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Acura RL vs. Acura TL



  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    "The RL is made in Japan, and imo is made with higher quality materials, and has a much more luxurious look and feel to it, especially the interior. It also "feels" more substantial. I've done a lot of research, and since the RL can be had in the real world for about $8,000 more than the TL, it is worth every penny. It is a LOT more car."

    I can agree with at least part of your statement. If 500+ lbs is "a LOT" than the RL is indeed a lot more car than the TL. Unfortunately, that is a major reason why I was happy to turn in an RL loaner and get my TL 6-speed back from service. IMO, Acura went out of their way to market the RL as a "Super Handling", "300 HP" performance oriented luxury sedan. And that's precisely where it fell well short of my expectations. It felt much heavier, handling and steering were less nimble and precise, and it was noticably slower than my TL 6-speed. I can (and do) say many nice things about an RL relative to it's luxury and comfort. But after taking it for several runs through DC's winding Rock Creek Parkway, I could not label it as "fun to drive", at least not by my standards.

    I have been accused by others of not recognizing that the RL was never meant to be a luxury "sports" sedan, but rather simply a "luxury" sedan. Sorry, I guess I was paying too much attention to Acura's own advertising. But as I have also responded before, I think Acura would do well to establish loftier goals for it's "flagship". And charge more for it, if necessary and appropriate.

    As a case in point, if I were to upgrade from the TL 6-speed today, it would be into a BMW 550i 6-speed. The current RL - hell the current TL for that matter - can "outgadget" the BMW. But the RL needs some serious reworking to match the BMW's driving feel and performance. The BMW is priced at $63k +/-. That gives Acura a lot of wiggle room. I hope they use it, rather than continue to produce a rather boring to drive "flagship" that gets compared to a TL automatic and Accord. Even when the RL "wins" over the TL in the luxury amenity and do-dad comparison (as in your case) or the MDX "wins" over the Pilot (as in our case), it still dissapoints me that Acura as a company appears hesitant to reach for more unique and loftier goals.

    This criticism is "hard love". I still consider my former Honda S2000 as a superb example of what Honda is capable of if they put their engineering minds to it. Their $32k masterpiece was a no-apologies required alternative to the $50k+ Porsche Boxster.

    Even if my preference for "driver's cars" is not what Acura is shooting for with the RL, they still need to aim higher. In the Buick-like luxury arena, the flagship Lexus LS430 doesn't seem to get cross shopped against or compared with the ES330 or Toyota Avalon nearly to the same extent as the RL does to it's less costly siblings.

    Just my 10 cents.
  • With Acura's positioning of the RL vs. TL is that the TL is not only more of a driver's car, with comparable luxury amenities, but it is nearly the same size as the RL.

    In the case of the BMW 3 series vs. 5 series, if you want the sportier, less expensive 3-series, you have to be prepared to give up a fairly significant amount of rear seat comfort and size.

    In the case of one of our friends, they immediately ruled out the 3-series due to it's size limitations. (They are in their 40's with two kids). But they compared the 530i to both the RL and TL. They ended up going with a TL (6-speed). Had the RL been a notch or two up on performance, they would have gone in that direction, or had the TL been a notch or two smaller (i.e. comparable to the 3 series), they would have gone to the 5-series or RL. But they felt the TL gave them the best of all worlds of size, sportiness, luxury and reliability. They were prepared to spend $50k+, so absolute price wasn't an issue.

    Personally, I think Acura has too many cars crammed into the $25k to $45k space. Especially for a "premium" brand. I agree with the suggestion that they need to put more distance between the models - in size, performance and price. In fairness, Acura would probably never get me to turn in the keys of my BMW M5, but I do know a lot of 5-series owners that would consider a more preformance oriented RL next time around.
  • 6sptl6sptl Posts: 24
    Well, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised. The michelin PAX MXM4 combined to the larger (18in) rim do make the RL a noticeably better handling car. The tranny is still a little on the slow side even when using the paddles, but overall the car feels much tighter and surefooted on the twisties. I don't know if the noise cancellation system has been improved, but the car did also feel significantly quieter. The first time I drove the RL (during its debut) I was a little disappointed with its athletism, great ride for sure but a big downgrade form my manual TL. I'm happy to say that the "upgraded" RL handles now as adroitly as the auto TL. SInce my TL is turning "40" and I really want an AWD car (WI winters) July will probably by my last time with my beloved TL. I will let it go with a broken heart but I think it wont bleed for too long (it will heal right up when the first snow storm of the season arrives) .
  • guille57guille57 Posts: 4
    My sense is that the premium needed to purchase the RL over the going price for the TL can be largely recovered at resale time (check the KBB value for 05 models with 20k miles). Given the technological and safety advantages of the RL over the TL and the fact that those can be have for not much more than the financing cost of the price differential it seems to me that the RL at going prices is a compelling proposition over the TL.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Your economic analysis might make sense for someone who finds the RL more appealing than the TL. And I suspect a lot of prospective TL buyers would. But speaking just for me, I do not find the RL's "technological and safety advantages" over the TL to be that significant. The TL is pretty well do-dadded and gizmoed. Rather, compared to the significantly lighter TL 6-speed, the RL feels underpowered, not as nimble and certainly not as much fun to drive for me.

    In order to get my attention, Acura would need to take the type of ground up performance engineering that produced the Honda S2000 and put it to work developing a premium sedan that is a true driver's car. Until they do, my jump from the TL 6-speed would be to a BMW 550i 6-speed, not to another do-dad or two in the slushbox equiped RL. But over the last 8 months, I've put more miles on our 911S (7,100) than I have on our TL (3,500), so I'm probably not sedan jumping no matter what Acura, BMW or anyone else does.
  • guille57guille57 Posts: 4
    I cannot disagree with anything you are saying. By technological and safety advantages I was referring to things such as the super handling all wheel drive and navigation system with real time traffic information. I agree that the TL may be more fun to drive and I am sure your 911S is thrilling. My post was aimed at those buyers who may be tilting towards the RL because they don't value the harder ride of the more fun-to-drive TL but are reluctant to pay the, now smaller, price difference between the TL and the RL.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    By technological and safety advantages I was referring to things such as the super handling all wheel drive and navigation system with real time traffic information.

    I think I am a little negative on the RL not because it isn't a very nice car - it certainly is. But Acura created a bit of false expectations with me based upon it's "super handling AWD", "300 hp", etc. advertising campaign.

    On the real time traffic Nav system - do you have an RL and use the system? I believe it's a service provided through XM Satellite Radio. Here in the Wasington DC market, they just plain suck. We will be sitting in standstill traffic and XM's traffic report says the beltway is flowing smoothly. Or vice-versa. The time I had an RL as a loaner, they might as well have given my daughter 3 crayons to color the routes red green or yellow. She sould have guessed better than XM did. Hopefully, it's more accurate in other areas, but in my experience, it's a big annoyance. I have to tune to AM radio for a real traffic report.
  • ocimocim Posts: 45
    You say that you purchased your RL for under 40K. Was this for a new car? That would be significantly under invoice. Did anyone else get a similar deal out there? I would be interested what others have paid and where they purchased as I will be in a market for a new car soon. I live in the Pittsburgh area but would be willing to travel some distance for a good deal. Also, has anyone cross shopped the Toyota Avalon against the RL. I would be interested in hearing any constructive comments.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    You might want to check out this discussion also: Acura RL: Prices Paid & Buying Experience.
  • 40,600.00 jenkintown pa. sussman acura
  • acuratacurat SoCalPosts: 74
    I came within an inch of buying an 06 RL over the weekend. Fortunately the dealer was out of stock so I had time to re-think. I have an 04 TL non-navi and was looking to move up to real-time traffic and navi. My main motivation was probably my love of a bargain. Ten grand off is a powerful motivator! Here's what held me back.

    Financing is high even with the current special. I got 2.9% on my last car--below the rate of inflation. I love my TL. I like the RL. The RL is very grown up--not sure I am. Both cars have 5 star safety ratings. The TL gets better gas mileage and hauls a** when you stomp on it. Forty G's is a lot of dough, even with a substantial income. And the 07 TL navi has satellite traffic and is said to have a bit softer ride.

    I'll be test driving an 07 TL soon!! Don't think the RL is really for me.
  • ggesqggesq Posts: 701
    "IF" you can get a 07 TL now at invoice, then I can see a greater price differential. The fact that you can get an 06 RL in the low 40's is a bargain to me.
    Realistically, the price difference is about 5-6k?? For that, you get 300hp and AWD along with driving Acura's "flagship."
    Have you considered waiting for the 4G TL?
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 3,096
    Love my '05 TL, especially with the 2.9% financing...

    From what I've read/heard, the TL, even with the less hp, offers better performance than the RL (better power/weight probably). With more interior room and, imo, much better exterior style. To me, the added weight, complexity and performance/economy drains of AWD have not been attractive to me vs. FWD. As a New Englander/skier I've always been willing to sacrifice the 9-10/10ths handling virtues of RWD for the foul-weather advantage of FWD, especially since I believe that many of today's FWD Honda/Acura's can probably handle as well/better than some lessor RWDs.

    '13 Jaguar XF, possibly my favorite of all the cars I've owned. But, my '09 Jag XK was a beauty, as was my '05 Acura TL, '88 Acura Integra, '84 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo & '78 VW Scirocco (my first!). And, of course, the '92 Nissan Sentra SE-R and '95 Saab 900s I bought for the ex... Ok, I like a lot of the cars in my life.

  • acuratacurat SoCalPosts: 74
    You're right, the RL pricing is attention-getting (or was, as I think the 06 RLs are about gone). Agreed that the RL is the flagship, and a stately one at that. Still and all, I absolutely love my 04 TL and could not bear to part with it for the ridiculous pittance that the dealer or CarMax would pay.

    Regarding the RL vs. TL comparison, I find the TL more fun to drive and more stylish inside and out. Since depreciation takes its toll partly based on model year, the more apt financial comparison is between the 06 RL and 06 TL--still about a $10K spread even at fire-sale prices. Understood that the 06 TL does not have all the bells and whistles of the 07.

    Now that real-time traffic is available on the TL navi, the rationale for spending the extra dough on the RL has pretty much evaporated for me. There, I feel so much better! Maybe I'll take a nice vacation with my wife. Driving, of course. :shades:
  • Not to mention the 286hp Tl type-s comes standard with nav. That vs the 290hp Rl. I have always seen the Tl as the better buy.

    Can't wait until Honda/Acura sells the CTDI engines in american models. That'll give the TL and RL SCARY torque!

    -Cj :) :shades:
  • I traded my 05 TL 5AT Navi for an 06 RL w/ backup cam.

    I am very impressed with the TL. It is edgier, sportier and in some ways more responsive than the RL. For my tastes, it was too firm riding for the awful roads I drive. But the primary reason I considered and then bought the RL was the build quality of the TL. My TL had rattles, squeaks, ill fitted interior panels, loosely clipped on bumper facias, leather issues, interior material issues and jerky shifting. It impressed me on paper, and in style, but not by the seat of my pants in daily driving. The assembly issues are not what I expected from Acura. I did not found it particularly better assembled than other US built vehicles.

    The RL is superior in build quality and materials. It is Japanese built (worldwide known as Honda Legend). I also appreciate the refined ride without compromising too much performance. Being the RL does not crash over every bump, I actually drive it more spirited than my TL. It corners extremely well with SHAWD as opposed to the FWD characteristics of the TL. Economy is similar where the RL averages 1-2 mpg avg less than my TL. The RL is everything I expected from Acura and affirms my belief that US build cars are not as good as overseas builds, even for Japanese monikers (US built Toyotas have similar issues). Now I paid 35k for my TL new. I got the RL for 40K new. In my opinion that RL is worth every penny of the difference. (Although I did not look at the RL when I bought the TL, at that time RLs sold near 50K). It is solid, impeccably assembled, the details are apparent and it feels, sounds and drives to my expectations.

    The cars are decidedly different rides. But if the ride characteristics are not the deciding factor, I would closely examine build quality and content when justifying cost differential. At 40K the RL was a no brainer for me.
  • acuratacurat SoCalPosts: 74
    Strongly considered another (2007) TL to replace my 2004 non-navi but ultimately decided it was time for a grown-up car. By the time I decided, all the 2006 RL non-techs except demos and weird colors were gone. Seeing as how you would have to be nuts to pay list price, I called around and got an offer on a 2006 Tech CMBS-PAX in black/ebony at $100 over dead cost (invoice minus $4K minus holdback). I did a little online research on the PAX tires. Honda Odyssey owners don't dig them but they seem OK on Acuras. Figured the CMBS might save me from a crash someday. Dickered over the trade, got them to come up $1100 from their initial offer and went for it at $42,475 with splash guards. That's about $11K south of MSRP.

    My 7-year-old son, securely belted in the back, commented, "Dad, this car ROCKS!" I must agree. We flew down the 405 in the rain and felt very secure with the SH-AWD and CMBS operating. It was fun following our progress on the superb Alpine navi unit. The Bose stereo sounds better than the TL's excellent ELS rig. Got OnStar, Bluetooth and XM working. There are a LOT more mysterious buttons which the 400+ page main manual and the 150-page navi manual promise to explain.

    I miss my sweet-but-squeaky TL a little bit. Left a few bucks on the table on the trade. I'm sure I'll get over it! Now this RL is a CAR.

  • Congrats acurat.

    I felt guilty trading my TL, for about a day. The RL will remind you of all you love in your TL, but much more. The RL is truly an underappreciated car. I could see me running the RL for years, where the TL is in fashion. If you bought the 07 TL you would have been itching when the next generation was released in a year or two. The RL will age better IMHO.

    You will find the RL smoother, quieter yet sufficiently sporty. The FWD irks are gone. The NAVI and voice commands are much better than the TL. You will use the voice commands much more as they work much better in the RL (perhaps due to the quieter cabin?). But when you first clean your new RL, you will see how much better it is assembled, how more solid the car feels and how much better the materials are (especially the cabin). And for the cost over the TL, they SHOULD be.

    I still love the TL styling. But they are everywhere. I think I see more TL than Accords anymore. But I also love the RL. It has grown on me, more and more. I like the exclusivity of the RL. I get MORE compliments on the RL than the TL. The TL is edgier, but the RL just looks more substantial in person, and has more presence. I have read in several forums where TL to RL owners are finding similar benefits.

    Enjoy the RL. Mine is 4 months old and 4k miles. Not a creak or rattle, and I know this was the car I should have bought. You got a great price, and unless you wait for end of 2007 model year, unlikely you would get an Acura flagship for that price again.

    Oh yeah, your son has better taste than some car critics!

    Enjoy the ride.
  • ggesqggesq Posts: 701
    "If you bought the 07 TL you would have been itching when the next generation was released in a year or two. The RL will age better IMHO"

    Maybe. The RL will have a FMC for MY 2009. Many rumors about what will be underneath the hood as well as Acura's future styling direction. You don't think you'll have an itch or two in a couple of years wanting the next generation RL?

    Congrats on your new RL ;)
  • I'm always itchy! Shiny metal things...MUST HAVE.

    But my desire for the RL was more about the total package, content, build, value and style. The TL purchase was based on it was new, hot and grabbed attention. That formula goes out of fashion faster for me. But still...shiny, metal and I am awake all night.

  • acuratacurat SoCalPosts: 74
    You guys are my kind of people. Smart and analytical with an aesthetic side to boot, able to have some fun at your own expense, and of course, excellent taste in cars. ;)

    I agree with all that's been said, including the prediction of another itch in a few years' time. Funny, I usually get buyer's remorse after spending serious dough. Not now!! Can't wait for the morning commute in the RL, heaven help me...

    ,,,and someone is going to get a honey of a 2004 TL off the dealer's lot. Hope they didn't wholesale it! :surprise:
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    .. all of the positive things people here are saying about the RL.

    However, if Acura is listening, serve mine up with a real V8, an adjustable sport suspension (steal PASM from Porsche if necessary) and a 6-speed short throw manual that you can steal for the 550i 6-speed. I would prefer RWD, but will take SH-AWD if you can engineer a little more "SH" into the suspension to go along with that extra quarter ton of weight over the TL.

    All I'm asking is that Acura endow the real thing with the performance and sportiness that their marketing department initially advertised. I really would love an alternative to the 550i 6-speed to at least consider. Don't we already have enough E-class, A6, S80 and LS/GS luxo-cruisers for those who think a sporty drive is listening to ESPN on XM radio?? ;)
  • acurat,

    Being we both came from 3rd Gen TLs to the RL, I am curious what was the 'closers' on your decision to get the RL over a new TL? I too am very impressed with the TL, but have been more of a critic to the TL as you. So I am curious what made you decide on the RL? And what have we shared in our opinion & observations do you agree with?

    I too love my commute now. And I don't get as heated in traffic anymore. The RL gives me the thrills when I want it, but it also keeps me happy when the roads / traffic are not cooperating.
  • acuratacurat SoCalPosts: 74
    I think the "closers" in comparison with the TL were build quality, safety (4000 pounds, advanced compatibility engineering, SH-AWD, ACC/CMBS, 5 stars on every test), more sophisticated appearance, seating for a family of 5, a certain exclusivity compared with the ubiquity of the TL, impressive integration of all the technology, and very little tradeoff in terms of performance and maneuverability. I kept seeing the occasional RL on the freeway and it was always a head-turner. After reading these posts and some other reviews (especially, I drove the RL again with a more receptive attitude and finally realized it is a tremendous value, especially for the price. The difference between the bristling-with-tech 2006 RL CMBS-PAX and the NavTraffic-equipped base 2007 TL was, in the end, only about $8K; even less versus the Type-S boy-racer version. Not to mention that my wife finally said, "Oh, go for it, honey." Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding!! Now that I'm driving it, I agree that the RL is serene in traffic, which I'm generally not. It gives me hope for redemption of my Type-A personality. There's also the not-too-distant redesign of the TL to consider. I'm sure it'll be a great car...for my son. :P
  • Well great minds think alike. Your post reads as if it were my own post. It sounds like we went through nearl identical AcuraAnalysis in our choice to slide into an RL from our TLs. Oh, and the wifey sounds like a keeper. Does she have a sister?

  • ggesqggesq Posts: 701
    "There's also the not-too-distant redesign of the TL to consider."

    Yep. The 4G TL is estimated to have 300+hp and AWD. I agree with habitat- the RL needs to have a V8, sportier suspension option and a manual tranny. Otherwise, its sales will continue to dwindle.
    RL is a great value but Acura really needs to step up its "flagship" to remain competitive in the market.

    Congrats and enjoy your new ride ;)
  • ggesqggesq Posts: 701
    Found this on TOV:

    Automotive News Quotes President of HRA, Suggests Acura's Ready for V8s

    Date: December 11, 2006 11:55
    Submitted by: Jeff
    Source: Automotive News
    Credibility Rating: Not Specified

    In a story released early this morning on Automotive News' website (you'll need a subscription to read it), several cherry picked quotes are attributed to Hirohide Ikeno, President of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. (HRA). The general indication is that Acura executives are (finally) considering extending their drivetrain family beyond the realm of 4-cylinders and V-6s and specifically mentions a V-8 as a clear possibility (V-10s are already a certainty). Mr. Ikeno was quoted as saying that it's important for Acura to have larger engines available, and that he's "pushing for it". Mr. Ikeno was also said to have indicated that Acura would be dropping some hints of "its new direction" at the Detroit show, with no further elaboration.

    The author of the article spoke to Mr. Ikeno last week "during a reception for the opening of Honda's advanced design studio in Pasadena, Calif." If by "reception" they mean "open bar", then there were probably more than a few interesting gems slipped into casual conversation that evening.

    Despite the fact that the article reads a little bit like a campaign ad or a movie poster ("...Hilarious!!!..." "...uplifting..." "...trustworthy."), and there seems to be a lot of stitching together of thoughts, we think that the story is legit.

    Now I'll offer a little bit of TOV perspective. While we were at the LA Auto Show a few weeks ago, we spoke to a good number of Acura and Honda folks and when we asked the Acura people about what sort of stuff to expect from Acura at the Detroit show, the responses were anything but consistent. One person we asked (who may or may not be involved in the NSX project) told us that there'd be "nothing much, really", while others responded that we would see "really cool stuff. You'll definitely want to be there."

    In the past, anybody and everybody associated with Acura or Honda would quickly dismiss and shun any talk about motors with cylinder counts greater than 6, and punctuate their responses with reminders that V-8s were unnecessary and inefficient. Ask the same sort of questions today and the nature of the response is completely different. The air of denial has all but vanished at Acura today - the response to the ages old "You guys really need a V8" comment is now generally a subtle nod of agreement, perhaps coupled to a muted "yeah, I know...". As if to say "we know, we're working on it. Now let's talk about what we have now." Takeo Fukui's V-10 announcement several years back probably helped matters along, but for a while even after that some of the Acura folks still acted as if that announcement was never made.

    Will we see a V8 offered in an Acura soon? It depends on what you mean by soon, but frankly it wouldn't surprise us to see it happening in the next 3 years or so. And let's face it - Acura may not be able to afford to wait much longer than that. Let's hope for more clues between now and the Detroit Auto Show.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    "RL is a great value but Acura really needs to step up its "flagship" to remain competitive in the market."

    And, as further evidence of that true-ism, as far as I can tell, there are no other "flagships" so closely priced and directly compared to the sub-flagship model, as is the case of this entire forum.

    We don't have an LS460 vs. ES forum, a 7 series vs. 5 series vs. 3 series, an S-class vs. E-class vs. C class forum or even a M45 vs. G35 forum.

    I've been one of the few proponents of moving the RL to be more distinctive and a true performance sports sedan that could be competitively priced firmly in the $50-$55k+ range, if it offered a high quality, performance competitive alternative to the 550i 6-speed ($60k+ well equiped). Right now it's a tweener and not really anything more than an AWD, luxury upgraded, sports depleted TL. Which isn't a bad thing, just very limited in market appeal, as evidenced by diminimus sales volumes at below invoice pricing.

    If I want a luxury, slushbox equiped sedan, I can spend the next two weeks test driving $45-$60k cars every day and not hit them all. The E class, A6, Jaguar S, M45, Lexus GS and LS, BMW non-sport 5 series, Volvo S80, and on and on. But even though I am moments away from turning 50, I haven't lost the desire to have a sedan that is a pleasure to drive. And right now, with that criteria, I can have BMW line up a $50k 530i 6-speed, a $60k 550i 6-speed or a $90k M5 6-speed and have pretty much EVERYTHING worth considering at one dealership. Hello, Acura? Is anybody home in the strategic marketing department? That sure smells like a market segment you try to advertise to, how about delivering the goods. :)
  • kennyg8kennyg8 Posts: 225
    Habitat, while I agree with many of the things you said, and I certainly cannot speak on behalf of Acura or other posters on this forum, as a buyer of Acura products, I believe Acura's targeted customer-base consists primarily of people who are more value-minded and who place reliability and functionality as opposed to flashy, status-chasing customers.

    For example, RL and TL are at or near the top of their respective class representing high-value buys. Not only do these cars come pretty much fully equipped, their prices are very reasonable, when compared with similarly-equipped Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus, etc. Further, while many of Acura's customers may also aspire for a car that is as sports-oriented as the more prestigous nameplates noted above, they are content enough with the performance level of their RL/TL for the prices they paid. Moreover, not everyone desires to drive a manual and, instead, prefers the convenience of your so-called slushbox for their daily commute. Thus, IMHO, this really comes down to the type of customers Acura wants to appeal to. As a current owner of Acura's TL and MDX (if I recall correctly), you may share some of my sentiments stated herein. True?

    If Acura can improve the qualities of their dealerships with respect to customer services such that they are on par with the prestigous nameplates, I believe Acura may attract even more customers who share the above-stated sentiments.
  • I am in the processing of trading my ES in for a type S 07 M.T. Now, during the negotiation processing, i was asking the sales person about break-in period for manual. He said that for manual vehicles, they DO NOT :confuse: need to have an elaborate break-in. Just take your brand new type S out and race. I don't think this is right; i am very skeptical about his answer. What do you guys think? Please post your inputs. thanks
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