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post #76 of 89 (permalink) Old 06-03-13, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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WEST COAST EDITOR MARK VAUGHN: Abusing the Acura RLX is a national pastime among the automotive press. Lawd knows it's an easy target: it still has a V6 when everything else has a V8; it has front-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive like the competition; it has a shared part or 2 with the (gasp!) Honda Accord … That is all true. And maybe Acura should be shellacked a little bit for keeping the RLX in the '80s for so long. But this new model does finally get some of the features that have been on competitors forever: direct injection, adaptive cruise control, LED head- and taillights, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, electric parking brake and even capless fueling. It's kind of embarrassing that Acura has only added these features in 2013 when competitors have had them for many a model year.

Some of the features Acura is hoping will set itself apart might not even be noticed by owners: Precision all-wheel steer that increases stability, grip and speed through corners, more power for the V6 -- up to 310 now, “amplitude reactive dampers” and even an aluminum hood, doors and fenders. Can you really feel that from behind the wheel, unless you've just driven an RL without them? These are all good, logical points that buyers might consider.

However, once you get in the thing and drive it around you realize that it's perfectly fine as a transportation device for 4 or 5 people. Most owners of large luxury sedans do not autocross them. Short of a BMW M5 or a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan, most owners just drive them around at more or less normal speeds. Plus, since they sell only a relatively small handful of these things, having an RLX gives buyers even more of that exclusivity luxury owners crave. You are not going to see RLXs coming and going. I for 1 generally crave anonymity.

In regular traffic doing regular suburban driving things you will like the RLX. So will your passengers. Everyone who rode in the back seat commented positively, all unsolicited comments by the way. Indeed, it has 2 inches more room back there, which is a lot compared to the old car.

Most of the connectivity stuff worked, except that I couldn't get my iPhone 4 to ever connect. It might have been the phone's fault. I kept trying but no dice.

And if all the improvements aren't enough then just hold off on your purchase till later this year when the Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive version comes out with 370 horsepower and a dual-clutch transmission.

For now, bringing the car into the 21st century helps, as does price. As we noted when the car came out March 15, MSRP starts at $49,345 including destination. A loaded Advance model is $61,345. Go through the options lists of all these cars and see if it really does save you money. The Cadillac CTS -- rear-drive and a V6 -- starts at $43,340; the Lexus GS 350 -- also rear-drive and a V6 -- starts at $47,250. In between you can juggle a lot of options.

But, as I said, if you just get in the thing and drive it around like a normal car, you're likely to be pleasantly surprised at how nicely it functions as a roomy luxury sedan.

ASSOCIATE WEST COAST EDITOR BLAKE Z. RONG: Some people have harped on the RLX for not being as sporty and involving as other luxury limousines, as if they're going to win SSC Showroom Stock with it. But if Lexus has the Japanese Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti has the Japanese Mid-'80s Audi near-luxury that has terrible residual value and nobody is taking seriously, then what we have here is the Japanese Buick. It may be at odds with the Integras and lithe Legends that made the brand famous, but it's a fine car and a fine isolation chamber from the messy business of driving, one that's soundproof from the outside world, but has a fine surround-sound system to match.

This RLX is about 90% of the way to driving itself. It has adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist so it will steer itself to keep between lanes, physically adjusting the steering wheel like a twitchy “Christine.” Its seatbelts tug gently like nervous parents. The 14-speaker sound system is designed by Krell, a company that lacks the brand-recognition (read: salivated at by audio nerds) of something as tawdry as Bose but quietly designs some of the highest-end and most expensive audio equipment on Earth. Infinity? Mark Levinson? JBL? Get that midlevel junk out of here. This is real luxury, people!

The lane-keeping assist system, resplendent with cryptic lettering between the gauges -- is activated at the press of a button on, naturally, the steering wheel. Push it and lift your hands off, but not too far! Every 10 seconds a bright orange “STEERING REQUIRED” message lights up on the dash, to remind you that steering is, alas, still a major component to this motoring activity. The system is a novelty around town. But where it would work best would be the I-5 corridor between Sacramento and Los Angeles, which I underwent the day before in about 6 hours, complete with a stop at kitschy retiree tourist-trap Pea Soup Andersen's. Given a straight, unerring highway with minimum traffic and some good music on the Krell sound system, this lane-departure system might be a boon to lazy and shiftless youth like me.

The sport button turns the RLX into the car it should have been: slightly firmer, slightly sharper, and less languid and with more usable city acceleration. I say “slightly” because it takes little away from comfort: the suspension is just as cushy, the engine just as quiet. The electronic steering gains slightly more feel, and it still has more feel than Hyundai's similarly firming systems. Also, the gear indicator glows red in sport mode. So, there's that.

The interior is beautiful, big, light and airy, helped by the cream-colored leather that drapes everything underneath the black and spongy dashboard cover. If full leather is the true signifier of modern luxury, then Acura's luxury trappings have improved with gusto. The split-screen system is similar to Honda's, with the smaller lower screen a touch variant. It's responsive and reasonably high-resolution. And surprise! Its haptic feedback buzzes and vibrates under-finger, much like Cadillac's CUE, with the noticeable difference of not being a slow, defective, infuriating pile of electronic detritus.

But what a wonderful sound system the Krell is: beautifully nuanced, with true surround-sound effects. Crank up Florence + the Machine and it turns into a near-religious experience.

The real boon is the impressive turning radius: just three and a half lanes is all it takes to complete a frustrated U-turn like the ones my father performed in anger during my childhood, a proud legacy that has carried forth to this generation.

There have been gripes about the styling. It looks like so many feet of car, purchased as 1 would reams of fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics. Sure. But after Acura's disastrous “beak” upon which it hoisted its own styling petard, it stands to reason that the company's designers might play it safe for a while. All the good stuff is there, they're saying; it's just that the majority can't see it. Like those amazing hideaway bungalows dotting the Malibu cliffs, all of the luxury is hidden from view.

Within a span of 20 years, BMW came from a purveyor of decently engineered compact and midsized sedans to setting the template for what the entire luxury-car industry is about. Every car needs to be sporty; every car needs to lap the Nürburgring and be capable of driving 10/10ths down Sunset Blvd and have a base sound system ensconced within a coal-black interior with plastic trim because that signifies “sportiness.” Acura is as guilty of this as everybody else. But for once, it is selling a luxury car that doesn't have to double as an H Production race car on the weekends because a brochure copywriter thought it would be exciting enough. That's rare for a Japanese company that has always tried -- like Infiniti, and now Lexus with its F-Sport line -- to over-inject sportiness into every facet of its lineup.

Don't call it a sports sedan. Frankie says RLX.
2014 Acura RLX with Advance Package

Base Price: $61,345

As-Tested Price: $61,345

Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V6; FWD, 6-speed automatic

Output: 310 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 272 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm

Curb Weight: 3,997 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 20/31/24 mpg

Options: None
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post #77 of 89 Old 06-24-13, 09:22 AM Thread Starter
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A friend of mine has started his car shopping adventure so I tagged along to the Acura dealership - this way I can inxpect the cars and sit in a test drive with the salesman focusing on him and not me. The place was packed with people looking at and buying the 2014 MDX. Acura really needs to figure out their success formula with CUVs and apply it to their sedans.

1st off we drove a 2013 TL FWD Advance: overall a very nice car but I was surprised about how cheap some of the interior materials were even compared to my 2004 TSX - most notable was the door pull. The metal trim with the pattern did not really appeal to me either.

Next we drove the 2014 RLX Tech: this car's interior was more impressive than the pictures online have lead me to believe. The car had a lot of pep & the engine had a very nice acceleration sound. The attention to detail was remarkable (especially after the TL), there were little things that some people would miss but really impressed me, like the interior of the door pockets had felt(?) lining. The gauges also had a 3-D type depth that made them look much more interesting than in pictures.

I was a bit disappointed that the arrow on the new navi screen is no longer the Acura logo - t'is now just a regular arrow. The seats were the standard Acura design - I wonder why only the MDX gets a different style? The 1 big downside was whatever the smell was (it does not have the typical new car smell) gave me a headache & made my nauseated.

Based upon this somewhat limited experience, I am definitely considering the RLX over the TL but I am still waiting for the SH-SH-AWD to come out before I start car shopping for real real; will test out the MDX next time. I also went by the Lexus dealership to checkout the new IS, GS & ES: they are still on my long list for now but the IS looked just as awkward in real-life as it did online.
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post #78 of 89 Old 06-25-13, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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Sometimes automakers do things that make you scratch your head — a strange name, an odd vehicle, the discontinuation of a model that seemed successful. And in the world of automotive head-scratching, no brand has sold more dandruff shampoo than Acura.

The 2014 Acura RLX is a nice enough luxury sedan, but its place in the market — and even in Acura's own lineup — is another in a long line of head-scratchers.

Over the past dozen or so years, Acura has abandoned such robust model names as Legend, Integra and Vigor for alphabeticals like MDX and RSX [scratch]. It went in a bizarre styling direction that temporarily turned 1 of the market's nicest looking cars, the TL, into a punch line [scratch scratch]. And who could forget the ZDX [scratch scratch scratch]? Well, most people could, because you can't remember something you've never seen. Only 775 were sold in 2012, and it will be discontinued after 2013 [scalp relief].

The RLX can be viewed as a large midsize sedan or a small full-size 1. As such, it's not much different from the RL — last sold as a 2012 model — which it succeeds. Compare the RLX, the RL and the current Acura TL midsize sedan side-by-side here.

The RLX is closer in size to a Buick LaCrosse or Volvo S80 than to such flagship luxury cars as the BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Acura says it compares to midsize luxury sedans like the BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS, to which it's more closely priced. (See these models compared here.)

Typical of Acuras, the RLX technically comes in 1 trim level but with a choice of option packages that essentially serve as trim levels, as most of them include a host of unrelated features. The Navigation Package is an exception, as it includes only navigation. There are also Technology, Krell and Advance packages. Krell is the name of a little-known, high-end audio manufacturer that designed the higher of 2 optional premium stereos. (The more affordable Technology Package includes an ELS premium audio system that's an upgrade over the base RLX stereo, which is also branded ELS.)

We tested the top RLX with Advance Package, which also includes the Krell system.

Heart Transplant

Even though the RLX's V-6 engine is smaller than that of the RL — 3.5 liters rather than 3.7 liters — it has greater output: 310 horsepower and 272 pounds-feet of torque, which is 10 hp and 1 pound-foot higher. The improvement comes courtesy of Acura's 1st application of direct fuel injection.

The result is great: The RLX accelerates confidently from a stop and has respectable reserve power for passing. The engine revs freely and sounds refined. The 6-speed automatic transmission also behaves well. A simple Sport mode, activated via a button directly behind the gear selector, sharpens the accelerator's responsiveness and holds the transmission in lower gears.

Lower curb weight and the new engine improve gas mileage — a mighty leap from 17/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined in the RL to 20/31/24 mpg in the RLX. This puts the RLX just ahead of the comparably powered BMW 535 (20/30/24 mpg), Lexus GS 350 (19/28/23 mpg) and Mercedes-Benz E350 (20/30/23 mpg), and well past the Audi A6 3.0T (18/27/22 mpg) — all equipped with automatic transmissions.

All-Wheel Steering

Where the RL had standard all-wheel drive, the RLX begins its life only with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive will come later in the model year, when a hybrid system adds electric power to the rear wheels.

Replacing SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) in the RL/RLX lexicon is P-AWS (Precision All Wheel Steer), which can turn the rear wheels a few degrees left or right. They go in the same direction as the front wheels at high speeds, for stable lane changes, or the opposite direction at lower speeds, ostensibly to shrink the car's turning circle. A new twist not seen in earlier 4-wheel steering attempts, P-AWS can turn either rear wheel independently and toe them inward during braking, which Acura says improves stability.

My 1st point of skepticism comes from the RLX's turning diameter, which is a none-too-tight 40.5 feet. Midsize luxury models with tighter turning circles than the RLX include, but aren't limited to: the A6, 5 Series, E-Class, S80, Hyundai Genesis and Lexus ES and GS.

I checked out the full-size sedans, too, and those with smaller turning diameters include, but aren't limited to: the Buick LaCrosse, BMW 7 Series, Cadillac XTS, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class. Obsessed, I finally found 2 models with the same or greater turning diameter: the Audi A8 and the extended version of the XJ, the XJL.

None of these other cars have all-wheel steering. So the RLX's turning circle might be tighter than it would have been without P-AWS, but it's not comparatively superior. So far, P-AWS gives me scalp itch.

P-AWS on the Road

P-AWS does seem to make a difference in the RLX's handling, though. When barreling through a sweeping turn, the car feels more balanced than I'd expect with a front/rear weight distribution of 61/39 percent — typical for front-drive cars. Considering that the rear wheels move only 2 degrees in either direction, the dynamics are surprising: The rear end truly seems to swing around and minimize understeer in a manner you'd expect from a balanced rear-drive car being driven deftly.

What the RLX doesn't do, sadly, is inspire you to drive it in a spirited fashion. It has the feel of a dynamically capable touring car, but not a sport sedan. There's nothing wrong with that, but it calls into question, again, the value of P-AWS.

The ride quality splits the difference between comfort and sportiness. What it doesn't offer is an adaptive suspension, as some competitors do, and the resulting option of choosing 1 characteristic or the other on the fly.

Friendly Confines

The RLX's interior is well-appointed, with high-quality finishes and leather. Acura really needs to discover color, though, as many competitors have. The closest the RLX comes to interior color is taupe. The other options are black and gray.

1 of the RLX's selling points is legroom: It has about an inch more in the front seat than the A6, 535 and E-Class, and it equals the GS 350. Somehow it manages to offer good backseat legroom too: anywhere from about an inch and a half to 3 inches more than the other models mentioned.

It feels roomy, for sure, and the center floor hump isn't as high as is found in rear-drive competitors. Considering the rear wheels will be electrically powered in a future RLX version, this characteristic is unlikely to worsen.

2 Screens, No Waiting

The RLX is blissfully free of the kind of touch-sensitive panels that are replacing normal mechanical buttons in many new cars. Most luxury manufacturers take 1 of 2 approaches to control a car's many functions while avoiding button overload: an easily reached touch-screen or a high-mounted display teamed with a lower controller knob. The RLX provides a new solution: a high-mounted display that's close to one's line of sight, plus a separate touch-screen below it that's close enough to reach. Some of the high screen's functions are controlled by the touch-screen, but most are by a multifunction knob below them both.

In theory, I consider this the best of both worlds — mainly because I find rotating a knob is a terrible way to enter navigation destination addresses and such. I'd only make 2 changes to improve it: 1st, the touch-screen should control more of the high screen. As it is now, you have to navigate through the upper screen's menus using the knob, then switch to the touch-screen to type in, say, a city name. When you're partway through typing, the list of cities that comes up appears back on the high screen, and you have to select using the knob again. All the related steps could and should remain on the touch-screen, leaving the high screen to display the map and navigation prompts.

2nd, I'd put the knob right where the driver's hand rests on the center console. The current location is forward and elevated. The best execution of the screen-and-knob approach puts the display close to your sight line and the controller close to your hand.


A new model, the RLX hasn't yet been crash-tested.

Preventive safety features include a standard backup camera and numerous high-tech options, including blind spot warning, lane departure warning and forward collision warning systems. Active safety options include a Lane Keeping Assist system and Collision Mitigation Brake system. These 2 expand on the camera- and radar-based lane departure and forward collision warning by intervening autonomously. LKAS can steer the car to keep it in its lane on straight and gradually curving roads. CMBS can activate the brakes if a collision is imminent.

Fortunately, I didn't experience CMBS, apart from a demonstration years ago when Acura was the 1st to produce this feature, but I did play with LKAS: If you take your hands off the wheel, the system does steer on streets with well-defined lane markers — but it does so only for about 10 seconds until it flashes a "Steering Required" warning on the instrument panel.

So the idea is what? It steers for you but it isn't sustained, and does so only when you're not steering yourself? Does that not promote even lazier driving? In short, I don't get it.

See all the RLX's safety features here, and view how well child-safety seats fit in the car in our Car Seat Check.

RLX in the Market

The RLX is something of an enigma. Don't get me wrong: It's definitely a nice luxury touring car that does the job, and my philosophy is, "You like? You buy." I often appreciate models that are sized between typical vehicle classes. No 1 says a top luxury sedan has to be as large as the S-Class or 7 Series. What perplexes most, though, is how close the RLX is in size to the TL. This is from the company that essentially has 2 compact sedans as well, the TSX and new ILX, with abutting prices.

To be fair, Lexus also has 2 midsize models, the ES and GS, but 1 is front-wheel drive and the other rear-wheel, respectively, and they have different personalities. The TL and RLX have similar personalities — neither of them very strong — and P-AWS isn't effective enough to distinguish the RLX in the market, much less the Acura lineup. Lots of head scratching going on …
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post #79 of 89 Old 06-30-13, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
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Feast your eyes on the 2014 Acura RLX. This is Acura’s all-new luxury flagship sedan, which in my opinion is a much better replacement for the outgoing RL. It’s powered by a new 310 horsepower direct-injected V-6 engine, representing Acura’s advancement toward a higher level of luxury, comfort and quietness while still maintaining the brand’s leading dynamic performance.

The question that remains to be answered, does the RLX have what it takes to reclaim Acura’s reputation for producing some of the most technologically advanced luxury sedans in the marketplace? What my detailed drive and review and judge for yourself. Thanks for watching.

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post #80 of 89 Old 07-08-13, 01:25 PM Thread Starter
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Question: Does anyone know/think that the Sport mode reduces the mpg? Thanks!

We didn’t go into Acura’s 1st-drive press event for its new, range-topping sedan now known as the RLX with astronomically high hopes, given the wallflower-like nature of its predecessor, the RL. The old RL was nice enough, but in no way was it revolutionary, sexy, or state of the art. And it certainly wasn’t going to blow the mind of its no doubt slightly bored driver, who probably wondered why he didn’t get a TL instead.

But after experiencing the game-changing wild child that is the 2014 Acura RLX, we think it’s time that Mercedes, Lexus, and even BMW take note of how markedly competitive this new car truly is. This is odd because a GS350, E350 or 5-Series are all rear-wheel-drive, and according to the auto journalism rulebook, RWDs are always superior to front-wheel models like the RLX.

Funny, if we weren’t mistaken we would say that Acura engineered the new RLX as a bitchslap to every repetitive traditionalist to show them front-wheel-drive can be fun too. Plus, if you live somewhere that has seasons and weather you would probably prefer a front driver — unless spinning around in circles after hitting black ice patches is your idea of a good time. Frankly, we’d rather go cow tipping, and trust us when we say that is not on our bucket list, much less our lunch pail list.

Thankfully, we packed our superhero lunchboxes and headed off for drives on winding Napa Valley back roads, leading us finally to the Sonoma County Raceway, where we really got to put the RLX and back-to-back E350, GS350 and 535i models to test. Make no mistake, we know how great Acura models are and have been in the past, so why were we somewhat reticent to believe in an Acura flagship that appeals to driver pleasure centers as well as those seeking serene comfort? In this case we simply didn’t know how many engineering tricks Acura still has up its sleeve.

The answers to all of our doubts and questions, dear readers, were found behind the wheel of the new RLX, which proved once and for all that you don’t need to be a rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan to carve corners with the best of them. In fact, we think that the P-AWS 4-wheel steering system (which stands for Precision All-Wheel Steer and is not a reference to kitty cat claws) will convince any luxury sport sedan shopper that the RLX handles like no vehicle they have driven before.

Now, without an engineering degree it might be a bit difficult to understand how Acura worked such miracles with its P-AWS system but as you would expect, it allows you to turn the rear wheels in the optimal direction during various driving scenarios. This optimization of the wheel toe-in or toe-out (i.e. when the wheel is pointed inward or outward) provides extremely predictable and stable cornering, even in bad weather. It may also lengthen the life of your tires — though that claim came from Acura, so don’t complain to us if your tires don’t last as long as you had hoped.

The point here, people, is that this P-AWS system makes understeer nearly undetectable and gave us a level of confidence on the rainy race track that may or may not have led to a rather long sideways power slide around 1 long sweeping turn. Not once did we fear losing control of the vehicle, although we do hope no 1 at Acura saw us do it.

Interior and Exterior Judgments

The 2014 Acura RLX is a naturally pretty and well-balanced design when viewed from the outside, with LED front headlamps giving the face a unique appearance akin to someone with the compound eyes of a spider. The traditional Acura grille holds together the handsome corporate face that not only faithfully screams “upscale” but is also capable of looking like a working professional’s car. As for that, the back seat offers best-in-class legroom so this car may be a hit for real estate agents who sell multi-million-dollar homes across the country. Truly, if you take 5 adults with you for any period of time, then the RLX is your finest choice.

Otherwise, the leather lined interior is quite simply one of Acura’s most stunning pieces of handiwork since the original NSX, what with its refined simplicity that the easy-to-figure-out RLX also manages in a smaller dose. Honestly, the RLX has way too many high tech features not to require some more buttons and at least a control knob when compared to the old NSX which (gasp!) didn’t even have a navigation system. Oh, how quickly automotive expectations change.

The RLX has an interior that is definitely pushing the boundaries. Audiophiles will be interested to know that the once-vaunted Acura/ELS audio system is no longer the top rated unit: this honor now goes to an awesome sounding Krell system available in upper-level trims. Your ears will never want to hear music anywhere else after experiencing this sound system, trust us. Most especially you won’t want to be hearing music at a Justin Bieber concert, since that act renders adult ears deaf from all of the pre-teen shrieking. And his singing.

Vs. the Competition

The 2014 Acura RLX is equipped with a new, direct-injected 3.5 liter 310 horsepower/272 ft-lbs of torque V6, which offers up instantaneous and very linear acceleration from a stop. At freeway speeds there’s always plenty of accelerative thrust left in reserve for passing or just reveling in the glorious crescendo this motor makes as it reaches redline. Noises are well muted, with only the slightest hint of tire roar heard in the cabin — ironic as the RLX comes with noise-cancelling wheels. (How noisy were they before?) Making up for this is the RLX’s solid EPA fuel economy ratings of 20 city/31 highway.

Admittedly, if you’re looking for an isolation chamber or a silent crypt-style driving experience, the RLX not be the best fit for you. This isn’t to say that the RLX doesn’t coddle, though: during our highway drive time, we tested Acura’s new collision mitigation braking system (CMBS) as well as the lane-keeping assist system (LKAS), which use cameras to monitor the traffic ahead as well as the lane markers, so that not only will the car come to a complete stop if the traffic ahead of you does, but it will also turn the wheel to keep you in your lane.

Yes, the car can practically drive itself in emergency situations. After you come to a complete stop, just push a button to return to your preset speed. No other automaker’s system is so complete in its ability to prevent you from having an accident, as was demonstrated to us on the Sonoma County Raceway, our final destination (thankfully, we don’t mean the movie). There, we compared the RLX’s safety tech with similar systems in the Lexus GS, which will happily return all control to the driver after braking the car to 35 miles per hour with little to no warning. Hey, at least you’ll only crash at 35 mph in their system, eh?

During laps on the very wet and slick rain-soaked Sonoma County Raceway, we were amazed at how well the RLX’s 4-wheel steer system nearly eliminates any plowing or understeer in high-speed cornering and how in control we felt, even when we were driving at speeds that were a bit out of control. During comparison laps on a cone laden autocross course, we were amazed at how well the RLX kept up with the handling of a 535i and how horribly wooden the Mercedes E-Class felt as it skidded and smacked into cones on the way to a very disappointing finish.

So, were we suitably impressed with the RLX? Would we recommend it as heartily as the much-vaunted and nearly holy BMW 535i?

Prepare your hate letters now, but yes, we were impressed, even to the extent that we found the BMW’s amount of turbo-lag and easily confused transmission a bit of a turn off. In isolation we might not have noticed it, but powering through turns felt easier and safer on the slick tarmac in the RLX, as power was immediate and predictable, with none of the on/off nature of a turbo motor.

Trim levels and Pricing

The 2014 Acura RLX is a relative steal in this often-overpriced segment, with starting prices coming in at $48,450 for a solidly equipped example — though one that lacks both in-dash navigation ($50,950) and the essential Acura/ELS audio system ($54,450). These trim upgrades also include features like Milano leather trim, a blind spot warning system, and more, so double check to see which model suits you most like, well, a finely tailored suit.

Beyond this, you can add the aforementioned Krell audio package (we would) for $56,950, with the top of the heap being an Advance Package-equipped model, which just happened to be the only available test cars at the initial drive event. The Advance Package model goes for $60,450 and includes the aforementioned collision mitigation braking system (CMBS) as well as the lane keeping assist system (LKAS) to ensure you stay safe in your heated/ventilated front seats.

Conclusion (Do You Want to Buy 1?)

If we were in the market for a midsize luxury sport sedan, the new 2014 Acura RLX should be a sore temptation, due to its relative affordability, terrific handling, class leading technology, handsome styling, terrific interior ergonomics, and simply because you won’t see someone coming and going in your exact same car every other minute. Do you ever turn your head when you see a Mercedes E350? No.

With its relative rarity, the RLX will attract attention wherever you go, yet it will always manage to look discreet and classy enough for any situation or occasion. And on the driving front, we can guarantee that it will always excite you, but never leave you exhausted from the experience. Unlike that 22-year-old we hear you’re dating.
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Honda Motor Co. USA created its Acura Luxury Car Division back in the 1980s with the 1st models going on sale in the States in 1986 — 3 years before Lexus or Infiniti debuted. Key to that early Acura success was the top, premium model — the midsized near-luxury sedan named the Legend.

Essentially a slightly larger Accord, the Legend represented a new attitude and direction for Honda, allowing the brand to expand beyond its typical and customary middle-class roots and attract a wider, more lucrative audience. A volume based Civic-derived Integra model also appeared, plus Acura created the vaunted NSX sports car — an Asian Ferrari, if you like. This exotic car for the masses allowed Acura to command the highest prices for any Asian car sold here back then — and now. Out of production for several years, Acura is toying with reintroducing a super-performance hybrid NSX.

In the early 1990s, Acura added another sedan to its lineup, the oddly named Vigor. Again, loosely based on the Accord platform, the 5-cylinder-powered Vigor only marginalized the Legend’s volume instead of significantly expanding overall sales. Despite the Legend’s ease of competing with the larger, more expensive Lexus LS series sedan, this BMW-fighter sedan was not growing sales each year. By 1996, Acura had, incredibly, dropped both the Vigor and the Legend and created a new large sedan, the RL. A midsize TL series quickly followed. The Legend, 1 of the best car names ever, had been abandoned for an alphabet-soup designation that marketers liked better.

Today, the 2 best-selling Acura nameplates are the midsize MDX crossover and the compact class RDX. The best-selling Acura car is the midsize TL, while the ILX is the Integra replacement model — which is still based on the present Civic. Do any of these generic labels instill passion in the buying public?

The RLX sedan seen here is the all-new replacement for the large sedan RL. Still a front-wheel-drive design, the new Acura flagship skirts the dimensions of the midsize/full-size segments — too big for the former, too small for the latter. However, the latest RLX also will be available with a high-performance hybrid powertrain, 370-combined horsepower output with gas and electric motors that uses Acura’s 1st car-only AWD system.

The standard RLX, starting at $48,450, is a close competitor to the Lexus ES models. Stretching to 196 inches long on a 112-inch wheelbase (2 inches and 3 inches longer, respectively, to the midsize TL sedan) the new RLX weighs in at 2 tons. The tried-and-true Honda 3.5-liter SOHC V-6 engine with variable cylinder management and VTEC programming helps to produce 310 peak horsepower. Mated to a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission — with steering wheel paddle shifters — the RLX realizes an EPA fuel economy rating of 20/31-mpg with a combined rating of 24 mpg. During our time together, over 800 miles, the RLX returned a consistent 26 mpg. Power delivery is very lineal and throttle response to energetic driver requests is generally very satisfying.

The RLX competes in a very well-endowed segment. The aforementioned Lexus models are big sellers, while the class benchmarks remain the Audi A6/A7, BMW 5-series and 6-series cars, plus the Mercedes E-class. Lincoln’s new MKZ plus Cadillac’s CTS also are rivals. Have you got all of these alpha-numeric names mentally organized yet? Would the ‘Legend’ name perhaps stand out in this segment? Just a thought.

Acura is marketing the numerous electronic systems available in the latest RLX as the differentiator. And this latest Acura is well-stocked with ‘goodies.’

There are essentially 4 total trim levels defined by the RLX’s optional packages. The Technology Package ($54,450), the KRELL Audio Package ($56,950) and the Advanced Package ($60,450, shown) round out the lineup. The hybrid model will arrive later this year.

Standard pieces include Jewel-eye LED headlamps, LED-illuminated door handles, 12-way power leather seats, On-Demand touch-screen interaction, Triple-zone climate controls, 404-watt 10-speaker audio system, keyless start, multi-view rear camera, forward collision warning system, and lane departure warning system. Navigation can be added to the standard car for $1,500.

Our top Advance model included Graphite-luster paint, 19-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, heated and cooled leather seating with memory, power folding side mirrors, heated rear seats, front and rear parking sensors, Pandora Internet radio, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power rear sunshade with manual side window shades, lane-keeping assist system, adaptive cruise control with automatic low-speed following programming, plus Acura’s new collision mitigation braking system.

1st off, the RLX’s interior works well. It is nicely detailed, handsome to look at and comfortable to enjoy. The touch-screen symbols produce a vibrating signal when activated, confirming your interaction, while the symbols, controls, and switches are intuitive and relatively easy to use while driving. The thumbwheels on the steering wheel for audio and information-panel interaction earn particular praise for their ease of use as well as overall tactile feel. The soft-touch leather steering wheel and a full array of pleasant fabrics and materials complement the RLX’s design. A solid ‘A’ here.

Access is good, but taller rear seat occupants commented about the lack of thigh support despite a large bench perch that provides ample head and leg room. The seat back does not fold to expand the 15-cubic-foot trunk.

Systems: there are a lot and they are mostly quite impressive.

Dynamic cruise continues to be an impressive display of what the engineers are able to accomplish with today’s modern electronics and computer programs. The Acura’s was sometimes inconsistent with spacing intervals, yet you can follow a forward car right through the toll booth, dropping from 70 mph to 20 mph, without touching a single pedal.

Building from that engineering, the Acura uses a forward collision system that should improve a driver’s chances when they mindlessly let distractions replace good driving. Ignore your closing speed on vehicles in front of you and there is a flash warning on the dash. Fail to react and a loud beep sounds plus a brighter light flashes BRAKE! Continue to doze and the collision mitigation braking intervenes and the seat belt automatically tightens as the car expects an imminent crash. I did not allow that to happen, despite the annoying stop-n-go traffic of Boston’s infamous Route 128.

From the helm, the RLX drives nicely too. This is a car that grows on you, a boulevard cruiser that doesn’t wow you with any particular superlatives, but a sedan that whisks you to your destination in quiet comfort. Throttle response is good, braking feel is strong, and the car feels lighter than its poundage. It rolls along well.

The RLX’s handling and ride, however, are not up to the par established by the Germans. Certain surfaces initiate excessive chassis rebound, while the wheels clomp over some terrain that does not ruffle other big cars. Despite the innovative P-AWS rear-wheel steering, the Acura doesn’t appear to deliver any handling edge over its rivals. At best, the RLX chassis is average in a class that usually delivers more compliance and composure.

Previous RL sedan sales were a fraction of what the former Legend model achieved. If this new RLX model doesn’t move the needle higher, Acura will have to reset its lineup to find cars that sell as well as its crossovers.

RLX pros: roomy and upscale cabin, great features list, more attractive styling, good track record on reliability.

RLX cons: clumsy rough road ride, heavy price for the AWD option, no heated steering wheel?
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post #82 of 89 Old 08-06-13, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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For the 2014 model year, the RLX has officially replaced the RL in Acura’s lineup. Despite its discreet styling and performance, RLX is the most advanced vehicle Honda has ever built for the road.

As a flagship sedan, this machine serves as a rolling showcase of what Acura has been working on. Apparently, they’ve been working quite a bit on autonomous driving because at any given moment, the RLX is scanning the world around it using cameras and radar, making calculations, contemplating collected information and preparing to warn you of, or protect you from, potential hazards.

For instance, the RLX can tell you if there’s a car hiding in your blind spot, if you’re about to rear end someone or back into something, or if you’re drifting out of your lane.

Without your help, RLX can slow down and speed up automatically based on traffic conditions, steer you back between the lines if you’re heading off the road, or even apply its brakes to prevent or minimize a collision.

Any more self-aware, and they’d have to ship it with a name and a birth certificate and, if cars get much more self-operational than the RLX, I’ll be out of a job as a car reviewer and likely be reduced to restocking toiletries at my local Super 8.

Acura’s new V6 engine powers up the RLX driving experience; a cutting-edge 3.5-litre unit with cylinder deactivation and direct injection technology, it was exhaustively engineered for pleasing performance and great fuel mileage.

Mission accomplished.

Though the 310 horsepower output level is hardly aiming for the top of the segment, the RLX hustles along urgently when called upon and gets by slower traffic in a jiff when drivers prod the throttle. The engine is pleasing to put through its paces, but drive it like a responsible adult and it’s mostly quiet and laid back.

Fuel mileage, additionally, is excellent. Your writer was delighted at a test overall consumption of 8.8L /100 km, which puts the big RLX in mid-sized, 4-cylinder, family-sedan territory.

Overall, the driving experience is easygoing to the max. While you relax and let the RLX handle nearly everything for you, you’ll enjoy the leather that lines the seats, dash, doors and nearly everything else. 2 full-color display screens are stacked in the centre console for a distinctively high-tech look that sets off an otherwise welcoming and laid-back cockpit.

RLX’s cabin isn’t big on stimulation, but its’ relaxing, comfortable and formal. It’s also easy to board and exit, packs plenty of at-hand storage space and keeps road and wind noise nicely in check at speed.

Suspension calibration sees a slight firmness dialed in to make the RLX a bit more engaging to drive. Though many cross-shopping the market’s offerings will find a comparable Lexus or Mercedes to have a more all-out comfortable ride, the RLX won’t likely disappoint where long-haul comfort is concerned.

At the time of filming, all RLX’s were front-drive, though an AWD hybrid is on the way. The tester did pack a new Precision All Wheel Steering (PAWS) system, which sharpens up handling at high speeds by calling upon the rear wheels for steering assist which rotates the RLX on its axis. Translation? As the RLX approaches understeer in fast corners, the rear-end swings out slightly as a countermeasure. The PAWS system also enhances maneuverability at low speeds.

Driver relaxation in the RLX is furthered by fully automatic lighting, wipers and climate control and, if you’d rather take in some music, the great big Krell audio system is happy to help. Vivid clarity and nice imaging are the up-level stereo’s biggest assets for the avid audiophile.

For fuel efficiency, comfort and discreet-looking delivery of flagship sedan amenities, the RLX hits the mark. Performance and handling are appreciable, though they aren’t the centerpiece of the driving experience. Neither is the cabin, or the styling, or the big stereo.

Ultimately, your writer found the best part of the RLX to be its non-intrusive character. Performance, though available, doesn’t overshadow the driving experience. The cabin, though comfortable, modern and posh-looking, doesn’t demand an ounce of the drivers attention or effort.

From the driver’s seat of the RLX, you feel surrounded by space and luxury, but it all fades quickly from attention as the scenery floats by and the automatic features handle everything for you. This is 1 of those machines ideal for many consecutive hours of comfortable, non-stimulating, and relaxing travels and with the fuel mileage, stops can be virtually as few and far between as drivers like.

Complaints? The infotainment system comes with a learning curve before intuitive operation is possible and I missed some of the secretly sporty flare that characterized the last-generation Acura RL. Further, the paddle-activated shifts are executed after a notable delay that makes their use largely irrelevant.

Compared to the RLX, the new Lexus GS350 is a more athletic all-around performer and packs a more striking, upscale cabin execution. An Audi A6 or BMW 5-Series with similar power output figures will feel like it’s in more of a rush when drivers push it hard. Finally, a Chrysler 300 can provide more affordable access to a similarly high-tech, luxuriously appointed experience for less money.

The RLX will appeal most strongly to a shopper after a machine that flies under the radar and doesn’t beg for attention. Add in Acura’s lustrous reputation for reliability, resale value and owner satisfaction and it makes a smart choice for a shopper after a discreet luxury flagship experience.
The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre V6, direct injection, 310 horsepower
Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Observed average mileage: 8.8L /100km
Features: KRELL audio, AcuraLink connectivity, voice command, automatic climate control, climate controlled seats, LED headlights
What’s hot: Excellent on fuel, big and comfy, nice stereo, loaded with the latest high-tech
What’s not: falls short on visual and performance excitement, generic looks
Starting price: $49,990
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post #83 of 89 Old 08-15-13, 09:05 AM Thread Starter
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The simmering heat and desolation on the long drive to Palm Springs is an empty canvas just begging for color to be splashed across it, and in many ways, the 2014 Acura RLX is just the scythe of jewel-eyed modernity this desert oasis craves.

Palm Springs is the perfect escape from the claustrophobic cluster of Los Angeles just 100 miles to the west; a timeless throwback to old glamour and style in the most unlikely of places. It’s a place where architects and city planners have had a 50-year field day designing their dream projects without limits, without rules, without constraint.

They went crazy, unleashing dynamic shapes and bold color to break up the monotony of an endless desert and unrelenting sun. The whole experience is slightly psychedelic; and that’s before you hit the pool bar. I’ve brought the all-new RLX here for the weekend, to escape the smog and see if the newest Acura luxury sedan can itself be a breath of fresh air. The RLX is flashy, sure – but is it a work of art?

Effortless thrust comes from the direct-injected 3.5L V6 engine, and 310 horsepower is soon cruising across the desert, slicing through heat that quickly climb into triple digits. Variable Cylinder Management keeps things running smoothly, and early into the trip the 2014 RLX is averaging an eye-popping 34 MPG. 2 tons of car whooshes past thousands of massive windmills along the San Gorgonio Pass, with nary a sound nor vibration entering the well-appointed cabin.

Outside, a desolate brown landscape unfurls itself 1 mile after another. Inside, the A/C and buttery power seats combine to create a driving haven. Ventilated front seats and 14-speaker Krell audio system make you quickly forget the suffocating heat. The fantastic interior is without fault, and almost single-handedly justifies the $61,345 MSRP of the RLX Advance model.

By the time the streets of Palm Springs roll into view, mountains and stoplights have robbed the RLX of its impressive fuel mileage. From the Saguaro Hotel parking lot, the display screen reads 31.5 MPG. The display screen also reads 108 degrees. The pool is calling me.

The next morning, we hit the town. There are a few different ways to beat the heat during the summer months: Tourists are drawn to enormous public fountains like moths to a zapper; some businesses simply close until September; 1 awesome dude is rolling around in an era-appropriate seafoam droptop ’56 Bel Air. I make a note to bring 1 of those next time.

Palm Springs makes the most of its desolation with fascinating architecture and public art, and the 2014 Acura RLX holds its own as the 19-inch alloys roll down Palm Canyon Drive. Like a summer home stationed along the TPC fairway, the RLX uses long stretches of glass for a glamorous Day Light Opening (DLO) in the side windows. Its distinctive LED projector headlamps add a jolt of character and the front fascia is led by an eye-catching pointed beak. The car even appears athletic with swooping side sills and a slender, creasing character line that curves over the front wheels and dives backward.

This is a massive improvement over the past RL that it replaces, but it’s more a collection of shiny pieces than a truly inspired design. The 2014 RLX suffers from the same affliction that bothers me with cars like the new Lexus IS – bold design accents are very nice, but a collection of parts means comparatively little when the shape of the car is overall the same as before. As a whole, the RLX wears an old silhouette affixed with attractive bolt-on parts. Just because it’s built on the Honda Accord platform doesn't mean it has to be shaped like 1.

The RLX sure doesn't drive like an Accord, though. Yes, the 3.5L V6 is the same, but a front double wishbone and rear multi-link suspension pair with the Precision All-Wheel Steering (P-AWS) system for a unique experience.

Electric power steering is naturally light, but quickly bulks up when you click into Sport mode. Take an aggressive attitude into a corner, and the seatbelts automatically tighten while the rear wheels turn themselves to assist with understeer. Controlled by an onboard computer, both rear wheels will turn out by up to 2 degrees, swinging the rear around and giving the sensation of a rear-wheel drive car. P-AWS is the saving grace on the only luxury sedan in the class – populated by the aggressive BMW 5-Series and Cadillac CTS – that doesn’t offer rear or all-wheel drive.

Rejuvenated after a 2-day stay, I pilot the 2014 Acura RLX out of town, ducking into the ritzy Vista Las Palmas neighborhood for 1 last goodbye. Homes jut into the air at all angles and splash enormous glass windows across broad walls, a style appropriately coined Southern California Modern back in the 50’s. All hide enormous pools to escape desert life.

I jump out to take some photographs in front of Elvis Presley’s famous Honeymoon Hideaway estate – its “batwing” roof beams and octagon living room bearing over the RLX – then duck back in. Everything in this town is an effort to forget about the heat.
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post #84 of 89 Old 09-13-13, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Seems like you can change the display color from blue to orange:

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post #85 of 89 Old 09-17-13, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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The all-new 2014 Acura RLX may be aimed more at the grandparent set, but it offers plenty of room for a small family and a great driving experience for parents. A look at its price tag cements the fact that this is for luxury shoppers only, and families looking for a large sedan should look elsewhere unless they're ready to spend more money for all the tech features in the RLX.

There's no denying the RLX is a nice car, and after you take it for a spin, you'll find it's great to drive. It's only after looking at the sticker price that confusion starts to set in: My test car cost $61,345 but had plastic and faux-wood trim inside.

It seemed like a strong competitor against the redesigned Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera. However, the RLX has higher aspirations of competing against the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW's 5 Series.

Sticker shock aside, there was plenty to like about the RLX. The 310-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is powerful but smooth. The RLX uses premium gas and gets an EPA-estimated 20/31 mpg city/highway; I averaged 20 mpg during my weeklong test drive.

Some of this car's luxury features — namely the ventilated front seats, power rear sunshade and manual rear side sunshades — were dreamy. There's an arsenal of techie-type safety features on the car as well: a collision mitigation system that will brake on your behalf if necessary, lane departure warning alerts and even active "nudges" from the steering wheel if you aren't staying between the lines, thanks to the lane keeping assist system. Everything else in the RLX seemed average at best, and this is an above-average priced car.

Room inside the cabin looks somewhat spacious, but just as I experienced in 1 of the RLX's siblings, the Acura TSX, things are a little tighter inside than they initially appear. It is a larger sedan — it sits between midsize and full-size sedan dimensions — but it doesn't offer as much front legroom as the Azera, and that's where I find the most similarities to the E-Class and 5 Series. Sadly, the similarities stopped there. The RLX has 42.3 inches of front legroom and 38.8 inches of rear legroom. The Azera has an impressive 45.5 inches in front and 36.8 in the backseat. The E-Class comes in at 41.3 inches in front and 35.8 in the backseat, and the 5 Series has 41.4 in front and 36.1 in back.

2 child-safety seats fit easily in the RLX. Even though it's not big enough to hold 3 car seats across its backseat, the RLX can likely fit an older child (sans safety seat) between the 2 car seats. Rear-facing car seats also fit easily.

Trunk size is adequate but not awe-inspiring at 14.9 cubic feet of space. Only the 5 Series is smaller at 14.0 cubic feet; the Azera has a 16.3-cubic-foot trunk and the E-Class sedan comes in at 15.9. Typical grocery runs and single strollers will fare well in the RLX, but proceed with caution when it comes to a double stroller — you might want to test it before committing to an RLX if you haul a double stroller on a regular basis.

Overall, the RLX is nice, but at this price point, I want something closer to magical for my family and me.
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post #86 of 89 Old 09-25-13, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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Automatic Brake Hold

The Acura RLX luxury sedan includes a system that’s able to keep the brakes engaged for up to 10 minutes at a super-long stoplight or train crossing without the driver having to keep a foot on the pedal.

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I was driving with 1 finger on the steering wheel. The 2014 Acura RLX that I was barely controlling remained centered in its lane, even around a slight bend in the road, as if guided by an invisible force. I turned to my wife: “Look, no hands!” She smiled—and winced. She wasn’t sharing my appreciation of the Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) that makes the Acura RLX 1 of the most intelligent cars on the road.

The new lane-keeping approach: steering not braking

Lane-keeping isn’t really a new feature: Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti already offer an intervention system that puts you back in the lane. However, these earlier systems corrected you, usually by applying slight side braking.

Along with the 2013 Audi S6, the 2014 Infiniti Q50, and the Mercedes-Benz S550 and C-Class, the 2014 Acura RLX is 1 of the 1st cars to use electronically controlled steering that can maintain lane centering. (It’s also available in the 2014 Acura MDX.) Acura’s LKAS uses a camera mounted above the rear-view mirror to watch the lane markings on the road, and adjusts the steering to maintain a center position in the lane. You turn it on by pressing 2 buttons on the steering wheel, and it operates at highway speeds of 45 to 90 mph. (The Mercedes-Benz S550’s system works at speeds from 0 to 124 mph.)

Acura’s LKAS is a helpful aid for everyday driving at present, and it offers a tantalizing glimpse at how close we’re getting to a car that can steer itself. Although self-driving or autonomous cars remain many years away, many of the basic technologies required for these vehicles have been available for a while. “Lane assist is absolutely another step towards fully autonomous driving,” Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific, told TechHive.

The Acura RLX is 1 of the 1st cars with a lane-keeping system that guides by steering, not braking.

While Kim calls technology like LKAS a bridge between past tech and future tech, he also cautions that it’s mostly a safety feature. Systems like Acura’s LKAS are designed to supplement your own steering, making gentle nudges that you can always override.

After using it for a little while, however, you feel as though the car might just be ready to take over for you. And let’s admit it: The interesting—and fun—part is doing what you’re not really supposed to do, which is to take your hands off the wheel completely and see how the car will manage on its own.

“Lane-assist technology is a critical element in realizing self-driving capabilities and automated steering in particular,” Thilo Koslowski, vice president and lead automotive analyst at Gartner, told TechHive. “Having the car understand what lane you are in and staying in that lane is a big safety accomplishment and crucial for self-driving.”

Hands on, hands off

The lower-left button on the right side of the steering wheel enables lane keeping.

I tried the Lane Keeping Assist System on the RLX, both with hands on the wheel, and—briefly, carefully—hands off. Conditions varied. I drove during both day and night. I covered ground on major highways, but also ventured on an old country road.

The Acura LKAS needs clear lane markings to work. On a country road where the lane markings are not as pronounced, LKAS will actually turn itself off. And during 1 test with light rain, the RLX sometimes had trouble seeing markings and veered to the side.

At 1 point, with my hands on the wheel, I found myself on a stretch of road that narrowed suddenly for a construction zone. As I was driving, the RLX automatically kept me centered—there was little chance I’d brush against a pylon. In another case, a long trailer truck was inching into my lane from the right. The RLX didn’t move to the left, but kept me well centered. Wind was not a problem: Slight gusts simply caused the RLX to correct the centering a bit. On tight curves, the lane-keeping system actually made my own steering easier, keeping me on course.

Hands-off on the highway, I was impressed that the LKAS could handle slight curves on major highways on its own. It actually seemed to work best in this situation, as though the system were rising to the challenge.

I timed how long the Lane Keeping Assist System could maintain the lane for me. In most cases, the car stayed the course for about 15 seconds. The top time was 45 seconds. Even if the LKAS didn't veer, it would inevitably detect that my hands weren’t there to help. With a flashing steering icon and a beep, it would threaten to turn itself off unless I put my hands back on the wheel.

When Acura’s Lane Keeping Assist System is turned on, an image of lane markings appears in the center of the instrument cluster. The lane markings turn white when LKAS is actively operating.

One surprise: I activated the car’s turn signal, and the LKAS tried to keep me centered even as I tried to change lanes. Most lane-keeping systems I’ve used will notice your signal and not resist the lane change. Acura confirmed that its LKAS remains active even if you signal. As noted before, the gentle nudges of the LKAS are very easy to override.

Recently, I tested a 2013 Audi S6 under similar hands-off conditions on the same road. The S6 also maintained proper lane centering for long stretches—in my tests, about 20 seconds or so. But other automakers are more conservative: When I tried the lane-keeping feature on the 2013 Lexus LS, a sensor checked whether my hands were on the wheel and disabled lane-keeping when I wasn’t in direct control.

Who or what will be driving in the future?

Lane-keeping is as close as we’ll get to autonomous cars for a few years. Ford has experimented with a technology called Traffic Jam Assist, announced last summer. Cadillac announced a technology called Super Cruise last year as well. Both automakers have trumpeted tests of these systems, which allow hands-off driving for long stretches, but neither company has provided clear information on when they’d ever be deployed in production cars.

In the meantime, we still have the Lane Keeping Assist System, which accurately maintained its lane centering, even with my hands off the wheel for brief periods. In fact, the lane-keeping system worked so subtly and helpfully that I missed it when it was disabled at lower speeds.

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post #89 of 89 Old 11-19-13, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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Earlier in the year, I reviewed a powder-blue Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, and I witnessed a group of high-school-aged girls ogling the car as it sat in my driveway. In my head, I found it to be a funny-yet-fitting scene that I didn't think of again until a 2014 Acura RLX showed up in my driveway. This time around, an elderly neighborhood couple stopped to give the big Acura sedan a closer look. The RLX is trying to shed past stereotypes of its predecessor, the Acura RL, just like the Beetle. Hoping to avoid becoming the de facto "grandpa car," Acura has completely reworked – and renamed – its flagship sedan.

As the bookend to the new entry-level ILX, the addition of the 2014 RLX might give Acura its strongest sedan lineup ever as the automaker looks to break the cycle of being a middle-of-the-road luxury brand. Stepping up to the big-boy table isn't going to be easy, though, as the competition keeps getting tougher. Forget cars like the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5 Series, the Acura RLX is going to have its hands full with the likes of the Cadillac XTS, Lexus GS and Hyundai Genesis, not to mention a strong consortium of lower-priced, mid-luxury sedans like the Hyundai Azera, Toyota Avalon and Chevy Impala. The 1 thing all of these cars have in common is a reputation for being an old man cruiser.

I spent a week with the new RLX to see if it could shake the stigma of its outdated predecessor or if it would just leave me searching for the nearest early bird specials.

Compared to the ultra-anonymous RL, the 2014 RLX is a sharp car, but line it up against other luxury sedans and it's clear that Acura has played it very safe with this sedan's design. The RLX does have an assertive face with a toned-down version of Acura's signature shield grille and those attention-grabbing LED headlights. These "jewel eyes" might add a little too much busyness to the RLX's face, but they definitely help the car stand out in a crowd, while the sculpted front fenders add some athleticism to the design.

Unfortunately, as your eyes move down the rest of the car, there's very little to get excited about. The doors have a similar slab-sided styling to the RL, and the rear view is a major letdown for us, with those chrome-wrapped reflectors that attempt to mimic exhaust outlets, an uninspired decklid and taillights that look like something that found on a Chevy Malibu or Subaru Impreza. We more easily understand when volume cars like the Honda Civic receive timid redesigns so as not to alienate their hundreds of thousands of repeat customers, but we think Acura really missed the opportunity to get daring (maybe not ZDX daring) to attract more style-driven luxury buyers. It has, in effect, carefully updated the look of the outgoing RL, whose only inherent wildness amounts to its "wildly unsuccessful" sales run.

As is the case with most current Acura products, the lineage to the Honda brand is easily recognizable inside the RLX. This starts right at the dual-hooded instrument panel, which closely resembles what you will find inside a Honda Accord. That's not to say that this car feels anything like the plebian Honda, but there's just not enough 'wow factor' inside the RLX to separate them completely in the minds of buyers. Compounding this issue is the fact that the RLX fails to offer a panoramic roof. In a similar baffling move that left the option of a navigation system out of the sportier ILX 2.4, we have to wonder how Acura could have left out the option of a big glass roof on its begging-to-be-loved flagship. For a car wanting to play with the big boys in its class, this omission for an all-new model is a head-scratcher.

What the RLX's cabin lacks in visual pizzazz, it makes up for with roominess and refinement that truly defines this car as a luxury sedan with excellent infotainment technology to boot. On the technology front, the dual screens are a helpful tool to see and control vehicle information. The top screen displays navigation info, which can be controlled using the lower touchscreen, with the latter also controlling the audio, phone and other functions. Despite the screens offering haptic feedback, Acura still leaves plenty of hard buttons – something plaguing other trick infotainment systems (especially from Cadillac and Ford) – and the only primary function to annoyingly go without a hard button is the climate system's fan speed control. Acura's high-tech cabin is still very user friendly by offering numerous levels of redundancy for the driver, as systems like the navigation and audio can be operated using the touchscreen display, the large center knob or through voice commands.

Compared to the RL, the wheelbase of the RLX has been stretched by 2 inches and the car is almost that much wider, equating to a substantially roomier cabin for all occupants. Up front, the seats are wide but supportive, but it's the rear seating that might be the best place to sit, with ample room to stretch out on long trips and rear and side sunshades on higher level trim lines. Adding to the comfort, all but the base model get nice perforated leather and the upper trim levels receive acoustic glass. Added to all of the other sound-deadening measures, the RLX is left with a whisper-quiet cabin.

That is, until you turn the volume knob up on the optional 450-watt, 14-speaker Krell Audio system. The highlight of this package is the upgraded 'ultra-premium' sound system that 1-ups Acura's top-notch ELS audio system with the higher-quality Krell speakers and amps. The system delivers a crisp, clear sound that is probably better than most living room setups. But you're going to pay for it.

At $48,450 (in base form and not including the $895 destination charge), the RLX is a great car, but the as-tested price of our Krell-equipped RLX rang in at $57,845. That's not an easy pill to swallow even in this segment, and this wasn't even the highest-priced model. Go full boat, and you're looking at the RLX with Advanced Package and a price tag north of $60,000. There are a plethora of luxury sedans to cross-shop when you start playing the "What can I buy for $60,000?" game. As much as Acura would like to think the RLX will compete against rear-wheel-drive German sport sedans, this new 4-door compares better to the aforementioned Lexus GS, Cadillac XTS and maybe even the Audi A6. The problem, of course, is that except for the rear-drive GS, all of the other cars listed here offer an all-wheel-drive system.

Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system may have been 1 of the only reasons to justify the purchase of an RL – it was standard equipment on that car – but, for now, the RLX is only offered in a front-wheel-drive configuration. Sending power to the front wheels is a 3.5-liter V6, which, while smaller than the RL's engine, is more powerful and more efficient. The 1st Acura to utilize direct injection and cylinder deactivation, the RLX puts out 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque – not much of an increase in power over the RL's 300 hp and 271 lb-ft, but big gains in fuel economy partially make up for it.

Official EPA fuel economy estimates for the RLX stand at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg highway, compared to 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for the 2012 RL, but there's no doubt this could have been even better had Acura ditched this 6-speed automatic transmission for a more advanced transmission, like the 7- or 8-speed gearboxes that are now commonplace among luxury automobiles. Many of these added-speed transmissions are tuned for squeezing every last mpg from the car, but the RLX's 6-speed automatic still exhibited a tried-and-true feel with every up and downshift being exactly where they should – neither too soft nor too harsh.

Down the road, the RLX Sport Hybrid, making its official debut at the LA Auto Show this week, will bring with it the all-wheel-drive system and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that this car needs to be competitive. In the meantime, however, Acura buyers wanting a big sedan are stuck with this front-wheel-drive model. 1 redeeming factor that has Acura built into the RLX is the new Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) system. An acronym that might be better suited for a Jaguar, this system helps the RLX feel less like the front-driver it is by adding some steering assistance to the rear wheels. The rear wheels are able to steer with or against the front wheels depending on vehicle speed, which helps make the RLX easier to maneuver in low speeds and a little more nimble in corners. Taking things a bit further, the rear wheels are also able to angle inward (toe-in) during hard braking to bring the RLX to a stop more quickly. We suspect that last feature isn't particularly good for tire wear, but if you're getting that much use out of it, you're probably putting some good wear on the tires anyway.

The RLX still feels like a front-wheel-drive sedan with a hint of torque steer on hard takeoffs, and if you can get past this FWD curse, it's a decent car to drive. Delivering a smooth and quiet ride that's expected from such a luxury sedan, the suspension setup errs on the side of comfort over handling, but it does so without ever feeling too cushy or disconnected from the road. As we noted during our 1st Drive back in February, the RLX provides some level of fun on twisty roads, but is much more in its element while driving through the city or on long road trips.

That being said, the direct-injected V6 has great power and offers acceleration at just about all engine speeds, whether taking off from a dead stop or passing a car on the highway. If you want a little more, just knock the shifter over into Sport mode for more aggressive transmission shift points as well as quicker throttle and steering response.

The RLX feels much smaller than it actually is thanks to its light-yet-responsive electric power steering that delivers amazingly tight steering maneuvers. Top that all off with a solid brake system that lets the 4,000-pound sedan perform impressively quick stops, and Acura has a well-balanced luxury sedan on its hand with plenty of comfort and just a dash of fun.

With blinders on, the RLX is a big step forward for Acura, but looking at the fullsize luxury sedan segment as a whole, its shortcomings make any improvements over the RL seem less remarkable compared to its rivals. This is, after all, a segment filled with established German sedans and a growing number of high-quality offerings from Asia and the US.

While the RLX didn't blow our minds, it has managed to put up stronger numbers with buyers in its short time on the market, at least compared to the old RL. In just its 1st 3 months on the market (through June), the RLX had already sold more units (1,564) than the RL sold in all of 2011 and 2012 combined (1,475). That minor achievement notwithstanding, the RLX has only sold 3,780 units through October, which still puts it at the bottom of the Acura heap – excluding the discontinued ZDX. It's yet to be seen how the car will resonate with the newer and younger buyers that Acura so badly needs, although based on what I saw in my driveway, it's still your grandfather's Acura. But maybe I shouldn't judge a book by its cover... at least when it comes to my neighbors. I've since spotted that same elderly couple checking out a Subaru WRX STI parked in my driveway. So there's that.
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