Despite debuting over seven years ago, extensively refreshed in 2009 and nip/tucked again in 2011, the Acura RL remains a mystery. Flagship products usually sell in small numbers, but the RL is one of the rarest sedans in America. This isn’t exactly been a badge of honor for Acura. Overlooked by shoppers who flock to the cheaper Acura TL and largely forgotten by the automotive press (after all these years, TTAC has never fully reviewed the RL) With a full replacement due next year in the form of the RLX concept, I hit Acura up for an RL for a week to see how a flagship product from a major brand could manage to sell just 56 vehicles in Canada and 1,096 in the USA in 2011. For those who like statistics, the TL outsold the RL by 2,850%. Ouch.
Automotive News [sub] reports that the Acura RL is about to be canceled in the Japanese market, where it is sold as the Honda Legend. Considering that Acura’s range-topper sold only 872 units this year so far. For comparison, that’s less than even its weakest competitors like the Cadillac STS (2,145 units YTD)… only the Audi A8 (353 units YTD) sells worse in the full-size luxury sedan segment. According to the report, which originated in The Nikkei, Honda will also make its Civic a hybrid-only model in Japan, and will cancel its Elysion 8-passenger van. With Honda announcing its mid-term product plans next week, we’re sure to hear more about this shortly… in the meantime, would anyone miss the RL?
When a car salesman tells you an expensive model’s pointless, nine times out of ten, it’s pointless. If he proffers this opinion in the depths of a recession, with new car sales lower than Bernie Madoff’s morals, it’s a dead cert. I’ve experienced this vehicular vertigo twice in the last week. First, when contemplating a zero-mile Honda Civic Mugen Si gathering dust in an otherwise empty former Saturn showroom. Second, whilst sitting in an Acura RL, moments away from an extended test drive. The salesman told me flat out that the Acura TL is a better car than the RL, hinting that anyone who buys an RL is a sap. As I’ve rated the TL as a one-star car, where do you go from there?