All-new for 2005, the Acura RL has nothing in common with its predecessor other than its name. This is a ground-up remake, combining luxury features with a vast quantity of technology; cars like this are the reason winding roads were invented.

Its swooping body lines surround a luxurious interior that’s compromised only by a rear seat that could be roomier. Power is from a 3.5-litre V6, sourced from the 2004 Acura MDX but massaged to 300 horses. There is no V8; Acura is counting on the fact that most customers opt for the six-cylinder when there’s a choice. The sole transmission is a five-speed automatic with sequential manual shift, paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control.

The RL’s most notable feature is SH-AWD, short for Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive. Using steering angle and throttle sensors that compare the driver’s input to the car’s actual motions, it distributes torque where it’s needed – not only front to rear, but side to side as well. It will also increase the rotation of the outside rear wheels during aggressive cornering to reduce understeer and improve cornering grip, something the manufacturer says no other current AWD system can do.

The RL comes in a single, fully-equipped trim line; there are no options available. Features include xenon high-intensity discharge headlights with active front lighting system; keyless entry with driver recognition for the seat, wheel, outside mirrors, climate control, audio system and navigation system settings; LED taillights, turn signals, brake lights, centre-mounted brake light and side marker lights; reverse-gear tilt-down mirrors; speed-sensing variable intermittent wipers; perforated leather seats with heating and cooling; curly maple dashboard trim; bilingual wireless telephone interface; bilingual recognition navigation system; Acura/Bose 10-speaker surround sound system with six-CD changer; power moonroof with auto open and close; GPS-linked, solar-sensing dual zone automatic climate control; electronic tilt and telescopic wheel with driver recognition; and front and rear power windows with auto up and down.

The improvement over the 2004 RL is night and day; styling, acceleration, handling, comfort and quietness have all been stepped up. This is now a viable contender with such cars as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and the S-Type Jaguar.

The RL is built in Sayama, Japan.

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