Acura tops off the most significant 12 months in its nearly 10-year history in the United States with the introduction of the 1996 Acura 3.5RL luxury sedan.
The 3.5RL is the fourth all-new model to join the Acura lineup of luxury vehicles since March 1995- expanding the lineup to six luxury vehicles in all - and it becomes the new flagship car of the Acura division.
"The RL is the flagship of a new lineup we've designed to be best-in-class from top to bottom," said Rich Thomas, Acura's executive vice president and general manager. "We're proud of our 10-yearhistory as a leader in the import luxury marketplace, which includes Acura's being No.1 in sales for the past nine consecutive years. This new lineup of vehicles will enable us to raise the bar to a whole new level. We're very excited about the future."
Powered by a new 3.5-liter V-6 that is the largest powerplant ever for an Acura model, the four-door, front-wheel-drive 3.5RL does not require a scheduled tune-up for the first 100,000miles. It will carry the flag for a lineup that has significantly broadened its range of product choices for the luxury vehicle buyer.
Since 1994, the Integra Sports Coupe and Sports Sedan Series has been the topseller in the sport-specialty category. It also was named to Car and Driver magazine's "Ten Best" list for the third year in a row in 1996.
Acura's top-of-the-line NSX exotic sports car saw its sales jump nearly 70% when Acura introduced the NSX-T, an open-top version of the NSX, in early 1995.
In March 1995, Acura introduced the TL Sedan Series, an all-new model line for Acura. It is a touring luxury automobile which offers a sportier and more youthful alternative in the mid-luxury segment.
Last November, Acura introduced its first-ever luxury sport utility vehicle - the 1996 Acura SLX - which marked the latest chapter in the company's mission to build the most comprehensive luxury import line in the United States. It combines Acura's renowned luxury, performance and prestige with the utility, all-weather handling and off-highway capability of a high-end four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Last month, Acura introduced its first luxury sports coupe - the CL Series - that was designed, engineered and manufactured entirely in the United States. Set to go on sale in mid-March, the CL Series is intended to appeal to a growing number of Americans interested in the concept of a stylish, personalized luxury sports coupe but with limited buying options in the ,mid-luxury coupe segment.
And the RL, which goes on sale this month at the nearly 300 Acura dealers nationwide, is the quietest, smoothest, most refined Acura ever built.
The company projects RL sales of some 20,000 units annually. Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $41,000 for the fully featured Standard model, and $44,000 for the RL with Premium Package. The all-new satellite-linked Acura Navigation System is a $2,000 option and will be available beginning in California in late spring. The Navigation System will be available in other regions as digitized mapping becomes available.
"Now that our new lineup is complete, this is a monumental moment in Acura history," Thomas said. "But while we've worked long and hard to build this best-in-class lineup, we've also recognized the incredible importance of offering our customers even more than best-in-class products."
In 1995, Acura introduced its Total Luxury Care (TLC) program. It includes complimentary roadside assistance, service loaner cars, a special new car delivery package, concierge service, special release offers, and many other value-added services for Acura owners.
In addition, Acura offers Acura Care, a new-vehicle extended service contract which covers the repair or replacement of virtually all mechanical and electrical components for up to seven years or 100,000 miles, and is preparing to launch its new pre-owned vehicle program.
"Best-in-class products, the best value, and the best luxury experience are our goals," Thomas said, "which we hope adds up to the best future in the business."