Off the track

2008 Acura RL Elite Review

2008 Acura RL Elite Review
When trying to establish its pedigree, a manufacturer must absolutely offer a luxury mid-size sedan. The recipe is simple, and all prestigious car manufacturers have tried it. Most of the companies who travelled down this path more or less succeeded, except one. Acura has failed once again with the RL, even though it combines all the ingredients for success other than style. If you want to play with the big boys, like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the BMW 5 Series and the Audi A6, you need a forceful, charismatic personality. This is the class with some of the fiercest competition in the industry, where cars have to promise power, luxury, prestige and exclusivity all wrapped up in a smooth, nearly flawless package.

The Acura RL is a very competent machine.

This is the third generation of RLs, and each seems to outdo the other in blandness. With this last incarnation, we had the right to expect something more. The mechanics are there, but not the style: the designers could hardly have turned out a more discrete, insipid vehicle. Thankfully, this is its last year in the shape we know, as a new vintage is arriving for 2009. But don't get your hopes up, it's hardly any better.

The passenger compartment lives up to the standards of the class and is actually more innovative than anything the competition has to offer. Large wood trim runs across the interior, even gracing the front part of the doors. The aluminum centre console really stands out; relatively slim, it sports most of the controls. Unfortunately, the navigation screen inharmoniously sits atop the dashboard. It feels like the screen was forgotten during the design process and hastily inserted at the last minute. The system is a little complicated at first glance; the navigation menu is activated with a wheel. It takes about a week to get your bearings, after which it's easy to use.

The seats are worthy of the best cars, and the driving position is low and sporty enough. Once comfortably seated, car and driver literally become one. Despite its size, the vehicle isn't particularly spacious, and the rear seats are even a little small.

The aluminum centre console really stands out; relatively slim, it sports most of the controls.

By Bertrand Godin,

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