2010 Acura RL
It wasn't in contention for the award this time around, but the 2010 Acura RL showed up in Hell a few weeks ago anyway, at the North American Car of the Year jury drives.
For frequent flyer miles? To make a point? To have some awkward public confrontation with the nominees, a.k.a., a Sean Young moment?
Nothing that dramatic brought it to Michigan. I did, and in more than 2000 miles round-trip in the RL's front seat, some of it spent eyes closed, I confirmed some of the reasons why the 2010 RL scores so well on TheCarConnection's scales, and why it blends so neatly into the background.
Over at TheCarConnection, we've given the 2010 RL an overall score of 8.4 out of 10, with its great safety features, techno-gadgets and sumptuous interior. But styling matters, and the first thing you notice--or don't--about the RL is its lack of presence. Bionic-beaver grille aside, the RL simply comports itself without much visual drama. None of the flair of an Infiniti M is evident, and though it's more a competitor against the likes of the Lexus GS, Audi A6 and Volvo S80, those are some of the lower hurdles to clear in the looks department of the luxury-sedan segment.
The 2010 Acura RL's dowdy sheetmetal is mostly forgotten once you're behind the controls. We've critiqued the interior as somewhat bland, but it's really a different flavor of luxury--less dependent on formality, more ingrained with woodgrain than you might expect. The waterfall of walnut on the dash is handsome, and the boomerangs of metallic trim do the best job of any Acura in convincing you that this roughly $50,000 version of the RL is worth the bones over the only slightly smaller, much less expensive Acura TL. (Base cars don't offer the wood trim, and spec out much closer to $42,000.)