2001 Acura 3.5 RL -- Interior

A great deal of attention was given to the design, materials, comfort features and convenience amenities of the 3.5 RL interior, from major issues such as control location and passenger head, hip and shoulder room to smaller details such as extra-large beverage holders and a special compartment intended specifically for the driver's sunglasses. The overall design thrust was to give the interior a very open, relaxed ambience, much like the comfortable living room of an elegant, yet casual, contemporary luxury home.

The leather seating surfaces that give the RL its luxurious look and feel are carefully hand-selected American hides that are tanned with an innovative process that helps the leather retain its soft, supple feel and resilient strength far longer than conventional automobile interior leather. The oils in conventional leather tend to slowly evaporate out of the hides, especially when the car is parked in the bright summer sun. This causes leather to prematurely age and dry out over time. It has another annoying side effect -- the oil that escapes from the leather is then deposited on the rear window and windshield glass when the interior cools, eventually causing a persistent and hard-to-remove "fogging" effect on the glass. The leather used in the RL is specially treated to resist this phenomenon; it reduces window fogging 90 percent better than conventional leather.

The center console of the RL features rich Tendo-camphor wood that has been carefully contoured, finished and preserved by a deep protective clear coat.

The driver and front passenger seats are the products of extensive research and development. They are designed to absorb vibrations and bumps and to provide outstanding comfort without sacrificing the firm support needed in enthusiastic driving.

In testing, the RL seats decreased the upward force felt by test subjects by 50 percent over conventional seats; that is, the subjects felt the jarring of irregular road surfaces only half as strongly as with a conventional design.

Human factors research revealed that the human body has its own resonant frequency; that is, the vibration frequency at which the internal organs of the body pick up an outside vibration and resonate with it. If felt strongly, vibration in this frequency range is very unpleasant, and human test subjects generally gauge the vibration felt in a moving car on the level of vibration felt in this narrow range, between 5 and 10 Hz or cycles per second.

To damp out as much of this vibration frequency as possible, the configuration of the springs in the RL seat cushions were analyzed using the NASTRAN finite-element analysis program. Six different designs were tried before one was found that performed to Acura's exacting standards.

Other details in the seat design include gently rounded thigh bolsters at the front to avoid digging into the driver's and passenger's lower thighs. And the front lateral seam, which often runs across under the thighs, has been moved forward and down, eliminating this possible source of discomfort.

The front seats have even been designed to make rear-seat passengers more comfortable. The backs of the seats are concave, giving rear seat passengers nearly an inch more knee room. And the seat rail structure was designed to give rear-seat passengers nearly an inch more horizontal foot room, while the underside of the seat is carpeted to prevent shoe scuffs.

The driver's seat is eight-way power adjustable. It is linked by a memory system with the outside mirrors and electronic tilt and telescoping steering wheel, allowing one of two preset configurations to be accessed at the touch of a button. The front passenger's seat is four-way power adjustable. Both front seats are also heated.

The rear seats are designed and built to fit full-sized adults in total comfort as well. A fold-down center armrest incorporates its own dual beverage holder, and a pass-through to the trunk allows long objects to be carried without soiling or marring the interior.

The RL is the most lavishly equipped Acura ever built. Advances in soundproofing throughout the car make its interior by far the quietest in Acura history. Nearly everything is standard, including cruise control, individual reading lights, power windows, door locks, moon roof and remote keyless entry. The center console features an adjustable, two-position armrest and an illuminated storage area with a 12-volt accessory power outlet and tray designed to hold a cellular phone.

The RL is equipped with an automatic, speed-sensitive intermittent wiper system that slows down the wipers when the RL is stopped or moving slowly and increases their speed when vehicle velocity increases. The wiper blades are specially designed to reduce noise while in operation.

In the RL, a sensor at the front of the instrument panel senses outside illumination levels; when darkness occurs during automatic mode, the headlights, taillights and instrument panel lighting are automatically turned on for nighttime convenience. When the vehicle is parked at night, the lights are left on after the ignition switch is turned off, but go out automatically when the driver's door is opened.

Acura automobiles have always been known for their high level of ergonomic design and control harmony; the RL takes us to a whole new level of human engineering. The instrument panel is configured with a "trinocular" design. A large center speedometer and associated gauges monitor driving functions. A left-side, slightly smaller circle contains the tachometer while a symmetrical right-side circle includes the fuel gauge and less-used, yet important indicators. The instruments have large displays and are illuminated, even in daytime, for easy recognition. Much time and effort has gone into minimizing the attention needed to understand and monitor each particular system and to make each switch and control nearly as easy to use the first time as it will be after years of familiarity.

The engine's response to the throttle, for example, has been carefully analyzed and developed by fine-tuning the engine powerband, PGM-FI fuel injection system, transmission control unit and the physical layout and geometry of the throttle pedal itself. It has been developed to give a controlled feel that harmonizes, not only with the brake pedal and steering, but also with subjective human expectations of the effect a given push on the throttle will have on vehicle acceleration and speed. Every system has been optimized to give the driver what he or she asks for the first time, instead of forcing the driver to make a constant series of approximate control movements and subsequent corrections.

The RL is equipped with a state-of-the-art automatic climate control system and air conditioning system. The system is not only powerful in terms of cooling capacity and efficiency, but it is also extremely quiet, even when quickly cooling the interior on a hot Death Valley day. Even rear-seat passengers have personal control over the direction of heating or cooling air coming their way. Great pains have been taken to ensure cooling uniformity from front to rear, and an innovative subcondenser has been added to the A/C system, improving the efficiency of the unit substantially. In controlled testing, the A/C system cooled the interior from 100 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in 15 minutes--quicker than any other competitor in its class.

A state-of-the-art air-filtration system removes pollen and other contaminants from the interior environment. The filter element is so fine, it can trap all particles of 3 microns or larger, including almost all pollen and dust, and inhibits the passage of bacteria as small as 0.5 microns as well as some components of cigarette smoke and particulates in diesel exhaust. The filter has two layers: both are composed of felt-like, nonwoven fabric fibers, and one layer is electrostatically charged to help attract and trap even more dust and other airborne particles.

Special solar-energy-absorbing, green-tinted glass is used in the RL, minimizing the effects of the hot sun on the interior and its occupants. This reduces the load on the climate control system for better cooling efficiency, delays the temperature rise in the interior when the vehicle is parked, and further protects the interior leather and other materials from the effects of solar radiation.

The Acura/Bose audio system for the RL is the most impressive ever designed for an Acura automobile. Developed and tuned by Bose Corporation specially for the RL, the music system is acoustically optimized to provide clear, authentic sound in any seating position of the interior and automatically compensate the balance of bass, treble and midrange for any volume level. It features an AM/FM tuner, cassette and a six-disc CD changer mounted in the trunk.

Eight speakers are used: two 2.5-inch tweeters mounted in the front doors, two 6.5-inch single-cone full-range speakers in the lower front door panels, two 5.25-inch full-range speakers, mounted in the rear-door panels and two 6 x 9-inch low-frequency drivers in the rear package shelf.

From the easily accessible, dash-mounted control unit, audio output is sent to the auxiliary power amplifier unit located in the trunk. Separate amplifiers are provided inside the unit for each of the six individual front speakers. Each tweeter has a 12.5-watt amplifier while each of the four full-range speakers has its own 25-watt amplifier and the two rear speakers, which act in concert as subwoofers, share a 100-watt amplifier. Total music system power is 225 watts.

The antenna for the various receiver systems are all built into the rear window. These include the AM/FM antenna and the antenna for the radio-based keyless entry system. The elimination of the antenna mast lessens complexity and reduces wind noise for the rear-seat passengers.

The Acura Navigation System is the only factory-installed option available on the fully equipped 2001 3.5 RL. It features a seven-inch matte-finish touch-screen that resists fingerprinting and is easy to read. Smart logic allows you to type in your destination with only a few keystrokes, and route calculation time is very fast. You can also preprogram a route with up to five destinations, or have the moving map display icons for gas stations, restaurants or ATMs. And with a Digital Video Disc (DVD) on-board database, the entire continental United States is contained on a single disc.

The Acura Navigation System unit uses Global Positioning System (GPS) data received from satellites, as well as its own inertial guidance system, to precisely pinpoint the location* and velocity of the car. When asked to guide the driver from one location to another, the system provides both audio and visual cues, helping the driver to find the proper destination quickly and easily and with minimal distraction. Verbal instructions such as, "Keep right" or "Next exit on the right" give the driver the basic direction, and a visual LCD moving map with a directional arrow, located high on the center console, provides detailed information on street names, turning instructions and driving distances. The navigation system also provides information and directions to 3.7 million local restaurants, theaters and points of interest.

The seven-inch, color LCD display has a picture-in-picture capability, so you can see the "big picture" map and get detailed turning instructions simultaneously. The system will also display your current position coordinates at any time, and a balloon function instantly shows the address of any location you select on the map. You can also search for a selected point of interest simply by inputting its phone number. The voice guidance control has 11 different volume settings and automatically mutes the audio entertainment system front speakers momentarily when direction commands are given.

A remote keyless entry system is standard on the RL. The keyless entry system is radio-controlled -- this gives much better range than a conventional infrared system, allowing the driver to unlock the RL or activate the "panic button" antitheft function while still a considerable distance from the car. A special electronically coded key prevents the car from being started, even if a mechanical duplicate of the proper key shape is used. A transponder, built into the key, signals the immobilizer control unit the key is genuine. If the car is hot-wired, or an unauthorized key is used, it simply will not start. This system is a substantial deterrent to theft.

* Major metropolitan areas are mapped in detail by the system.

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