By on February 4, 2009

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?

Nowhere. And not very fast, either. The main difference between the new top-spec TL and the five-year-old face lifted RL: the über-Acura’s less powerful, even less torquey engine. OK, it’s only a five horsepower deficit (300 HP @ 6300 rpm vs. 305 HP @ 6200 rpm). But luxury brands like Porsche didn’t bank the big bucks by dismissing the importance of insignificant differences in engine power. Other than that, you could be looking at, sitting in and driving the exact same car, crashing over broken pavement, safe in the knowledge that you paid $8k for the privilege of . . . a solid piece of wood embedded in the instrument panel.

Strange to say, this indistinguishableousity is something of a triumph. The RL is made in Saitama, Japan. The TL in Marysville, Ohio, alongside Honda Accords. While the RL feels slightly more upmarket, it’s entirely psychological. Which is stupid to the point of imbecility. While Acura customers await the arrival of a V8 RL (or not, on both counts), Honda should have tuned their instantly demoted flagship for comfort. Put them torques (sorry, couldn’t resist) lower down in the rev range and added huge dollops of mush to the suspension. How much could it cost to detune the damn thing?

More to the point, how much did it cost Acura to debase the RL nameplate by replacing it with a less expensive alternative? Not a lot, one imagines, as the company has already sacrificed the legendary Legend to the gods of German-aping alpha numeric model designations. And priced the RL right off any sane comparison shopper’s vehicle list. And, generally, screwed the pooch. So it’s lose-lose for all concerned—save those who wouldn’t dream of buying an $50k RL. Which is a large and ever-increasing population.

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54 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2009 Acura RL...”

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    What a long way from the days of the cars we knew as the Acura Legend.

  • avatar

    It maybe time for Honda to pull the plug on Acura. They just do not seem willing or maybe cannot afford to dump the resources into it to grow it. When you see how well Lexus and Infinity are doing, Acura looks lost. Their sales are weak and when you look at their line-up there is not much to excited about anymore. I think Honda may find people would be fine with paying $50,000 for a Honda branded luxury sedan. Heck if people will pay $30k for a Hyundai, then they should be able to pay 50k for a Honda.

    Honda will lower their marketing costs and development costs if they cut Acura. In these tough economic times, saving money is job one.

  • avatar

    I looked quickly at the photo and skimmed the review. I thought I was reading a review on the TL, then I looked again and saw my mistake (or Acura’s…).


  • avatar

    Hold on, Honda still makes RLs?

  • avatar

    Tail light treatment is really classy. I followed one home in my more comfortable, just-as-quick, more quiet, similar-looking (the RL looks like any generic Japanese sedan), and 25k less expensive Toyota Camry. :)

  • avatar

    Sad for both the RL and the TL. I test drove an RL before the last round of face lifts — I was throrougly unimpressed. There is little left to Acura in terms of buyers other than the few people who want an MDX and that increasingly small population who want a luxury nameplate on the value-end.

  • avatar

    Something is wrong at Honda. I wonder if they have identified the problem. Unlike Toyota, Honda cannot survive blandification. With Euro-Fords around the corner, they must rediscover their mojo in a hurry.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    It is hard to believe that Honda was first out of the gate with the Acura, beating Toyota’s Lexus roll-out and Nissan’s Infiniti.

    Even though Honda got there first, they have never shown the serious $$$$$$ commitment required to become a first-tier luxury car maker. Lexus went after Mercedes-Benz with laser like focus, and Infiniti has been brilliant on its good days.

    Acura has never lived up to its potential, excepting maybe the NSX at its prime.

  • avatar

    Something I find interesting about the RL is the DVD-audio system with noise cancelling function to block out ambient noise.

    And… Well that’s it really.

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    What is UP with Acura car design? Mystifying. I thought the old RL was handsome, if a bid bland. But it never caught on to anyone other than Buick owners defecting to an import. So Acura got edgy and put THIS up there? For who?

  • avatar

    It really is sad to see what has become of Acura. The smallest thing they offer is a TSX and their whole selling point is that they have a ton of standard equipment. How much better would the TSX be if you could get it with less junk for close to 20k? Isn’t that what they do in Europe with the Euro market Accord? Talk about dead brand walking. Integra? Gone. Legend? Gone. NSX? Gone. RSX? Gone. And the only other somewhat interesting cars they had, the TSX and TL, have become wearisome. If they wanted to be like Audi and BMW they should have started offering some actual options. Maybe some different bodystyles other than 4 door sedans (remember the Legend coupe?), differing equipment with corresponding price levels, some different engines perhaps. Hell, even Honda has trim levels. You used to be able to get an Integra with cloth seats, manual locks, and 14 inch wheels. Then they decided that to get people to think that they’re just as luxurious as BMW/Merc, everything they make needs to have full leather and be loaded with doodads. Except that even Mercedes and BMW don’t do that.

    And before anyone starts in, it’s not the front wheel drive. Audi has been doing just fine, which is probably who they should have been targeting. I don’t personally have a problem with the mid-level brand; I think they did it reasonably well up until more recent times, and even Volvo has some appeal to me. Unfortunately, history has shown that it’s basically no man’s land in terms of sales. Mercury, Olds, Buick, Saab, Volvo, Infiniti pre-G35, Acura, and a host of less modern nameplates. They’re all dead or dying. Unless you count VW, and last I heard, they aren’t making money in the US.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    I would submit that Acura won’t be fixed by offering a vaguely sportier version of the Lexus line. Infiniti has already done that. After avoiding the RWD/V8 dead end all these years I hope that Honda doesn’t stray at this late date. Even with gas prices coming back down I would bet that the market for RWD V8s will never rebound to its former glory. That means a whole bunch of luxury brands competing for a shrinking number of buyers.

    Honda would be much better off trying something different. It doesn’t really matter what, just stand out. I’m not at all a fan of the current Acuras’ styling, but at least it rises above generic. Alas, Honda seems to have run out of interesting ideas on the engineering and buying-experience fronts. Too bad.

  • avatar

    Maybe they’ll come back into their own once gas prices and/or taxes, or crazy CAFE rules forces obtainable torque back to the point where FWD makes sense again. The last decade’s run up in car sizes and engine output has been harsh on front drivers more upmarket than Camcords.

    I wouldn’t much mind a 200HP 9000 rpm 1.6 modern Integra, with one of those rifle bolt shifters Honda manages to pull off when they put their mind to it. The type R was sweeet!

  • avatar

    @Dr Lemming: I wouldn’t say that Acura is out of good ideas, but rather that you can find similarly good ideas elsewhere. When we bought our Acura TL in early 2005, we wanted a four-door family sedan with a manual transmission. Is that so much to ask for? At the time, the only other games in town were BMW (too expensive, too unreliable), Audi (ditto), the Lexus IS300 (not bad, but cramped back seat), and maybe an Infiniti G35 (at the time, with the cheap-ass interior). If you wanted a decent, sporty, manual transmission family sedan then which wouldn’t bleed out and die on you when weren’t looking, Acura was the answer (or maybe the Subaru Legacy GT, if you were okay paying the mileage penalty for AWD, plus you couldn’t get all the cool Acura gadgets).

    Today, it’s a different world. Audi and BMW have (allegedly) gotten their reliability numbers back up. You can get crazy with a Pontiac G8 or Caddilac CTS-V. (Or not.) The Lexus IS-250 can be had with a manual transmission and, thankfully, without the stupid chronotron dashboard. The new Infiniti G35 has a decent interior and all the gadgets. In short, you’ve got lots of choices. So, what’s Acura done? Gotten big and ugly. The new TSX is basically the size of the older TL. The new TL is bigger. The RL? Whatever.

    If you wanted a BMW X3 or X5, the Acura RDX or MDX, respectively, would be a decent cross-shop comparison, I suppose. Otherwise? I don’t think so.

    I often ponder “what would I do if my car was stolen / destroyed / otherwise trashed of no fault of its own?” At this point, to replace the TL, the short list would certainly have Lexus and Infiniti, maybe Audi or BMW, and maybe even that Pontiac. If GM’s still around…

  • avatar

    Acura did make great cars at one time, but there is no point discussing what once was. Now is now.

    Infinity is the Japanese BMW, and Lexus is the Japanese Mercedes. I agree with Demetri‘s assessment above: Acura SHOULD target Audi.

    Audi is competitive on DESIGN – they make gorgeous, understated cars (Q7 aside). Acura would be fine if in addition to what its cars are now (somewhat sporty, somewhat techie, good materials), they were visually stunning.

    Who wouldn’t want an Audi with Honda reliability?

    A shame, because right now, they make just about the ugliest, tackiest-looking cars on the road.

  • avatar

    Looks like Bangle has been moonlighting. Ugh.

  • avatar

    I will continue to pamper my champagne ’95 Legend LS Coupe.

  • avatar

    I had an opportunity to test drive a 2005 RL back to back against an E320. The ride was sportier, I preferred the tip-in of the accelerator to the Benz, and the interiors were comparable in quality. The RL was a fine car, but didn’t feel much different from a Honda Accord.

    On the otherhand, both cars were noisier than a Lexus ES330, I hated the joystick-intensive ergonomics of the RL, and I didn’t really feel I was getting $50,000 worth of car.

    Personally, I wished the RL had moved to a fullsize chassis with a model to compete with the Q45 and LS430. Hyundai will likely beat Acura to that market position with their Equus.

  • avatar

    So, how does the RL (or even the TL) compare with the Genesis? I haven’t seen a Genesis yet, but at least on paper it seems like it would be an interesting comparison. Personally, if given a choice between an Acura and a Genesis, it really wouldn’t be much of a contest. Rwd vs. fwd, 6 speed vs. 5, and v8 vs. v6.

  • avatar
    The Anam Cara

    sigh. i want to like this car so bad. i want to like acura so bad. but, they’re just making too little sense for the kind of money they cost. do like the interior, though.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    I test drove an RL in 2005. The sad truth is that for my wife’s benefit I wanted to like this car, but after 30 minutes in it, no rear parking assist, and her managing to accidentally spin a front tire on ice, I just couldn’t. This 2005 Acura RL rode so poorly on rough pavement that I stopped the test drive to double check the tire pressures!

    During the test drive the Salesman kept telling me “this one’s built in Japan” like a little girl batting her eyelashes expecting me to buy her a pony.

    I cross-shopped 12 cars against the RL and this Acura just didn’t make it for me. RIP

  • avatar

    I gave up on Acura, when the downsold me (but it was more expensive) from my Magnificent Legend to the then Brand new TL.

    Acura had “jumped the shark”

  • avatar

    Honda needs to dump some major resources into Acura if it is to truly become a competitor against the likes of Lexus, BMW, Infiniti etc. Having pretty much all your passenger cars based on some form of the Honda Accord platform might make for less engineering expense, but it doesn’t work well if growing you’re company is the major aim. I hope Honda rescinds its decision to develop a V8/RWD platform for the RL. I REALLY want to like the Acura models, but after the TL’s redesign it’s just not happening. And when a salesman tells you the RL is a dud compared to the rest of the model line, you know something’s up…or stinks.

  • avatar

    Why does the Acura line up have to be butt ugly when compared to a comparable Lexus ES or GS?

    Have you looked at the two brands side by side?

  • avatar
    John R

    You know, I regularly dump a healthy amount of Tabasco in my Ramen noodles at lunch. On its own the flavor my noodles is fine, but with Tabasco its great!

    Honda, where is the Tabasco?! Where is the passion? That turbo RDX motor is practically begging to be slotted into the TSX. WTF?! Please, please, please give people a reason to consider a TSX over an Infiniti G. The entry level sports sedan is where the ethos and essence of a luxury brand is located. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a 3-series, IS or a G35/37.

    An SH-AWD 280 horse TSX Type-S priced for what STIs & Evo Xs go for these days (roughly $40k) would be a real shot in the arm. RSX and Integra alumnae would come flocking back.

    [Hyundai, you should be looking at what is happening at Acura. The Genesis sedan/coupe is a great start, but you need something in the middle. A smaller RWD Sonata, think about it.]

  • avatar

    Out of college I went to go test drive the, then new, MDX and the salesman wouldn’t let me. They said I wouldn’t need something that big. At a different dealer, I wanted to test the RSX and again, they tried to talk me out of it. Maybe they thought I couldn’t afford it. I thought their jobs was to sell cars?

    That same day I went over to BMW and ended up buying a 323i. They just gave me the keys and said to bring it back before they close. A few years later I bought an Infiniti FX45 instead of MDX, then a year after that an Audi TT Roadster and last year traded that in for a MB SLK350.

    I will never go back to look at Acura. If their sales people keep talking customers out of cars they are interested in, they must be awful.

  • avatar

    The problem is that they only have sedans and SUVs/CUVs, and that they are not appealing from a design perspective anymore. They need a broader range (perhaps dump the RL and bring us a luxury coupe), figure out how to actually make sexy sheet metal curves, and put SH-AWD in as many models as they can.

  • avatar
    Cougar Red

    On a positive note, Informed for Life has scored the RL the safest ride on the planet since 2005.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Acura just won’t be what Honda wants it to be, a luxury brand. It’s too edgy, small and un-lluxurious. For all the talk about lexus being too squishy, look at the sales numbers. Lexus may be no BMW in the handling dept, but when you want a total aura of luxury, they are right there. Mercedes says you have arrived and then gives you enough of the luxury to keep you happy. Jaguar is sensual with performance. With the S and X gone, they have a nice line of luxury products. Acura simply cannot compete in this league. It may be like the rest of the over-producd car universe, someone has got to leave because there are just too many brands for all to prosper.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    An RL owner, I can confirm Acura owner relations and dealer service are modeled on the Detroit-3. We all know how that worked out for them! I will not buy another one.

  • avatar

    Honestly, I agree with the others who have said that Acura should be the Japanese Audi. They have the tools to do it, but they never pulled the trigger. A turbo 4 and SH-AWD would have turned the TSX into an Audi S4 competitor. I liked the sheetmetal of the last gen Acura TSX; clean, understated, and it aged well. What is with this new design language?

  • avatar

    To many bad experinces at Honda and Acura to consider stepping up in a $55,000 Honda(nee Acura). Thats’s not to begin to mention that for a large car the RL did not fit the family in comfort. There is a whole in this market where Cadillac should be filling. Large, AWD, stylish, well appointed, reliable car with excellent customer service and good driving dynamics. Acura fails on all points.

  • avatar

    At NAIAS I found myself in a Volvo with two Acura execs. I mentioned that ditching the Legend name in favor of RL was an extraordinarily boneheaded move. One of them responded: do you think you’re the first person to point that out? No, of course not. Probably not even the 10,000th.

    So what does it say about a company when everyone knows that a decision was extraordinarily stupid, but no one reverses it (a la Mulally at Ford)?

    This is the surest sign that things aren’t right at Acura.

  • avatar


    I gotta ask: Why’d you bother (test-driving the RL)? Anyone can see that it’s a dead-car-driving.

    When I bought my Audi (in April 2005), I test-drove the TL and then the RL back to back. The TL was better in EVERY way, except for the SH-AWD, which does make the RL pretty sweet in sweepers. Acura’s product-planners should be fired, period.

  • avatar

    And the TL is now available with SH-AWD.

  • avatar

    I miss the Legend
    (I miss the Legend 6-speed even more)
    I miss the Vigor
    I miss the DC2 Integra, in all its forms
    I miss the NSX
    I miss what Acura used to stand for
    I miss the first Gen. TSX even.

    I don’t get this new Acura brand. Japanese Buick? What happened to lean, mean, and clean design? I will forever dislike front wheel drive, but my 1995 Integra GS-R was a far better car than my 2004 WRX could EVER hope to be.

  • avatar

    This care is a shame. Prior to the restyle I thought it was a nicely styled, if discreet, sedan. Plus it had SH-AWD, and now that the TL has it… what’s the point?

    Plus, the new TSX is not attractive, has less horsepower, is more boring to drive, and has a chintzy interior compared to the previous generation. The previous model had a completely different interior than the Euro Accord, and was specific to the Acura. Now they share the same interior – bad move. I’ll have to take good care of my ’06 TSX 6-speed.

    What has happened to this company? Bigger does not equal better, so trim down the line Acura. Except the RL, for a flagship bigger is better.

  • avatar

    “Michael Karesh :
    February 5th, 2009 at 10:15 am

    And the TL is now available with SH-AWD.”

    Right, but now it looks like – well, you know.

    If it had SH-AWD then, I’d be driving one now.

  • avatar

    This is the surest sign that things aren’t right at Acura.

    I think it’s more like rehashing an existing product without making very many improvements on it.
    i.e. Motorola re-re-re-releasing their RAZR phone in cheaper forms, while keeping with the same OS they’ve used since 2000-ish with much the same UI they’d used since 2003.

    Acura’s new RL is mostly little more than a reskin of the 2005 RL while pushing the limits of what they can do with their SOHC V6.

    The RL is still called the Legend in Japan and it gets a decent front grill, too. :(

    I get the feeling that in Japan Honda’s upscale cars (which are badged as Hondas) are more of an afterthought, and they’d rather focus on Fits, Insights, and the next Civic. Judging from the platform sharing, the people responsible for the upscale cars are probably not a separate division within Honda, like Lexus is to Toyota.

  • avatar

    No argument here. The Acura brand is a mess. They were flying so high in the 90s. The Legend, the Integra, the NSX… all gone. Now what do they have? Nothing that anybody cares about remotely.

  • avatar

    I visited the Acura dealer recently to see the TL and the RL and drove away disappointed. The RL seemed instantly forgettable. It struck me as dull, uninspired, and oddly designed with few surpassing benefits. The TL SH-AWD has some worthwhile features and benefits, but other car companies offer better products.

  • avatar

    Honda has lost their way so badly that even state of the art GPS might not bring them back.

  • avatar

    Wow, what a horrible, incoherent looking vehicle. Convoluted is the word I’m searching for. All the technology in the world couldn’t make me love that thing.

    From the side view, it looks like an Accord with a rhinoplasty and liposuction… only they haven’t taken the bandages off yet.

    Although Bangled, the flame-surfaced BMWs at least developed an identity. Acura is on a slippery slope of waaaaaaaaaay overstyling without any sense of coherence, barring that heinous snowplow of a grille.

  • avatar

    As long as you never see the outside of this car and as long as you never see an ’04-’08 TL going the other way, you will love everything about this car except the payment. The interior really is very nice and feels right.

    I didn’t get to drive an RL yet and I expect that I won’t. Too bad this and the new TL is such a miss.

  • avatar

    I’ve never seen the big deal with Acura and have never been attracted to their cars.

    The new RL and TL don’t really excite me – especially for their price – like the new Accord/Coupe do. For $32,000 or less, you get a fully loaded Accord/coupe.

    How much more do you really need if you’re not brand conscious.

    Then, you got better choices out there. How about a V8 Genesis? How about a Ecoboost MKS? The new Buick is nicer, the Cadillac CTS/V is better,the Benz C300, BMW 3… The list goes on and on.

    I hope Acura DIES.

  • avatar

    Michael Karesh :
    And the TL is now available with SH-AWD.

    Michael, I’m interested in your viewpoint here. I thought you put it well about the 2005-08 RL when you said it clearly reflected a smoother feel and greater overall luxury ambience than that era’s TL, and that its gorgeously executed interior made it a decent choice for those who favored great detail execution uber alles.

    Living in the great Midwest, RWD’s like the Genesis are a non-starter for me. I’ve been really attracted to this car (‘the ’08 one, not the ’09 mutilation of it — oh my God). It’s tastefully subdued outside, gorgeous to my bourgeois eye inside, much better built than many competitors, and has that AWD for the winter. Yes, it lacks room (and I’m not small). But other than that, I don’t get all the high-level hating on this thing. What was not to like?

  • avatar

    Honda’s ultraconservative stance has caused Acura to be in the position they’re in now. Styling has always been bland, to the point where many of their models have been completely forgettable. The remedy they have chosen, (ridiculous styling cues) has been worse than the malady. Everyone agrees, the previous (non-“power plenum”) versions of both of the TL and RL were more visually appealing. But Honda has put a premium on reliability, (top ratings from CR most years), and safety (Acura is the only brand with every vehicle at the top of the safety ratings). Unfortunately, those attributes can rarely get one by the styling. Almost all of Honda’s recent products (Ridgeline, CR-V, Accord, TL and RL) have been design disasters. Even the ones that have been very successful (Accord, CR-V) could have been more so.

  • avatar

    I can see a clear difference between the TL and the RL, which is pretty obvious (or should be): Roominess. The TL’s interior is quite claustrophobic, with very little rear seat room. The RL is much, much roomier and airier (though not perhaps as roomy as some of its other competition).

    Also, no one is asking $50K for an RL. You can pick one up for $42K, easily, these days.

    So if you like Hondas/Acuras, and you want some room, the TL is not that bad a deal, particularly with its newly lowered recession pricing.

  • avatar

    The RL has been one of the most confused luxury cars (As far as positioning) as long as I can remember. The competitors always cost just a little bit more, but feature so much more.

    But luxury brands like Porsche didn’t bank the big bucks by dismissing the importance of insignificant differences in engine power.

    Didn’t Porsche bank big bucks playing with VW stock options?

  • avatar

    Honda used to make cars that had some soul and passion. At one time you really could believe that the same engineers that worked on their racing development put their design philosophy on the powertrain and suspension development for the roadcars, from the NSX all the way down to the cheapest and lowliest Civic with a double wishbone suspension and a high and smooth revving engine.

    Now it has all been replaced with “look how green we are!” and as many gadgets, doodads, and computers as any car can possibly have stuffed into it. They’re chasing after Toyota in pursuit of more sales in a game(bland transportation appliances for the masses) they will always lose, IMO. With all those great models they ditched they may not have been #1 in overall sales, but they sure had many people that were loyal Honda buyers (like me) that have since moved on to other makes.

    I have owned 3 Hondas in the past and I don’t foresee owning a future one based on current or announced products. Now Mazda and soon possibly even Ford will be getting all my business.

  • avatar

    It’s like the energy and vigor (sorry for that pun) are gone from Honda anymore.

    I was also a huge fan of the 90s Hondas. I raced Hondas in SCCA and they were terrors on track. Every Honda had that extra engineering touch, that sparkle that let you know it was designed with performance in mind. Their suspensions and engines were marvels, years ahead of their time.

    Today, I look at the RL/TL near-twins and see a Buick. I keep seeing the result of laziness, a “good enough” attitude, and compromises. It’s a decent car that does nothing badly and nothing well. Problem is, why pay $50k for good enough?

  • avatar

    I agree that Acura should and probably needs to put the turbo 4 from the RDX into the TSX. Remember all those Integra’s from the mid-late 90s. You couldn’t drive anywhere without seeing those things around.

    Too bad for the new TL. It redefines ugly. The last generation TL was nice. But signs of Acura’s misdirection was evident a couple years back. When the new Infiniti G and Lexus IS came out with 306 hp DI engines, all Acura did was put a detuned RL engine (286 hp) into the TL and called it a Type S. Even the wheels left something to be desired.

    Hopefully Acura finds their way back. The TL went from a car to be desired to a car that people want nothing to do with.

  • avatar

    Robert – Some tools at Temple of VTEC didn’t appreciate your capsule but I was highly entertained…The RL is possibly the most irrelevant luxo (sort of) sedan on the road today…Keep on doing God’s work!

    My Post at TOV>>>>
    Re: RL Gets Ripped a New One… 02-05-2009 22:18

    This sums it up and I totally agree with Mr. Farago from TTAC…
    What waste of time. The article is truly garbage and it seems as though all those posts at the bottom were written by the same person.

    If you don’t find TTAC funny, then you have no sense of humor whatsoever…or you are blinded by the reflection off the beak of the nearest 2009 Acura product…TTAC is correct 90% of the time.

  • avatar
    Antohn Crispin

    It occurs to me that all of the remarkable cars put out in America as Acuras in the past have truthfully been rebadged Hondas. The NSX, the Integra, the Legend, the TSX: all Hondas with a fancy “A” on the hood. To me, Acura always fought the good fight with one-hand tied behind its back. Only recently has it been given leave to branch out on its own, especially with its new advanced design center. And now Acura is finding out that this premium, luxury thing isn’t as easy as it seems. Still, had this been the old Acura, maybe we could have gotten the European Civic hatchback as an Acura RSX? Maybe only I am dreaming this particular dream.

    To this review: outside of the Acura, exterior sheet metal, Honda has missed with this arrow and it’s target “market segment”. It normally puzzles me that in a discussion about the modern Acura, everybody brings up how Honda has failed. In this case, I agree.

    Though I disagree that the 2009 RL is yet another indicator that Honda has lost its way. That Honda’s corporate culture nicely coincided with the sport compact/car enthusiast demand in the 80’s and 90’s doesn’t mean that the mothership has jumped the shark in the new millennium. The shark swims this way, Honda keeps skiing that way. This lady’s not for turning, and all that. Honda’s products still exemplify the core qualities as they ever have: offering advanced engines, offering maximum machine in an minimalistic package, offering environmentally conscientious products.

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