WASHINGTON -- Acura Division is escalating the competition among automakers that use all-wheel drive to boost sales, especially of sporty luxury cars.
Acura is making awd standard on its 2005 RL. It is the first completely new version of the division's flagship sedan since 1995.
Acura will promote its awd system's ability to improve handling on firm, dry surfaces, instead of just ensuring better traction on wet or slippery surfaces.
The automaker made up for the added weight of awd - and other expanded vehicle content - with greater use of aluminum.
Acura is counting on Super Handling-All Wheel Drive, as it calls its system, to give the RL traction in the marketplace. It faces competitors such as the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-class cars.
The RL is "a very important new model for Acura," said Thomas Elliott, executive vice president of auto operations for American Honda Motor Co. Acura is Honda's performance and luxury division.