HEADLINES

2009 Acura RL - Body

BODY DESIGN & STRUCTURE

The 2009 Acura RL incorporates fresh exterior bodywork that generates a crisper, yet more muscular, luxury performance sedan. The RL combines its dynamic exterior and interior design with advanced body and chassis engineering. The result is distinctive and appealing styling, together with excellent maneuverability on the road. To ensure that the RL has exceptional dynamic capabilities and driving quality, it is outfitted with a lightweight and highly rigid body structure that makes extensive use of both high-tensile steel and aluminum components, and features 4-wheel independent suspension.

DESIGN CONCEPT

Acura designers wanted to create a taut and athletic shape that conveyed the performance capabilities of the RL without sacrificing comfort and capability.

To create an exhilarating, athletic sedan, the designers targeted superior dynamic performance, superb maneuverability, distinctively appealing styling, and a high level of active safety. The result is a top-flight luxury performance sedan able to compete with the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E Class and others.

Design Image

With the new 2009 RL, Acura designers set out to employ a new "Keen Edge Dynamic" look of improved character and athleticism. To help craft the fresh design image, styling cues include the following:

  • Improved aerodynamic design with low drag and improved high-speed stability
  • A new "power plenum" front grille that is in design concert with the new Keen Edge Dynamic design grille for all new Acura vehicles
  • A new front hood constructed of lightweight aluminum and designed for increased forward visibility and reduced aerodynamic drag
  • A redesigned trunk lid that reduces rearend lift at high speed and provides added visual character
  • More aggressively styled front and rear bumpers
  • New lower rocker panel side moldings with inset chrome trim accents
  • Flush-mount side glass for reduced wind noise
  • Restyled, more aggressive front headlights that incorporate Active Front Lighting System (AFS)
  • Restyled, more aggressive rear taillights
  • Reverse gear back-up lights integrated into the rear trunk lid for improved visibility
  • New hexagonal-shaped, polished chrome dual exhaust tips
  • Five new exterior color choices
  • All-new pearl paint technology that provides improved luster

Aero Sculpture

The specific aerodynamic properties of the RL complement the styling, safety, dynamic performance, stability, human factors and other considerations. To achieve this high-performance exterior, the RL designers created a strong wedge shape that begins its "momentum" with the hood, continues it with a forward-mounted acoustic glass windshield, and finishes with a short rear overhang. The aerodynamic cabin has flush side glass for reduced drag and less wind noise. With further improved aerodynamic performance, the 2009 RL is designed to look like it moves fast.

The packaging goal for the RL was to create a taught body with short overhangs while simultaneously providing wide interior dimensions for enhanced comfort and convenience.

Controlling the weight of the RL is important for maximum acceleration, road holding and braking performance - so lightweight materials and weight-saving design are key.

Body Packaging


2009 Acura RL 2008 Audi A6 3.2 2008 BMW 528xi 2008 Infiniti M35x 2008 Lexus GS 350 2008 Mercedes E320 4Matic
Drive system

SH-AWD

AWD

AWD

AWD

AWD

AWD

AWD system

Standard

Standard

Optional

Optional

Optional

Optional

Length, in.

195.8

193.5

191.1

194.1

190.0

191.1

Width, in.

72.7

79.2

72.7

71.1

71.7

71.7

Height, in.

57.2

57.4

58.3

60.0

56.5

58.4

Wheelbase, in.

110.2

111.9

113.7

114.2

112.2

112.4

Track, Front/Rear, in.

62.0/62.4

63.5/63.7

61.3/62.2

60.4/60.4

60.4/60.6

61.3/61.1

Curb weight, lbs.

4,083
(SH-AWD)

4,034
(AWD)

3,814
(AWD)

4,041
(AWD)

3,869
(AWD)

3,935
(AWD)

Weigh distribution, %, F/R

58/42

56/44

52/48

55/45

55/45

51/49

BODY STRUCTURE

Light Weight

Producing a lightweight and rigid unit body was essential to making the RL a premium luxury performance sedan. Light weight construction techniques improve every aspect of the RL's dynamic performance and fuel economy, and a rigid structure improves ride and handling quality.

Specific RL strategies employed to reduce body mass include:

  • Aluminum hood, front fenders, trunk lid, and trunk lid frame
  • Aluminum front and rear subframes, suspension arms, front knuckles and bumper beams
  • Magnesium intake manifold, cylinder head covers and seat frames
  • Carbon fiber reinforced composite driveshafts

Structural Solidity

The Acura RL was also designed with the goal of creating an automobile body that provides world-class safety. It was engineered to comply with the latest FMVSS208 occupant crash protection standard and FMVSS301 fuel system integrity standard.

One of the most difficult test modes to achieve is the side collision that models the impact of a RL being struck from the side by an SUV or a pickup truck. To meet these important benchmarks, engineers increased the side section of the frame to comply with new collision regulations (see Safety section for more information). Engineers also chose different material specifications to provide the desired level of stiffness and strength for critical areas, without adding unnecessary weight.

  • The use of aluminum for the front and rear bumper beams, hood, trunk lid and front fenders saves 40 pounds compared to if made from steel.
  • Extremely strong Grade 80 high-tension steel is used for the side sills, under-floor spars, and in the impact-absorbing crumple zones at the front of the side frames
  • High tension Grade 45 steel is used on the front shock mounts, areas of the front passenger-compartment bulkhead, areas of the front subframe mounts, and rear structure
  • Grade 60 steel is used for 31-percent of the body construction

The overall result is a high level of bending and twisting rigidity for the unit body combined with enhanced crashworthiness- all with no additional weight penalty.

ALUMINUM COMPONENTS

The lightweight aluminum front fenders, trunk and trunk frame are formed with an innovative build process called blow forming to achieve complex and pleasing shapes-all with a high level of quality, low cost and lightweight construction. First, the raw aluminum panels are placed in a heated mold and warmed to 500-degrees Celsius. Next, the aluminum panels are forced into the mold with a high-pressure gas. The result is perfectly formed complex shapes that are not possible with traditional stamping methods.

For rigidity, the trunk lid is composed of an inner structural panel and an outer body panel. This 2-piece aluminum structure is crimped together with self-piercing rivets that make the lid highly durable.

DOOR CONSTRUCTION

Safety in side collisions, along with the pursuit of a quality door-closing sound, drove Acura engineers to design unique door structures. Special beams were applied for side-impact safety in both the front and rear doors.

There is no mistaking the quality sound that a well-engineered door makes as it is closes. By positioning door's center of gravity (the height at which its weight is centered) at the same height as the latch, audible vibration and the resulting closing sound can be improved. For improved entry and exit, the rear doors now open 80-degrees.

TRUNK OPENING

The 2009 RL features an all-new, more aerodynamic trunk lid. Specially designed to reduce rear lift during high speeds, the new trunk lid also provides improved styling with a European flair.

The trunk opening is reinforced to retain rigidity while providing a large, low opening for easier loading. Inside, the trunk opening is finished to hide the hinges and to cover the rain gutters (see Interior section for more information).

WINDSHIELD WIPERS

To decrease wind noise levels and improve appearance, the RL incorporates hidden pivots and wiper arms for its speed-sensing, variable intermittent windshield wipers. The pivots are hidden underneath the trailing edge of the hood line to reduce noise levels, improve aerodynamics, and enhance appearance.

The use of a hidden windshield wiper pivot is a world's first. The hidden pivot improves aerodynamic efficiency and reduces visual distraction when the wipers reverse direction. A new cowl garnish below the windshield wipers reduces air turbulance, helping contribute to a significant reduction in wind noise.

AERODYNAMICS

Careful design consideration has been paid to external and underbody design to generate excellent aerodynamics with the new RL. An efficient aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.30 for the 2009 RL pays dividends in the form of lower wind noise, improved fuel economy, increased performance, and enhanced stability on the highway. For 2009, the RL employs new underbody aerodynamic panels that include redesigned front spoiler, engine undercover, front tire strakes, floor undercovers, rear suspension lower control arm covers, rear tire strakes, exhaust pipe aero plates, and a rear floor cover. The new, reinforced front air dam reduces front end lift while the new rear trunk lid spoiler reduces rear end lift. The RL's underbody covers not only smooth airflow, but also help with rear differential cooling.

XENON HIGH-INTENSITY DISCHARGE (HID) HEADLIGHTS

Traditional headlight bulbs illuminate a tungsten filament inside a sealed bulb containing halogen gas. However, Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs use an exceptionally high voltage that passes between two electrodes to create a plasma arc. This intense arc accounts for the HID brightness and "daylight-like" illumination.

Xenon is superior to tungsten-halogen bulbs in lumens-or lighting power. The RL's Xenon HID bulbs provide 825 lumens along with a lighting pattern that is both longer and wider than that of traditional non-Xenon bulbs. In addition, the RL's tungsten-halogen high beams provide a wide illumination spread. For the driver, these advances mean greater nighttime illumination for enhanced driving confidence.

Additionally, the Xenon HID low-beam headlight bulbs have a projected life span of 1,500 hours compared to 1,000 hours for a normal bulb.

ACTIVE FRONT LIGHTING SYSTEM

The 2009 RL receives all-new, more aggressively styled front headlight assemblies with integrated brushed-style metallic surrounds and trim accents. Acura RL's equipped with the Technology Package feature an Active Front Lighting System (AFS). The AFS system uses Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, 55-watt fog lights, and daytime running lights (DRL).

In the Active Front Lighting System, the left low-beam unit can swivel left and the right low beam can swivel right to improve nighttime illumination while cornering, or to help illuminate around the corner of an intersection. This improved illumination allows the RL driver advance warning if a pedestrian, animal, or object is in the way. Each HID headlight can independently swivel laterally up to 20-degrees, with the total amount of movement determined by vehicle speed and steering input.

The Active Front Lighting System uses the following components:

  • Steering angle sensor
  • Vehicle speed sensor
  • Control unit swivels the low beam headlight projector unit via a gearbox motor
  • Reverse switch (cancels AFS when car is backing up)
  • Control switch (turns off AFS at driver's discretion)
  • Instrument panel warning light (illuminates when AFS is turned off)

AFS swivels either the left or right headlight (not both simultaneously) when the following conditions are met:

  • Steering angle is over 12-degrees
  • Vehicle speed is 5 mph or higher (left-hand turns only)
  • Right-hand headlight will swivel even if vehicle is stopped
  • Swivel cancels when speed drops to 3 mph (left-hand turns only)

LED LIGHTING

The 2009 RL features advanced Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting systems. These include side mirror-integrated directional turn signals, each of which features bright LED lights to alert motorists who are alongside when the RL driver is planning to change lanes or make a turn.

Each rear taillight assembly has an array of 28 LEDs. The taillights use 14 LEDs, arranged as the perimeter of a circle, and the brake lights use an additional 14 LEDs. When the brakes are applied, all 28 LEDs light up, illuminating the entire area. The RL's center high-mounted stop lamp (CHMSL) also uses LEDs. Besides providing a high-tech look, LED lights react quicker (they turn on/off much quicker than traditional bulbs) and produce crisper illumination which translates to greater visibility and improved safety. The projected service life of the RL's LED lights is an impressive 2,000 hours.

DAYTIME RUNNING LIGHTS

In Acura's continual commitment for safety, as with all 2009 Acura models, the new RL features Daytime Running Lights (DRL) to improve visibility while driving.

5 MPH BUMPERS

To minimize repair costs in minor, low-speed collisions, the RL has "5-mph bumpers" front and rear that are designed to absorb low speed impacts without causing any structural damage to the body panels or chassis.

NOISE VIBRATION AND HARSHNESS (NVH)

The elimination of undesirable noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) for the new RL was of primary concern to RL development engineers. Virtually everything that could be the source of these NVH traits was scientifically reviewed and modified during the planning and prototype phases.

For 2009, the RL receives more sound-deadening insulation and unique body separators that use a new stamping design along with injected foam to help quell road noise from entering the RL's interior cabin. As part of the mission to control weight, Acura used lightweight materials wherever possible in the sound-absorbing package, including lightweight sound insulators instead of traditional heavier materials. In addition, revised shock absorber parameters and new coil springs help prevent road harshness from being transmitted to interior occupants. A dual exhaust system fit with six mufflers (of differing size) reduces exhaust noise while cruising. The 2009 RL receives a new acoustic glass front windshield that incorporates an upgraded PVB film to quell wind and windshield wiper noise from entering the cabin.

An all-new, more dynamic Active Sound Control system replaces the previous (more limited) Active Noise Cancellation™ (ANC) system. Sporting a new array of processing technology and sensors, the Active Sound Control system not only dramatically improves sound cancellation but also works throughout the entire engine rpm range whereas the previous ANC system only worked to cancel engine booming noise up to 2000 rpm.

The RL's new Active Sound Control system dramatically reduces high frequency and middle-frequency noise attenuation. Road noise attenuation is also improved over both smooth and rough roads.

Key RL NVH advancements:

Drivetrain

  • Engine mounting system including a hydraulic lower transmission mount
  • Variable volume exhaust mufflers
  • Under-hood insulator
  • Engine cover and undercover

Body

  • Acoustic roof lining
  • Acoustic front and rear inner fender insulator with high-frequency damping materials
  • Acoustic glass windshield

Flooring

  • Lightweight floor insulator
  • Floor undercover

Subframes

  • Floating front and rear subframes with four mounting points

Interior

  • Active Sound Control system for noise control
  • Lightweight instrument panel damping materials
  • Thinsulate® insulation in selected areas

Trunk

  • Acoustic design with side, front and lid linings

POWER WINDOWS

The power actuated side door windows on the RL are made of safety-minded tempered glass that is 5 mm thick to reduce cabin noise. Each window features an auto-open and auto-close function, an auto-reverse safety feature, as well as key-off operation. The side glass is a special UV-coated, heat-rejection design "green glass" that helps protect occupants from harmful UV rays and excessive interior heat build-up. In an effort to further reduce cabin heat-as well as to provide added rear seat privacy-the RL features a power operated rear sunshade along with manually operated rear door glass sun shades.

FLUSH MOUNT GLASS

The Acura RL is the first car in the world to have totally flush side glass where it meets the B-pillars. Normally, a gap of about 5 mm exists between side glass and the B-pillar. On the RL, the window guide is on the glass instead of the window frame, which allows the gap to be eliminated. This design results in one continuous uninterrupted plane running along the front side window, across the B-pillar and all the way to the trailing edge of the rear side window. The benefit is improved aerodynamics, a reduction in wind noise, and a cleaner appearance.

EXTERIOR SIDE MIRRORS

To reduce wind rush and turbulence, exterior side mirror housings need to be small and aerodynamic, without unnecessarily reducing the mirror area. On the RL, the power mirror element is sized to fit inside a compact housing to reduce these unwanted characteristics.

The airflow between the mirror housing and the side window glass is crucial for reducing turbulence and noise. Engineers designed this gap as an expanding V-shape, with the gap narrower at the front and wider at the rear. This design helps the airflow decelerate as it flows across the side glass, instead of accelerating as it would if the V-angle were to decrease. The result is smoother airflow and less mid- and high-frequency noise.

For added safety, the mirrors feature integrated directional turn signals to improve visibility and to alert other vehicles of the RL's intended actions. In addition, the side mirrors are heated to deter ice or fog build-up in cold weather conditions and the mirrors feature a special coating that reduces nighttime glare. When the RL driver puts the transmission in Reverse, the mirrors tilt-down to reveal curbs and ground level obstacles to avoid. To generate added convenience, the mirrors feature driver recognition that automatically adjusts their position to preset parameters of a specific driver profile.

EXTERIOR PAINT

The exterior paint on the Acura RL uses an environmentally conscious water-based process. The painting procedure begins with an electrodeposition (ED) primer, which is electrically charged in the paint bath to help the primer better adhere to the metal bodywork. The ED primer is cured at high temperature to improve corrosive durability.

Next applied is a primer-surfacer that is hand sanded to ensure a smooth surface for better appearance. After a waterborne color basecoat is applied, a pair of clearcoats provides depth while helping to protect the base coat from air pollution, acid rain and sun damage.

Eight different exterior colors are available, including four metallic colors and four pearl colors. All eight colors are selectively available with three different interior colors. The chart below shows the available exterior/interior color combinations.

EXTERIOR COLOR

INTERIOR COLOR


Parchment
Ebony
Taupe
Alberta White Pearl
X
X
Crystal Black Pearl
X
X
Opulent Blue Pearl
X
X
Redondo Red Pearl
X
X
Grigio Metallic
X
X
X
Platinum Frost Metallic
X
X
Silver Jade Metallic
X
X
Tuscan Beige Metallic
X

2009 RL EXTERIOR ACCESSORIES

A line of dealer installed Genuine Acura Accessories was developed simultaneously with the RL to provide personalization for the Acura owner. Like all Genuine Acura Accessories, the RL accessories are covered by a 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.

EXTERIOR ACCESSORIES

  • Rear Deck Lid Spoiler
  • Rear Bumper Appliqué
  • Back-up Sensors
  • Door Edge Protection Film
  • Door Visor
  • Moon Roof Visor
  • Car Cover
  • Front End Nosemask
  • Color-Matched Splash Guards
  • Engine Block Heater
  • Wheel Locks
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