SAN FRANCISCO: The Acura 3.5RL succeeds the original Legend sedan, and flaunts a more
chiseled appearance than its predecessor. Its looks like one of the guys when placed next
to the popular Mercedes E320, BMW 528i and its fellow Japanese cars, the Lexus LS 400 and
Even though the 3.5RL looks
and feels like a Lexus LS 400, it comes up 80 horsepower short. At virtually the same size
and weight, its main advantage is a significant $10,000 price difference. Compare the
3.5RL to the smaller Lexus GS300, and the Acura's main advantages are more than four more
inches of wheelbase, more than seven inches in length, and 200 pounds of extra car.
Against the BMW 528i, the
3.5RL has 17 more horsepower, one inch larger wheels, three inches more wheelbase and is
eight inches longer to boot. Prices are similar. The BMW offers a manual transmission,
while the 3.5RL insists on shifting for you. The Mercedes E320 would seem to be the
3.5RL's sales target, and the 3.5RL beats the German in price by thousands of dollars,
even while it loses by 11 horsepower. How much is a three pointed star on the hood worth
to you? More than three hundred changes marked the redesigned 1999 model, including
styling, performance, safety and comfort features. Everything but the doors, rear quarter
panel, outboard mirrors, roof and glass was new.
For 2000, Acura's flagship
sedan receives Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and a Digital Video Disc (DVD) database for
its navigation system. The VSA system adds lateral control to the RL's standard Traction
Control System (TCS) and Antilock Braking System (ABS). It is meant to give more control
to the driver and is specially developed for a front-wheel-drive car. The DVD mapping
database provides coverage of the entire continental United States on a single DVD disc, a
real advantage. Also, the new database has eight times more points of interest than the
combined databases of the previous set.
All the luxuries desired in
a prestige auto are present, of course. The steering wheel and door mirrors can be
adjusted and their settings stored for different drivers. The steering wheel automatically
moves up and out of the way when the driver enters or leaves the car. Hand selected
American leather covers the eight-way power driver's seat. Genuine camphor wood lines the
center console. Xenon High Intensity Discharge headlights turn on and off automatically as
needed. An Acura/Bose eight speaker sound system entertains, and there's power everything.
No V-8 engine is available
for now, but the 3.5RL's 210 horsepower V-6 hauls the 3,840-pound car down the road
swiftly, making thoughts of a V-8 seem sacrilegious. This high-tech engine meets strict
Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) environmental standards. EPA gas mileage figures are a
promising 18 city, 24 highway. Acura is proud of the 3.5RL's airbag technology. One system
automatically selects one of two levels of deployment of the front passenger airbag based
on crash severity. This is the first use of such a design in a car. The second
breakthrough is a side airbag that uses sensors to monitor size and position of the front
seat occupant and adjust its deployment. This means if the sensors detect someone in the
seat that is too small and out of position, they will deactivate the bag.
Figure $42,455 for the
3.5RL, including destination charges. The Acura Navigation System is a $2,000 option--the
only option offered on this car. Despite starting the Japanese luxury brand phenomenon in
1986, before Lexus and Infiniti arrived, of late the Acura offerings seemed a step behind.
Now, led by the 3.5RL, they are back in the front rank again. By Steve Schaefer ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Acura Home Page
Byline: By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name: "Back in the Front Ranks Again"
Topic: 2000 Acura 3.5 RL Sedan
Word Count: 613
Photo Caption: 2000 Acura 3.5 RL
Photo Credits: Acura PR
Series #: 1999 - 64