2004 Acura 3.5 RL (482)


This week I tested the 2004 Acura 3.5 RL 4-door sedan. Right of the bat I notice I have to re-grip the key to turn the ignition. It’s just the way the key is inserted so you can’t grip it for a single motion from inserting it to starting the engine.

This is the Flagship of the fleet for Acura from Honda. Honda continues to impress me after all these years. I’m driving a Pilot SUV at the moment and I’m reminded how much I like these cars and trucks. But with the price of gas going up and up and up (for no real reason), I suspect I’ll fall out of love with these vehicles with a voracious appetite. I’m tired of hanging out at Arco AM/PM.

Well, the Legend was the top of the line in the late 1980’s and in 1996 the RL took top spot (European alphanumeric model naming also began back then).

0-60 is about 8 seconds so it isn’t fast but it is acceptable. Consider a real performer from the company is the Civic Hybrid that gets 48-highway mpg and 0-60 is about 11 seconds and the cost is about $20,000. With gas at $1.50 car buying choices won’t change much in the foreseeable future, but at $3.00 a gallon you’ll see some radical opinion changes and humbling of those who will likely chose food over gas and general “consumption”.

General Info:

Parts – Japan

Assembly – Sayama, Japan

Class:  – Mid Size

Cars: – MDX (SUV), NSX, RL, RSX, TL and TSX.

Handling & Performance:

You’ll love the way this Sedan handles primarily because of the double -wishbone all-independent suspension. Braking is sure, smooth and quiet and the anti skid feature referred to as VSA gives confidence in hard driving. Speed-sensitive variable-assist steering is responsive and fine-tuned. The ride is solid and comfortable.


Proletariat, or if you prefer, it is quiet elegance that doesn’t jump out at you. Now if you want to disappear into the crowd and be invisible, this is just the ticket.

Fit and Finish:

Squeaky clean and neat, as usual… bore-ing! But I did have one complaint. The door panel was too close to the seat and makes seat settings difficult. What’s that all about Acura?


Wow! In the old days, Cal Worthington and other high profile car sales people would say, “This thing is loaded”. A similarly equipped Lear Jet would go for well over a million. Well dah, dad! … My kids would retort.


Well, as Ronnie Reagan would begin his replies… everything you could want is standard. But on the other hand, if you’re in the market for a top of the line, luxury flagship car you’ll want all that stuff anyway.

Consumer Recommendation:

My philosophy in buying a car has always been to buy a year old car that is “Loaded” because you won’t pay for all that stuff. But if you have to have a new car, and I do love the smell of a spanking new car that has never been violated, you won’t mind picking up the tab for the next guy.

The competition:

Acura 3.5 RL $45,600, Volvo S80 $37-49,000, Lincoln LS $32-43,000, Audi A6 $36-50,000, Saab 9-5 $34-39,000, Lexus GS $39-48,000, BMW 5 Series $40-58,000, Jaguar S-Type $43-62,000, Mercedes Benz E-Class $48-79,000, Infiniti M45 $43,250.

Good News:

Everything you ever wanted and more, so if you don’t want to think about what options you want or don’t need you’ll get them all for one price, traditional Japanese quality attention to detail, and it is roomy with a large trunk.

Bad News:

Styling is a little proletariat if that is important to you,

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 225 hp V6 engine, 4-speed auto trans, 4-wheel ABS (antilock brake system) disc brakes, power assisted steering, dual front and side airbags, VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist), child latch system, theft deterrent and immobilizer, remote keyless entry, navigation system with voice recognition, XM satellite radio, OnStar, leather seating surfaces, wood trim, climate control, Bose stereo with cassette and 6-in-dash CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, 8-way power driver and 4-way passenger hearted seats, drivers memory system, power tilt and telescopic steering column, power moonroof, alloy wheels and xenon high intensity headlights with auto on/off, fog lights.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 24 Highway MPG.


MSRP $45,600.

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