1998 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
$439 - $945

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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 LS 400 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 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 Navigation System. This system 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 Navigation 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.

1998 Highlights

Slight suspension enhancements provide sportier handling without sacrificing ride.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Acura RL.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

'98 Acura RL 4 door sedan
Continues to provide an excellent ride & reliability even after 10 years.
Where is the Legend
I owned both the 1988 and 1991 Acura Legend. I have been nothing but dissapointed with the 98 RL. This year both rear electric window mechanisms broke. The plastic pulley wheel in the door (a $1 part) broke (on both doors within two months of each other). The cost for each $244. You can only replace the entire motor mechanism. The power is lacking in the motor. The noise inside is noticeably louder than both of my previous legends. On the bright side, it is as reliable as the sun rising. One turn of the key and it is ready to get me to work.
I like an automatic transmission/it is smooth driving/roomy/
New Owner of Premium RL
I just bought a RL, Premium model with Navigation system. I looked hard at BMW 5 series and Mercedes E320 as well as the Lexus LS400. I found the big Acura to have no real weaknesses. It was larger, more plush and with more features than the German models. Plus, it doesn't come with the snob label attached. It seemed the equal of the Lexus (other than the V8 vs the V6) and was thousands less. Plus, there are LS400s EVERYWHERE. I have had it for about a month and am very happy with it. Power is smooth, interior very comfortable and the sound system is incredible. This car doesn't necessarily demand attention, but it has understated class and refinement.

Features & Specs

See all Used 1998 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 1998 Acura RL

Used 1998 Acura RL Overview

The Used 1998 Acura RL is offered in the following submodels: RL Sedan. Available styles include 3.5 Special Edition 4dr Sedan, 3.5 4dr Sedan, and 3.5 Premium 4dr Sedan.

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Should I lease or buy a 1998 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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