Acura 3.5RL (2001)
SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide
by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 42,000 Price As Tested $ 44,480 Engine Type SOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 212 cid/3474 cc Horsepower 225 @ 5200 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 231 @ 2800 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 114.6"/71.6"/196.6" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 4044 pounds Fuel Capacity 18.0 gallons Tires (F/R) 225/55R16 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 18/24/21 0-60 MPH 8.5 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 17.0 @ 95.5 mph Top-speed 130 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
BRENDAN - When Honda unveiled its upscale Acura division in the mid-1980's, it triggered a rush by Asian automakers to challenge the then-dominant European prestige lines in the luxury segment. The Continentals are still strong, but Acura is now among the leaders of both luxury and performance. Its mission-statement is clearly defined in this week's test car, the 2001 3.5RL. It's the company's flagship sedan, powered by a potent 3.5-liter SOHC 24-valve V-6 aluminum engine that pumps out 225 horsepower and 231 pound-feet of torque. It's a large cruiser that really scoots and is a low emissions vehicle to boot. We liked the smoothness of its four-speed automatic transmission, and it handles e as well as thee highly-touted European cars. It rides on an independent double-wishbone suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bars front and rear. It wasn't sport-sedan nimble in the turns and body roll was fairly pronounced.
MIKELE - I loved the RL, and if Acura would make a 3.5 wagon, it would be a big seller. Maybe Honda will notice the "wagon boom" and produce one. One of the more practical things thing I liked about the car is that it has no scheduled tune-ups for 100,000 miles. Major services mean major money. Our RL rolled along on speed-rated P225/55R16 Michelin all-season tires. A high-speed rating and a name brand tire make lots of difference in handling and safety. Inside, the RL features a load of "goodies," like its DVD-based Satellite Navigation System. It works by touch-screen controls that let you find detailed mapping of the entire United States, and it uses only one disc.
BRENDAN - This 3.5RL would be a great car for touring. Maybe we can take a few months off and tour all the ballparks and stadiums someday - but then maybe I'll win the lottery too. The Bose sound system was pretty awesome with eight speakers, an AM/FM stereo and cassette player and a trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer. An in-dash CD unit would be more to my liking, but I can't fault the sound. The cruise control was great on long trips, but the ignition switch was a little hard to find, and the eight-way power driver's seat controls were blocked by the driver's armrest. Inside is pure comfort with leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and even the passenger seat is electronically adjustable. And to top off the luxury, a bit of burled wood accents the RL's swanky interior.
MIKELE - There are some other things I like about the interior on the RL - like the front and rear dual cupholders and the electric tilt and telescoping steering column with 2-position memory function. The air conditioning worked flawlessly and silently as expected, and so did the power windows and door locks. The driver's window has a one-touch up and down feature and the power moonroof tilts and has a sliding shade. We used it a lot since our weather has been cooperating lately. There's an overhead storage compartment for sunglasses and we find this on lots of cars in all price ranges. I misplace mine all the time, so I'm appreciative of cars that accommodate forgetful folks like me.
BRENDAN - The exterior features classic Acura styling that stays true to its "less is more" corporate attitude. It's not too flashy, but definitely shows enough luxury to set it apart from a Honda Accord. Heated door mirrors are a bonus, and so are the fog lights, body-colored front and rear bumpers, and green-tinted, heat-reflecting glass.
MIKELE - The 3.5RL is a safe car too. It comes with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, driver and front passenger air bags, and side-impact air bags as well. Automatic seat belt pre-tensioners work with the three-point rear seat belts, and the cabin is protected by dual side-impact door beams. Rear child seat tether-anchors and childproof rear door locks make it as safe as possible for kids.
BRENDAN - I think an RL and a cross-country ballpark tour may be on our horizon.
MIKELE - Only if you really do win the lottery, dear.