Acura Automobiles: 2012 Acura RL

Acura’s flagship, the RL sedan, again proves that refined luxury need not be without performance adrenaline. The RL’s combination of performance, technology, aggressive styling and safety ensure that Acura’s premier sedan maintains its competitive position among top tier luxury performance sedans. Plus, the RL allows the driver to be well connected to the world- through improved connection with the road along with electronic connectivity to the world around them. In short, it would be hard to find a production car at any price that offers more advanced electronic technology or drive system sophistication.

The RL luxury performance sedan has long served as one of Acura’s most technologically advanced vehicles and for 2011, significant upgrades were made to again raise the bar. To further maximize the output of the 3.7L V-6 engine, the RL received an all-new Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission.

For 2011, the RL also debuted new 18×8-inch 15-spoke cast aluminum wheels that incorporated an all-new noise reduction technology. The 2011 RL was the first automobile to make use of resonator technology applied to the wheels that significantly lowers the middle frequency noise which provides for an even quieter cabin.

The 2012 RL offers an abundance of consumer friendly technology for the driver and passengers including satellite-linked Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting™, AcuraLink Real-Time Weather™, Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® cellular phone connectivity, DVD-Audio stereo entertainment, Active Noise Cancellation and GPS-linked solar-sensing automatic climate control. For 2012, the RL further expands on this technology thanks to a further updated navigation system that features continuously updated traffic maps now covering 130 major metropolitan areas within the United States and Canada.

The RL also features numerous high-tech items as standard including Active Sound Control, Smart Entry, Bluetooth® Audio and HandsFreeLink®. Technology abounds in the drivetrain in the form of a 3.7-liter V-6 engine (with the first ever SOHC use of VTEC® valvetrain actuation for both the intake and exhaust valves) that teams with Acura’s acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ system.

For 2012, Acura will offer three different trim packages on the RL:

  • RL: in addition to the potent 3.7L V-6 engine with VTEC® valvetrain operation and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™, leather trimmed interior, power actuated front seats, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control system, power moonroof, power windows, Acura/Bose® Surround Sound audio system, Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® connectivity and a Multi-Information Display (MID) that allows easy access to multiple electronic functions.
  • RL with Technology Package: includes AcuraLink® Satellite Navigation System with Voice Recognition, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting™, AcuraLink Real-Time Weather™, rear view camera, back up sensors, Active Front Lighting System (AFS), ventilated front seats and a simulated burlwood accented steering wheel and shift knob.
  • RL with Advance Package: in addition to the Technology Package items, the Advance Package includes Acura’s Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), power folding side mirrors and genuine maple wood instrument panel trim.

The 2012 Acura RL has an MSRP of $47,700 for the RL, $51,850 for the RL with Technology Package, and $55,650 for the RL with Advance Package.

The innovation built into the RL begins with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine that develops 300 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque thanks to an innovative VTEC™ valvetrain system for both the intake and exhaust valves, a high compression ratio, along with a special dual-stage magnesium intake manifold that enables the intake to function as a single- or dual-plenum manifold design based on engine operating parameters. In addition to developing excellent power and torque, the RL engine meets EPA TIER 2 – BIN 5 and CARB LEV II ULEV emission standards and delivers good fuel economy. The RL’s engine bay appears upscale thanks to a surround panel assembly that reduces visual distractions and focuses attention directly on the 3.7-liter V-6 engine.

To handle the high power of the 3.7-liter engine, a Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission is used that not only generates improved acceleration performance, but also delivers improved fuel economy. The 6-speed transmission can be shifted via a console mounted straight gate shifter or by racing-inspired mounted paddle shifters mounted on the back side of the steering wheel.

In addition, the 6-speed transmission teams with a multi-clutch torque converter that not only has a higher maximum torque rating, but also has a new converter lock-up assembly. The lock-up assembly uses multiple lock-up disks that generate nearly double the facing area of a typical torque converter. The lock-up assembly not only reduces heat build-up during operation, but also allows for lock-up activation during a much wider range of driving conditions, which, in turn, generates improved fuel economy. As a result of the 6-speed transmission and torque converter, city/highway/combined fuel economy* is 17/24/20- an increase of 2 mpg in highway driving versus the 2010 RL fitted with a 5-speed automatic transmission.

The RL’s acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD™) system remains standard equipment for 2012 and provides outstanding handling and excellent inclement weather capabilities. There are numerous traction advantages of all-wheel drive, yet SH-AWD™ does a key function that is not available with traditional AWD systems- SH-AWD™ utilizes torque vectoring to increase the rotation speed of an outside rear wheel during spirited cornering to help the car turn more effectively while under power.
This “yaw” function reduces the cornering load on the front tires to minimize understeer, to improve handling balance and to escalate total cornering ability.

The 2012 RL exterior styling is not only aggressive, but delivers excellent aerodynamics and reduced rear lift at high speeds. A revised front grill, power folding side mirrors and available back-up sensors were new for 2011. The RL’s athletic style foreshadows the power beneath the blow-formed aluminum hood. The RL’s shape is taut and athletic, and its acceleration and cornering performance allow it to challenge the most capable luxury performance sedans. Comfort, quietness and ride quality are also on a par with performance sedan competitors. For 2012, six exterior colors are available.

To provide excellent handling and looks, 18×8-inch diameter 15-spoke aluminum wheels are matched with performance-minded Michelin Pilot all-season tires. While the wheels add a look of visual sophistication, they also deliver mechanical sophistication thanks to the first-ever use of resonator wheel technology. In an effort to quell road noise transmitted to the RL’s cabin, the noise reducing wheel uses a polypropylene Helmholtz resonator that encircles the center portion of the inside of the wheel. Such resonator wheel technology significantly lowers middle frequency noise (between 100 and 500 hertz). Combined with the added use of insulation material on the floorboard areas of the RL, there is a 1.3 dB reduction in interior noise- which translates to a 15-percent improvement.

Inside, the 2012 RL features an elegantly styled interior that includes ample room for rear seat passengers, front door-mounted pull pockets, soft arm rests, easy-to-use vents, large/clear lettering for HVAC controls, and easy actuation of climate control functions. The steering wheel, genuine wood dashboard trim (included with the Advance Package) and metal-look accents are fitted to the RL along with a transmission shift knob with simulated wood trim. Complementing the steering wheel are gauges that incorporate brushed metal accents for enhanced appearance.

The RL’s perforated leather front seats incorporate six levels of heat/ventilation. Moreover, just like the driver’s seat, the passenger front seat has 10-way power adjustability. The interior is complimented by advanced electronics that include a satellite-linked Acura Navigation System with Voice Activation™ along with the innovative AcuraLink® Satellite Communication System, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting™ and AcuraLink Real-Time Weather™. The RL was the first vehicle on the market to feature in-dash integrated, continually updated weather information in a single-screen format. The spectacular Acura/Bose® 10-speaker Surround Sound System with DVD-Audio includes Bluetooth® Audio, a Note function for XM® Radio and USB port and AUX jack connectivity.

The 2012 RL retains Acura’s acclaimed Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, an exclusive body design that enhances occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal crashes. The ACE™ design utilizes a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle. This enhanced frontal crash energy management helps to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment and can help to more evenly disperse the forces transferred to other vehicles in a crash.

Front seats with active headrests enhance neck and head protection in the event in a rear impact collision. To further aid in safety, the RL includes as standard a passenger seatbelt reminder, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and six airbags.

Powertrain Features

  • 3.7-liter SOHC VTEC® V-6 engine
  • 300 horsepower at 6,300 rpm
  • 271 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm
  • VTEC™ (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) valvetrain for intake and exhaust valves
  • Drive-by-Wire™ throttle system
  • Variable flow exhaust system
  • 11.2:1 compression ratio
  • High inertia dual-stage magnesium intake manifold
  • Direct ignition system
  • Computer-controlled Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) with multi-hole fuel injectors
  • Detonation/knock control system
  • 6-speed automatic with Sequential SportShift, racing-inspired paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control
  • Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD™)
  • EPA TIER 2 – BIN 5 and CARB LEV II ULEV emission standards

Body and Chassis Features

  • Unit body chassis with extensive use of high-tensile steel and aluminum
  • Lightweight aluminum front and rear subframes
  • Independent double-wishbone aluminum front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bars
  • Independent multi-link aluminum rear suspension with rear stabilizer bar
  • Electronically controlled, speed-sensing, variable boost power-assist rack-and-pinion steering
  • 18×8-inch 15-spoke aluminum wheels
  • Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 P245/45R19 M+S all-season tires
  • 4-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD)
  • Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights
  • Active Front Lighting System (Technology Package)
  • LED backlit gauges with progressive illumination
  • Power moonroof with tilt, automatic open/close, auto-reverse and key-off operation
  • Heated side mirrors with driver recognition, Reverse gear mirror tilt-down and integrated directional turn signals

Comfort Convenience Features

  • Acura/Bose® 10-speaker Surround Sound System with DVD-Audio, 6-disc CD player, DTS® changer and AM/FM radio tuner
  • XM® Radio with Note function music reminder
  • Active Sound Control  interior noise reduction system
  • USB port connectivity
  • MP3 auxiliary jack
  • Smart Entry keyless entry and start system
  • Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® wireless interface
  • Acura Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition™ (Technology Package)
  • AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting™ (Technology Package)
  • AcuraLink Real-Time Weather™ (Technology Package)
  • Rear view camera (Technology Package)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (Advance Package)
  • GPS-linked, solar-sensing, dual-zone, dual-mode automatic climate control
  • Driver and passenger 10-way power seats (8-way power seat plus 2-way power lumbar support)
  • Heated (standard) and ventilated (available) front seats
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel (Leather/wood steering wheel with Technology Package)
  • Electronic tilt and telescoping steering column with driver recognition
  • Multi-Information Display (MID)
  • Power rear sunshade
  • Rear door side glass sunshades
  • Remotely activated retractable rear headrests

Safety features

  • Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure
  • Impact-absorbing crumple zones (front/rear)
  • Side impact door beams
  • Driver and front passenger dual-stage, multiple-threshold airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)
  • Driver and front passenger side airbags with front passenger Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS)
  • Side curtain airbags for front and outboard rear seats
  • Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (Advance Package)
  • 3-point adjustable height front seat belts with automatic tensioning system and load limiters
  • 3-point seat belts at all seating positions
  • Automatic Locking Retractor/Emergency Locking Retractors (ALR/ELR)
  • Front seats with active headrests
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child-seat mounting system
  • Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with location and pressure indicators
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Brake Assist


V-6 powered sedans are the highest volume models in the RL’s segment- the mid premium segment. Because they represent the core of the market, Acura decided to build the best V-6 powered luxury performance sedan possible. Underhood is a 3.7L V-6 that employs Acura’s first-ever SOHC use of VTEC® for both the intake and exhaust valves.
The 3.7L delivers 300 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque that is shuttled through a Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™. By choosing not to use a V-8, which accounts for only 15-percent of the vehicles sold in this market segment, the RL is lighter, more nimble and better balanced.

Key 6-cylinder competitors in the RL’s segment include the Audi A6 3.0 Quattro, BMW 535i, Lexus GS 350 and Mercedes-Benz E350. However, with its SH-AWD™ system as standard equipment, the RL has a distinct performance advantage over each of its competitors.


Powering the RL is an aluminum 3.7-liter VTEC® V-6 that is mounted transversely. The V-6 produces 300 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque while meeting stringent EPA TIER 2 – BIN 5 and CARB LEV II ULEV emissions targets. Federal EPA fuel economy is rated at 17/24/20 mpg** (city/highway/combined).

The 2012 RL comes with a Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission that uses a multi-clutch torque converter that not only has a higher maximum torque rating, but also has a new converter lock-up assembly. The lock-up assembly uses multiple lock-up disks that allows for lock-up activation during a much wider range of driving conditions, which, in turn, generates improved fuel economy.

The transmission is operated via a straight-gate style console-mounted shifter or by a racing-inspired steering wheel paddle shifter system that works when the transmission is in Drive or Manual mode. Grade Logic Control is paired with special transmission shift programming to deliver excellent performance and a crisp driving feel.

The RL’s defining powertrain feature is Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive™ (SH-AWD™), which quickly transfers a continuously variable amount of engine torque between the front and rear wheels as well as between the left and right rear wheels. To help the RL arc through corners with better chassis balance and more total grip, the torque vectoring SH-AWD™ system overdrives the outside rear wheel at a faster speed to generate “yaw” which helps the vehicle rotate into a turn for better handling without understeer.


The design of the 2012 RL body combines sophistication with a dose of performance to create a luxury performance sedan with an aggressive, dynamic personality.

The unit body chassis design is stiff for superior handling and utilizes a variety of steel grades in different areas where maximum strength is required. In addition, the hood, front fenders, trunk lid, frame, front and rear subframes, bumper beams and major suspension components are manufactured from aluminum to reduce weight. Some of these aluminum components are formed using an advanced “blow forming” process that allows intricate shapes to be created without increasing the weight of the part.

Careful attention was paid to smoothing airflow over, under and around the RL’s body, across the windshield wipers and past the flush-mounted side glass. A cowl garnish was installed at the lower part of windshield to reduce air turbulence, while an advanced exterior-mirror design contributes to improved quietness inside the car. Under the RL, engineers further improved the myriad underbody aero panels to route airflow, improve cooling, and reduce vehicle lift at high speeds.

The RL employs an independent front double-wishbone and independent rear multi-link suspension design that uses aluminum arms and steering knuckles which mount to aluminum subframes fit with stiff frame-to-body bushings. Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control, large 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and 18×8-inch 7-spoke aluminum wheels give the RL excellent dynamic performance.

Technology is present throughout the RL including all forms of lighting. At night, to help the driver see around corners, the RL’s available Active Front Lighting System (AFS) incorporates Xenon HID low-beam headlights that can swivel laterally up to 20-degrees when certain steering angle and speed conditions are met. Daytime running lights (DRL), LED turn signals integrated in the exterior mirror housings and a center high-mounted stop lamp (CHMSL) dramatically increase the RL’s visibility. High tech lighting is present in the interior as well, in the form of LED backlit gauges with progressive illumination.


The interior of the RL is more than just luxurious, sporty, and fully equipped with comfort and convenience features. Technology abounds in the form of the available AcuraLink® Satellite Communication System that debuted the first ever U.S. application of AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic™ information. Available on Navigation-equipped RL’s, this subscription-based feature includes continually updated traffic information for 130 major metropolitan areas that the RL driver can easily access to identify traffic congestion on major roadways.

The AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic™ traffic information is continuously updated via graphics displayed on the RL’s navigation screen. This updated information allows the RL driver to re-route to clearer traffic areas without relying on sporadic radio traffic reports. In addition, the Traffic Rerouting™ function helps the driver navigate around undesired traffic incidents on a programmed route. With AcuraLink Real-Time Weather™, the RL driver will not only know about current weather conditions, but predicted future conditions as well. Furthermore, the system will inform the driver of potential weather issues on the programmed drive route of the RL.

Other RL technology features are equally appealing. As an example, the RL’s innovative Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system is offered as part of the available RL Advance Package. With ACC, when cruise control is activated the system uses radar data to allow the driver to set and maintain a specific following distance interval between the RL and the car directly in front of it. Should the traffic speeds change, the ACC will automatically adjust the RL’s speed to maintain the pre-set following distance.

The RL interior features luxurious styling, perforated leather-trimmed seats, and dramatic LED backlit gauges with progressive illumination. The 2012 RL refines its premium nature with a Dark Burlwood textured trim (for the dash, center console, steering wheel and shift knob), 10-way adjustable (8-way power seat plus 2-way power lumbar support) heated and ventilated (ventilated front seats available with Technology Package) front seats, spacious rear seats and a logical layout of HVAC controls with easy-to-read wording.

Premium technologies define the interior just as with the powertrain and chassis. Some of these technologies include: an available GPS-linked, solar-sensing, dual-zone, dual-mode automatic climate control system; an Acura/BOSE® 10-speaker surround sound system with DVD-Audio 6-disc changer that provides 500 times the clarity of a typical CD system (and also can play CD, MP3 and DTS® discs); USB port and AUX jack connectivity; a standard XM® Radio with Note feature (which allows the recording of up to ten seconds of music along with the name of the artist, song title, and even the XM® channel name that can be referred to at a later time).

Premium interior features continue in the form of an Active Sound Control system that is more advanced than the previous Active Noise Cancellation™ (ANC) system. Whereas ANC dealt specifically with the elimination of low decibel booming noise entering the cabin, the Active Sound Control system has a much broader range including the elimination of unwanted high frequency noise. In addition, Active Sound Control is linked to throttle position and engine rpm to provide a quieter cockpit during normal cruising while allowing the 3.7L’s muscular sound to be enjoyed during higher rpm, more spirited driving.

Yet, interior technology doesn’t end with noise cancellation. When you want to be heard, such as when giving voice commands to the navigation system or talking on a compatible Bluetooth® cellular telephone, a high-directional array microphone system radically improves coverage area and voice “pick up” during noisy conditions- such as when the windows are down. In addition, standard Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® allows for hands-free cellular telephone interface that is compatible with many Bluetooth® phones (visit for a list of applicable phones) for a seamless cellular telephone communication experience. Other interior technologies include a Multi-Information Display (MID), a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with specific tire and pressure indicators, a Maintenance Minder™ system and a Smart Entry keyless entry and start system.

Premium items typically reserved only for top end luxury vehicles, such as power rear sunshade and rear door side glass sunshades, are standard on the RL. Plus, to further separate occupants from unwanted outside noises, extensive sound proofing insulation has been applied throughout the RL’s cabin.


With the RL, Acura embraces active as well as passive safety as essential goals. Active safety features can help a driver avoid a collision, and the RL includes standard items such as Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®), traction control and 4-wheel disc brakes. ABS and Brake Assist team to further enhance safety and to generate greater driver control. An available Active Front Lighting System (that allows for up to 20-degrees of lateral movement during cornering) also contributes to superior nighttime visibility and enhanced safety.

Safety takes a quantum leap when the RL is optioned with the Advance Package. This package adds the Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) to help reduce the likelihood of the RL colliding with the rear of another vehicle.

To specifically address occupant safety, the RL features Acura’s innovative Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure. ACE™ is an exclusive body design that enhances occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal crashes.

The RL features a driver and front passenger dual-stage, multiple-threshold airbag Supplementary Restraint System (SRS). Side curtain airbags that provide head protection for all outboard seating positions are also standard equipment. The RL has seat sensors that monitor the weight on the front passenger seat and will automatically turn off the passenger-side front airbag if it detects an occupant who weighs less than 65-pounds. In addition, the RL’s front passenger seat includes Acura’s Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) which is designed to deactivate the front passenger side-airbag if a small statured person leans into the deployment path of the side airbag.

**Based on 2012 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

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