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…
Breaking into the Luxury market isn’t easy. Toyota has arguably had the most success with Lexus, the only full-line luxury marque sold in America that isn’t German. Infiniti gave up on trying to go head-to-head with the S-Class and 7-Series when they ditched the Q, and Cadillac has yet to have a complete and coherent strategy. Meanwhile Acura started off strong with the Legend, created a competent E/5 competitor with the all-wheel-drive RL, and then things started to fall apart. Can the RLX bring the brand back?
The next Acura RL will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Here’s what it won’t have; Rear-wheel drive, a V8 engine, non-derivative styling, an endorsement from Harrison Ford and the gyroscope-based navigation system that debuted on the first generation car. Here’s what it will have.
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.
Since my daily-driver ’92 Civic is about to become a much less civilized car (plus it’s finally made the transition from “somewhat rough” to “total beater,” I need to start shopping for another DD very soon. Since I’ve developed a fascination with Japanese luxury cars of the 1990s (the era before the Japanese Big Three de- Yakuza-ized the souls of their American flagships and started out-German-ing the Germans), I’ve decided it’s time I owned one. The question is: which one?