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Acura RL



  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Honda is still a relatively small company. They cannot afford to have old models sitting on the lots because buyers know how much better the next design will be, and are willing to wait for it. it's hard to sell RLs now. Imagine how hard it would be if the public knew more about the '05 design...

    Besides, it keeps the competition guessing.
  • Guessing or not, the competition is already way ahead of them. Acura needs to unload the current RLs at wholesale prices. I am sure that there will be bottom price buyers out there looking for a good deal that they cannot pass up. The current RL design is outdated anyway, that is why sale is lagging. They need a bigger vehicle with more horsepower along with all the bells and whistle that all the upcoming vehicles have and then some to stay even with the competition. The current image that Acura has is that is is a low luxury brand for low budgeted minded young buyers. Look at all the young kids driving RSX, TSX, and TL. They need improve their image as a luxury automaker by selling fewer low price vehicles and come out with some luxo products in the $60K+ range.
  • I agree with Low Ball 88...Honda needs to get the new RL into production asap and dump the remaining ones at break even prices. They are a strange company. Yes, the RL is a nice car, but has been outshone by the competition for several years. When the MDX received a 240 hp version of the 3.5L, most people figured that it would be a no-brainer to see it show up in the RL...but no, Acura struggled on with a 210 hp version for a year, then finally bumped it up to 225 hp, but never went to the VVT used in the MDX. Why? The development was done, costs sunk, and it would have helped move RLs just from a marketing standpoint. Same thing with the four vs. five speed auto. Lots of opportunities over the past couple of years to improve the RL with "off the shelf" stuff in the Honda parts bin, but they chose not to do it. I plan to look at the 05 RL, but after looking at the new GS430, M45 and STS.
  • I am looking to buy and I am waiting for the 05RL, 05GS430, the current BMW 545i, E500, or the A8. However, I have always been a Honda/Acura fan and would like to see what the 05RL has to offer before jumping ship. I don't mind paying the price for a good looking, well equipped, reliable vehicle. That is why I am hesitating on buying the German makes, too many electical problems and too many little problems here and there that would drive me crazy.

    BTW, Acura needs to move away from the FWD and go AWD on all makes. From the rumor mill, I guess the new 05RL will be the start of it. It really does not matter if others like the FWD format, but the trend is RWD or AWD for sports sedan. This will definitely take Acura to the next level with LEXUS, BMW, AUDI, MB
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I agree with Low_ball. The RL is behind the times. But he/she didn't ask about whether or not the RL was a good car. The question was, "why is Honda so secretive?" Let me elaborate on my answer and maybe you'll see what I'm talking about.

    "Acura needs to unload the current RLs at wholesale prices."

    They are. RLs do not make a significant (if any) profit for Honda. They already have heavy dealer subsidies and leave the lots at invoice prices. If they were to sell them at lower prices, they would probably be losing money on the deals. That loss would mean less money to do things (like design a better one).

    Bottom line: Keeping the new design a secret, keeps the RL from costing them money.

    "When the MDX received a 240 hp version of the 3.5L, most people figured that it would be a no-brainer to see it show up in the RL..."

    That's a popular misconception. The 3.5L in the RL is not the same block as the 3.5L in the MDX. The RL's 3.5L is based on an older engine. I suspect that this is also the reason why a newer tranny was not added. The one from the other 3.5L may not bolt up to it.

    Chances are, if Acura had introduced a new RL two years ago instead of now, it would have been another mediocre car. It probably would have been V6 making about 260-280 hp in a FWD chassis, with cosmetic and content upgrades. A nice car, but not a remarkable car.

    By waiting a few years, they now have the technology to make it a 300-330 hp car with an advanced hybrid drivetrain and AWD. This would be, IMHO, a much more unique competitor... and worth the wait.
  • in 05 we are also going to see new models of the GS300/430, M45, STS and others that will be direct competition for the RL. I think our point was that Honda did little to upgrade this car over the past four years, and probably could have - and - sold more - and - kept their flag carrier more visible, but did not. Now, after years of poor sales, and minimal market share, they will be bringing out a new model just in time to face newcomers from other makes. Almost any seriously improved RL will sell better than the current version, but Honda has probably lost some market share forever by leaving this car untouched for years.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "I think our point was that Honda did little to upgrade this car over the past four years, and probably could have - and - sold more - and - kept their flag carrier more visible, but did not."

    Yep. I agree with that, too. But it brings us back to the "Honda is a small company" issue once again. If Honda had spent time and money building a new RL, would they still have been able to create vehicles like the MDX and Pilot? Would they have been able to afford the new Alabama lines for the Ody? Would they be able to keep up with Toyota in hybrids?

    I completely agree that the RL has suffered badly. But I also suspect that it was a nevessary evil... and probably the lesser of several evils. My hope is that the new design is stunning enough that the market is blind-sided. Which would attract more attention than incremental improvements.
  • In order for the RL to attract more attention before it is release, Acura/Honda needs to release some enticing information that will draw curiosity to the buying public. Releasing prototype vehicles that shows the public where the RL is going is the key to marketing your product. Also, Acura/Honda in general should boost production of all their vehicles like Toyota/Lexus. What is the point of having a vehicle that you cannot go to the dealer and buy immediately but have to wait for months for delivery. The more they sell the more exposure they are gonna have and in return a higher market share in this very competitive industry.

    BTW, selling at invoice is not consider to be rock bottom pricing. The company and dealers still make a good profit. Selling at one or two thousand dollars below invoice would be.
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    Ok then... why not discontinue the RL altogether? It's not an image leader, we know that. People don't walk into showrooms looking for a RL then accidentally end up with a TL... they come in for the TL in the first place. And if RL production risks costing the company money, why not simply cease production until the redesign does arrive?

    Given the low production volume, I doubt assembly personnel would be too adversely affected...
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    This discussion is heading in the direction of business strategy, rather than the car itself, but I'll try to address some of these issues.

    Acura will release information. The 2005 RL is expected to be shown in January. Rumor has it going on sale in April. That is typical for Honda/Acura products.

    They never (willingly) release information more than a few months ahead of the vehicle launch. Given Honda's ever-increasing success in our market, I cannot accept the notion that releasing information early is "the key" to success. This strategy has always worked for them in the past.

    Furthermore, it is possible to release information too early. People in this market are fickle. Hype will build up, peak, then falter as new and more interesting cars steal the spotlight. The ideal situation is to have the car go on sale while the hype is still peaking. If you release information too soon, the hype will subside before people can make a purchase.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Honda cannot simply snap their fingers and increase production capacity. It takes years to research a new line. The site must be located, the viability of the workforce determined, financing secured, environmental impact studies conducted, contracts negotiated (or officials bribed), and then finally they get to build the thing. By the time the line is built, or even expanded, the car it was designed to support is now several years old and selling at a more normal pace.

    Take the Ody as an example. Back in 1999, Honda could not keep pace with demand. They immediately starting looking to expand production. The line in Alabama was completed
    sometime in 2003 (maybe late 2002). Of course, now every minivan on the market has a "magic seat", big interior, and powerful engine. The demand has faltered.

    The only reason why building the new plant makes sense is because the MDX, Pilot, and the upcoming truck can be build on the same line. The RL line does not have other vehicles to fall back on when times get tough.

    Sphinx - I don't know. I don't know enough about how much it costs to shutter a line, then reopen it, restaff it, and retrain the workers. There are some cases when it is better to keep a car line running at a loss. I can tell you why Ford still sells the Taurus at a loss, but I don't know enough about the details of RL production.

    Acura may still makes a minor profit on the RL. (The R&D costs must have been recouped back in the '90s.) But you can bet the profit margin is wafer thin.
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    I guess the answer to that question is, in my opinion, the most interesting part of the Honda Thing. The question being, of course, why does Honda alone continue production of its low-volume slow-sellers... not for months but years!

    Think NSX and think RL. Frankly, I was surprised that Acura axed the CL coupe. When you think about it, that was deeply out of character for the company--keeping a non-starter in the lineup for year after year after year is what I'd have expected the fate of the CL to be.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    The Prelude would be another one that perhaps should have gotten the axe earlier.

    As for the RL, it may just be procrastination. They may have designed the RL back in 2000, but been forced to hold off because of other projects (the Ody and Pilot). They may have justified the move by saying, "it'll only be for a year or two." Then two years later, they had to postpone it again. Back to the drawing board. Had they known that the it would be four years late, rather than two, maybe they would have cut production.

    Who knows...
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    There is nothing wrong wth Acura having younger buyers. I think the average age of the Acura buyer is 44 right up there with Audi and BMW. I don't want to see Acura's age bracket go up to Lexus and Cadillac levels.

    To me redesigning or updating the RL hasn't been a top priority of Honda for a few years but now it is a top priority for Honda. Obviously Honda wants Acura to be upscale and Honda can't do that without having the 05 RL be a hit.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I guess they were distracted with the new Odyssey plant in Alabama, the introduction of the Pilot, Element, and MDX to be concerned about the RL. They must have designed the car sometime long when they found out that the RL just wasn't selling and then put the project on hold to go to design the TL, rebadge the TSX, design the Element, Pilot and MDX. Now, all the distractions are gone and Acura/Honda can focus on the RL. The RSX should really be the next Honda Prelude- if it stayed an Acura, that would bring its image down into the regular car segment.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I'm sure that MS-Green was correct when he wrote, "Honda has probably lost some market share forever by leaving this car untouched for years." The lack of redesign has hurt the image of the car and the brand.

    The flip side is that Honda built a stronger following with the MDX than the RL ever had.

    The question becomes, can the new design make up lost market share within its segment? The first generation Ody certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of American minivan buyers. But the 1999 Ody turned that around. Can the '05 RL do the same?
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    American car buyers are a fickle lot with bad short-term memory, awful long-term memory, and not a lot of smarts, I'm sorry to say. If the majority of this country can be persuaded (through TV ads) that Saddam Hussain knocked down the World Trade Centers, then they can be persuaded that the '05 RL is a great car that they must buy in order to feel cool about themselves.
  • theo2709theo2709 Posts: 476
    Is it just me, or is Acura acting like GM did in the bad old days? Back then, GM denounced current product trends, and did not really step up to face the imports dead on. It took years for them to realize they needed to step up quality, design, price, and performance. Now Acura is stubornly saying "We don't need no stinkin' RWD." While they may have perfected the V6 FWD car, the RL's main competition is all RWD, and with at least a V8 option.

    Look at Cadillac. They spent a decade trying to perfect the FWD V8, and they came pretty close. Then they realized their main competitors were RWD, and tout à coup they switched over. Acura has had ample time to prepare the new RL, and all indications are they are going the V6 FWD route.

    There are a ton of RWD cars of all price ranges coming out in the next few years: at least 5 cars coming off Kappa, a glut of cars on Sigma Mass/VE, all of BMW/MB, the expensive Lexi, the LX bodies, and the list goes on. Even if it is a hybrid, it won't be a direct competitor. Even if the hybrid system is remarkable, it won't draw any of the Lexus/BMW crowd. As Ms Green said, there is little hope of gaining much market share with the RL.
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    Hence, we already know that the next RL will not be FWD. Therefore, no, they are not acting like GM did during the old days. They are stepping it up on quality, design, price and performance.

    I'd rather have AWD in a luxury sedan than RWD, to be honest. Who cares if AWD introduces a little bit of understeer, exactly how many 525i auto tranny sedans have you seen sliding the tail out on canyon roads lately?

    As for V8, I don't think it's any more necessary than it is necessary for BMW to inflate the horsepower ratings on their 3.0L I6. Make it a performer, and that should suffice.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I think it's possible to convince the American public of anything they want to believe. To borrow your WTC example, people already hated Saddam, so it wasn't difficult for them to make the leap.

    Doing the opposite is another story. I know several people who still defend the notion that Saddam was involved with the WTC attack (indirectly). They really want to believe that is true.

    A more advanced and capable RL will win buyers, but not reverse the beliefs that people already hold near and dear to their hearts. Let's face it. Even if a FWD vehicle outhandles the RWD competition, RWD advocates are not going to accept it.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Theo2709 - The one thing we already know for sure, is that the '05 RL will not be FWD. This was announced by the head honcho of Honda earlier this Fall. Most people are betting that this means AWD, not RWD.

    I'm not so sure that I see their product plan as being stubborn. RWD is old school. V8 performance is old. Assuming that the next RL uses a hybrid AWD system, that would be something very new. I know that RWD and V8 are coming back into fashion, but I think that using a hybrid design is actually skipping the return to bellbottoms and going straight to the next trend.
  • I am assuming that production will be in Japan. Therefore, does this mean production of the 05RL will not compete with other models?

    I truely believe that a vehicle assembled in Japan has better fit and finish than one done here. I once had two same year Honda (2dr - Here & 4dr - Japan) that seems to be quite different.

    I am assuming that the vehicle price will be stable compare to the current RL because the price now seems a little high for what you get.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    The RL is currently built in Ohio.

    Despite popular speculation, when Accord production was transferred from Japan to the US, the US models had fewer warranty claims than the ones build in Japan.

    I expect that the price will go a few grand higher. Much like the new TL vs the old TL. The new model will offer a great deal more (content, features, performance, etc.) at a moderate increase in price.

    It's all speculation, though.
  • I am in Hawaii and wonder if we will see it here sooner than on the mainland. I as well, would prefer the awd and do not mind the v6, especially if it waves gas. There is horrible traffic here on oahu. Back seat theater seating is what interests me. Old folks have a hard time getting in and out of the low riders as they age. 2005 seems like such a long time.
  • Help!
    Have vibration in Steering wheel, even at a stand-still, and while driving at low speeds up to 40 mph. Have 26,000 miles on my RL 2002. The problem occurred about 2,000 miles ago.

    When I took it in for oil change, the person who wrote up the work order said the mechanic did not find anything wrong. I got the feeling that the dealer did not look into the steering wheel problem. I did not talk directly with the mechanic.

    Has anyone had this problem of steering wheel vibrations? And does anyone have any suggestions in dealing with the car dealer?
  • I think I got a good deal. 67,000 miles and second owner after a lease. Kept up with repairs, clean CARFAX and an green light from a mechanic who looked it over. I paid $12,000.

    After I wrecked my RSX-S, I decided that god was trying to tell me something about my driving habits (car was totalled -- I was unharmed) so I decided to chill out and grow up a little. I'm very happy with the car. It changes my whole outlook on driving. Rather than zipping in and out of lanes like a jerk, I just sit back in my comfortable seat, turn up the radio and let the road unfold.

    A used RL is a stellar deal for someone looking for luxury on a budget.

    I might have to change my handle tho...
  • jwilson1jwilson1 Posts: 956
    gaskins, did you ask them to check the alignment? The steering wheel movement is a symptom, not a cause, and some alignment quirk would be the first thing to think about. If it's been this way for a long time, you may notice that one edge or the other of a front tire is wearing unevenly with 'pockets.' If it is an alignment issue, you eventually will ruin one or more tires.

    Suggestion: back to the dealer, have the service advisor drive the car with you in it to replicate the vibration, then they'll know what to do. JW
  • The RL has always been built in Japan as will be the new one. The original 95-97 TL was built in Japan, the 98-current is Ohio.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Edmunds lists East Liberty first, which I took to mean it was the place of final assembly, with Japan being the source of the engine and transmission.

    Type: Large Sedan
    Where Built: Marysville, OH/East Liberty, OH/Japan

    However, this site lists only Japan.
  • l943973l943973 Posts: 197
    I also believe the Hondas built in Japan are better than the ones built in the US. I just hope the 05 RL comes with auto dimming side mirrors. With all the SUVs out there, their headlights can get pretty bright at night.

    Here are the models built in the US:*ws4d-db-query-Show.ws4d?*ws4- - - - - d-db-query-Show***000485***-wieck_media***-***corp(directory)***.- - - ws4d?corp/results(r)_text.html

    Here are the models built in Japan:*ws4d-db-query-Show.ws4d?*ws4- d-db-query-Show***000505***-wieck_media***-***corp(directory)***.- - - ws4d?corp/results(r)_text.html

    (RL is listed at the Legend).
  • Safe to say that what features that is in the TL will be in the RL or they will also include active stearing?
  • Am I crazy to consider buying this car? I am looking for an easy riding, reliable car that I will be putting many miles on it each year ( 60/40 town:highway). I would like to wait for the 2005 model, but I'm not sure if I will be able to afford it if there is a price increase and/or I will like the new design. I have considered buying a used RL, but I am leaning towards a new car. I would also consider the Audi A6 3.0 sedan, but reliability seems to be a problem. Someone play devils advocate and tell me why I should not buy the 2004 RL.
  • carnaughtcarnaught Desert SWPosts: 2,811
    Have you looked at the new TL or is it too small for you?
  • gteach26gteach26 Posts: 576
    wait 'till the new one comes out and see if you like it and can afford it. If not, I'm sure your Acura dealer can get you a "slightly" used 04 at a nice discount.. you'll have the factory warranty, new car smell etc.. and you'll pay less due to its "pre-owned" status.

    Think about it though, if you buy the '04 and then LOVE the '05 you're going to regret your purchase for a long, long time.

    Good luck!
  • jwilson1jwilson1 Posts: 956
    Acura has always (since 96) had great deals on the leftovers from the model year before -- don't know if they have a lot of inventory this year, but that's the way I'd tend to go if I felt the way you do. JW
  • kennyg5kennyg5 Posts: 360
    I've always liked the RL because it is reliable, looks elegant and provides a comfortable and luxurious ride. The downside is its dated technology and it is somewhat overpriced when compared with similarly equipped cars. I think the ES 330 is a close competitor, since both cars are aimed at the same audience, but the Lexus seems able to retain its value better and can be purchased at a lower price. The Avalon is also a competitor and can be bought at even lower prices. All 3 cars are equally reliable, but the RL gives you a bit more prestige and better dealer service which, in part, translates to a higher price tag.
  • The most cost effective solution would be to look around for a '00 coming off lease. There are slightly used RL's with around 30k miles on them that can be had for the low 20's. A great value. Drive it for a year or two and then look at the '05. Sell the '00 and take much less hit on depreciation, taxes, ins, etc. It is pretty much the same car as the '04 less a couple gadgets.
  • gteach26gteach26 Posts: 576
    From what I saw on their website, the Acura CPO warranty is only 12K miles/12 months... why would they not offer the 3 year /100K total vehicle miles warranty offered by other high-end makes like Lexus? Personally, I'd prefer the better warranty package even if it means a slightly higher vehicle cost.
  • jwilson1jwilson1 Posts: 956
    "Personally, I'd prefer the better warranty package even if it means a slightly higher vehicle cost."

    Available at extra cost.

    And if you don't like that, ask AAA as their's is quite good. JW
  • I saw a comment that said March. This March!?
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I hope the RL does leap ahead with the AWD/Hybrid. That would make it unique and bring buyers AWAY from Lexus and Infiniti, who are stuck with now "old school" V8/RWD engines.
  • But, there's word that Honda will increase the 3.5L engines to 3.8L in the MDX and upcoming RL. Hope that boosts their HP ratings!!
  • gteach26gteach26 Posts: 576
    2004 RL's are going way under invoice for just under 39K (carsdirect). This special pricing is in effect 'till January so either these guys are in major "holiday pricing mode" OR they are clearing the 04's to make room for '05 in the very near future... I hope it is the latter.
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    built than US ones: I have an Acura thats built in Ohio. No problems so far.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Randomthought - The RL is supposed to be released at one of the upcoming auto shows (spring of '04). I've forgotten which one, but you can find it by searching back in this thread.

    Carguy - Mine, too. About the only serious problem with the Ohio built TL is the transmission. That tranny comes from Japan.

    Of course, my made-in-Japan CR-V went to 84K miles before it had its first unscheduled repair. And I wouldn't call a bad distributor a big deal. So, my Honda fleet is 1:1. That's why data like the warranty claims are more compelling to me, than personal anecdotes.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    warranty claims are always a good indicator- as are CR reliability predictions.
  • the V6 gas engine powers the front wheels, and the electric powers the rear wheels in the 2005 RL.
    That's what I was told 2 months ago by Acura people.
  • Am I crazy to consider buying this car? I am looking for an easy riding, reliable car that I will be putting many miles on it each year ( 60/40 town:highway). I would like to wait for the 2005 model, but I'm not sure if I will be able to afford it if there is a price increase and/or I will like the new design. I have considered buying a used RL, but I am leaning towards a new car. I would also consider the Audi A6 3.0 sedan, but reliability seems to be a problem. Someone play devils advocate and tell me why I should not buy the 2004 RL.

    Just go ahead and get the 04, since you'll get a fabulous discount on the price. There will be no discount on the 2005 model when it comes out in April, and why buy it when you can wait only another 5-6 months and get the 2006 model, which will have all the first model year kinks worked out. So if you can't wait for the 2006 model, just get the 2004 now. You can dump it/trade it in down the road if you like the newer RLs.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    who from Acura?
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I know who to call.
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