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The 2010 Acura RL holds the dubious title of Canada’s Worst Selling Car, with just 33 sold in 2010. Our northernly neighbors, who by all rights should be swayed by the car’s roomy interior and all-wheel drive, don’t seem to care for the car, and neither do Americans.
For 2011, the RL gets yet another refresh, but we have a hard time fathoming if anyone will care about Acura’s big sedan, which is long past its expiration date. The big news for this year is a 6-speed automatic and a bump in fuel economy, from 22 to 24 highway mpg. Special Hemholtz resonators help dampen road noise and are fitted inside new 18″ alloys, which should excite both geriatrics and their ungrateful grandchildren who want to borrow the car cruise the streets of Boca Raton.
Hit the jump to read all about the new Acura RL, but we suggest you have a strong cup of coffee first.
First there were rumors that Honda would axe the Acura RL, and then came the official word that it wouldn’t, but here is the first sign that the RL continues to carry on – even if the car has become irrelevant.
While it’s not official for North America, Honda in Japan has announced that the Acura RL (still sold as the Legend there) will get a refresh for the 2012 model year that includes a new 6-speed automatic transmission. This may help the RL pick up a few extra buyers as the added gear should help improve both fuel economy and acceleration. Then again, perhaps its just a bigger sign of how irrelevant the RL is when the supposed luxury car is only now getting a 6-speed transmission – something Ford offers on the $13,000 Fiesta.
A selection of other upgrades and trim changes for the RL are made for 2012, plus it gets a unique new invention: an in-wheel silencer that is designed to absorb road imperfections.
No changes are slated for the 300-hp 3.7-liter V6 engine.
If anyone at Honda is listening, we’re certain the addition of a more Honda-like grille (rather than the Acura beak) would help sell a few extra cars here as well.
A report in Japan’s Nikkei business paper cited sources inside the automaker who said the Legend (as its known in Japan) would be cut from the lineup globally. The news actually came as little surprise, with the RL’s sales dismally low as Acura made its flagship vehicle redundant by offering the same engine and drivetrain in the only-slightly-smaller TL SH-AWD model. In fact, Acura has sold just 872 RL models compared to the 5,650 Lexus LS models sold and the 6,602 Infiniti M models sold.
In a statement released yesterday Honda’s luxury arm took the position that, “This morning erroneous media reports began to surface suggesting that Acura’s RL model would be discontinued. These reports are untrue. The RL continues to be the flagship for the Acura brand and we have no plans to discontinue it.”
This news actually comes as more of a shock than yesterday’s report, for the outlined reasons above, as well as the fact that the lack of a RWD layout and V8 engine have relegated the RL to the bottom of the luxury heap. It’s possible that this is just a PR effort to keep the RL badge alive so Honda dealers can move the remaining stock from their lots. However, Acura has been rumored to be developing a V6 hybrid system for the next-generation RL that would give the model V8-like power and excellent fuel economy.
We can’t say we’re surprised about the demise of the slow-selling RL, especially after Acura recently released the TL SH-AWD model with the same engine, essentially making the RL redundant. Many blame the lack of a V8 and a true rear-drive architecture for Acura’s lack of success in the full-size luxury segment. The RL is sold as the Legend in other markets. In addition, Honda will also eliminate the Elysion minivan.
The biggest surprise, however, is that in Japan Honda will no longer offer a gasoline-powered Civic. Hybrid cars are increasingly becoming the norm in Japan, and so Honda will continue to offer the Civic in Japan, only in hybrid form.
Instead, Honda will focus on models like the Insight and other green models, as well as more entry-level cars.
This news comes via Japan’s Nikkei business paper, which also reports that the new Civic will debut in the Fall of 2011.