By on November 3, 2013

rl

It’s been a long time since the Acura Legend or its successors had much mojo. The second-generation model, most notably the six-speed manual-shifted coupe, had a certain amount of street presence and enthusiast credibility, but the two generations that came after that didn’t impress anyone. The current car is perceived by the public as a bigger TL, even if it isn’t one, not totally.

It’s probably safe to say that most buyers in the segment don’t even consider an RL when they’re shopping. But the ones who do like the RL tend to put some serious mileage on them. How serious? Well…


A quick trawl through eBay showed that, of the thirty-five RLs listed, eleven of them had over 100,000 miles, with five boasting odometer readings over 150K. Our cover-shot car has 221,000 miles. More interesting than that, virtually all of the high-mileage cars are of the second-gen (2005-2012) variety.

rl2
This surprisingly decent-looking example has 225,000 listed on the odometer. As a comparison, there are sixty-nine Lexus GS350s listed on the ‘Bay. Two of them have over 100,000 miles, with the highest-mileage one for sale showing just 111,600. We won’t bother to discuss the equivalent BMW Funfers, of course; those cars tend to be as disposable as cheap prophylactics.

So. There are a lot of people driving the wheels off the biggest Honda. The question is: why? I’d suggest that it’s a combination of engineering and expectations. The RL has a fairly well-proven, low-stress engine. It’s conservatively designed and (if you care) built in Japan. The people at Honda take a lot of pride in the Legend and RL and have typically taken pains to ensure that the cars are thoroughly worked out prior to going on sale.

With that said, the second-generation RL was not trouble-free and if you take a look through the owners’ forums you can see that they occasionally have expensive issues. That’s where expectations come it. The typical RL buyer is a Honda lifer, often an older person who started with an Accord in the Seventies or Eighties and often fairly successful in his career. He or she expects to keep his Honda a long time and he’s willing to spend a fair amount of money to make that happen. This is how Mercedes-Benz gained a reputation for reliability: because the owners were affluent and the cars had a reputation for lasting forever, the kind of major repairs that would send most cars to the junkyard or the buy-here-pay-here lot were simply completed without much regard for cost and next thing you know you have a 300,000-mile grey-market 230E rolling around.

Thirty years ago, you wouldn’t need me to tell you about the RL’s mile-eating abilities; there would already be advertisements putting the message out. Honda used to make the reliability and durability of its cars the front-and-center message. This is what we get nowadays:

rlxad

“Intuition, unleashed by the will of the driver.” What does that even mean? Wouldn’t it be a better idea to junk that worthless headline and replace it with “The quarter-million-mile luxury car”? Maybe not. Honda wants Acura to be relentlessly upscale, and what’s so upscale about building a long-lasting, high-quality product, unless you live in a world much saner than this one?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

103 Comments on “The Mega-Mileage Acura RLs of eBay...”


  • avatar
    FordRangerFTW

    I tend to think anyone willing to stay the course could keep just about any ’96 or newer car on the road well past 200k. German & Swedish iron used to be the standard for this sort of behavior. Unfortunately, most Beemers these days seem to be driven by those who want to appear affluent, and lack the financial endurance to tolerate a vehicle beyond warranty. I still maintain that no matter how reliable / durable a Japanese branded vehicle may be… It still lacks the character of any of its European rivals.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The fact that these cars are even available for sale is really a good thing for aficionados who cannot afford to buy them new.

      New car sales are booming because many people are flush with cash money, and in turn, they put up their older ride on the market while at the same time indulging themselves by buying a new ride of their choice.

      “http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/three-real-reasons-car-sales-booming-200833362.html”

      Different strokes for different folks. Some people prefer Japanese iron over German or Italian.

  • avatar
    Dan

    The relative paucity of high mileage GS350s is probably because the GS350 didn’t exist until 2007.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Right. When the third-gen GS debuted in MY2006, Toyota was still using the 3.0-liter and 3.3-liter engines. When everything went to the 3.5-liter in MY2007, the GS 300 became the GS 350. What I don’t understand is why the GS didn’t get the 4.6-liter until MY2008, when the all-new LS got it for MY2007. Maybe they were working out the kinks….

      • 0 avatar

        A 3.3L GS? My word, I believe you’re thinking of the front-drive ES and not the upscale GS that was taking on the 5-Series and E-Class. But yes, the 3GR-FE initially in the third gen GS300 was a 3.0L, but not “the” 3.0L that was used in the likes of Camry’s and moved to 3.3L into the second generation Sienna (and Lexus ES330).

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Yep, you’re right. I’m aware of the fact that there were multiple 3.0-liter engines at one time, as well as the fact that the GS never used the 3.3-liter; however the newer 3.5-liter engine in the GS and IS is a modified version of the one in the FWD Lexus/Toyota models (Camry, ES, RX, Highlander, etc)…so I lumped the 3.5-liter engines together.

          • 0 avatar

            Indeed, that is a modified 3.5L, much like the Lambda V6 at Hyundai/Kia (3.3L and 3.8L). The 3.3L V6 that was in the Sonata was closely related to the 3.8L used in the Azera and Hyundai/Kia minivans (albeit with a different tune between the 3.8L’s). Those did share the five-speed auto, though, at least from what I understand. Some Sonata tuners have even played with swapping the 3.8L intake manifolds with their 3.3L mani’s and found it adds to the top end (albeit with tweaks like cold-air intake, exhaust, and a reflash). If I remember right, that 3.8L is also used in the Genesis line, but again the RS 3.8L is modified much like the rear-drive Lexus applications. GM also does that with the 3.6L and so on. Makes financial sense, though.

          • 0 avatar
            Carzzi

            Also, the GS300 used the inline six, not that reviled configuration, the V6.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      So there’s 92 GS’s of all four generations, and something like 12 of them have over 100k (the highest being around 225k), which doesn’t quite jive with the 1/3 number on the RL, but it’s respectable, I suppose.

      On the other hand, the ES is probably a closer competitor to the RL (trading the Accord roots for Camry roots, although it gives up the trick AWD) – of those, 19 of 95 have over 100k, with three showing over 225k (two of those being past 280k).

  • avatar

    I recently posted a long-term owner review of the TL 09′.
    She wanted an RL originally but went with the TL instead. To me it’s a boring car and I actually preffered a new Maxima that had a backseat package I’d never seen before. She went with Acura and got less features.
    I have no idea why anyone buys an Acura anything.

    The RLX is pathetic at its price.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I also think of the Maxima as a TL-competitor, rather than as a competitor to the Avalon, Azera, Impala, Taurus, etc…and I’d also rather have the Maxima.

      The RLX would be nice if top-end versions could be had below $50K…and if it came with real leather to start with. That pleather seat crap is bad enough in overpriced German RWD cars, but when you’re talking about a FWD-biased car from a company with no real merit or prestige anymore, features and comfort should be paramount. As far as I’m concerned, Acura needs to adopt a Hyundai/Kia pricing structure…

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        >> and if it came with real leather to start with. That pleather seat crap is bad enough i

        I’ve read pleather (and the high end MBTex) is improving. It breathes better, is more durable, and is easier to care for than real leather. YMMV. Eh, I’m a cloth guy anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Fair enough. I’m particularly bothered by BMW, because in any model designated by a 5 or below, you get not only the pleather, but ugly spartan seats to frame it. The “Comfort Seats” with the real leather are quite a pricey upgrade on these models…

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            This. BMW drives me crazy with their tack-on-everything pricing structure. I want a high-end car to come LOADED. Not have a “oh the air inside is free” type of mentality.

            There should be 1-3 options packages, and you can choose whether you want RWD or AWD. That’s it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree Corey.

      • 0 avatar

        I drove Maxima for a week. It is a big car. It feels big like land yacht. I did not enjoy it much because of its size. But everything else was much better than Honda or Acura is able to come up with. Steering in Acuras is simply scary because of lack of feel and nimbness. I wouldn’t buy either though I prefer at most midsize cars or compacts for fun.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Kyree, I’ve driven both the Maxima and the TL fairly extensively. They’re superficially similar (except the Maxima looks a lot better), but they feel surprisingly different over the road. The TL looks like a tank but has a taut feel, though in a hard-to-articulate way, it feels a bit stiff and hollow. The Maxima looks really sporty but, as Inside Looking Out says below, it drives like a mushy family sedan with a big V8. The CVT doesn’t help matters one bit in this regard.

        I have not driven the TL with SH-AWD. Many who have driven it say it’s an entirely different and better animal. Of course, it also costs more.

    • 0 avatar

      Which years of TL and Maxima are we talking about? I remember the 2005-era Maxima had a CLS-style center console sort of option, but can’t remember the newer (CVT only) model having that same feature.

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      “I have no idea why anyone buys an Acura anything.”

      I actually watched your review. Owner of a 2006 Acura RSX Type-S that I bought used last summer. I will just say that I think we want different things from cars. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fast cars. I just go about it differently. I hate great big oversized V8 cars. I prefer cars that go fast by being small and light weight. As small and light as I can and still carry my wife and daughter. I got the Acura because it is a nice car with a pretty good interior. As a bonus it’s light, corners great, brakes OK, and is plenty fast. I know you will scoff at it, but 0-60mph is about 6-6.5s and 1/4 miles are around high 14′s. I know it’s not fast by today’s standards but its enough power to get me in trouble in a hurry. I could go on forever, but everything about the car is just perfect for me.

      In your review you mentioned a Chrysler SRT8. I am sure you would love it, but for me that’s my idea of automotive hell. It’s way too big, way too heavy, automatic only, and a quick google search showed that the marked redline on a 2012 is only about 6,250 or 6,300 RPM. Simply not for me.

      Now, if someone were to strike me on the head and I suddenly desire a giant luxury sports sedan I would probably go with something like a used Audi B7 RS4. High revving, high strung engine, manual transmission, everything I want except that it’s giant.

      Having said all that, it should also be clear by now that if the question is “who would buy a brand NEW Acura?” my hand would go down. I hate to say it, but year by year everything that I loved about Honda/Acura is gone. No more K20Z1/3. No more TL Type-S, no more CL Type-S. No more light weight Acura Integra/RSX. No more NSX. The TL has gained hundreds of pounds. I guess you can still order the TL with a 6 speed manual; at least that’s something. If my car were to be (God forbid) struck down on the way to or from work tomorrow. I really don’t know what I would buy. I guess an FR-S or start scouring the used ads for an RX-8 or another RSX Type-S or maybe an Infiniti G-coupe. But unless something unfortunate DOES happen to my Acura, I am going to just keep damn good care of it. I don’t think I will find anything ever again that works this perfect for me.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        You don’t need to qualify your car’s performance. A 6~ second 0-60 street car is fast by any reasonable standard.

        • 0 avatar
          DevilsRotary86

          Hallejuah! Someone gets it! I have had others on other boards that won’t be named call my RSX-S “pathetic”, “sad”, and “miserable”. That if they had to own a car like mine they wouldn’t be happy at all and would be doing everything they could to replace it (and I should too!). They simply couldn’t understand that I love the thing even if it doesn’t quite live up to the legend of the Integra (no pun intended there, really).

          So thank you sir, for actually understanding!

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Your comment is just one more piece of evidence that cars with delta-vee capabilities fasster than 6 seconds to 60 very rarely get that capability used on public roads.

        That said, the RSX-S is everything the RL is not. The RL is more like a 7 second to 60 car (that’s o.k.) but it’s also fairly thirsty, does not have an exactly cushy ride (but it’s no BMW in the handling department). And the styling is forgettably bland. The RSX-S is fun to drive; the RL is not. At the same time, the RL does not feel “luxurious” either, in a way, that, say Lexus does.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          The RL didn’t age well – it just is sort of an inbetween in the styling department and it doesn’t have presence.

          The 00-04 one did have some presence, but it is even MORE conservative. I love the front of the 04 though with the V grille and nice big headlamps. Then you go along the side and back, and ask yourself if you’re actually looking at an Accord. :

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree the previous RL certainly did have a vastly different presence but was error prone and a general bore to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      The base TL is SUPPOSED to be a boring car. Drive a TL SH-AWD 6MT and let me know. It’s a legit S4 competitor for $10k less.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Big Truck: Is there really a back seat package you haven’t seen before?

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    You don’t find 100k GS on ebay, you find them on dealership lots being retailed,and banks will still finance them. In the 80′s when a typical new car loan was 3 years you could finance a Mercedes for 10. The RL doesn’t have the perceived value. Good friend of mine just bought a 06 with 60k on it for 15k.Shocked at how nice and well put together it is. Much much nicer than a TL. I used to look at RLs and pity the fool who bought one. Now I know better. Between this and the Prius I am starting to think that being made in Japan really does matter.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I think your friend did well but its important to note the RL uses a much more exotic drivetrain setup than TL, something to keep in mind for future servicing.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        He is a recovering Saab owner. Previous car was a 9-3 Viggen. He had 203k miles on the Saab(bought at 110k) so he is pretty good with cars. I tried talking him out of the RL and told him to get a TL myself but he did lot of research on them beforehand and stalked them till he found this one.

  • avatar
    sightline

    To a lesser or greater extent, all of the luxury marques are chasing BMW’s performance-oriented image. Just looking at carousels of their home pages* and ignoring one-off sales events, we get:

    Acura: Intuition, unleashed by the will of the driver
    Audi: Conform to nothing but the road (Q5)
    BMW: From a tire’s point of view, winter starts at 45 deg (X5)
    Cadillac: You don’t drive it, you unleash it
    Infiniti: Four Consecutive F1 Victories
    Jaguar: So alive, it roars
    Lexus: Change / Lanes
    MB: Groundbreaking innovation has broken through again

    And even MB has a “driving excitement” one on a different carousel page. Interesting that BMW and Audi are pushing SUVs right now.

    Strictly speaking it’s probably a lot more profitable to sell to the people who either lease or trade their cars in every 3 years than someone who is going to keep their cars for 150k+ miles and ten years, so targeting your marketing message at them makes sense:
    - They have a higher frequency of transactions since they don’t hold on to their cars
    - They are likely younger – if you started with an Accord in the Seventies, you’re probably close to your last new car, especially if you are going to keep it for 10 years, and everyone is chasing younger buyer demographics
    - They are likely to plump for the gadgets which have higher margins whereas dependability buyers want as few things that can go wrong as possible
    - Most of their buyers are Boomers or younger, all of whom had their formative years when cars emphasized performance thanks to muscle cars, 3-series, 240Zs, etc, etc.

    Add this to the fact that the German marques can’t get away with such relatively high prices anymore (a 1990 560 SEL was $74k base whereas a modern S550 starts at 93k), the manufacturers have to make it up on volume, not transaction prices. I know around here we like to fetishize the guy that saves and plans and buys used and ends up a millionaire but in the real world there aren’t nearly enough of those to support a car company (and they buy used anyway).

    *Don’t get me started on how every single car company uses the exact same website design

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’m not sure why performance and luxury have to go hand-in-hand. I mean. I wouldn’t want my $60K luxury sedan to be a slouch on the road, but it also doesn’t need to have “a proven track-record on the Nürburgring”. And, as a website designer, I agree that most corporate sites use the same sets of tricks, especially automotive ones…

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Speaking of advertising taglines that leave you puzzled, you left one off:

      “Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.”

      ;)

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “Intuition, unleashed by the will of the driver”

      Intuition tells this driver not to buy the RLX. :)

      I don’t grok marketing speak, but then, as someone who prefers cloth seats over leather, I’m not really the target demographic for this car.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Jack I would only add two tidbits on the RL/RLX, the first generation (96-04) is known for transmission issues and lackluster power as well as a host of other issues as summarized in the post below which is why they are often abesnt from Ebay, and the second point is the both generation RLs are re-badged JDM Honda Legends.

    http://rl.acurazine.com/forums/showthread.php?t=495897

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_RL

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    So than if you want to buy a car that is durable, and well last well into the 200′s without much issues, what do you buy?

    I took a chance on the V6 Mustang. The transmission gets put behind the V8, so it should handle the power of the V6 well into it’s life. The engine is simple with plenty of room all around it to work on, plus it’s shared with many other vehicle, often much heavier than the Mustang. Then there is the solid rear axle, which is enough said on that.

    The rest of the car? I don’t know, but I guess I’m going to find out. As far as what my next vehicle well be I’m still out. Thinking a proper SUV, made by Toyota. Really keep thinking FJ-Cruiser.

    But what if you want “Luxury” that will last a lifetime? Fully loaded Dodge 2500 with mega cab and a Cummins?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Lexus truck-based SUVs really are luxurious, and last quite a long time. The LX and GX are bulletproof—due to being luxed-up versions of very tough SUVs in other markets—and they hold their resale value better than things like Range Rovers, Cayennes and X5s….

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Maybe these cars will hit eBay in a few years when their current owners buy something new to replace them:

        http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-cars-the-richest-americans-are-buying-2013-11-01?siteid=yhoof2

        Some of these I wouldn’t mind having as a Sunday driver. I’ve already got a Grand Cherokee, and it is holding up pretty well, all things considered, recalls on the 2014s and all.

      • 0 avatar

        I work at a goodyear tire chain, and we see high mileage stuff all the time. (Hey, a 96 Grand Cherokee in great shape with 381,000 miles? Whoa!)

        Most of the Lexus *trucks* have STUPID miles on them. LX470/GX470/Land Cruisers – regularly work on an early 2000′s LX470 that has north of 350,000 last time I saw it that is in perfect shape. Which is remarkable when you consider how heavy, thirsty, and complicated they are. Air suspension, four wheel drive, ladder frame, big quad-cam V8, still running just like it was new

        *Trucks meaning not the RX. That’s not a truck.

        • 0 avatar
          SaulTigh

          I have 90% of my car maintenance/repair done at a corporately owned Goodyear store where my family has traded for 25 years. I have a personal relationship with my mechanic and store management. I wouldn’t buy tires anywhere else.

          I was in there just the other day having a multi function stalk on my 1995 Sable (60,800 miles) replaced and in the bay next to me was a 1996 Mercedes C220. They told me to take a good look because it had over 300,000 miles on it. Interior was starting to look a little rough, and it certainly had some dings, but looked pretty clean under the hood. They’ve helped me keep several high mileage cars going over the years, including my ’96 Grand Marquis with 170,000 on the clock that is now doing duty with my mother-in-law in another state.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          And Lexus leather is really nice, too. Humorous enough, I sat in a 2012 Mulsanne on the showroom floor of the Bentley/Rolls-Royce dealership and my first thought was “This leather smells like that of a Lexus.”

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I liked the initial GX, but they held the first gen way too long, and the interior shows for it.

        Any LX 00+ looks okay though, they’ve aged well. Especially in lighter colors. To me, the darker ones look more like an LC for some reason.

        Gold badges, please.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      I don’t trust modern diesel smog equipment under warranty let alone 15 years from now.

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        lol, no kidding! add in the high pressure pumps and routine filter servicing (even if nothing goes wrong) and you really need to have a serious reason to own one (business, towing, hauling, etc) or be really into the truck scene.

        As much as I like a nice high-end mega cab interior, 4wd and crazy diesel power….my wallet cant handle a modern 2500 diesel as a long-term, high mileage daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        AMC_CJ

        True, I work on the things daily, and the new Emission stuff is killing the engines. Just kind of what popped in my head at the moment.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    One might argue that so few were sold so that the tiny following they have are devoted owners. Couple that with quality design and construction, it is no surprise that the examples for sale have high mileage on them. Though the mileage is pretty high, it is nothing I have not done in the past on much crappier cars….

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I think you’d be a perfect owner of one.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        If it could handle, yeah it would be a pretty good way to burn through 85 miles of daily commuting…

        • 0 avatar

          Good point. And that’s why I think the longevity of these cars is purgatory. Purgatory mind you and not hell, but still..

        • 0 avatar
          chrishs2000

          They handle pretty damn well actually…

          Has anyone here actually even driven an RL?

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            It placed 2nd of 8 in a 2005 Car and Driver comparison, partly on the strength of its handling.

            “As in most Acura products, the steering is deliciously slick and direct, and the car handles with aplomb at speed.”

            Highs:
            Nimble handling, strong high-rpm thrust, comfy seats and ride, great value.

            Lows:
            Not much low-end torque, wide gear-ratio stack, rear seat could be bigger.

            Verdict:
            A bit of everything in this artful concoction.

            http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2005-acura-rl-vs-2005-audi-a6-2005-bmw-530i-and-five-more-luxury-sedans-comparison-tests

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            What you must keep in mind is the RL came along at the END of it’s competitors life cycles. So yeah it seemed great for the first 1-2 years, then it was totally outgunned by everyone elses do-overs.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    I bought a ninety Legend new and drove it for sixteen years. When I sold it, it had two hundred twenty eight thousand miles on it. I replaced the timing belt and water pump twice. I also replaced the radiator and all hoses at two hundred thousand miles. Other than that, just normal maintenance. I enjoyed eleven years of no car payments. Current car is a PT Cruiser, eight years old. I think that it may make it to sixteen years also. I really like Honda products, but most cars are very good these days. Chrysler vehicles seem to have a bad reputation, but I have never had a bad one. However, I will never buy another GM product. Too many problems for me.

  • avatar
    George B

    My theory is that Acura gets the advantage of more careful owners who keep their cars in the garage at night and pay for periodic maintenance. They’ve probably discovered independent mechanics to do things like replace the timing belts for half the price of new car dealers. Maybe they found a really good independent mechanic that made sure weak automatic transmissions got fluid drain/fill every 30k miles. While Honda/Acura automatic transmissions are weak, they’re a simple design to rebuild, so even that expense isn’t necessarily fatal.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I buy your theory and propose an addendum:

      These decidedly superior folks probably left a trail of superbly maintained lower-rung vehicles in their wake. Good habits don’t suddenly appear. And their dedicated and methodical mindset probably isn’t compatible with the cheap thrills of status-driven frequent trade-ins or leases, so once they acquire what are arguably the best vehicles made they see no reason to quickly flip them.

      A sort of *good* perfect storm ensues when their careful, conservative habits eventually meet vehicles whose build quality is worthy of them. There’s nothing much better to be had and their present vehicle is nearly indestructible, so the miles just keep piling up.

      I find everything about this most admirable.

      • 0 avatar
        athoswhite

        I think you hit the nail right on the head. When you expect–as I do–ten years minimum out of a car, you know you have to religiously maintain it because a) if you don’t, it won’t last ten years, and b) Purchase price of 1 new car + 10 years religious maintenance < purchase price of two new cars over the same 10 years. Picking the right car is important to make that happen. As Jack points out, 20 years ago it was a Mercedes. Today, maybe it's an Acura. It sure ain't a Mercedes any more. My dad always said that you don't see "old money" in a new car…

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I see “old money” in old cars like late 80s RRs and Bentleys.

          One of my favorite moments happened in 2010, I was outside at a coffee shop in a bougie area. Naturally I brought a book, but was car watching instead. Around the sweeping bend downhill comes a light gold RR Silver Spirit in perfect condition. Old dude at the wheel in a derby hat and tweed everything else, with his big glasses on. I thought “yeah, old money.”

  • avatar
    segfault

    “Intuition, unleashed by the will of the driver. What does that even mean?”

    It’s a mindless platitude, like most other marketing speak. As for the high mileage RLs, I guess it kind of sort of makes sense as a long distance commuter if you want a large midsize luxury car which (in theory) has lower running costs due to its normally aspirated V6 engine and FWD-based platform. Not sure it’s worth the premium over the TL, though, but it probably has greater snob appeal due to its far lower sales volume.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      It doesn’t have to be snobbery if real world evidence indicates that *some* top tier vehicles are truly better built than anything else.

      Japan.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        I’ve been flip flopping on the issue of “built in Japan.” At first, I agreed whole-heartedly. Then, someone explained “no, no. It’s the car’s design that allows for high quality assembly. A car designed for easy assembly can be built to exacting standards anywhere in the world.”

        That makes sense. But then, stories like this post make me think otherwise. Just like Silicon Valley cannot be easily replicated, “built in Japan” quality cannot be be easily transplanted either.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t think it makes any sense at all. Think of this what you like, but I know various Brazilian Fiat engineers who have been to the US to “teach” the US factories a thing or two about making cars. Of course, I hear only one side of the story, but experience would say anything built in a US factory would be better than anything from a Brazilian one. It would appear not so.

          Tresmonos, a frequent TTAC commenter has chimed in on this many times. From what I gather from what he says, and he seems to have had ample factory experience, place of origin can affect final quality. However, it does seem to be that engineering, and the people present at any factory at any place in time, can affect quality much more than simply national origin.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            It depends on what the manufacturer wants to do. Toyota quality did not slip IMHO just because the cars were made here. It slipped because they decided that parts designed and built to a lower standard were acceptable, and that larger tolerances were ok. If a transplant factory had to build the “fat” Camrys of the mid 90s, and they had the exact same parts for assembly, and the factory required the same level of assembly, the results would be the same as if they were made in Japan.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            @golden2huskuy

            That’s true. You also have to consider that the Toyotas that are built here in the States are not top-of-the-line, luxury models. They’re volume cars designed to be affordable to plenty of people. About the only truly-nice foreign vehicles that get built here are SUVs from Meecedes-Benz, BMW and Acura….

          • 0 avatar

            Oh, oh Kyree, the elusive top of the line Toyota… Just like the sporting Toyota… Always just around the corner or in some far away foreign land with a funny name. tell you what, I think Toyotas are fine. Really. I’ve been known to knock on them mightily on this here blog. Why? Exactly because of that, there aren’t any sporting or luxo Toyotas, they’re basically what you see is what you get. In any part of the world. Yeah, legendary reliability (that everybody else is reaching) and ho hum interior and exterior design and very low content per cash all for a pretty hefty premium over other makes. That is Toyota. Some people are fine with that. I’m not.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I think there is something very real about the “Made in Japan” label, to this day. From what I’ve read in magazines and other literature, the Japanese mentality and culture that revolves around corporations is pretty serious business. Employees are almost fanatically loyal to their company, they work themselves to the bone and do not take shortcuts. That’s on the level of the assembly worker, which is basically unheard of anywhere else I think. Higher up, engineers and project leaders take their responsibilities VERY seriously, a screw up on their part in a design isn’t just a potential job security issue, it’s deep personal shame. Again, this is just what I’ve read.

            Marcelo, perhaps Toyotas carry a price premium over in Brazil, but in the US there is complete price parity on just about any model. In fact, when I was shopping c-class cars a year ago, a brand new Corolla LE (automatic, full power accessories, A/C, etc) was one of the cheapest options, at $15k advertised (MSRP around $17,500 as I recall). A new Cruze LT or Focus SE would be more expensive, as were comparable Elantras and Jettas, etc. What Kyree is referring to is Toyotas such as the Crown, Ronnie wrote up a test drive back in September. I think what happened is that Toyota saw that true success would be had in giving the American car shopper what they wanted: the most car for the least money. A 1992 Camry LE 4cyl would be $32k in 2013 dollars. You can walk in the door at a Toyota dealer and drive out in a 2013 Camry LE 4cyl for less than $20k these days. Americans will ignore inferior interior materials if they can save a buck or two.

            A typical buyer is my gf’s dad. He grew up driving domestics (Galaxy, Volare, 80s ranger, Chevy Astro, Cutlass Calais, GMC Jimmy) and had a mixed bag in terms of reliability. In 2005 they bought a Highlander Limited. In 2009 They bought a new Prius. The Prius has gone 90k without so much as a peep in terms of extraneous service, and requires absolutely minimal maintenance. The Highlander gave 170k of faithful service with one replacement radiator a year ago and a EVAP-related check engine light when it was traded in for a…. 2013 Rav4 Limited this summer. They bought their daughter (my gf) a 2012 Camry SE after we test drove everything else in the class. Was the Toyota the best car? Maybe not. But like millions of other Americans, Toyota hasn’t let them down so “go with what you know.”

            Whether you like it or not, Toyota has a winning strategy, the key will be to not get too complacent ala GM circa 1970s. It will take a while for the domestics to prove themselves to buyers. While GM is doing an admirable job of that (IMO), Ford with its Ecoboost blow ups, failing headliners and wheel bearings, and beta-level transmission software releases, has a ways to go. Not sure about Chrysler, the 9 speed Cherokee fiasco leaves me chilly.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey gte,,, (very complicated name you have there!!!!!!!!)

            What can I say? Loved your anser, thanks vey much. You know, I know you from other posts, you have gone from Ladas to Toyotas. Well, that’s just it, for me a Toyota is no the end all of end all, if you get ehat I mean. And I guess you do. I actually “enjoy” going to a mechanic and arguing the fine points of a fix, If I had a Toyota where would tha leave me? :)

            I know Toyota is good. I drive them, but I don’t like ‘em. draw on your Euro experience, it’s like VW redux. I drive them, I grudgingly respect them, but I don’t like them!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Marcelo,

            I hear you on the actual desire to have something to fix on a car. My Civic so far has been utterly boring in this regard (thankfully so!). Ironically enough, I bought my 1996 Toyota 4Runner as my tinkering car that will need occasional fixing. Ironic in the sense that these are regarded as perhaps the most durable and overbuilt SUVs from Toyota’s quality heyday (except for the Landcruiser). However it is 17 years old so it’s needed some freshening up. I love scouring forums for opinions on which aftermarket replacement shocks are best, hunting down the best deal on a OEM equivalent timing belt, etc. My wrenching is currently limited to easier less tool and time intensive jobs, I live in a nice apartment with a garage but don’t want to scare my neighbors too much :) I limited myself to doing the front pads and rotors and changing the oil and air/PCV filters. My mechanic brother took care of the rest, the truck is now basically new in terms of wear items and all consumables.

          • 0 avatar

            gtemnykn…did I get it right? No disrespect….

            Thanks again, and that ‘s why so many of us are Toyota or Hnda all that way. Guess I’m not buit like that, Give me a Lada any fay! Just not as a DD! :))!!!

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            “I know various Brazilian Fiat engineers who have been to the US to “teach” the US factories a thing or two about making cars.”

            Fiat engineers could teach UAW/Chrysler factories about making cars. Big deal. So could people people in the Philippines that hammer Jeepney bodies in holes they dug in the dirt to serve as molds. That doesn’t have anything to do with teaching the Japanese about making cars, nor does it with improving on their US operations.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I agree with the thought of Japanese mentality of work company = life. You might work for a big company there, and live near your factory or office in one of the houses they built, financed by their credit company. Your life revolves round the company so to speak, and you’re very involved. This is not the case for US auto workers for -any- maker. I firmly believe the models still made in Japan are superior. To this date, I’ve not owned a US-made Japanese car, either.

            And I just got my Japanese Made M35x yesterday :)

        • 0 avatar
          cgjeep

          Am the same way about the made in Japan issue. I think the Japanese consumers have higher standards. So a car that was made for the Japanese market like the RL (Honda Legend) is made better. The Camary sold here isn’t sold in Japan so I think they design it differently. Another thought is that a Japanese car will have most of its parts sourced locally. So that the switches and window motors might be a bit better.

          • 0 avatar

            Sorry cg, just wrong on all counts.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Back in the 1980s, Japanese car shoppers would raise a huge stink if there was a slight ripple in the velour seat upholstery of their new Honda/Toyota/Nissan/etc. My 2012 Civic (made in Ontario Canada) has an embarrassingly large rear passenger door shutline. Some of the underhood wire wrapping (done haphazardly with electrical tape) caught me off guard, having started my driving/wrenching in a Japanese made 1990 Civic Wagon, which had a super tidy engine bay. To be fair to Canadian built autos, my parents’ 2009 RX350 exudes quality from every nook and cranny. It’s incredible to crawl around that car, even looking under the dash board, all I can say is “wow.” That’s where Toyota’s “fat” engineering went!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Marcelo

            Why is he wrong on the last point? I think its entirely possible local Japanese suppliers may offer better parts than their US counterparts or even vice-versa.

          • 0 avatar

            the world revolves gtmen.. sorry!

            Guess most modern Japanese wouldn’t give a damn, I know my Japanese friends wouln’t if they were interested in cars at all that is…

            Standards down the world over firend! the 3rd world is winning.

            28 loved your crabspirits chanelling. Keep at it! It was good and did show promise. As to parts, well just let’s say your parts may vary. That is pecisely the crux of modern quality auto building.

            Pls don’t ask how I know…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thank you Marcelo. It’s difficult to emulate such excellent writing as Crabspirits but I gave it a shot.

          • 0 avatar

            Ha! 28, I’m honest with what I say here! It did show some talent. I didn’t comment in it there as I was late to the party and really wanted you to know how I felt. At minimum it takes courage, but I think you were way above minimum, Like I said before, keep at it1

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks again for the feedback Marcelo. I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder but I’ll see if I can get inspired again in the future.

          • 0 avatar
            juicy sushi

            Japanese consumers definitely don’t have higher standards. They may have slightly different priorities, but standards are about the same as North Americans. They love bang for the buck. It just depends what kind of bang you are looking for.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            There’s a fastidiousness and meticulousness prevalent in (but not exclusive to) Japanese culture. Back when they hosted the Nagano Olympics, foreign visitors found no garbage cans on the city streets and thus, left their garbage by the curb. Local residents picked up the garbage and took it home.

            This level of fastidiousness and meticulousness is evident in the way they build their cars. But of course, the Japanese are not infallible. From a planning point of view, they failed to see the need for garbage cans and a pick up route.

  • avatar
    Slowtege

    I suspect, as well, a certain amount of loyalty with the owners. Those RLs are supremely comfortable. I worked as a lot attendant at an Acura dealership a little over five years ago as I put myself through (part of) college. Had to do an RL-to-RL dealer trade an hour and a half away. Getting out of the seat after all that time felt like I had barely been in it. And that SH-AWD worked–even at part throttle. Yes, they were a bit bland, and were the exact size of a TL and then-current Accord (line the doors up and it’s evident it’s the exact same platform), but they were extremely well-sorted.

    The second generation Legends will always be a “first love” for me as I have wanted one ever since I could drive. And now that the average age of that generation is a solid 20 years, well, the desire is still there (for a manual-trans one, of course), but there are so many newer and safer and more capable cars on top of a manual Legend’s rarity that make the decision not as clear-cut. My current car is not about to die any time soon even at its mileage, but then, neither were these Legends. Those C-series 90 degree V6s are nearly bulletproof, from the first generation Legends (C25, C27) to the NSX (C30, C32B) to the second generation Legends (C32A) and the RLs (C35). I drove one of those 2g coupes that was at 345k–still pulled strongly.

    The new RLX is very capable, no doubt, and the interior is still a great place to be, but the styling (contrived lines!!!) and FWD (until now) are letdowns as a vehicle in this price range, especially considering precedent, should be pretty stocked with content (including AWD). Sure, no one is really going to notice much of the time, but an RLX buyer should feel more special paying as much as they did for their car by having discernibly better features in both design, software/tech, and hardware (chassis, drivetrain, etc).

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m a little surprised that a Town Car owner is impressed with 200K miles.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Long term durability is all the Panther has going for it, at least compared to an RL…

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        What does the RL have going for it exactly?

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Full disclosure: I own a used ’06 RL. That said, I yield the floor to fellow TTAC poster PeugeotHound, who posted this last year:

          This car is all about artful subtlety. Acura managed to build a comfortable luxury sedan with sufficient power and a smooth ride that also handles like it’s on rails. They accomplished this without ratcheting down the suspension or installing low profile tires. The credit goes to the SW-AWD, which creates a handling experience that, as the reviewer observed, sits somewhere between FWD push and RWD oversteer with the added twist of being able to pivot around corners by adding power. Throw in other quiet engineering grace notes like a carbon fiber drive shaft, dual-stage exhausts, aerodynamic flaps on the underbody, absolutely flush side glass and precisely balanced doors that close with the touch of a finger and you get a car whose attributes are not immediately apparent on the showroom floor. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that few of these can be found on used car lots.

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    Out of curiosity, I looked up a few random parts for a 2006 RL on Rockauto. The prices weren’t as bad as I would have guessed; I’m guessing since a lot of stuff is probably shared with the Accord, that keeps prices down. You can get a radiator for about $100, a wheel bearing assembly for around $70, a CV half shaft assembly for around $60. Some of the more specific stuff is pricey though- window motors seem to be normally in the $140 range (although they have a few on closeout for way cheaper). They don’t even list power seat motors or any other specific interior bits, like switches or dome lights or whatnot. That might get real expensive real fast, but of course, that’s a gamble you take with any car that has this kind of mileage. I’m sure someone will try to convince me that Hondas never require repair though.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Sorry Jack,

    Not convinced that these cars have been driven longer then other makes. Plenty of other cars are available that have really high miles as well..

    100k is not much for a modern car. I took a Crown Vic back from the airport the other day which had over 330k on it..

    The only difference between this and the lexus is that the RL had a slightly younger demographic with its drivers still commuting. Guys buying the Lexus are either retired or don’t need to commute at all. Its not some magical characteristic of the Acura..

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      What you don’t see on the high mileage RL ads (at least photos used here) is they all get headlight cloudy/yellow around 100k miles, and the finish wears off of the buttons on the center console and steering wheel.

      I briefly considered a gen2 RL, until I saw these interior trim issues. Another common thing is rippling of the leather on the door where the driver rests their arm. Same with the center console cover. These types of wear aren’t seen in other similar-class cars, and it’s not acceptable.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        I call BS on the headlight clouding. 93,000 miles, and not a hint of it. I happen to live in an area that has an unusually high number of RLs around, and I never see this problem on any of them.

        Now E-Class Benzes are a different matter entirely. They should issue a cane for the driver to wave in front of himself.

        As for the center armrest, it’s vinyl and you’re correct. It was a defect, fixed on my car under warranty. OTOH, “not acceptable” is in the eye of the beholder; it’s a lot more acceptable than everything else that would go wrong if you got typical German iron with torque vectoring AWD, electronic suspension controls, steerable headlights, power rear headrests, power rear sunshade and the RL’s various other (standard) zoomy toys. And the leather of the seats themselves isn’t that Accord/TL crap – it’s soft, fragrant and outstanding. My long-lost brother recently rode in my 7-year-old RL and exclaimed afterward, “It looks like a brand new car.” Sounded pretty acceptable to me.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          You really need to chill out. Yes we know you own an RL, and are thus incapable of rendering an unbiased opinion. Look at the RL’s for sale on Ebay, and check how many of this generation have the headlamp clouding.

          Center arm rest and door panels being made of vinyl isn’t acceptable at this level, no matter how much you cite other cars’ mechanical failure.

          An area with “an unusually high number of RL’s” would be what, 9? That’s high.

          I didn’t say anything about the quality of the seat leather, I assume that just poured out during your emotional rant.

          But since you did bring up the seats, the side bolsters have plenty of wear in the used ones I’ve seen. Check a similar mileage and age GS, you won’t see any.

          And the buttons losing their finish? You didn’t address that little flaw. Almost all of the used ones have THAT little problem, which is very unsightly. But as long as the powered head rests which it doesn’t have don’t break, you’re right it’s much better than anything Germanic.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            Corey:

            “Yes we know you own an RL, and are thus incapable of rendering an unbiased opinion.” Which is exactly why I had already posted, “Full disclosure: I own a used ’06 RL.”

            Key word there is “used.” I don’t like RL’s because I have one. I have one because I like them. I test-drove everything in its price class, new and used, and liked the RL better than everything else (except a used Lexus LS, but alas, its RWD wasn’t gonna work in the Snow Belt). My “bias” is partly the result of pre-purchase research.

            I live in an area where a lot of people are more conservative and have more money than myself. I’ve seen a lot more than 9 RL’s of this vintage here, and that’s a plenty big enough sample from which to draw general conclusions about whether the lenses cloud over. I frankly can’t say about the buttons losing their finish, except that mine haven’t done it a bit, and I don’t particularly baby my buttons (how would you try to?).

            “Center arm rests and door panels being made of vinyl isn’t acceptable at this level.” What level are you talking about? These cars new had an MSRP of $49K loaded and a street price of $42k. What cars at this price point had leather door panels and center armrests? Hell, as pointed out above, a bunch of German ones don’t even have leather SEATS at that money. (Speaking of which, I mentioned the RL seats’ leather quality because the “all Acuras and Hondas have the same crappy seat leather” canard has been discussed often in other threads. It isn’t always all about you.)

            And oh yes, one final note: The RL has power-down for the rear headrests. Look it up.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Wouldn’t it be a better idea to junk that worthless headline and replace it with ‘The quarter-million-mile luxury car’?”

    The best idea of all would be to make it look less like an Honda. Very few people want to pay BMW money for a big Accord.

    Acura competes well in the luxury crossover market, but it has a lot to learn about luxury sedans. In the alternative, build the car in the US in order to avoid yen exchange rate issues, and drop the price so that it’s closer to Hyundai and Lincoln than to the Germans.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      A big Accord would have been a home run for Acura, once upon a time, and “BMW money” is exactly why.

      Because 20 years of a lineup that ended with small to middling cars excluded Acura from the traditional luxury market entirely. Everyone knew what a small expensive car looked like, like a BMW. Where Acura was always compared, and where they always lost with FWD cars that had no sporting credibility outside of the fartcan crowd and no badge credibility because of that fartcan crowd.

      A big, comfortable car executed like the Accord and not half assed and ungainly like the Avalon would have competed with cars they were positioned to take a lot of sales from.

      And now they’ve finally done it. The RLX is a genuine big Accord. Just in time for the 5 year anniversary of the Accord and every other midsize growing genuinely roomy, and also the 5 year anniversary of the rest of the market, even the part of it that eats dogs, catching up with how well executed the Accord is.

      Fail Acura, fail. And if the timing weren’t fail enough they want $55,000 for it?

  • avatar
    Reino

    Because 300 HP VTEC, yo!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States