1997 Acura RL Review

Pros & Cons

  • Acura's top-notch luxo-sedan has grace, style, and knock-out looks.
  • Why isn't there a V-8 engine under the hood?
List Price Estimate
$1,035 - $2,222

Used RL for Sale
None for sale nearby. Instead:
See all for sale

Get More For Your Trade-In

Get More For Your Trade-In

Edmunds shoppers get on average $235 more for their trade-in.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

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.

1997 Highlights

No changes for the 1997 3.5RL.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Acura RL.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

It just broke down, but I'm not mad - Great Car
LOL, seriously just had it towed and I was contemplating a new purchase so I jumped on Edmunds to get a trade in value. The car has over 234K miles. You can belive this or not, but the transmission is still smooth, the engine strong, the ride comfortable and get this, no knocks, pings, or things shaking. I drive it and I don't believe it - I said 234K miles. Given the age, and miles its not perfect, dash lights, power windows, nav back light, washer pump, etc. Little things that need reapir. But I tell you - Great Car and it will be a great car for the next person. Hope this helps!
Electric and Plastic quality lacking
Hoping the previous owners have corrected the majority of electric problems. This car has 122,500 miles and has had the following electric components replaced - Steering column ($1,850); both back window regulators ($600 each); climate control ($1,400); engine temperature sensor ($300); ignition switch ($400). Currently the driver's window is not working, suspect the window regulator (est $500). Plastic pieces that have or are broken - sunglass holder ($190); both vanity mirror covers; passenger seat side panel; glove box restraining line. I read all 25 reviews before receiving this car, a few mentioned the window regulator problem. Well buyer beware of the electric problems of this car.
Fabulous Car!
3.5 Premium 4dr Sedan
I bought this car in December 2012, three and half years ago after my 2004 Honda was totaled. This has been an exceptional car. It runs great, so comfortable, it is truly a "premium" car. It's a dream to drive. It has been so reliable I can hardly believe it myself! It's almost 20 years old and still going strong!! The car has 174,000 miles! I think I will drive it until the wheels come off! Fantastic car!!
Best Used Car Ever
I bought this car, tongue-in-cheek, 3 years old in 2000. My daughter had just totaled my Honda Accord, I got her her own Sable (for punishment) and bought this Acura 3.5RL for myself. It turned out to be the best used car I've ever had. Cushy ride, great reliability, superb design, plenty of power, decent mileage. Still going very strong in the hands of same daughter. I miss it. My 2004 RL is great, but not as comfortable.

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 1997 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 1997 Acura RL

Used 1997 Acura RL Overview

The Used 1997 Acura RL is offered in the following submodels: RL Sedan. Available styles include 3.5 Premium 4dr Sedan, and 3.5 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Acura RL?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1997 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) 1997 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 AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 Acura RL.

Can't find a used 1997 Acura RLs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Acura RL for sale - 10 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $8,760.

Find a used Acura for sale - 12 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $21,739.

Find a used certified pre-owned Acura RL for sale - 8 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $17,118.

Find a used certified pre-owned Acura for sale - 11 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $24,741.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 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.

Check out Acura lease specials
Check out Acura RL lease specials