The Acura RL is similar in size to the Infiniti M45 and the Lexus GS, and is in the executive car class that includes the BMW 5 series, Audi A6, and Mercedes-Benz E-class.
All Acura RLs are built in Saitama, Japan, in the same factory that produces the Honda Legend. Current (2008) news and rumors indicate that the third-generation RL will be introduced in late calendar year 2010 as a 2011 model and may receive a V8 engine and rear-wheel drive.
In 1996, the replacement for the Acura Legend was introduced. Known internally as "KA9", officially, RL originally stood for "Road Luxury." The very first Acura RL rolled off the assembly line on January 4, 1996. The 1996 Acura 3.5RL was introduced to lackluster reviews. The automotive world had been expecting a true competitor to the Lexus LS to emerge. The RL fell short and was continuing to drop in sales until it was finally redesigned for the 2005 model year. The main problems holding back the car seemed to be the lack of an option of a V8 powerplant and rear-wheel drive. So in 1996, laying to rest predictions of a VTEC V8 powerplant, the 3.5RL was powered by a 3.5L V6 engine, derived from the previous Legend's 3.2L unit. The engine provided 210hp (later 225 hp).. Of particular note, was that the original V6 was mounted in-line with the car and not transversely like most other front-wheel drives. This allowed for a smaller turning radius and easy in-town maneuverability.