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Luxury Performance Sedans



  • There seems to be a real disconnect between most of the auto mags and the posters on this and other boards regarding the RL. The RL places very near the top in most comparo's yet there seems to be a real dislike of it among posters looking in this price range. I haven't driven one yet, but I'm curious as to why the scribes like it so much given their long time adoration of BMW (which to me would be the antithesis of the Acura driving experience), while most test drivers are under whelmed.
  • mnjoemnjoe Posts: 36
    I want to restate that I really appreciate all of your comments. Mark, we seem to think alot alike.
    Anyone seen the umbria grey?
    On the issue of the RL, I just didn't like the exterior. The drive was fine. Just no spirit.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    “I haven't driven one yet, but I'm curious as to why the scribes like it so much given their long time adoration of BMW (which to me would be the antithesis of the Acura driving experience), while most test drivers are under whelmed.”

    I believe people have a hard time overcoming prejudices. They have a lock on this V8 thing and the previous vanilla RL. Also, Acura did compromise the size and it’s an optionless take-it-or-leave-it car. And it will never gain acceptance among the RWD people. So its market is limited. I haven’t driven it yet but when I see it on the road its gait suggests a nice tight ride and they seem to be driving them hard. It also has the sportiest and cleanest appearance out of all the cars in this group IMO.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,069
    I didn't mean to suggest that there were 2005 3 series spreading far and wide as the eye could see. In fact I grant that the upcoming new 3 (and 5) may be part of the reason for the configurations that are remaining. We did see 1 X3 3.0 with sport and stick -- I bet that one will go "really discounted" if it ever goes at all.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,069
    Until I saw the Liquid Platinum and the Bourbon Interior, I had thought Umbria and Bourbon would be THE combination.

    I have seen Umbria and I have seen Bourbon -- not together, however.

    I was able to test an M in Platinum with a Bourbon interior -- the black dash makes the contrast work -- for me.

    I don't understand why the Vanilla is not offered with the Bourbon -- that might have been my first choice.

    And, why no Emerald Green Pearl offerings (a la Audi and BMW?) -- the Green A6 with the Amaretto (close to Bourbon) interior is quite attractive (IMHO).

    The Japanese (perhaps exluding Lexus) seem to limit our choices far more than the Germans -- wonder why.

    I saw a new Lexus GS this weekedn in a dark (ruby?) red pearl color -- beautiful. Of course both the A6 and the M have an interesting red color, but it is far from subtle.

    I really liked the Acura TL, 6speed, that I drove -- one and only one drawback -- torque steer. Big time torque steer -- made the thing scream to be either RWD or AWD (my pref, of course, to the latter).

    I got to sit in the front and back of the Acura RL -- never did get to drive it. The interior was "almost" Audi like (like the offspring of an Audi and a Lexus). I liked it. I saw the Accord's features in the RL, and the BMW butt. I would hardly say I didn't like it, but it certainly seemed small inside. The test reports about its "anemic" (and I am quoting) engine did confuse me -- almost as if it was the number of pistons it has rather than its performance that matters. Then the car journalists turn right around and praise the M (even with the V6!) go figure.

    The interior of the M and the A6 were my faves -- although I did "appreciate" what Lexus was trying to do with the new GS. The new GS interior seemed like a very upscale "men's club" -- lots of wood and high back leather chairs, etc etc. I think you need an ascot to drive a Lexus -- sadly, I don't even own an ascot.

    Anyway -- Umbria exterior looks great to me -- I think it would beg to be configured with a Bourbon interior. I personally just couldn't take an all black interior -- too confining, too closed "feeling," but that's a personal pref kind of thing -- it probably would look great with the black leather (as long as I didn't have to live with it).
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The problem I have with the automags (and Edmunds as well) in regards to the RL is that when they compare it to the other cars, they seem to have some kind of mental block when considering its competition, that or they bite the Acura line without question. The RL doesnt compete with the GS430 and Infiniti M45, but thats what it is very often compared to (including Edmunds). The next line usually says "what a screaming value!". The RL is not a screaming value. The box might say 300 horses, and the Acura PR sheet might say it competes with the V8s, but there are still only 6 cylinders, and the cars actual performance is right square in V6 territory. Mark, the "anemic" trait the press mentions comes from a lack of low-end torque, a trait the VQ 3.5 does not share. It IS a Honda engine after all. Honda and low-end grunt dont mix. When properly compared with the rest of the V6s in the class, the RL's price is merely competitive...providing you want it loaded. If not, a faster M35 can be had for less money.

    I dont think the RL is a bad car. I just think the M completely outclasses it.
  • mnjoemnjoe Posts: 36
    I agree that the natural competitor to the RL is the M35 or GS300. When loaded with options they all go for about 50K.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,069
    For several years -- especially early on, not so much since 2000 -- the Acura RL was said to have targeted the Audi A6 (nee 100) -- the logic was that the FWD Audi (even though quattro was available) was an upscale VW (Quantum, or something) and that the FWD Acura was an upscale Honda (Accord, etc). For whatever reason, Audi kept pushing its AWD competence (especially in the US) and with a glimmer here and there its performance competence: first with the Audi 5000 turbo, then the 5000 CS quattro and moving right along to the 100, 100CS and the 200 with the 20 valve engine and the powerful turbo. The A class Audis perhaps paved the way for the S4, S6, then again the S4, S8 and the RS classes. Acura went into "asleep at the wheel mode" from what I can tell.

    The new RL, yep, that lack of low end torque even with its high hp (must be for bragging rights only) was once again aimed at the Audi brand (some even wondered if the bustle butt suggested that Acura had even fancied a run at BMW -- I say "na baby na" to that), hasn't been enough to ruffle either the V6 or the V8 "M's" and I often wonder how many folks cross shop the A6 3.2 and the RL (hmm, maybe more than I would think, perhaps).

    The new RL, however, seems to me to be darn close to a bargain if you attempt to content up an A6 or a BMW 5 to have the same number of gizmos.

    SH-AWD -- what a great idea and apparently well executed. But I read it was really something that was needed to neutralize the RL's twin demons: too much weight on the front end and front wheel drive biased All Wheel Drive (a la Volvo). This is somewhat odd, considering that the engineers who designed this thing must've read the criticisms about Audi quattro's f/r weight distribution (too much weight on the nose and yet still decent handling despite this imbalance) and often "just passable" 50 50 torque split (passable according to those folks who write about these cars for a living, that is).

    When given almost a clean sheet to birth a new flagship, one does have to wonder about some of the choices Acura (for one) made. Of course, I wonder why Audi didn't press forward a little bit faster to create a better balanced A6. I can forgive the delay in making quattro RWD biased since at least it was already 50 50.

    Anyway, the Acura RL is still hardly ever seen on the highways and byways around and in Cincinnati -- but the A6 and even the Infiniti and Lexus are starting to be less and less rare. This is somewhat more telling, too, given that the Acura was pretty early coming to market, at least compared with the Infiniti and Lexus models.

    With a pause to refresh, I must say, however, that the A6 3.2 on paper (I have driven both versions several times) is also somewhat of a disappointment in the "quickness" category. I often wonder how marketing can let the outgoing A6 S-Line sit on the showroom floor next to the new identically priced A6 3.2 and be over a half a second slower to freeway speeds?

    Perhaps it was thought the new A6 3.2 would be compared with the outgoing A6 3.0 (at often almost $10,000 less -- I say, "no way!")

    The winners (based on unit sales), apparently, are the Japanese and even BMW's "old" (hardly) 530. The Audi is doing well in comparison to itself a year ago, but is not doing as well as the usual suspects from Acura, BMW, Infiniti and Lexus. So the Acura is too small, too weak and too expensive? While I must agree with a lot of the stuff I read about these cars both here and in the magazines, one thing is certain, the Japanese Premium Lux/Performance cars appear to be "comparably priced at MSRP (or somewhat less)" and outselling the Germans, save for the BMW (which may be doing so well recently due to some incentives.)

    Acura it would seem needs to work a bit more on the performance part of the equation, otherwise it seems they did a pretty good job with the RL. Of course, as someone here said (you I think, Mike) the "M" does outclass it.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    The large majority of the posts on the M35/45 and RL boards on Edmunds are coming from around 10 (or fewer) people. This is not a statistically relevant sampling--at least not as fas as the M and RL are concerned. It may say more about the fact that some of us need to get out more, instead of being parked in front of our computers or Blackberries at home or at work (guilty as charged).

    The RL marches to its own drum. On one hand it is "Honda-boring" (or "Honda-sensible?"), while on the other hand it offers a unique blend of technology, driving experience, performance, and reliability. It is a FWD platform stretched to go AWD. The Infiniti is a RWD platform stretched to go AWD (in the M35X). The driving dynamics will be different. The Nissan VQ also has more low end punch, although it doesn't rev to nosebleed territory like the Honda motors can do all day long.

    Honda V6 power must rev (buttery) high to find its powerband. Not what some consumers expect in their luxury boat, especially if they start with the notion that a car should at least offer a V8. That has never been Honda's philosophy. They kicked and screamed before they dropped a V6 into the Accord, since they've always believed that the VTEC 4 cylinder is the better choice in terms of efficiency and even performance. Honda engineers just plain think differently. Almost like those BMW engineers kicking and screaming before they finally put cup holders in their cars. And to date, Audi makes some of the worst cup holders on Mother Earth. I give them brownie points for that since it means they are focusing on other (more important) features.

    The RL will also appeal to a more conservative customer who probably doesn't care to post comments on Edmunds and also couldn't care less that it is half a second slower to 60mph. But I'm positive that Honda would love to shake free from the stigma of the previous RL's, which appealed to the Country Club, retired set, rather than you and me. The RL driver may also be more like the A6 driver, while the M35/45 driver is probably more like a BMW driver. The Lexus driver is probably more of a blend, simply because powerful Toyota has the resources to appeal to a more diverse driver population.

    Just my very unscientific opinion on this fine Monday. By the way, my wife drives an 05 RL, which puts me behind the wheel about 20% of the time. As long as she's happy, I enjoy the spoils.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Agree with Mark that the RL is a relative bargain. Especially at around $45K to $45.5K, which is where most current sales are ringing in. That still delivers a $1500 to $2000 profit to the dealer.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Actually that was me. ATTESA-ETS doesnt have the torque shifting abilities of SH-AWD, but as you said, it doesnt need them. The M doesnt naturally come loaded with understeer. Even still, the 45 does offer rear wheel steering, (something Nissan has been dabbling with since the '80s) to provide a similar effect. If I remember correctly, the RL is bringing up the rear of the new mid-lux class in sales, with something like 1300 in march. Sales are up over the old car... but not that much, and sales of the old car were pathetic. The GS is enjoying 3x the sales numbers, despite the RL's significant lead to market.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,671
    I agree with a lot of your generalizations about Acura buyers and also Honda corporate philosophy...

    They are constantly targeting a "more for your money" type of customer..

    Rather than compete directly, they like to shoot for a "nearly competitive" car at a much lower price point..

    Ergo... the TL vs. the 5-series/GS/E class...

    RL vs. 7-series/LS/S class....

    Now, cognescenti realize that the RL doesn't really have the features, V-8, etc. to compete with those cars, but the majority of buyers see three basic levels of luxury cars..

    Level I --- TSX, 3-series, ES, C-class, G35

    Level II --- TL, 5-series, GS, E-class, M35

    Level III --- RL, 7-series, LS, S-class, Q45

    So, the RL looks like a screaming buy... and for 98% of buyers, it is all the car they will ever need.. They think the rest of the people are idiots for paying over $60K for a car that is no better than their RL.

    I hate the term: perception is reality, but in this case, it applies directly...


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • The Acura performance sedan was a great buy and a pretty cool car back in the 90's. Remember the second generation 2 door Legend? Not a bad performer and it look good too. Acura then decided to let go of the performance sedan crowd and shot for the over 55 crowd that just wanted a very dependable luxury ride. It will take some time for the RL to catch up in the minds of performance buyers. They did it with the Civic also and now they are trying to get the performance minded buyer back on their side. It's the same as the first generation Infinity with a hot V8 and active suspension and all that cool stuff back in ~1989 and then the second generation and this new generation of Q45s came out. Fat cars built for non-performance seeking customers. An example is the rear view video camera which is not something that a person who seeks performance is looking for. You should always be aware of what is around you and keep that information in your mind before you shift into reverse. If you cannot process the information regarding your surroundings or have the wherewithal to look backwards then a sport sedan is not what you NEED. You just want one because it LOOKS cool.
    Acura will have to accept that time is needed before they get any recognition for this new car and they need to accept that a V8 or their excellent V10 would be a much better choice to lead the pack. I would buy a new AWD 6 Speed RL with a V10 that could maintain better than 23 mpg in the city. There is the challenge. Acura is soft though and they will never get it done right. They will make an RL-S and think that it will persuade the Infinity/BMW performance buyer to drop their cars and run to them. They are fools to think that they can compete in the V8 category of sport sedans with a V6. There is more to an engine than pure hp and you can tell the difference in a V8 and a V6 at 90 mph or even at a legal 75 mph.

    The RL can not compete against the V8 sedans and Acura does not have the performance history, in sedans, to do it either. It is not a genuine attempt to provide the performance minded buyer with a true BMW/Infinity substitute but more of a stop gap measure to give their (Honda's) old bosses something that they wanted. They can make better but they chose the conservative market every time. It's in the Honda DNA now. Think "dependable" and don't alienate anyone other than those that don't already own a Honda product.

    It’s only the magazines that want to put the RL against performance sedans. It’s was never meant to compete but just to be. Think BORG!

    Capt. Sandell
  • Yes, exactly!
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,069
    I just hopped over to the Acura RL town-hall.

    Last post April 12, 2005 -- 6 days ago!

    Perhaps interest is waning?
  • kfhmailkfhmail Posts: 199
    The unbria grey looks a little like "bronze" to me.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Your point really applies to the entire Honda company right now. Honda is the turtle, with the slow and steady wins the race philosophy. Nissan and Toyota are the hare. The problem is, they arent stopping to take naps. Toyota always wins the "I want a reliabile car" sale, Honda has tried to compete with them more directly in the last few years with increasing Toyota copy-cating like the current gen Civic. Enthusiasts HATE the car. Thats absolutely the last thing you want as a car company, is to lose the young adult market that may stay with you for life if they like your entry car enough to another company.

    As for Acura, they need to figure out a way to make their cars sell on merit, not on the fact that they are cheap. You can get cheap from Korea. The G, FX, and M don't rely NEARLY as much on a bargain price tag as the MDX, TSX, and TL do. The RL doesnt even have that, so I think its going to fail. There's only so much room in the segment. While the E and 5 will not rule forever if they dont remain competitive, they still have plenty of badge to cruise on for quite a long time. The STS is fortunate enough to be gauranteed at least moderate sales to the buy american crowd. I expect the GS and M to remain strong, at the expense of A6 but mostly RL. Finally, if you're not going to replace the NSX, just stop selling it. How many NSXs has Acura sold this year? 5? Its just an embarrasment, its the Chevy Astro of sports cars.
  • mg808mg808 Posts: 22
    The RL has endured mixed reviews, sales are brisk and most V8 lovers are annoyed. What is the problem, well I see a few..

    Looks. Well for one thing, the car isn't photogenic. Have you seen an RL in person. Its a really nice looking car and not as bland as everybody says. I saw one today and it looks pretty aggressive in styling. But you be the judge.

    Price Part 1. The fully loaded RL price has given some customers sticker shock. Its like buying a case of beer, should I buy it for $9.99 or $11.28? I would say $9.99, but the $9.99 beer is warm and doesn't come with a can opener. The lack of option packages also allows Infiniti and Lexus to suck in customers under false assumptions. Do you see the Infiniti M commericals and they show the price as: starts at $39,900, $56,000 as shown. Now that's false advertising, can I say, $16,100 difference?

    Price Part 2. To buy a GS300AWD, M35X or RL you are going to spend $50K or more. Also, the invoice price on the loaded RL is about $4K less than the similar equipped GS300AWD or M35x invoice price. Most consumers don't see that, they see the $50K sticker..while the M35x is $41,000 and GS300AWD is $44,000.

    Performance. Honda engines are high rev, low torque. If you drive hondas, you know what you are getting in a 3.5L / 300HP engine. Although, the new RL does seem to have good performance numbers from the car rags. Still less torque. That's a bummer

    Bigger V8 or V10. There are rumors that Honda/Acura will build a bigger flagship sedan and add a V8. Some people might think Honda is a 4cylinder shop, but they have a very successful racing history, more successful than Toyota and Nissan. They ruled Formula 1 racing in the 90's, currently supply alot of the Indy race engines and have returned to Formula 1 racing. If they build a V8 or V10, I'm sure it will be top notch.

    In a nutshell, I think Acura missed the big prize with the RL. The RL value story does work for some but in this hot sedan market, people will buy a $60,000 E350 just to have a Benz...and that doesn't help the RL. Hopefully they will correct some pricing and options in the 2006 RL.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    I disagree that the RL was designed, or is even attempting, to compete with the V8 cars. Although the 8-cylinder cars get all the hype and press, the marketplace reality is that 70 to 80% of BMW 5-series, Lexus GS, Infiniti M, M-B E-class, Jaguars X/S-Types, and A6's are sold in the U.S. with a 6-cylinder.

    The TSX is also nothing more than a European/Japan spec Accord. I would juggle the Level 1,2,3 breakdown as follows....

    Level I --- TSX and TL, 3-series, ES, C-class, G35, add: A4

    Level II --- RL, 5-series, GS, E-class, M35, add: A6

    Level III ---7-series, LS, S-class, Q45, Acura currently has NO such flagship car, add: A8
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    I disagree with so many of your points in Post # 1661, but don't care to delve into them. Let's just say we disagree, not necessarily on the merits of your points, but more on the degrees to which you draw lines in the sand. It's not so much a black and white argument, but instead it's in the shades of gray. At the end, the numbers will speak for themselves, and I predict in 5 years, the TL and TSX and MDX will continue to soldier on with updated styling, while the FX may be discontinued. (Same thing with the Murano---a very cool car, but not sure if it will always exist in the marketplace once the cult status wears off.)

    The NSX is also a cult car, a halo car, and one that has no direct competition. It's a holy grail to Honda. It doesn't mean it's a great car (especially with its eye-watering MSRP), but to call it the "Chevy Astro of sports cars" is way out of line.

    But we just disagree. And that's okay!
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