL rates high in comfort. A several-hour went by a little more carefree thanks to the supportive front seats and the ample head and leg room. Even in the second-row seating, comfort is available. Three passengers fit tightly but aren’t claustrophobic. Trunk space is adequate, but could be improved if the trunk lid hinges didn’t take potential space.
High-tech items like keyless entry ignition and Bluetooth are standard. So is a 10-speaker, Bose surround sound system, anti-lock brakes and stability control system. The wood trim and sunroof are standard additions to the base model.
FAST FACTS: ACURA RL, 2008
Power — 3.5-liter, V6, 290 horsepower; Mileage Estimates — 16 mpg (city), 24 mpg (highway); Standard Features — keyless entry ignition, Bluetooth, anti-lock brakes, stability control system, sunroof, 10-speaker, Bose surround sound system, daytime running lights, wood trim, heated front bucket seats, eight-way power driver seat, four-way power passenger seat, power windows, doors, mirrors; Warranty — Powertrain 6 years/70,000 miles; Bumper-to-bumper 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion 5 years/unlimited miles; Free roadside assistance, 4 years/50,000 miles.