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2000 New Car/Review

2000 Acura 3.5RL
discreet excellence

Acura 3.5 RL

SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide

Andrew Frankl European Bureau Chief

Acura Full Line Video footage (9:07)

Many, many years ago there was a very famous advertisement for Rolls-Royce written by David Ogilvy, one of the ad industry's giants. It read something like" at 60 miles per hour the only noise you can hear is the clock", I am afraid I cannot remember the exact words but the message is crystal clear all the same. This came to mind as I was driving the Acura from the cinema in San Rafael, having just enjoyed Buena Vista Social Club. Luckily the record shop next door was still open so we were able to buy the CD of the film's music. Played by ageing and adorable Cubans-one of them over 90 , all of them well over 70, it is pretty sensational but can only be enjoyed in peace and with a decent set of speakers. Well, what could have been better than Mr BOSE's finest? As we were drifting down Rt 101 at 60 miles per hour the only sound we could hear was the double base, an instrument not known for its audibility. Remarkable sound insulation, remarkable sound system, remarkable car.

Acura-for the benefit of readers outside the United States- is an upmarket Honda, just like Lexus is an upmarket Toyota. At Nissan its called Infiniti, part and parcel of what is known as marketing. Well, regardless of the name Honda have always been at the forefront of automotive engineering, be it motorcycles, lawnmowers or cars. Over the years they have also been in Grand Prix racing where they were just about unbeatable for years.

The only department where they have missed out-maybe deliberately-is that of styling. Maybe the best selling Honda Accord looks bland on purpose, just like the Acura with its 3.5 liter V6 engine looks bland. I don't think that in a supermarket car park more than 2 out of 100 people would recognize it from the side view. The more I think about it the more I tend to think that they did it on purpose. They do have stylists, they do have designers, just look at those fabulous motor bikes. No, there must be a reason. Maybe the explanation is simple-this car is for people who care about engineering and reliability but do not care or more to the point do not want to care because they value their anonymity. Let's face it, you live in Palo Alto, you've just made a fortune but you don't particularly want to be followed by some baddies only to be robbed by your front gate. Am I imagining this? Not one bit. There have been several cases recently of the bad guys waiting for the S class Mercs and the 740 BMWs to pull out of the car parks in Silicon Valley where the owners found out the hard way what can happen when you drive an instantly recognizable status symbol.

Regardless of who you are and what the reasons were for splashing out 44 big ones, you certainly get a lot of car for your money. Apart from the truly superb engine you get disc brakes all round, front and side airbags, traction control, a satellite navigation system (which works by the way), in fact instead of having a sticker price of say 35 thousand dollars and thousands for all the extras, I could not think of a single item that was missing. A far cry from the days when you even had to extra for wing mirrors.

All in all, a very fine car for people who are looking for the ultimate domestic appliance. They probably have well-paid jobs and their interests might well be fishing or hiking or playing bridge every Monday evening. In other words-just as they expect their fridge to work and their telephone to work-they expect the very same from their car. Consequently if you are not a car buff but would like an attractive domestic appliance to take you from A to B year in year out try the Acura. You won't be disappointed.