Acura RL
Overall score: 25
Details and more photos

On paper, the Acura RL looks like it should do well: It has more standard features than any car in this test, and Acura is known for building sporty, solid, near-luxury cars. But in this exclusive class, that Acura formula is less convincing.

First, the good stuff. The RL doesn't offer a V-8, but its 290-horsepower V-6 is the strongest six in the field. It's got a slick all-wheel-drive system that helps the car scoot around corners, fine steering and an excellent navigation system. The new optional Collision Mitigation Braking System actually brakes the car when it senses that you're not slowing down quickly enough to avoid an accident.

So what's the problem? Value. Another Acura, the TL, gives you nearly as much car for $15,000 less. There's no avoiding the comparison: The RL and TL are both built on the Honda Accord platform. The RL is a bit shorter, it's 430 pounds heavier, and it feels no roomier inside. The RL does add AWD, more features and 32 extra horsepower, but it lacks those luxury intangibles that would justify its price tag. The top finishers here reassure you that you're driving something special, yet the RL makes you feel like you're driving, well, a really nice Honda.

As the final indignity, the TL is the better looking car. The tentatively styled RL could be mistaken for a next-generation Accord-not good for a sedan with upper crust aspirations.