The Mega-Mileage Acura RLs of EBay
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.
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:
“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?
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"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.
Because 300 HP VTEC, yo!