2009 Acura RL Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Mid-cycle update

  • Engine enlarged from 3.5 to 3.7 liters

  • Horsepower up from 290 to 300

  • 18-inch wheels and tires replace 17-inchers

  • New grille and hood

  • Revised interior

  • Real-time weather and traffic rerouting now offered through navigation system

  • XM satellite radio adds a notes function

  • Revised steering, new coil springs and shock absorbers; larger rear stabilizer bar

  • Super Handling All-Wheel Drive enhanced to be quicker acting

  • On sale Spring 2008

Introduction

Due this spring as a 2009 model, the new RL will feature new front and rear styling with what Acura calls a "dynamic power plenum" front grille. The hood and trunklid are redesigned and aerodynamics are improved, the company says. Acura says the RL will also boast more power, an upgraded transmission, improved steering, better handling, a revised interior, and a host of new technology and entertainment features.

Model LineupThe 2009 Acura RL will be offered in three trim levels: RL, RL with Technology package, and RL with Technology package plus CMBS. Standard equipment on the RL will include leather upholstery;Bose 10-speaker surround sound AM/FM audio system with 6-disc CD/DVD-Audio changer; XM satellite radio with XM Note; USB audio port; auxiliary input jack; Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link; GPS-based solar-sensing dual-zone climate control system; power tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel; cruise control; power-adjustable heated front seats; power-folding rear headrests; power windows and door locks; heated power mirrors; remote keyless entry; keyless access and starting; power sunroof; trip computer; auto-dimming rearview mirror; universal garage door opener; power rear sunshade; manual side sunshades; automatic Xenon headlights; fog lights; and P245/45VR18 all-season tires on aluminum wheels.

The Technology package includes a rearview back-up camera; Acura's Active Front Lighting System (AFS); ventilated front seats; a wood/leather steering wheel and shift knob; and a navigation system with voice activation, AcuraLink real-time traffic, AcuraLink weather, and AcuraLink Traffic Rerouting. The RL with Technology package plus CMBS will add Acura's Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and wood instrument panel trim.

Hardware

For 2009, Acura will enlarge the RL's 3.5-liter V-6 engine to 3.7 liters, raise the compression ratio, and upgrade its VTEC valvetrain system to include variable valve timing for both the intake and exhaust valves. A special dual-stage magnesium intake manifold will be able to function as a single- or dual-plenum design based on engine operating parameters. The result will be an increase from 290 to 300 hp, which is achieved at 6300 rpm. Torque will also be up from 256 lb.-ft. to 271 lb.-ft. at 5000 rpm. The 5-speed automatic transmission will be beefed up to handle the increased power, and its manual shiftgate will add steering-wheel paddles for 2009. The new powertrain will be EPA-rated at 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway.

The RL's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) will return. Acura says it will respond quicker and perform better. Changes to the suspension include higher-rate coil springs, a larger diameter rear stabilizer bar, stiffer subframe mount bushings, and revised steering rack components. More aggressive tires with larger wheels will also be standard.

Safety

The RL will add active front head restraints to its list of safety features for 2009. Other standard safety equipment will include dual-stage front air bags; torso-protecting front side air bags; head-protecting curtain side air bags; a tire-pressure monitor; anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution; traction control; and electronic stability control.

The current-generation RL has earned 5-star ratings for front and side crash protection, as well as rollover resistance, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded the RL a "Good" rating in both side and frontal offset crashes. It has also received a "Marginal" rating for rear crash protection, but Acura anticipates the 2009 model will receive a "Good" rating for rear crash protection thanks to the active front head restraints.

Technology

Acura says its Active Sound Control (ASC) system on the 2009 RL is improved over the previous Active Noise Cancellation system. In addition to reducing low-decibel noise entering the cabin, the new system reduces high-frequency noise and works throughout the engine's rev range, Acura says. ASC uses two microphones in the headliner to detect unwanted sound frequencies entering the cabin, the automaker explains. It responds by emitting precisely timed reverse-phase audio signals through the speakers to reduce that noise, the company adds.

The climate control system uses the GPS navigation system's position-sensing ability to determine the position of the sun relative to the driver and passenger. It combines this information with input from a solar sensor on the instrument panel, and automatically adjusts temperature and airflow from side to side to increase passenger comfort.

With the push of a button, the XM Note feature captures a 10-second portion of up to 30 songs, plus text information about the song title, artist name, and XM channel.

Acura's Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) uses radar to monitor vehicles in front of the car. If it detects a potential collision, it uses audio and visual signals and light braking to alert the driver to the risk of collision. If a collision becomes inevitable, the system pre-tensions the front seat belts and applies hard braking to reduce the severity of the collision, Acura explains.

Finally, Acura's SH-AWD can vary engine torque continuously to each wheel. The automaker explains that the system employs torque vectoring to increase the rotation speed of an outside rear wheel during aggressive cornering to help the car turn more effectively while under power.

Video of the 2009 Acura RL
Ratings for the 2008 Acura RL
Ratings and details for all Acura models