2003 Acura 3.5 RL -- Interior

As a crucial component of Acura's flagship, the RL's interior received a great deal of attention -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 objective is to give the interior a very open, relaxed ambience, much like the comfortable living room of an elegant, yet casual, contemporary luxury home.

Only the finest materials have been chosen for the RL cabin. The glove-soft, hand-selected leather seating surfaces that give the RL its luxurious look and feel are American hides tanned with an innovative process that helps the leather retain its soft, supple feel and resilient strength far longer than conventional automobile interior leather. Oils in conventional leather tend to slowly evaporate - especially when the car is parked in the bright summer sun - causing leather to prematurely age and dry out over time or form deposits on the rear window and windshield glass when the interior cools, eventually causing a persistent and hard-to-remove "fogging" effect. The leather used in the RL is specially treated to resist this phenomenon, and reduces window fogging by 90 percent compared to conventional leather.

The camphor wood that adorns the cockpit is of similar unparalleled quality. It comes from Tendo - a woodworking firm so esteemed its work is displayed in the New York Museum of Modern Art.

The front seats are the products of extensive research and development. Designed to absorb vibrations and bumps, they provide outstanding comfort without sacrificing the firm support needed during 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 has 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. Both front seats incorporate an advanced suspension system that helps isolate occupants from road harshness.

Every attempt is made to maximize comfort. Gently rounded thigh bolsters at the front avoid digging into driver and passenger thighs. The front lateral seam, which often runs across the seat under the thighs, is positioned forward and down, eliminating this possible source of discomfort.

The front seats are designed to also make rear-seat passengers more comfortable. The backs of the seats are concave, giving rear seat passengers nearly an inch of extra knee room. 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. Linked by a memory system with the outside mirrors and with the electronic tilt and telescoping steering wheel, it permits 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 accommodate 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.

Advances in soundproofing throughout the RL make its interior extremely quiet and vibration-free. With added insulation under the hood, in the engine compartment, and under the dashboard, every effort has been made to ensure that no unnecessary sound or vibration intrudes on the driving experience.

The RL is the most lavishly equipped Acura ever built. Nearly everything is standard, including cruise control, individual reading lights, power windows and door locks, a power moonroof, 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 a tray designed to hold a cellular phone. The OnStar activation button is located in the rear view mirror.

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. Acura designed the wipers to be as quiet as possible 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 turn on automatically for nighttime convenience. When the vehicle is parked at night, the lights remain lit after the ignition switch is turned off, but extinguish automatically when the driver's door is opened.

In the RL, special, solar-energy-rejecting, green-tinted glass is used, 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 heat.

Acura automobiles have always been known for their high level of ergonomic design and control harmony; however, the RL aspires to a whole new level of human engineering. The cockpit, for example, is based on a "trinocular" design. A large central speedometer and associated gauges monitor driving functions. A left-side, slightly smaller circle of gauges includes the tachometer while a symmetrical right-side circle includes the fuel gauge and less-used, yet important indicators. The large display and illuminated instruments provide easy recognition. Significant time and effort have been expended to design displays that require only quick monitoring glances, making each switch and control nearly as easy to use the first time as it will be after years of familiarity.

The RL is equipped with a state-of-the-art Automatic Climate Control System. While powerful in terms of cooling capacity and efficiency, it is also extremely quiet, even when quickly cooling the interior on a hot Death Valley day. Rear-seat passengers have personal control over the direction of heating or cooling air coming their way. Every effort has been taken to ensure cooling uniformity from front to rear, and an innovative subcondenser improves 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 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 fine enough to trap all particles of three microns or larger, including almost all pollen and dust, and inhibit 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 dust and other airborne particles.

The RL Acura/Bose" Audio System was developed in concert with Bose Corporation specifically for the RL . It is an integral element of the RL cabin design, delivering musical reproduction of truly dazzling power and clarity. Using state-of-the-art tools such as microphone-equipped mannequins to analyze every facet of the RL interior, Bose engineers were able to design a sound system perfectly matched to acoustics of the RL cabin.

The system is driven by custom-equalized, 225-watt amplifiers. 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 eight precisely positioned Bose speakers. Two 6.5-inch, single-cone, full-range speakers, and two 2.5-inch tweeters are positioned in the lower front door panels. Two 5.25-inch, full-range speakers are mounted in the rear-door panels, and two 6 x 9-inch low-frequency drivers are located in the rear package shelf also positioned high in the front doors. Each tweeter is powered by a 12.5-watt amplifier, 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.

For convenience, the RL is equipped with a standard 6-disc CD changer. The changer unit is mounted securely and discreetly in the car's trunk.

The antennae 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 antenna masts lessens complexity and reduces wind noise for the rear-seat passengers.

The only factory-installed option on the RL, the Acura Satellite-Linked Navigation System is designed to make finding almost any destination as easy as touching a screen. It features a 7-inch, matte-finish, touch-screen LCD display that resists fingerprinting and is easy to read. The 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 current position coordinates at any time, and a balloon function instantly shows the address of any location selected on the map.

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. A Digital Video Disc (DVD) on-board database contains the continental United States 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 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.

Selected points of interest can be found by 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 instructions are given.

OnStar® is standard in the 3.5 RL. Providing an extra level of security and convenience, OnStar can offer 24-hour emergency assistance, accident notification, airbag deployment notification, stolen vehicle tracking, door unlock command and vehicle tracking.

The OnStar activation button is located on the rearview mirror. Pressing the button provides quick access to a live OnStar advisor, any time day or night. Using input from orbiting GPS satellites, the OnStar advisor can easily pinpoint the location of the owner's vehicle to help provide assistance.

In the event of theft, subscribers need only contact the OnStar Center (after filing a police report) and provide a personal identification number. An OnStar advisor can then pinpoint the car and direct authorities to its exact location.

The RL comes with a free one year subscription to the Safe and Sound Plan. In addition, RL owners can choose to upgrade (additional cost) to either the Directions and Connections Plan or the Luxury and Leisure Plan. The Directions and Connections Plan adds route support, and convenience services and ride assist. The Luxury and Leisure Plan adds personal concierge services and other benefits. The optional Personal-Calling Package, which includes wireless phone and "Virtual Advisor" Internet services, is available as part of both plans for an additional charge. The Luxury and Leisure Plan adds personal concierge services and other benefits.

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 that the key is genuine. If the car is hot-wired, or an unauthorized key is used, the car simply will not start. This system is a substantial deterrent to theft.

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