2012 Acura RL Review

Dated: 20 Mar 2012
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Categoiry: Floor Mats & Liners, Interior Accessories
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The 2012 Acura RL offers up strong, surefooted all-wheel-drive performance, along with strong roster of comfort, tech, and infotainment features, all in an elegant, somewhat conservative package. But compared to nearly any other sport luxury sedans from rival brands, it comes up short.

Overall, we’re not completely sure how Honda is distinguishing the RL from the more affordable TL, which also feels sportier and is, surprisingly, about the same size as the RL. Although no RL replacement has been announced, the current RL has been around since 2005, so it’s definitely due. That said, while the RL’s design is no longer fresh (despite a modest 2011 refresh), the RL still looks tasteful and sporty to most eyes. The proportions are nice, but the clean-sided, high-shouldered look gives it away as far from the cutting edge. Inside, the familiar Acura instrument panel has held up well; it’s a little restrained, but still feels sporty and cockpit-like.

The Acura RL has promising performance credentials, but somehow from the driver’s seat it doesn’t quite provide the thrills you might expect. The powerful 300-hp V-6, a six-speed automatic with paddle-shifters, and a sophisticated SH-AWD all-wheel drive system help put the power to the pavement (and smartly manage it from side to side) even on tight, roughly surfaced corners. The powertrain is one of the more agreeable, responsive ones in this class, but it’s let down by numb, innocuous steering and overall, a dynamically isolated feel that keeps you from pushing it hard—even though it’s hard to fluster, with outstanding composure and grip thanks to Acura’s SH-AWD system.

Cruising on the open road, the RL shows its best side. With its quiet, supremely isolated interior and a suspension that keeps body motion very much under wraps yet without giving up comfort, it’s a go-fast touring machine for the sorts of trips where you want to cover hundreds of miles a day. All the while, the interior is so quiet that you’ll never need to raise your voice to converse with passengers.

The 2012 Acura RL has one of the one of the quietest and very comfortable interiors of any luxury car—for those in the front seat. But it’s far from the roomiest in back, and really only fit for four adults. The backseat is surprisingly short on headroom and foot space, and the trunk feels like a compromised afterthought. Again, the RL’s strong suit is quietness in the cabin, thanks to a host of true luxury-car measures, including an active noise cancellation system.

The RL’s safety is blemished only by a ‘moderate’ rating from the IIHS for roof strength, but the feature list is robust. Six airbags are standard, plus active front headrests, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes. Radar-based cruise control and automatic curve-following headlights are available, and a Collision Mitigation Braking System is bundled with adaptive cruise control (ACC), which adapts speed and distance to the vehicle in front.

Tech and comfort features are on offer in abundance on the 2012 RL, with some including xenon headlamps with Active Front Lighting, adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated seats, Bluetooth and USB connectivity is standard. The navigation system taps into real-time traffic and weather data, though we found it somewhat laggy and rudimentary compared to some of the latest infotainment systems.

Don’t forget to get Acura RL accessories such as Acura RL All-Weather Floor Mats from Automax Styling.

 

 

Acura NSX Review

Dated: 20 Mar 2012
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The Acura NSX answers the question “What if a big company took engineering seriously?”

Most big companies have engineers, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean they are valued. Think about it: if a big company is losing money, the president will never say “I wish we had engineers like those guys at Toyota who figured out how to make cars that don’t break.” No, it is always “we need better advertising, better marketing, fancier financing, higher salaries for executives”, i.e., “we need more MBAs just like me.”

Honda simply has better engineers than most other car companies, which is how they went from zero to moderately huge in just two decades. The Accord and Civic are the benchmarks in their respective categories. A few years after they entered Formula One racing, Honda dominated the sport. The NSX is basically the street car built by the Formula One folks.

The NSX removes almost all barriers to heroic driving. Late for an appointment and need to go 80 mph around mountain curves? You won’t hear the tires squeal. Getting a call on your cell phone? Nudge the transmission into full auto and the car will shift for you, smooth as a Lexus. Don’t want to downshift while descending the Sierra mountains? Good luck getting the ventilated foot-diameter rotors to heat up enough to make the brakes fade. Worried that your $85,000 car and cell phone aren’t enough to attract a partner and anxious to get a tan? Take the top off your NSX-T and store it in the ingenious spot above the engine that doesn’t rob you of any luggage space.

I wish I could be like one of those studs from Car & Driver magazine and tell you that “the NSX accelerates nicely up to 155 mph when the limiter kicks in harshly” or “the NSX steers neutrally until 0.95 g but then starts to oversteer slightly.” But I can’t. I’m too old. I’m 32 and believe that I’m going to die one day and I hope it won’t be soon. I drove the NSX from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back, about 1000 miles total. Adjusted for the twisty roads along the coast and in the Sierra, I drove faster than I’ve ever gone in my life. I never came close to any limit imposed by the NSX. I would be scared to test the limits of this car on a public road.

The first thing you notice when you get into the NSX is the comfort. This is not a Porsche or a Ferrari. Nothing is weird, there is no penalty for all the extra capability. After ten minutes, the controls feel as natural as on a car you drive every day. Visibility is superb in all directions and the low cowl prevents claustrophobia. Considering that the engine is about a foot from your ear, the car is reasonably quiet; wind noise is unobtrusive (at least up to 100 mph). Set the temperature you’d like and the automatic climate control system delivers it (I’ve always hated these systems, but the NSX’s works).

The second thing you notice is the balance. If you haven’t driven a mid-engined car, then you owe it to yourself. Whether it is an old Lotus Europa, a Toyota MR2, or the NSX, they all share a delightfully neutral feel. A big part of it is the low polar moment of inertia. Porsches and Corvettes manage to achieve a balanced weight, more or less, by putting heavy stuff on both ends of the car. However, with all that weight so far from the center of mass, the car ends up with a high polar moment of inertia and will resist twisting. Mid-engined cars keep the weight in the middle and are much easier to guide through twisty sections of road.

The third thing you notice is that they got everything right. The factory alarm turned itself off when you unlocked the car with the key (and didn’t go off in the middle of the night every night, like my old Clifford). The headlights are clearer and sharper than any you’ve ever been behind. Your passenger is marveling at the craftsmanship of the leather stitching.

Don’t forget to get Acura NSX accessories such as Acura NSX All-Weather Floor Mats from Automax Styling.

 

 

2001 Acura CL Review

Dated: 20 Mar 2012
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Categoiry: Floor Mats & Liners, Interior Accessories
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Ominous gray clouds spit water down on the windshield as we wound our way through the Los Padres National Forest toward Pine Mountain Summit. Southern California was experiencing a heavy winter storm, one that might have spoiled an introduction of a lesser car. But, as the Acura staff would have us believe, it was their idea of the perfect conditions to test the redesigned 2001 Acura 3.2 CL and its performance-minded counterpart, the Type S.

Both coupes, but especially the hot Type S, are designed to compete against such luxury performance coupes as the Mercedes-Benz CLK and the BMW 328Ci. It’s a tall order, especially when you consider that Acura plans to lead this class by offering more features than others in its class for a price several thousand dollars less than its least expensive competitor. Then factor in (aside from the Integra) Acura’s less performance-minded bent than its German competition.

Is the new Acura competitive, especially when compared with the Teutonic powerhouses? For the answer to that question, look no further than the CL’s all-aluminum, 3.2-liter, 24-valve, V-6 engine, similar to that in Acura’s TL sedan. The CL version features 225 horsepower and silky, effortless power just as it does in the TL.

Then there’s the Type S powerplant, which has been modified to produce 260 horsepower. To create the Type S version, engineers started with the base engine in the new CL and added a dual-stage induction system, low-restriction dual-outlet exhaust, larger diameter throttle body; then increased the compression ratio and topped it off with special intake valves, camshafts and cylinder heads. Acura engineers say that these enhancements mean a broader torque curve with 232 lb-ft of torque between 3500 and 5500 rpm. On the bits of dry road we found during our test, we experienced some serious get-up-and-go both at low speeds, such as entering a freeway, and at higher speeds, such as when passing at highway speeds.

Don’t forget to get Acura CL accessories such as Acura CL All-Weather Floor Mats from Automax Styling.

2012 Acura TL Review

Dated: 20 Mar 2012
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Categoiry: Exterior Accessories, Floor Mats & Liners, Interior Accessories
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Acura has in recent years shown with its TL that there really is a different way to reorder priorities and end up with an engaging sport sedan–without a cramped back seat or compromised real-world drivability. And in top SH-AWD trim, the 2012 Acura TL can be quite thrilling to drive–a complete and compelling sport sedan, even if lacking the pedigree of its German rivals.

Ever since its last full redesign for 2009, the Acura TL’s seemingly robot-inspired look has been controversial—or refreshing, depending on how you see it. Most notably, for 2012 the ‘love-it-or-leave-it’ front-end styling has been toned down just a bit, with the pointy beak giving way to a minimal vee shape and a more horizontal orientation to the front bumper. In back, the license plate has been raised, with a diffuser added, and wide dual exhaust exits rather than last year’s quad tips. On the inside, there’s much less controversy and more to like. Gentle arcs and circles predominate, beautifully melding leather and synthetic, analog and digital in an artful yet logical way that is uniquely Acura. Except for some “warmer colors,” the snug and cockpit-like yet reasonably space-efficient layout carries over.

For the most part, the 2012 Acura TL isn’t as much of an overt sport sedan as those with dedicated rear-drive platforms, like the BMW 335i or Infiniti G37, but it is clearly a car meant to be driven, rather than ridden in. The standard 280-horsepower 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 is essentially the same engine as used in the Honda Accord and powers front wheels with a five-speed automatic transmission. But if performance at all matters, you’ll want to step up to the TL SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive), and you’ll get the 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 from the RL sedan juicing all four wheels through Acura’s capable system that removes any threat of torque steer, displays how its distributing power in the instrument cluster, and almost gives the TL the feel of a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan-as long as you’re heavy on the gas. The availability of a six-speed manual with the SH-AWD also ups its sport-sedan credentials. The system feels almost impossible to fluster, allocating torque not only front-to-back but left-to-right, to help with slick surfaces or quick emergency maneuvers.

The 2012 Acura TL remains built on Honda Accord roots, and that pays off for interior space. There are generously sized, supportive front seats (although they could use more lateral support for performance driving), plus a nice, adult-sized backseat that could accommodate three across. The only major disappointment is the trunk’s meager 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space. That said, the ride is firm but not harsh in the 2012 Acura TL, but there’s a pronounced difference in road noise between the base version and the SH-AWD, with its larger, lower-profile 19-inch wheels. Build quality is typically Acura, with solid materials and close tolerances, though there aren’t as many options or upgrades as you’ll find at brands like BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus.

The TL is at its best for those who want to pair that luxury-sedan cabin with an impressive tech feature set. Even the base TL features a standard USB iPod/MP3 interface, an eight-speaker audio system, and a crisp, high-resolution center-mounted display for controlling the infotainment system. Going up the scale, the top SH-AWD model sure can seem pricey, but it’s a complete, sophisticated sport sedan with the Tech Package, including a navigation system with live traffic, weather, and rerouting; a rearview camera; solar-sensing temperature control, keyless access, and an upgraded 440-watt Acura/ELS surround sound system. A top Advance Package adds to that ventilated seats, a blind-spot system, and those top 19-inch wheels.

Don’t forget to get Acura TL accessories such as Acura TL All-Weather Floor Mats from Automax Styling.