2009 Acura RL

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16 CITY / 22 HWY
Overall Quality
Overall Performance and Design
Predicted Reliability


What Changed for 2009:
  • Mid-cycle update
  • Engine enlarged from 3.5 to 3.7 liters
  • Horsepower up from 290 to 300
  • 18-inch wheels and tires replace 17-inchers
  • New grille and hood
  • Revised interior
  • Real-time weather and traffic rerouting now offered through navigation system
  • XM satellite radio adds a notes function
  • Revised steering, new coil springs and shock absorbers; larger rear stabilizer bar
  • Super Handling All-Wheel Drive enhanced to be quicker-acting
The RL replaced the Legend as the top luxury sedan in Acura's lineup in 1996. The RL was last redesigned for the 2005 model year, and for 2009 it gets a mid-cycle update with more power, new styling inside and out, and a host of new technology and entertainment features. Acura also says the transmission is upgraded, the steering is improved, and handling is better. The 2009 design features new front and rear styling with what Acura calls a \"dynamic power plenum\" front grille. The hood and trunk-lid are redesigned and aerodynamics improved, the company says. The RL remains the largest and most expensive of Acura's three 5-passenger sedans, though the redesigned 2009 Acura TL is now almost as big.

Model Lineup
The 2009 Acura RL is offered in three trim levels: RL, RL with Technology package, and RL with Technology package plus CMBS (Collision Mitigation Braking System). Standard equipment on the RL includes leather upholstery; Bose 10-speaker surround sound AM/FM audio system with 6-disc CD/DVD-Audio changer; XM satellite radio with XM Note; USB audio port; auxiliary audio input jack; Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link; GPS-based solar-sensing dual-zone climate control system; power tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; 10-way power-adjustable heated front seats with lumbar adjustment; power-folding rear headrests; power windows and door locks; heated power mirrors with turn signals and tilt-down back-up aid; keyless access and starting; power sunroof; Bluetooth wireless cell phone link; trip computer; auto-dimming rearview mirror; universal garage door opener; memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel; trunk pass-through; active noise cancellation; auto-dimming rearview mirror; outside-temperature indicator; power rear sunshade; manual side sunshades; theft-deterrent system; automatic Xenon headlights; fog lights; and P245/45VR18 all-season tires on aluminum wheels.

The Technology package includes a rearview back-up camera; Acura's Active Front Lighting System (AFS); heated/cooled front seats; a wood/leather steering wheel and shift knob; wood interior trim; and a navigation system with voice activation, AcuraLink assistance system with one year of service, AcuraLink Traffic with real-time traffic and Traffic Rerouting, and AcuraLink Weather. The RL with Technology package plus CMBS also adds adaptive cruise control and run-flat tires.

For 2009, Acura has enlarged the RL's 3.5-liter V-6 engine to 3.7 liters, raised the compression ratio, and upgraded its VTEC valvetrain system to include variable valve timing for both the intake and exhaust valves. A special dual-stage magnesium intake manifold can function as a single- or dual-plenum design based on engine operating parameters. The result is an increase from 290 to 300 hp, which is achieved at 6300 rpm. Torque is also up from 256 lb.-ft. to 271 lb.-ft. at 5000 rpm. Acura says the 5-speed automatic transmission is beefed up to handle the increased power, and the manual shiftgate adds steering-wheel paddles. The new powertrain is EPA-rated at 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway.

The RL's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) returns. Acura says it responds quicker and performs better than previous systems, and can vary engine torque continuously to each wheel. The automaker explains that the system employs torque vectoring to increase the rotation speed of an outside rear wheel during aggressive cornering to help the car turn more effectively while under power.

The Acura RL adds active front head restraints to its list of safety features for 2009. Other standard safety equipment includes dual-stage front air bags; torso-protecting front side air bags; head-protecting curtain side air bags; tire-pressure monitor; anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution; traction control; and electronic stability control.

Acura's CMBS uses radar to monitor vehicles in front of the car. If the system detects a potential collision, it uses audio and visual signals and light braking to alert the driver to the risk of collision. If a collision becomes inevitable, the system pre-tensions the front seat belts and applies hard braking to reduce the severity of the collision, Acura explains. Acura's Active Front Lighting System (AFS) points the headlights in the direction of a turn to show potential obstacles in dark corners.

Since it wasn't significantly redesigned, the 2009 RL earns the same ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as the 2005 to 2008 models. That means it gets 5 stars for front and side crash protection, as well as rollover resistance. That also means it gets \"Good\" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for both side and frontal offset crashes. Acura anticipates the 2009 model will receive a \"Good\" rating (versus the 2005-2008 models' \"Marginal\" rating) for rear crash protection from the IIHS thanks to the new active front head restraints.

Acura says its Active Sound Control (ASC) system is improved over the previous Active Noise Cancellation system. In addition to reducing low-decibel noise entering the cabin, the new system reduces high-frequency noise and works throughout the engine's rev range, Acura says. ASC uses two microphones in the headliner to detect unwanted sound frequencies entering the cabin, the automaker explains. It responds by emitting precisely timed reverse-phase audio signals through the speakers to reduce that noise, the company adds. The RL's navigation system comes with AcuraLink Traffic that was co-developed with XM NavTraffic and provides real-time traffic with traffic rerouting. New for 2009 is AcuraLink Weather. Co-developed with XM NavWeather, this feature shows real-time weather information for 21 metropolitan areas, one- and three-day forecasts, severe weather alerts, and Doppler-style radar maps.

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