Used 1996 Acura RL

1996 Acura RL
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1996 Acura RL

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

Acura has decided to take the road more traveled. After suffering at the hands of Lexus for the last several years, the new Acura flagship is introduced. Sporting an extremely solid feel, the 3.5RL has dropped the sport-sedan pose of its predecessor in favor of a very restrained luxury orientation. Acura feels that those who want a sporting sedan can step into their TL-Series of cars. The RL is here to be the big kahuna, on the order of the Infiniti Q45, Lexus LS400 and BMW 750iL.

Which leaves us wondering why the 3.5RL doesn't offer a V8 engine. Every entrant in the luxo-barge segment has V8 power except for the 3.5RL. In typical Honda Motor Corporation fashion, the RL is equipped with a small engine that is supposed to feel big. This works fine on cars like the Integra or TL-Series where the lightness of a smaller engine can be a benefit to handling, but we think that people who are plunking down between $40,000 and $50,000 will want the comfort and feel of a larger engine.

Acura Engineers have worked overtime figuring out how to make this car quiet and vibration-free. Innovations like low-friction ball joints in the suspension, Teflon seals on the valves, a liquid-filled rear-trailing arm, foam-filled B- and C-pillars, honeycomb floor panels and vibration absorbing seats are just a few of the things the 3.5RL serves up to make you forget that you are in a car. Indeed, the entire purpose of the 3.5RL is to deliver passengers from point A to point B with minimal fuss and intrusion from the outside world.

Of course, to accomplish that goal Acura had to make things nice on the inside. The instrumentation and controls are first rate, nothing new for Acura. The very effective climate control system even offers rear passengers control over their environment. Seats are not just comfortable. They're like a feather bed. The driver's seat has an eight-way power adjustment that makes finding an exact fit easy. Supple leather, and firm but comfortable support makes long trips a breeze. Rear seat passengers won't suffer either. The RL has more foot and knee room than the Legend and the undersides of the front seats are carpeted to prevent scuffing the shoes of rear seat passengers. Of course the new Acura has all of the goodies standard on most luxury sedans but it would be nice to see the CD-changer added to the standard equipment roster of the base model.

If all of this doesn't have you reaching for your checkbook, consider Acura's Global Positioning System. This system, currently available only in California, offers drivers a virtual map that they can use as a real-time guide to finding their way around town. Unlike similar designs, the Acura navigational system offers verbal commands that will allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road. Wow, we may never get lost again.

While we are a little disappointed by the lack of a V8 engine, we are overjoyed with the car's price. Standard 3.5RLs have an MSRP of just over $41,000; premium models just under $45,000. Of rivals from Cadillac, Lexus and BMW, only the Cadillac has a lower base price, and that's without any options. The Acura 3.5RL comes fully equipped in a very tasteful package at a price that should make those missing two cylinders seem like a moot point. In fact, we've already forgotten about them.

1996 Highlights

The replacement for the Legend arrives wearing Acura's new alphanumeric naming system: the 3.5 RL. The 3.5 refers to the Acura's engine size. The front wheels of the 3.5 RL are powered by a torquey V6 engine mated to an electronic four-speed automatic transmission. Other changes include 101 ways to isolate bumps, vibrations and road noise.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 Acura RL.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

My first car, drove it 2 years...
I bought this car two years ago as my first vehicle ever. Spent $5000, and it had 150,000 miles on it (or was it 125?). Whatever the case, I now have 172,000 on it, and the AC still works. The man I bought it from had kept it immaculate - even the engine was clean. I ended up with some body damage in the rear, but drove it several thousand more miles. The only problem is in the power steering, now... there's a leak that reached a peak, and I would have to pay $600 to replace the part/ seals. That would certainly be worth it for a car with this much comfort/power and life left in it, if it weren't for the $3000 body damage. Moving on to a Civic for better mpg, and less miles on it
follow-up to 8/2002 review
It's 6-1/2 years later and my '96 RL is going strong at 153K miles. Some issues: tach malfunctioning, dealer estimates $1400 repair. Also, $1420 to replace steering rack assembly; $1427 for leaking rear main seal/O-ring; $240 for re-sealing power steering pump; $500 to replace rear tail light assembly. That's $5000, exceeding the car's value. An independent mechanic found nothing wrong with the steering mechanism. Fluid has leaked from a hose to the rack assembly and rear main seal area, making it appear that those items are leaking. His estimate is $675, saving me $2400. The dealer's service department has a reputation of up-selling service jobs.
The car to get.
This car, is a car you can enjoy. Just get one!
Just close your eyes and hop into one
No need to repeat others and state that the RL is a great car. Bought mine 6 and half years ago with 89K miles (now the car has 192K). Best ride, very luxurious, other than maintenance (oil change break pads, etc..) close to no issues for the 6years: O2 sensor, intermittent ABS light and rear windows regulators. Best car value, costs nothing to own and enjoy. Will get another one in a heart beat.
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Features & Specs

17 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
210 hp @ 5200 rpm
17 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
210 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 1996 Acura RL features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 Acura RL
Used 1996 Acura RL Overview

The Used 1996 Acura RL is offered in the following submodels: RL Sedan. Available styles include 3.5 4dr Sedan, and 3.5 Premium 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Acura RL?

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Which used 1996 Acura RLS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1996 Acura RL for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the Carfax and Autocheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1996 Acura RL.

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Find a used Acura RL for sale - 6 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $23,141.

Find a used Acura for sale - 4 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $7,982.

Find a used certified pre-owned Acura RL for sale - 5 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $16,355.

Find a used certified pre-owned Acura for sale - 2 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $11,953.

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Should I lease or buy a 1996 Acura RL?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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