Power: 3.5-liter 290-horsepower V6
Fuel economy: 18/26 mpg
If it weren't for price, the Acura would have tied for second. It's a compelling package, mixing a superb all-wheel-drive system with a 290-hp V-6 that rivals some V-8s for both horsepower and smoothness.
Another reason to like the Acura: its pricing and options structure. When you buy an RL, you can choose to have navigation or not. Other than picking the exterior and interior colors, that's it: There are no other options to speak of. A leather interior, sunroof, a six-disk, in-dash CD system (even a pre-emptive braking system that will slow the car down when it senses an imminent collision) are all included as standard.
In an industry that loves to nickel- and-dime customers over options ("Oh, you'd like the self-dimming mirror? That's part of the $3,200 'technology package'"), Acura's approach is a refreshing change.
So why didn't it win? Size, for one thing. The RL is the biggest sedan Acura makes, but it's not that big overall (as we noted in a comparison last year, the Acura TL is nearly as big but costs less). Rear-seat space is at a premium, and the trunk is considerably smaller than the competition.
There's also the styling. Like the Buick, it is completely inoffensive but also a bit anonymous (you can walk past this car in a parking lot and completely miss it).
Finally, there's the price: At $53,500, the Acura is 10 grand to 15 grand more than the next two cars on our list. That kind of money could be better used for other things. If prices were equal, it'd be a tough call, but since they aren't, it's tough to recommend the RL when others do an excellent job and cost far less.