Page 1: Introduction
NEW YORK, NY - Front-wheel-drive cars are so last year, so gauche, so passe. It's the automotive equivalent of celebrities dabbling in kabbalah. Everyone is doing rear- or all-wheel-drive, so jump on the bandwagon or be left behind in Evan Marriott-ville.
Well, no, not really. For those who live in areas with iced-over roadways, there are plenty of FWD sedan choices that keep better traction in the slippery stuff than RWD and that weigh and cost less than AWD. But there is an unfounded consumer perception, perpetuated by enthusiast publications, that luxury vehicles and front-drive are diametrically opposed. True, it's a matter of physics that rear-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles handle curves better than nose-heavy front-drive cars, but not all luxury cars must be sporting machines. Nevertheless, consumers often choose more favorably reviewed rear- or all-wheel-drive luxury vehicles, and if you're not playing on that field you're in danger of losing sales.
As such, that stalwart of front-drive, Honda, is giving its luxury division, Acura, a new 2005 RL sedan with standard all-wheel-drive. Showcased at the 2004 New York Auto Show in what Acura billed prototype format, the 2005 Acura RL's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive System (SH-AWD) distributes torque not only between the front and rear wheels, but also to the right and left wheels. Acura claims to be the first one to offer this system. "Wait a second," you say indignantly, "Hasn't the ATTESA E-TS on the Nissan Skyline GT-R been doing this for years?" Well, yes, but that system can only take away torque from the wheel with the least amount of traction; it can't add power to the wheel with more traction as on the SH-AWD system. Score one for Acura.
Page 2: Power
Other desirable features on the 2005 Acura RL include a 10-speaker Bose DVD stereo system, keyless ignition and the requisite wood-and-leather interior. And here's a feature that will go over big in traffic-clogged areas - a real-time traffic monitor using the XM NavTraffic service that comes with satellite radio. It'll tell you which streets are congested, about accidents that are backing up traffic and the average road speeds of different routes. It's a first for the American market, and we think it'll go a long way toward making expensive navigation systems more useful to commuters who tend to travel the same routes every day.
Page 3: Competition
-- Photos Courtesy of Acura