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post #61 of 89 (permalink) Old 04-10-13, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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WardsAuto's Aaron Foley shares his thoughts on the new Acura RLX, a nominee in the 2013 Ward’s 10 Best Interiors competition.
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post #62 of 89 Old 04-15-13, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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The new Acura RLX is perplexing. Unlike its predecessor, the RL, it doesn't have all-wheel drive. It's not even offered. That means a loaded, $61,345 RLX sends all 310 of its direct-injected horses (DI is new to the model this year) to its front tires.

It's puzzling that Acura would declaw its flagship sedan, especially considering how it aims to steal sales from the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class, nearly half of which are purchased with all-wheel drive. The front-wheel-drive-based Audi A6 and Cadillac XTS are also sold predominantly with all-wheel-drive; removing traction doesn't seem an effective way to attract luxury buyers. On the plus side, the Acura is at least capable of epic front-wheel burnouts.

To combat some of the understeer that big front-drivers are known for, Acura has developed P-AWS, which stands for Precision All-Wheel Steer. The system can steer the RLX's rear wheels to help cut tight arcs, or even toe in both rear tires for added stability under heavy braking.

Charge through a set of switchbacks, and it's hard to miss that the Acura is heavy and wide, even for a luxury barge. Its suspension isn't tuned like that of a hard-edged sport sedan, and there's some body roll as you pile into a corner. The 6-speed automatic, a gear or 2 down on its German rivals, is tuned for comfort, not engagement. In short, the RLX is more focused on cush than performance; both it and its passengers will be happiest long before the car's tires start to howl.

Acura claims that a lack of interior space was one of the main reasons why people ignored the bland-looking RL. Addressing that, the RLX's much larger back seat offers nearly the same rear legroom as a BMW 7-series. That's well and good, but the milquetoast exterior styling is a bigger problem: If not for the LED headlamps, it would be difficult to distinguish the model from the old RL. Save, of course, the smoke pouring from the front rubber.

All-wheel-drive hits the RLX next year in the RLX Sport Hybrid, which uses electric motors to drive its rear wheels. This torque-vectoring system is similar to the one in Acura's upcoming NSX supercar. We were recently given 2 laps around Sonoma Raceway in a Sport Hybrid prototype. Compared to the 2-wheel-drive car, the hybrid was much more planted in corners. Unless you simply have to have an RLX right now, it's worth the wait.
PRICE $49,345
POWERTRAIN 3.5-liter V-6, 310 hp, 272 lb-ft; FWD, 6-speed automatic
WEIGHT 3933 lb
0-60 MPH 6.6 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 130 mph
EPA CITY/HWY 20/31 mpg
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post #63 of 89 Old 04-22-13, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Specs-wise, the 2013 Cadillac XTS4 and the newly released 2014 Acura RLX almost are twins. Each sedan is powered by a midsize, 24-valve V-6 mated to a 6-speed automatic. The Acura's wheelbase is a mere half-inch longer than the Caddy's, while exterior dimensions are within inches of each other. (The XTS is a bit longer and wider.) Comparably equipped, both cars wear stickers just above $60K. Yet in execution and character, the Cadillac and the Acura turn out to be surprisingly different machines, each offering a decidedly different take on what a sport-luxury 4-door should be. So which one best delivers? With a full battery of track-test results in hand, executive editor Ron Kiino and yours truly spent a full day gunning back-to-back through the serpentine mountain byways above Malibu to find out.

Shapes Up
Acura's now-defunct flagship, the RL, embodied the word "bland." You could park 1 in a warehouse full of toasters and never find it again. Thankfully for Acura devotees, the new RLX represents a step up in exterior appeal. Still well short of what anyone would call "bold," the RLX is nonetheless edgier, crisper, with dramatic "jewel-eye" LED headlamps and standard 18-inch, 7-spoke alloy wheels. (Our test car, with the Advance package, wore 19s.) For Acura, the RLX represents a stylistic step in the right direction -- albeit not a very big 1. No such concerns for Cadillac: The XTS is a stunner. With its broad stance, muscular wheels, sharp body-side creases, and chiseled headlamps, the XTS radiates drama and athleticism. "Very upscale, refined, modern look," noted Kiino. "The edgy Art & Science design language translates well to a biggish, long car." Indeed, comparing the XTS with the RLX is like holding a pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps alongside a pair of Hush Puppies.
Advantage: Cadillac

Inside Story
Step into either car and you know you're living large. Both the RLX and the XTS are jammed full of luxury appointments, convenience features, and cutting-edge tech. Again, though, each car follows its own philosophy.

The Acura is handsome and inviting, if unadventurous. "Beautiful interior materials [our test car had the optional super-soft Milano leather], but a bit boring," said Kiino. "Still, I do appreciate the simplified center stack, a big improvement over the RL's layout." While Acura has once again gone old school on the interior design side, the same can't be said of its willingness to incorporate a bounty of gadgets. Included with the available Advance package are 6-level heated/ventilated front seats; a 450-watt, 14-speaker audio system by renowned maker Krell; 2 large color display screens; navigation with real-time traffic and rerouting; and the next generation of AcuraLink, which offers a suite of live concierge services and the ability to interact with the RLX using your smartphone. The safety features in the Advance package include adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow (the RLX can automatically brake to a stop if the car ahead does the same) and lane-keeping assist that gently nudges the wheel if you begin to stray from the center of your lane. Given the bounty of hardware on tap, Acura's conservative styling approach actually pays off here. The RLX trades some interior-styling excitement for functionality -- the right call.

Cadillac has taken a bolder approach to cockpit design, but while the XTS is beautiful inside, with sumptuous leather covering the dash, in real-world use many of its artful touches detract from the driving experience. For instance, the metallic bars that operate the audio and climate-control systems look cool, neatly arrayed as they are in the center stack, but using them is an exercise in frustration. Changing volume means sliding a finger up or down the bar; sometimes it works, often it doesn't. "Extremely annoying and frustrating," wrote Kiino of the touch controls. "Sensitivity is all wonky." And what's with the bizarre warning system built into the Driver Awareness Package? Begin to stray from your lane, for instance, and the XTS alerts you not with a chime or a gentle thrum of the steering wheel, but a sharp buzz to your gluteus maximus. That's right: your very own 21st-century whoopee cushion.

Compared with the RLX, the rear seat of the XTS is equally roomy, but the Acura scores with superior comfort. "The RLX seats are enveloping," logged Kiino. "The Caddy's are stiff and comparatively cold." And while the high beltline and thick pillars of the XTS contribute to the racy exterior shape, they make the cabin feel darker and almost claustrophobic compared with the RLX. For the business of driving, we'll take user-friendliness over high fashion every time.
Advantage: Acura

Handling: The Truth
The RLX benefits from a new suspension consisting of control arms up front and a multilink setup at the rear, plus Amplitude Reactive Dampers that reduce damping forces over small bumps and road imperfections to enhance the ride. More significant is the new Precision All-Wheel Steer system that's standard on all models. Acura says it's the 1st such system able to independently adjust the toe angles on each rear wheel. For sharper maneuvering, the rears can steer in the same direction as the fronts; during cornering, the rears can rotate opposite the fronts for quicker turn-in. Said Kiino, "Especially when making speedy turns from a stop, it feels like the back end is stepping out. Cool! Especially for a front-drive car." And, indeed, the RLX bested the XTS at the track, delivering superior objective numbers in lateral grip and our figure-8 test.

In our real-world driving, though, we far preferred the XTS. With its superb Magnetic Ride Control shocks, which read the road every millisecond and adjust in real time, the Cadillac felt unfailingly composed even over rough asphalt. "More composed and confidence-inspiring than the RLX," said Kiino. While the Acura is "smooth as butter" on the freeway, on undulating pavement it tends to float and bounce. The Caddy's steering is superior, too. Kiino: "Firmer on-center feel and more organic feedback throughout the arc of the wheel." Our XTS test car also featured the available all-wheel-drive system, which in concert with an optional electronic limited-slip did a superb job of putting down power. (Acura will offer an all-wheel-drive RLX later this year.) The Caddy's drawback: It's roughly 300 pounds heavier than the RLX -- and feels it.
Advantage: Cadillac

Power Play
The direct-injection, 3.5-liter 6 in the RLX is a beauty, making 310 hp and delivering a delicious growl as the revs build. Shifts are smooth, and the transmission's computer brain generally does an excellent job of finding the appropriate gear. At the dragstrip, it's no contest: The RLX is a full second quicker to 60 mph than the Caddy, and retains that edge through the quarter mile. The RLX is always lively and ready to run, whereas the 286-pound heavier XTS tends to bog a bit coming out of slower corners. Compounding that weight problem is the Cadillac's slight (8-lb-ft) torque disadvantage and gearing that averages 20% taller than the Acura's. Despite the XTS wearing big Brembo brakes, the RLX bettered it in stopping performance. Not surprisingly, the RLX delivers significantly better fuel efficiency than the XTS. EPA city/highway figures are 20/31 mpg versus 17/26, and in our back-to-back real-world driving our observed figures were even more disparate: 21.6 mpg for the Acura and just 15.9 for the Cadillac.
Advantage: Acura

We Have A Winner
In the end, we scored this 1 of the closest comparo finishes in recent memory. These are 2 fine sedans: roomy, loaded with high-tech wizardry, and almost equally capable of pampering driver and passengers for even the longest drives. The XTS shines in physical presence and handling prowess, but takes a big hit because of its clunky user interface and relatively poor performance at the pump. The new RLX might lack the Cadillac's dramatic sheetmetal and doesn't hustle through the twisties with the same athleticism, but it delivers outstanding comfort, a creamy ride, a brilliant combo of speed and frugality, outstanding refinement (at highway speeds its cabin is as quiet as a tomb), and a boatload of technology that's far more accessible on a daily basis. By the narrowest of margins, the 2014 Acura RLX takes home the gold.
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post #64 of 89 Old 04-26-13, 07:51 AM Thread Starter
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Slipping into the new 2014 Acura RLX Advance brought back memories.

In 1970, my father bought a brand new Cadillac Eldorado Coupe (not the smartest choice for a family car, but anyway…) and since he was coming from a Volkswagon Squareback, it was quite a step up.

The big Caddy bristled with the technology of the day: automatic climate controls (rarely worked), power seats and windows (for a while), cruise control (unreliable), and an AM/FM radio that could find stations by itself (sometimes). It was a wonder of technology and with the hulking V8 under the hood, it was also hugely powerful.

And so it is with the new 2014 Acura RLX Advance.

After nearly a decade of incremental updates, the RLX was overdue for a clean-sheet redesign and what Honda , er, Acura, has delivered is much like the step up from the VW that the fat Caddy represented – except the technology in the Acura actually works all the time.

The updated angular styling of the RLX is attractive, highlighted by the 16 truly cool segmented “Jewel Eye” LED headlights, which garner the majority of comments from onlookers. But those signature headlights are just the tip of the RLX’s tech juggernaut and while much of it is useful and entertaining, some time with the owners manual will be required for owners to get a grip on everything going on in the cabin and throughout the car.

Ground Control for Major Tom

Just like in past Acura flagships, drivers are smothered in tech features to the point that at night, the numerous red-lit controls surrounding the pilot seat can make it seem like you’re helming a junior version of the Space Shuttle. However, some of the most useful tech systems at play are mostly invisible to the driver. For example, the RLX features P-AWS – that’s Precision All Wheel Steering – and if there was ever a feature that should be standard on all big cars, it’s this 1.

Turning into tight parking spaces, pulling U-turns at cramped intersections, carving through tight corners, the boat-length Acura could do it all. While the steering system cants the rear wheels just a few degrees at maximum, it makes a huge difference moving the car around in cramped confines. At speed, the wheels will turn in the same direction for enhanced maneuverability. Sadly, due to the limited turning ability of the rear wheels it won’t exactly crab around hazards like this car can or this 1 could. Additionally, the RLX will also toe-in both rear wheels under hard braking for that extra bit of bite.

Along with the P-AWS steering system, the RLX comes with just about every acronym and trick in the tech and safety book, including a lane departure warning system that will also nudge the steering wheel if you’re really too busy sending that text message, tire pressure monitoring, blind spot alerts, obligatory rear camera with vectoring guides, an airbag for the driver’s knees (no joke) and an adaptive cruise control with a low-speed system that will bring the car to a complete stop if the vehicle ahead hits the brakes. Since our test fleet manager frowns on us smashing $61,000 luxury cars into… pretty much anything (lest the feature not work as advertised), I did not try a full test of the auto-stop system, but the adaptive cruise control system – and pretty much all of the tech suite – worked as expected.

Apptastic Acura

Additionally, there are 3 AcuraLink apps (available for both iOS and Android) that expand the Acura’s tech reach beyond the dashboard. The primary app, called AcuraLink Connect, is “cloud-based” according to Acura and lets you control doors, lights, horn (now where did I park…) as well as checking the fuel level and keeping up on scheduled maintenance. A nice feature is the ability to find your next destination on your phone and then zap that right to the RLX’s navigation system.

There’s also the aha-powered AcuraLink Streaming app, and as you might imagine, it opens the media floodgates for piping all manner of content into the car along with Twitter and Facebook updates and local points of interest for food, hotels and so forth. All that data is fed into the car’s computer and can be manipulated using the steering wheel controls or the buttony center stack and touchscreen.

Finally, there’s the self-explantory AcuraLink Roadside Assistance app as well. Why all these apps can’t be rolled into 1 is unclear, hopefully in the future that will be the case.

From the driver’s seat, 2 large LCD screens fill the dash – the upper unit isn’t a touchscreen, the lower 1 is – while another small screen slots between the great tach and speedo. Myriad buttons are centered around a large selector knob below the lower LCD screen and it took me a good 2 days, an open manual and some driveway time to get a decent feel for the car’s control layout.

Once I did, though, Acura’s layout made more sense and I got better at running most things from the steering wheel, which itself is covered with a dozen buttons including a 4-way control wheel. All the tech features worked without any major or even minor failings, although pairing my iPhone 5 took a few tries before syncing up. Voice controls also worked well when using the phone or getting directions.

Acura has also teamed with Krell for the car’s 14-speaker audio system and while it needed a bit of boost through the controls for the kind of bass response I prefer, the system is capable of generating high volume while remaining free of distortion and delivering excellent definition, especially on classical and jazz selections.

But I’ll just say it: between the apps, which are moderately useful, and the complexity of the in-car systems, it approaches overkill. Thanks goodness the RLX has all those safety systems in place because there is no end to the opportunities to take your attention off the road. The system is button-heavy and if you add in the “buttons” that can also fill the LCD touchscreen, it can sometimes takes a bit to find the control or adjustment you’re hunting for. Again, time spent using the system brings more speed and familiarity, but suffice to say the learning curve is steeper than what I’ve experienced to operate similar systems in other cars.

Acura did see fit to include a big button in the dash that dims and then shuts off the top LCD screen completely, but if the phone rings or you give a voice command, it springs back to life on its own. More “off” buttons would be nice.

I wonder if Acura’s in-car suite of technology will be a bit overwhelming for their target demographic, which from their TV spots appears to be affluent middle-aged men with no shortage of gray hair. It’s a demographic I’m sorry to say I’m quickly approaching (more the hair, less the affluence) but even for a highly-wired person like myself, the huge dose of Acura’s cabin tech was a bit much. For someone coming from a low-tech ride, it could be frustrating, at least at 1st.

Conversely, the more hidden technologies, such as the trick steering system and the myriad safety minders, play their roles unobtrusively. If only the rest of the digital bits were so low-profile.
Power for the (well-off) people

Once you’ve installed the apps, synced your phone, sent the nav computer your paramour’s addy and figured out what pair of pants you last left the wireless key fob in, it’s time to go for an actual drive and it’s here the RLX Advance shines.

While it won’t crush you into the seats under acceleration like a supercar, the 3.5L 310hp direct-injection V6 moves the RLX with refined alacrity and sounds good doing it. With the car in Plain Old Drive, mashing the gas pedal brings instant forward progress and a steady, growing growl from the engine bay.

Hitting the Sport button below the shift gate drops the 6-speed gearbox a cog or 2 into the engine’s potent midrange. Tapping a paddle shifter on the wheel then puts you in Manual mode, but the Acura still plays minder and will hit the shifts for you if you are about to bang against the redline or forget to shift down while slowing. I found driving the car in Sport sans shifters was typically entertaining enough given the solid ride and commendable cornering prowess, courtesy of the all-wheel steering system and sophisticated suspension. When pushed, it certainly doesn’t drive like a big car, but it’s also a couple of steps slower than actual sporting machines in the same price range.

But of course, this isn’t some track-day weapon, it’s a luxury car. Rolling around town or out poking along on the highway, you definitely get that “cut above” feel from the excellent ash-black leather seats, the superbly finished and quiet interior, and the compliant if not slightly sporting suspension. Passengers who rode in the back of RLX have room to stretch out and can manage their comfort with a central air vent with temperature control and 3-level heated seats. There’s also a center fold-down with 2 cup holders and a pass-though for skis or that vintage lamp you just bought at auction.

It’s gotta be the… headlights?

On the outside, the Crystal Black RLX’s sharply cut but largely unremarkable styling didn’t make my neighbors green with jealousy. The stacked LED headlights got all the comments and this is certainly not a car you’ll ever be embarrassed to drive, just don’t expect supermodels to spontaneously jump in the passenger seat while at a stoplight on Rodeo Drive. The looks are helped by 19-inch aluminum rims that look a bit like the turbofans from a jet engine but overall, the car reflects Acura’s typical sharp but conservative styling approach outside of the for-now unusual headlights.

Driver’s don’t buy Acuras to stand out (NSX buyers excepted). The cars are popular because they are clearly capable, reliable, luxurious and the brand is aspirational. That’s what keeps buyers coming back. While the RLX may suffer a bit from tech overload, it’s combination of discreet styling, the powerful V6, a comfortable interior and that superb all-wheel-steer handling make it a winner to drive. It certainly isn’t just the fancy headlights.


Honda’s excellent build quality inside and out
Powerful V6 that actually sounds powerful
Paddle shifters placate your inner Ricky Bobby
Useful, practical rear-wheel steering system sharpens handling


Blend-in styling, except for the headlights
Techno overkill in the cockpit – but everything at least works right
Monthly payments on a $61,000 car loan
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post #65 of 89 Old 04-30-13, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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The good: The 2014 Acura RLX's standard LED headlights throw a bright, well-defined pattern into the night. 4-wheel-steering aids handling and direct injection helps fuel efficiency. Adaptive cruise control leads to effortless highway driving, and the Krell audio system delivers incredible dynamic range.

The bad: A bizarre 2-screen cabin tech interface makes tuning music or placing calls confusing. When the road gets a little rough, the ride becomes very uncomfortable.

The bottom line: The 2014 Acura RLX makes a game attempt at being a high-tech roller, but suffers from flaws serious enough that should send Acura back to the drawing board.
1 of the bigger challenges facing automakers in recent years comes in making usable and safe interfaces for navigation, stereo, and hands-free phone systems. With the 2014 RLX, Acura shows off its latest attempt at tackling the interface challenge, but ends up with a kludgey design that will leave drivers frustrated.

The RLX replaces the company's RL model as its flagship sedan, and incorporates enough changes to warrant a different model name. It successfully ups Acura's luxury quotient through the use of more quality interior materials and new technologies, yet still does not quite feel up to the big luxury of a Mercedes-Benz S-class or Lexus LS 460.

However, it is not as pricey as those models, either, putting in a near-luxury class with new contenders such as the Kia Cadenza.

Per Acura marketing strategy, the RLX does not have factory options so much as different trim levels. This new model can be had in a base trim or with a succession of packages, each adding features to the previous. The 1st upgrade adds navigation and the next brings in various technology features. An amazing Krell audio system comes in at the next level, and the top package, the car I reviewed, adds advanced driver assistance features.

An interface too far?
The RLX sets itself up as the most technologically advanced Acura yet with a direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 engine and standard LED headlights; that latter feature is found in very few other cars. The headlights, trademarked by Acura as Jewel Eyes, not only use less energy and last longer than standard lamps, but they also throw a more well-defined pattern, with sharper edges and less bleed-over.

And while it's good to see new developments from Acura, which had grown stale in the technology department in recent years, its new cabin electronics interface is a mess. The RLX features a 7-inch touch screen above the console, within easy reach of the driver. Higher up and inset into the dashboard sits an 8-inch LCD. Below the touch screen Acura includes a big jog dial and buttons that control content on the upper LCD.

The upper LCD shows this music library interface for an iOS device, with music browsable by artist, album, and genre.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

The upper LCD shows the navigation system along with some music and phone functions, while the touch screen shows phone and stereo controls in a different format, but no navigation. Follow me so far?

Now here is where things really get messy. With a USB drive or iOS device plugged into the RLX's USB port, I could browse music sequentially by album or track on the touch screen, but I had to use the jog dial and refer to the upper LCD to browse the music library by artist, album, and genre, or file and folder when using a USB drive as my source.

On the touch screen, I was able to find a phone screen with a keypad and speed dial numbers. The upper LCD defaulted to a screen showing recent calls and the speed dial numbers. Pushing the Menu button, I was finally able to find my phone's contact list on the upper LCD, along with a keypad.

On the lower touch-screen music interface, you can only choose music by sequentially moving through albums or tracks.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
Between the 2 screens there is some duplication and some separation of controls, none of which makes any sense at all.

On the lowest-trim RLX without navigation, I imagine this interface becomes slightly simpler. However, as Acura's flagship model, the company should have just made navigation standard on the RLX. Given that automakers tend to replicate their newest cabin electronics across their lineups, expect to see this flawed system end up in more Acura models before someone has the sense to fix it.

1 saving grace is that the touch screen and upper LCD both react quickly to inputs.

I found I could avoid much of the interface mess by using the RLX's voice command system, which let me enter destinations, initiate phone calls by a contact name, and even request music from an iOS device by saying an album or artist name. While fairly comprehensive, the voice command system still made me enter addresses 1 part at a time, as opposed to how slicker systems accept an entire spoken address string.

Connected nav, mind-blowing sound
The RLX shows an improvement in Acura's navigation system, adding perspective view to the existing plan view maps. The maps themselves look more refined than on previous Acura systems, with easily read street labels. The system uses traffic data to dynamically adjust routes so as to avoid traffic jams. It also read out street names for upcoming turns and showed useful graphics with lane guidance for freeway junctions.

Acura also offers many options for entering destinations, including search on a points-of-interest database and an online search option. 1 of my favorite features, a carryover from earlier Acura models, is a database of scenic drives for just about every 1 of the United States.

An intriguing means of finding restaurants or hotels is through the new AcuraLink Streams app, an Acura-branded app with Aha Radio services. Running the app on a smartphone, I could choose the Aha audio source then choose stations listing restaurants or hotels. Aha found the nearest matching locations, showing them and reading the names of each out loud. I was able to choose the Navigate button on the upper LCD and have the location fed to the navigation system.

AcuraLink uses the Aha Radio service through your smartphone to find nearby hotels, and the RLX makes it a 1-touch process to load the address into navigation.
(Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

The real sweet spot in the cabin electronics is the Krell audio system. Krell has been building audiophile-ranked stereo equipment for a little over 30 years, and the RLX benefits greatly from its work.

The system uses 14 speakers, the woofers of which are covered with tasteful aluminum grilles, that deliver about the best dynamic range I have ever heard in a car stereo. Mostly listening to lossless digital recordings on an iPhone, the Krell system gave voice to the entire frequency range of each track. Bass notes dropped with a power that hit my entire body, while vocals were pristine and clear, and seemed to put the singer in the car with me on some well-produced tracks.

The higher-pitched notes and instruments invaded the cabin on a shimmering wave. However, at times they sounded shrill, which may have been more to do with the original recording and too-faithful reproduction by the Krell system.

Audio sources abounded in the RLX, although I could only seem to select which 1 I wanted to listen to on the lower touch screen, and not on the upper LCD.

With music on the car's own hard drive or on an iOS device plugged into the USB port, I had full access to music library, with album, artist, and genre categories. Plugging in a simple USB drive, the system only showed me music in a file-and-folder format. Bluetooth audio streaming also works, with its usual limited control capabilities.

The AcuraLink Streams app brings in online radio stations, such as Indie Pop Rocks form SomaFM.
(Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

Acura offers a couple of online options for music in the RLX, both running from a smartphone app. The car's interface fully integrated with Pandora, letting me select my custom stations and give songs a thumbs-up or thumbs-down using the touch screen. After installing the AcuraLink Streams app on my phone, I had access to the stations in my Aha radio account through the car's interface, which included Slacker.

The RLX also features HD Radio as standard in the stereo.

Active cruise, hyperactive lane warning
The Advance trim level of the car I was testing not only included the delicious Krell stereo, but also a number of driver assistance features, from a blind-spot monitor to adaptive cruise control.

Activating cruise control, I set my speed and following distance then took my foot off the pedals as the RLX used its forward-looking radar to gauge the speed of traffic ahead. The system delivered a somewhat rubber-band-like feeling as it matched the changing speeds of cars ahead. A convenient graphic on the instrument cluster showed me when it had another car in its sights. At 1 point a car ahead on the freeway slowed down abruptly, and the RLX hit its brakes as well to match speeds. But as the other car switched lanes, clearing the way ahead, the RLX took too long to pick up speed back to my preset level, forcing me to get on the gas again before pissing off the traffic that was coming up behind me.

Buttons on the right side of the steering wheel control following distance for adaptive cruise control and activate lane keeping assistance.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

The lane departure warning system beeped excitedly whenever I was about to cross a lane line without signaling, also showing a graphic on the cluster indicating which side I was about to cross. This system can be a little sensitive, so I switched it off when driving down particularly twisty roads.

Front-wheel drive, 4-wheel steering
Acura tunes the electric power steering on the RLX so that it requires little effort to turn the wheel. However, to improve handling Acura makes the rear wheels turn as well. Acura calls this system on the front-wheel-drive RLX Precision All Wheel Steer (PAWS). The rear wheels only turn a few degrees, but it makes a big difference in helping the over 16-foot-long RLX come around a corner.

Working against the RLX is its suspension, which I found very unsatisfying.

The RLX's fixed suspension gave the car a floaty, rubbery ride, not uncommon for a luxury-oriented car. As such, it did not keep the car's body particularly flat when cornering at speed. But it also did not lead to a particularly comfortable ride. I felt like my butt was reading Braille whenever the road was less than smooth, with lots of uncomfortable bumps communicated to the cabin. The wheels, specially engineered for low noise, might have been to blame.

The RLX certainly delivered a quiet ride. Standing outside the car, I could hear the chattering of the 3.5-liter V-6 engine's injectors, but inside the cabin that noise was completely muted.

Acura proves the efficiency of direct injection with this engine. It cranks out 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque, much more than a typical 3.5-liter V-6, yet I saw fuel economy numbers in the mid-20s. Acura's EPA numbers show 20 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

I have seen equivalent cars without direct injection average below 20 mpg.

The engine did not feel especially powerful when I romped on the gas pedal, but the RLX accelerated smoothly and inexorably. It was fast enough for day-to-day driving, and could get up and go when needed.

Instead of an S position on the gate, the Sport button changes the programming for both transmission and throttle.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

A button labeled Sport near the shifter not only sharpened the throttle tuning, but also made the transmission downshift aggressively. I like the 1-touch approach to the Sport mode, as opposed to some cars that require pushing a button or 2 and moving the shift lever to S.

Sport mode also let me put the RLX's transmission into manual mode. In normal driving, hitting 1 of the paddle shifters on the steering wheel let me shift the transmission sequentially, but left alone for a moment, the transmission would go back into automatic. With Sport mode activated, manual shift mode remained engaged after I used the paddle shifters.

Features and flaws
The 2014 Acura RLX feels like a big, roomy car, a definite improvement over the outgoing RL model. It drives easily, but it also features a mix of excellent features and serious flaws, and I am not sure the latter make up for the former.

The LED headlights cut a neat path through the night and the direct-injection engine gives it power and very good fuel economy. The Krell audio system also makes a compelling argument for the car, at least for music lovers.

However, the cabin interface is just so weird, so much a mess of disparate and duplicated functions that I hesitated whenever I wanted to choose music or make a phone call. And whenever the road got rough, the ride quality became abysmal.

Beyond those praises and complaints, the RLX contains many solid features, a good collection of electronics and driving characteristics that help make the car a solid daily driver.

For those considering the RLX, another version coming out later this year may just feature even better handling and fuel economy. Acura will soon launch a hybrid RLX with all-wheel drive. Using an innovative hybrid drive system, this new RLX will not only have the direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 turning the front wheels, but also gets 2 electric motors at the rear wheels providing power and putting additional torque down at the outside wheel in a turn. Although the hybrid RLX will not have the PAWS 4-wheel-steering system, the torque vectoring might be even better.

Despite the drivetrain changes, Acura is not likely to change the interface for the RLX hybrid, and better fuel economy will not making it any less confusing.
Tech specs
Model 2014 Acura RLX
Trim Advance
Power train Direct injection 3.5-liter V-6, 6-speed automatic transmission
EPA fuel economy 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 23.9 mpg
Navigation Optional hard-drive-based with traffic data
Bluetooth phone support Standard with contact list integration
Digital audio sources Onboard hard drive, Pandora, Aha Radio, iOS integration, USB drive, Bluetooth audio streaming, auxiliary input, satellite radio, HD Radio
Audio system Krell 14-speaker system
Driver aids Adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitor, rear-view camera
Base price $48,450
Price as tested $61,345
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2014 Acura RLX Suspension WalkAround
More than a Dressed-Up Accord

2014 Acura RLX front suspension overall.

2014 Acura RLX front suspension upper arm and coil-over.

2014 Acura RLX front suspension overall with dual lower links highlighted.

2014 Acura RLX front suspension dual lower ball joint close-up.

2014 Acura RLX front suspension dual lower ball joint virtual pivot highlight.

2014 Acura RLX front suspension clearance at full steering lock.

2014 Acura RLX front suspension steering rack location.

2014 Acura RLX front suspension arm ratios.

2014 Acura RLX front suspension stabilizer bar link.

2014 Acura RLX front suspension tension rod bushing.

2014 Acura RLX front brake.

2014 Acura RLX front brake.

2014 Acura RLX rear suspension overall.

2014 Acura RLX rear suspension coil-over.

2014 Acura RLX rear suspension upper arms and rear-steer actuator.

2014 Acura RLX rear suspension lower links and rear-steer actuator.

2014 Acura RLX rear suspension rear-steer actuator close-up.

2014 Acura RLX rear suspension overall from directly below.

2014 Acura RLX rear suspension knuckle and stabilizer bar.

2014 Acura RLX rear brake.

2014 Acura RLX tires and wheels.

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When it comes to its identity, Acura continues to be a work in progress. Is it an aspirational luxury brand or merely a Japanese version of Buick: a step up on the ladder but not the top rung? Now along comes the RLX, the new flagship sedan for Honda's luxury division, which does improve on its predecessor, the RL.

Appearance: 1st to catch your eyes are the sparkling Jewel Eye LED headlights, which Acura says are brighter than halogen or HID lights. Beyond that, the RLX looks like a rather ordinary, slightly stretched midsize sedan. The front fender bulges contribute to this elongated look. The grille is a more subdued version of Acura's shield. Chrome trim and 19-inch alloy wheels add a sporty touch.

Performance: Unlike the RL, the standard RLX is a front-wheel drive. Bad thing? Lyra says no; Peter would like a rear-wheel-drive like the competition. (Acura says there is an AWD hybrid with a 7-speed automatic coming later this year.) What the RLX does have is P-AWS: Precision All-Wheel Steering system, where the wheels in the rear pivot as much as 2 degrees in the same direction as the front wheels. Translation? Improving stability and handling, especially with the Agile Handling Assist system. We did find the RLX to be stable — if not nimble — in sweeping curves.

The engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 with cylinder deactivation to help save on gas. The estimated mpg is a respectable 20/31. The quiet V-6 puts out 310 horsepower and is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with a sport mode and paddle shifters. (Many luxury competition has 7- or 8-speed gearboxes.) The transmission shifts smoothly, and the engine has enough power for most driving situations; a performance sedan it is not. We both felt the ride was "floaty," like driving in a much bigger car. Our tester came with the Technology Package, which includes driving aids such as lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitor and forward collision warning.

Interior: This is where the RLX shines. The cabin design is elegant, with a nicely curved dash and lots of stitched leather, and aluminum and wood trim. The tech-laden interior also is library quiet, helped by active noise cancellation system and acoustic windshield. That quiet can be shattered by the optional high-end Krell audio with 14 speakers, including a sound bar above the rear seatback that resembles an aftermarket system. Impressive.

The interior is roomy, much better than the previous RL model. The plush Milano Leather seats are comfortable, with 12-way adjustments for the front seats. There are 2 screens on the center console. 1 is primarily a display screen (with a hood that reduces glare) and 1 is mainly a touchscreen that has haptic feedback. There's also a multifunction control for navigation and media input. As in other Hondas we've driven, we found this approach redundant.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Headlights: I just wish the look-at-me design carried over to the rest of the car.

Seats: Comfortable and roomy, front and rear.

Technology: The RLX is a showcase, if a somewhat busy one.

Lyra Solochek

Headlights: Jewel Eye LED headlights are diamondlike.

Design: It's conservative and minimalist; not all cars have to be flashy.

Steering: Driving into turns became more fun with the Precision All-Wheel Steering system.

The bottom line: The RLX shows that Acura is still struggling to define itself. The car is somewhat generic, but its technology is not. Is that enough to compete in the luxury market? We'll see.

2014 Acura RLX

Price: $48,450 start, $57,845 as tested

Powertrain: 3.5-liter SOHC direct-injected V-6, 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift, FWD.

Horsepower: 310 at 6,500 rpm

Torque: 272 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm

Curb weight: 3,981 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 112.2

Length, 196.1

Width, 74.4

Height, 57.7

Seats: 5

Fuel economy:

20 miles per gallon city, 31 mpg highway

Fuel type:

Premium unleaded (91 octane)

Safety features: Airbags and curtains, rollover sensors, vehicle stability assist, ABS, electronic brake distribution, agile handling assist dynamic braking system, forward collision warning, lane departure warning,.


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Post Weekly Driver

What should a consumer expect from a car with a starting point of just under $50,000? That’s the beginning price of 2014 Acura RLX, the new medium-sized Acura luxury sedan.

The Acura RLX replaces the RL as the carmaker’s top sedan, and it’s firmly positioned against a few heavy-hitters — the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS 350.

Like its rivals, the Acura RLX has a lot to offer with a variety of trims, powerful engines and enough plushness and superior touches to make it hard not to like.

For starters, it has a 3.5.-liter V6 with 310 horsepower. There are faster sedans, but the new Acura has a steady powerful growl of authority while accelerating. It only took a brief learning curve, and once I realized there was power on demand, the RLX won me over.

There are lots of small, but important features on the new Acura RLX I really like, which videographer Bruce Aldrich (Tahoe Truckee Outdoor) and The Weekly Driver discuss in the video below.

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Wink YakimaHerald

It is a car beautiful in its simplicity and finish, crowned with jewel-like headlamps that practically sparkle.

Its elegantly done interior speaks to luxury without shouting it. It is in the rendering — premium materials, primarily leather, perfectly stitched.

The car’s technology is advanced but easily understandable. The idea is to provide maximum performance without sacrificing common sense. So there is an all-new 3.5-liter, gasoline-direct-injection V-6 engine (310 horsepower, 272 pound-feet of torque).

The engine comes with what the manufacturer calls Variable Cylinder Management and Intelligent Variable Timing and lift Control (i-VTEC). What it amounts to is this: The V-6 engine’s intake valves for air and fuel open longer and deeper to give you the increased power you need to boogie. But cylinder management applies a healthy dose of fuel-saving common sense, automatically, seamlessly changing the engine to run on 6, 4 or 3 cylinders, depending on driving conditions.

It is not hyperbole to declare the car something of a technological and artistic marvel. And Acura, the luxury division of Honda Motor Co., is to be congratulated.
Nuts & bolts

■ Bottom line: For anyone seeking a midsize luxury automobile in the $45,000-to-$65,000 price range, the 2014 Acura RLX Advance is well worth a look. This column gives it an enthusiastic “buy.”

■ Ride, acceleration and handling: Excellent marks in all 3.

■ Body style/layout: This is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive midsize luxury car with 4 side doors and a traditional notchback trunk. Later in 2013, it will be available with all-wheel drive and a hybrid gasoline-electric drive system.

■ Engine transmission: It comes standard with a 3.5-liter, 24-valve gasoline-direct-injection engine with variable valve management and timing for better power and a lower penalty for fuel consumption. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually.

■ Capacities: Seats 5 people. Cargo capacity is 14.9 cubic feet. Fuel capacity is 18.5 gallons. Premium-grade gasoline is required.

■ Real-world mileage: I averaged 18 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

■ Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); 4-wheel anti-lock brake protection; electronic brake-force distribution; emergency braking assistance; electronic stability and traction control; side, front-cabin knee air bags; and head air bags.

■ Pricing: The 2014 Acura RLX Advance with onboard navigation starts at $60,450, with a dealer’s invoice price on that model of $55,183. Price as tested is $61,345 including an $895 assembly-plant-to-dealership transportation charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $56,078.
Welcome the 2014 Acura RLX Advance, the top of the line of the Acura division.

Honda and Acura have been trying to produce a car like this since 1986, when Acura began selling cars in the United States. Until now, that effort has been lackluster, yielding a number of worthy automobiles but nothing that could not be found, in 1 form or another, in the less-expensive Honda division.

Moreover, Acura lately has come under pressure from Hyundai and Kia, South Korean partners that are deliberately undermining the traditional concept of luxury, stripping it of the notion of exclusivity by making available at reasonable cost almost everything once considered unattainable in an affordable automobile.

Acura has answered back with the front-wheel-drive RLX Advance, which also is equipped with what the division’s engineers call “precision all-wheel-steer” — called P-AWS for purposes of constructing a catchy marketing moniker.

P-AWS does, in fact, allow you to paw the road, especially in curves. It does its work by permitting the rear wheels, independently of each other, to pivot as much as 1.8 degrees in the same direction of the front wheels.

The RLX Advance feels mated to the road — precisely, effortlessly following its turns and undulations.

I have read some criticism of the RLX Advance saying it “doesn’t ride with the same composure as other sedans” in its midlevel luxury class. That seems to me to be code for “it is not a BMW 5-Series.”

It is not.

Nor is the RLX Advance supposed to be. It is what it is: an exceptionally well-executed midsize luxury family sedan that, considering its ample interior room and comfort, places as much emphasis on “family” as it does on “performance.” It defines “luxury” by impeccable craftsmanship and reliability, technological innovation that renders performance with common sense, and exterior and interior styling that is timeless in its appeal.
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Arrow Winding Road

Sometimes, when we’re doing nothing but driving high-horsepower sports sedans, snarling muscle cars, or epic exotics, all we really want to do is get behind the wheel of a big, comfortable, cushy sedan. It’s the equivalent of a cool down walk after a long run, allowing us to free our mind and think about something other than throttle modulation, shift speed, engine noise, and “Oh my God, is that cop coming after me?!”

Fortunately, the new Acura RLX was just the breath of fresh air we needed after a string of lust-worthy metal. That’s not to say the RLX isn’t desirable, but that when parked next to a Chrysler 300 SRT8 or a BMW M5, our RLX Advance kind of blends in.

It’s a clean design, but is also extremely conservative. Acura toned down its beak-nosed design language between the 2013 RL and 2014 RLX, but while the fascia features a look that could be described as “better,” we’d hesitate to call it “different.” In fact, it looks like Acura’s designers may be suffering from the same bout of laziness that’s afflicted Porsche for the past 50 years.

While the shapes are largely the same, it’s the contents of those shapes that distinguish the RLX from the RL. And yes, we’re talking in particular about the “jewel eye” headlights. Say what you will about their appearance, but these 8 LEDs could teach Audi a thing or 6 about exterior lighting.

The low beam’s light enveloped a far-reaching and wide stretch of road. Unlike a lot of new luxury cars, the RLX doesn’t feature or need an active front lighting system, as the headlights are so bright and powerful, and are so wide in their dispersion that adding a motor to turn them just wouldn’t serve any real purpose.

The RLX’s interfaces did a good job of keeping us as comfortable as possible without removing us from the driving experience. After a long day of driving that saw us transition from a BMW M5, into a 2014 Lexus IS350 F-Sport, and finally into a Volvo C30 over the course of nine hours, climbing into the RLX for our final drive home was a dream come true.

The seats were wide and pleasant, and had a plushness that reminded us of big American luxury sedans of yesteryear. Unlike those comfortable boats, though, taking a turn in the RLX didn’t completely unseat us or leave us hanging onto the steering wheel for dear life. These seats were supportive, with subdued bolsters that did their job without getting in the way or pinching the sides of wider staffers.

The cabin on the upmarket Advance model came very well equipped. Following the example set by the Honda Accord, the RLX sported a pair of displays on its center console, with a secondary set of analog controls below it. The large, top screen’s primary responsibility is to display maps and other non-interactive information. The lower screen is a touch display with haptic feedback, and is the driver’s primary means of interaction with the infotainment systems. It’s responsive and accurate, although the menus for the various systems have a rather steep learning curve.

The big toy in the RLX’s cabin is its wonderful Krell surround-sound system. The 14-speaker system was quite possibly 1 of the finest we’ve ever tested, delivering crisp, deep, rich sound regardless of the music being played. We transitioned from Skrillex to John Williams’ Jurassic Park overture, and found the sound impressive with both genres. Really, you need to hear this system.

Now, as you may have heard, the RLX will be sharing a hybrid powertrain with a rather highly anticipated, Ohio-built supercar. This is not that RLX, though. Instead, we’ve got a robust, 3.5-liter V-6 that can deliver 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. Power is transmitted to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Wait, you’re still hung up on that front-wheel-drive part, right? Don’t be.

The RLX offers something called Precision All-Wheel Steer, initialized to P-AWS, as a standard item on all RLXs. As you may have guessed, P-AWS allows the RLX’s rear wheels to turn in response to the driving conditions. The all-electric system can adjust the rear-wheel’s steering angel independent of what the front wheels are doing. The result is extremely fast and smooth turn in, giving the RLX a sharpness that betrays its front-drive architecture, while also improving overall stability.

The RLX’s 3.5-liter V-6 felt like the right engine for a luxury sedan like this, as it delivered its power in smooth, relaxed doses. The throttle was easy to modulate, with quite linear power delivery. More importantly, it sounded very refined, with a subtle sportiness to the engine note only evident when we really dug into the rev range.

The 6-speed automatic was a good fit as well, providing quick, smooth upshifts and downshifts. When we dove deep into the skinny pedal, the 6AT served up a relaxed downshift that, while not jostling cabin occupants, didn’t leave us feeling flat-footed when power was called for. The manual mode was kind of an afterthought, with a tiny pair of wheel-mounted paddles. It works fine, but felt kind of silly on a car like this.

In what can only be described as a breath of fresh air, the RLX’s powertrain only featured 1 level of adjustment rather than multiple settings for the suspension, engine, and transmission (ahem, BMW). “Sport” mode sharpened the throttle response and held gears slightly longer, but that’s about the extent of it.

The steering, ride, and handling were unsurprisingly isolated. Feedback through the wheel was quite limited anywhere but on center, and the effort the electric rack expected us to exert was laughably low.

The handling, with the exception of the quick turn-in, was quite soft. Imperfections were managed well, although undulating surfaces left the RLX feeling floaty. In general, the ride and handling feel were rather detached. There wasn’t a lot of feedback through the suspension, which didn’t come as much of a shock.

The 2014 Acura RLX pricing scheme is a simple one that follows established Honda tradition—there are no options, just trim packages. The base model starts at $48,450, while the Navigation model ups the price to $50,950 and adds navigation (duh) and AcuraLink. The Technology Package runs $54,450, and adds a 14-speaker ELS stereo, upgraded Milano leather seats, 19-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, and blind-spot monitoring. The Krell Audio Pack RLX costs $56,950, and adds the wonderful 14-speaker Krell stereo, along with a power rear sunshade. Our tester, the RLX Advance costs $60,450 and adds adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and a collision mitigation braking system. The rear seats also get a heating function.

The great thing about the RLX is that so much of the good stuff comes standard. The amazing “jewel eye” LEDs and Performance All-Wheel Steering are both no-cost items which immediately elevate even the base model RLX to something we’d consider. While we enjoyed the loaded RLX, we’d have no qualms about picking up one of the mid-range models, thanks in large part to some of the standard equipment.

Our time with the RLX was quite revealing. It’s not, as we’ve established, a very sporty or fun-to-drive car. While we’d bemoan this fact, the reality is that there’s this tendency in the market to deliver far more performance than most buyers need, often at the sacrifice of comfort and refinement. The RLX is the inverse of this philosophy, prioritizing its occupants rather than just its driver. Every once in a while, we like that change.
2014 Acura RLX Advance
Engine: V-6, 3.5 liters, 24v
Output: 310 hp/272 lb-ft
0-60 MPH: 6.0 sec (est)
Fuel Economy, City/Hwy: 20/31 mpg
Base Price: $60,450
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Acura has redoubled its ante to the entry-luxury sedan segment with a new, larger and much invigorated RLX sedan.

The new nameplate is an update from the old RL and in line with the company’s X nomenclature, including the ILX compact sedan and RDX and MDX crossovers.

RLX may not be not an image-defining nameplate, but this car now makes a defining statement of guts, back seat room and obsessive detail.

Sold in 5 trim levels, starting prices range from $49,345 to $61,000, including the $895 freight charge from Japan. All models are front-wheel drive with a 310-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, 6-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel steering. The AWD Sport Hybrid goes on sale later this year, using electric motors to drive the rear wheels. There is no mechanical driveline connection front to rear.

If luxury buyers have been ambivalent about this brand, there is new direction from the work that went into RLX. After a week testing the uplevel RLX Advance ($61,345), my exit interview is “ReLaX.”

As the luxury division of Honda, Acura has closed the door on comparisons to its mainstream partner – at least with the RLX, which is separate from the Accord.

By dimensions, RLX is a midsize car, it just feels full size. The redesign is about the same length as before but a couple inches wider on a longer wheelbase. The width is welcome throughout the cabin but felt in the wide, 40.5-foot turning circle.

At 3,997 pounds, fuel economy on premium is 20 mpg city, 31 highway and 24 combined. According to the onboard computer, my heavy-footed driving was returning an average of 24.3 mpg combined.

Acceleration in standard mode is mundane, but punch the Sport button on the console and the RLX sloughs off pounds and tucks into position. Steering is linear in how the wheel unwinds smoothly through the fingertips. Brake force is reassuring from 12.3-inch front ventilated rotors and 12.2-inch solid rear discs. Both sets of binders have single-piston calipers.

Telescopic, gas-filled Amplitude Reactive Dampers (shock absorbers) and stabilizer bars front and rear deliver sport-class handling when needed, relaxing to supple control for the daily commute. The whole body construction filters harshness and noise. Even at highway speeds there is little wind noise. In cornering, the all-wheel steering actually gives that seat-of-the-pants push of rear-wheel-drive.

All models get 18- or 19-inch noise-reducing alloy wheels and all-season tires. The standard tire is a Michelin Pilot MXM4 P245/45 or a Michelin Primacy MXM4 245/40 on uplevel models.

The interior design is harmonious in textures, touch and hues. The styling is contemporary, not aggressive, but tailored to compliment formal dress or denim getaways.

There is rich attention to detail in the intriguing wood grain, the velvety microfiber treatments, precise panel alignment and the rich, perforated leather with a mouth-watering aroma. The carpeted floor mats seem too neat for shoes.

The driver area is, at last, uncluttered. A touchscreen and simple controller access various cabin functions, all without an angry reaction from the driver. Navigation is simple to operate and connecting my iPhone took nanoseconds, quickly pulling up my Pandora channel. The 14-speaker Krell audio system seemed most dynamic at sound levels louder than I prefer.

Sightlines are open over the hood and over the shoulder. There is no glare from sunshine beaming on the rear camera screen or reflections in the windshield. The driver’s door panel is a blueprint of how to group window tabs, door locks, mirror controls and switches for trunk and gas door – all in a space the size of a big hand print. So smart but so bungled by many others.

The available technologies are loaded onto the Advance model and all are stealth in function. An audible tone from the Lane Departure Assist works with Lane Keeping Assist to nudge the wheel back on course if the driver wanders. And that aid works with Forward Collision Warning as another set of eyes for the driver. The adaptive cruise control will maintain speed or slow to a stop if needed. But the adaptive element also can be switched off for simple cruise control. Not all systems offer that separation.

Step into the back seat and stretch out with nearly 39 inches of legroom. The door panels are concave for added elbow room in an already broad space. Still, it’s a more comfortable 4-seater, with a narrow center position with feet spread by a broad transmission tunnel.

The 15-cubic-foot trunk has wide accessible space and some basement storage. But the somewhat shallow depth of the aperture will be limiting to a giant piece of luggage.

The exterior styling is neat, clean, accommodating to entry and exit – but almost disappearing. The RLX has such a dynamic presence that I wanted this entire recipe morphed into a sex-jet body style. It deserves that kind of recognition.

Acura has been idling in the entry-luxury segment for years now, but the RLX shows that the brand is ready to change perceptions.

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Wink Kicking Tires

Although the brand-new 2014 Acura RLX is bigger than a midsize sedan, it's not big enough to fit 3 child-safety seats across its backseat. A raised center seating position and larger seat bolsters hindered our ability to install 3 car seats. However, 2 car seats fit easily in the RLX.

How many car seats fit in the 2nd row? 2

What We Like

2 sets of easy-to-access Latch anchors in the outboard seats
Lots of room for rear-facing infant-safety and convertible seats
Outboard seat belt buckles are on rigid bases, making them easy for younger kids to use
Bolstered seats cradled our high-back booster seat

What We Don't

Rear-facing convertible was difficult to install because its base blocked access to the Latch anchors
Center seat's buckle has a floppy base, making it difficult for kids in booster seats to grasp

Grading Scale

A: Plenty of room for the car seat and the child; doesn't impact driver or front-passenger legroom. Easy to find and connect to Latch and tether anchors. No fit issues involving head restraint or seat contouring. Easy access to the 3rd row.

B: Plenty of room. 1 fit or connection issue. Some problems accessing 3rd row.

C: Marginal room. 2 fit or connection issues. Difficult to access 3rd row.

D: Insufficient room. 2 or more fit or connection issues.

F: Does not fit or is unsafe.

About's Car Seat Checks
Editors Jennifer Geiger and Jennifer Newman are certified child safety seat installation technicians.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible seat and Graco TurboBooster seat. The front seats are adjusted for a 6-foot driver and a 5-foot-8 passenger. The 3 child seats are installed in the 2nd row. The booster seat sits behind the driver's seat, and the infant and convertible seats are installed behind the front passenger seat.

We also install the forward-facing convertible in the 2nd row's middle seat with the booster and infant seat in the outboard seats to see if 3 car seats will fit; a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. If there's a 3rd row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.

Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat.
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