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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I was heading to Fargo to get stuck in traffic. (Yes, there is traffic in Fargo.) I was driving a tastefully maroon-hued Acura RLX Advance, which offers something called Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low Speed Follow. It sounds clunky, but it’s actually quite useful.

You press a button on the steering wheel that looks like a car running over speed bumps. Magically, the RLX maintains your current speed. If some guy in a Ford pickup wearing overalls and eating cheese curds by the handful suddenly pulls in front of you, the RLX will give him the ultimate “no problemo” signature move: It adjusts your speed automatically and maintains a safe, cheese-curd-friendly distance, all the way down to a full stop if necessary.

The button to activate adaptive cruise control is on the steering wheel.

I arrived a little after 5:00 p.m. in Fargo—right about the time the Wal-Mart day shift ends. I merged into traffic and punched the ACC button at around 60 mph. I’d already shown how the RLX can keep you centered in your lane for short spurts. With both ACC and lane-keeping activated, it’s like driving a maroon robot on 4 wheels without using your hands or feet. Cool.

The ACC worked fine, for the most part. Traffic jams are a little unpredictable. Modern cars are not ready to understand the difference between a canoe that’s sticking off the back of a Subaru and one that’s rolling down the highway in front of you. If Billy Bob swerves into your lane, it’s disconcerting to have the RLX brake suddenly on its own. You have to restrain your own instinct to brake. It reminds me a bit of Apple’s Siri: It’s amusing to dictate a text message to her, but it’s much easier to do it yourself.

You set the warning distance for Adaptive Cruise Control from the center display.

I might have been less disconcerted if I’d felt better informed about what’s happening—especially in the case of full stops. When you enable normal cruise control, you see an icon of a car in the instrument cluster. When adaptive cruise starts working, the car icon flashes white, and you’ll see tiny red taillight icons. The RLX Advance also beeps at you once to indicate when ACC is working, and again when it’s disabled.

For Low Speed Follow, I wanted more visual aids than that. Maybe a head-up display that shows lights coming closer and closer together. Maybe the beeps get louder. Or maybe I just need to get used to the feature.

Most of the visual cues for adaptive cruise control show in the center of the instrument cluster, and there are also audio cues.

Eventually, the traffic loosened. I never hit the brakes on my own. All I did was press the ACC resume button when the RLX Advance came to a complete stop. In consistent traffic slowdowns, the feature is flawless. In other cases, you may have to take over. For the most part, you’ll probably hover your foot over the brakes no matter what’s happening.

Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow is available only on the RLX Advance, which costs $60,450. That’s exactly $12,000 more than the base Acura RLX. My entire family could go on a Caribbean cruise for $12,000. I could buy a used Nissan Versa and have money left over for an annual tanning club membership. And I’m not even into tanning!

Of course, with the RLX Advance, you gain much more than traffic jam assistance. There’s a collision warning system, lane-keeping, a power rear sunshade, a full-time paid masseuse (not really, but the seats are extremely comfortable) and tons of extras. And, what’s the real cost of accident avoidance, anyway? I never even came close to hitting Billy Bob’s truck.

Several less expensive (and smaller) luxury cars offer low-speed adaptive cruise control such as the Mercedes-Benz CLA ($32,400 with the extra tech package) and the new 2015 Audi A3 ($38,350 at Prestige trim level that includes stop-and-go adaptive cruise). However, for similar full-sized sedans like the 2014 Audi A7 ($67,400), the Acura RLX’s pricing is competitive.

For those of us who just need to drive to Wal-Mart, the Acura RLX Advance’s Low Speed Follow is overkill. For peace of mind in a life filled with heavy commute traffic, however, it’s certainly helpful. As a proof-of-concept for future autonomous driving, it’s essential.


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

Following the 2013 model year, Acura axed its aging flagship, the RL , and introduced a new sedan for the 2014 model year. The 2014 RLX — yeah, we know it’s not the most creative of names — is Acura’s answer to the 5 Series and A6, but can the Japanese luxury-car builder really compete with the best of the best? With Honda’s venerable 3.5-liter V-6 boosted to 310 horsepower under the hood, the new sedan is poised to make a valiant effort at least.

I recently got the chance to get behind the wheel of the new RLX sedan, and I had some mixed feelings about it. It certainly didn’t lack in features, as it came with leather everything, touchscreen, Krell audio system with 14 speakers, tri-zone climate control, and much more, but something just wasn’t quite "luxurious" about it. As a 1st impression, it wasn’t promising.

After a full week behind the wheel of the newest member of the Acura family, did the RLX change my feelings about it?


Sure, there are some key things that separate the RLX from the Accord like the LED lighting all around, the Jewel Eye LED headlights and the hit-or-miss "shield" grille, but it wasn't quite enough to make me feel like it was worth the extra scratch on the sticker price.

Oh Acura, when will you learn that we are not fooled by changing badges, stretching wheelbases and adding equipment? The RLX is yet another Acura-Honda Honda badge-swapping job, as Acura seemingly took the Accord Touring sedan, stretched its wheelbase by 2.9 inches and called it a "Luxury" car. Sure, there are some key things that separate the RLX from the Accord like the LED lighting all around, the Jewel Eye LED headlights and the hit-or-miss "shield" grille, but it wasn’t quite enough to make me feel like it was worth the extra scratch on the sticker price.

I do happen to like the look of the Accord, however, so I cannot say that I took issue with the look of the RLX. The tester I had was white, so some of the body lines are hidden. That said, I do like the body line that starts at the front fender, angles downward on the front door and sweeps down the length of the vehicle.

Around back, the LED taillights stand out nicely at night, but are a little overbearing in the daytime. The rear bumper is also fairly boring, save for the chrome-outlined reflectors on the lower, outside edges. Up front, the Jewel Eye headlights, are pretty awkward-looking in the daytime but they looked great at night. I also still dislike the massive beak-like grille that stands out like a sore thumb.

The glasshouse is identical to that of the Accord, giving the RLX almost the exact same silhouette as the Accord.

Adding to the fairly substantial list of standard equipment, my test model came with rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, and the loudest power-folding mirrors I’ve ever heard.

2014 Acura RLX - Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase 112.2 In (2850 MM)
Length 196.1 In (4982 MM)
Height 57.7 In (1465 MM)
Width 74.4 In (1890 MM) }
Front Track 64.3 In (1632 MM)
Rear Track 64.2 In (1630 MM)
Ground Clearance (unladen) 4.5 In (115 MM)​


By far my favorite feature of the RLX is the Krell, 14-speaker audio system that sounds absolutely awesome.

Fortunately, the inside of the RLX is not a warmed over version of the Accord. The steering wheel feels nice in my hands and has all of the controls I needed without being overbearing. Everything else — except the navigation system screen — seems well placed. The audio system touchscreen is sensitive and the vibrating feedback is a nice touch. A really cool addition up front was the push-button-open feature for the glove box, which gave the instrument panel a cleaner look.

The leather seats are soft, supple and perforated, helping to keep my backside cool. To help with the derriere temperature control, the front buckets are fitted standard with seat ventilation. For those of you in cooler climates, Acura has added heaters in all 4 seats at no charge.

By far my favorite feature of the RLX is the Krell, 14-speaker audio system that sounds absolutely awesome. Sure, I have had louder systems and those with better bass, but this system has the perfect balance.

Now onto the bad stuff... The navigation system is a huge sore spot. First of all, the screen is not angled toward the driver, making me have to kind of stretch my neck to get a clear look at it. Also, the human-navigation system interface is a joke. The voice control is among the worst I have ever sampled and the hands-on interface is slow to respond and clunky. Worst of all, I understand that Acura does not want driver’s operating the system while the car is moving, but it needs to add in a passenger-override feature to allow the passenger to control the navigation while the car is in motion. There is nothing more annoying than fighting that terrible voice-recognition system, than having to pull over to manually enter my new destination. Expletives were uttered, and I may have called Acura’s engineers idiots on a few occasions...

2014 Acura RLX - Interior Specifications
EPA Cargo Volume (SAE) 14.7 Cu Ft
Headroom (Front/Rear) 37.6 In (954 MM) / 36.9 In (937 MM)
Legroom (Front/Rear) 42.3 In (1074 MM) / 38.8 In (985 MM)
Hiproom (Front/Rear) 55.9 In (1419 MM) / 54.5 In (1385 MM)
Shoulder Room (Front/Rear) 59.6 In (1514 MM) / 57.0 In (1449 MM)​


Under the 2014 RLX's hood is the same engine as the 2014 Accord, but Acura manages to push its output to 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque.

Under the 2014 RLX’s hood is the same engine as the 2014 Accord, but Acura manages to push its output to 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. This is an increase of 32 horsepower and 20 pound-feet over the 2014 Accord that I tested earlier this year. Mated to this engine is Acura’s 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift, which gave me a set of paddle shifters to slam through the gears with.

Also included is a "Sport" mode button, which adjust the shift points and allows for more aggressive engine braking. While I appreciate the option, this mode leaves a lot to be desired.

Fuel economy is pretty decent for the bulky V-6, as it is rated 20 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. Those numbers could be considered decent, but in this game Acura should be striving for more than mediocrity.

2014 Acura RLX - Drivetrain Specifications
Engine Type Aluminum-alloy direct injection V-6
Displacement 3.5 liters
Valvetrain 24-valve, SOHC i-VTEC
Horsepower (HP @ RPM) 310 @ 6,500
Torque (LB-FT @ RPM) 272 @ 4,500
EPA Fuel Economy Ratings (City / Highway / Combined) 20 / 31 / 24​

Driving Impressions

There were OMFG moments, when the ACC would malfunction because the car in front of me turned, leaving me to jam on the gas pedal to get the car moving again.

Driving the Acura RLX is really a mixed bag of nuts. It performs adequately for a near-4,000-pound sedan, but it is grossly underwhelming for its class and price point. Its 0-to-60 mph time is in the low-6-second range and the ride is okay, but at over $60,000, there needs to be a lot of luxury to overcome the sub-par performance. Unfortunately, the RLX does not offer the amount of luxury needed to overcome that.

Inside the cabin, things are pretty hush-hush on smooth asphalt, but hit a little roughness and things get loud quickly. As for harshness, the RLX’s low-profile tires and 19-inch wheels make for a rougher ride, but they do enhance its tossability in the corners. Make no mistake, though; it is no BMW or Audi.

We took a long trip to the beach, so I got a good feel for the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist, and they worked well for the most part. There were OMFG moments, when the ACC would malfunction because the car in front of me turned, leaving me to jam on the gas pedal to get the car moving again. In total, cruising the interstate is made much easier by this system.

Overall, this felt more like a high-$40,000 car than a low-$60k car, but some of the features that came standard on my tester would drive the 5 Series into the $60k range.


The RLX that Acura delivered to me calls for a hefty sum. $60,450. With delivery and all of that jazz, the RLX comes in at $61,435.


Audi A6
The Audi A6 makes things pretty tough on potential RLX buyers. Sure, it is a little smaller than the RLX and the cabin is a tad more cramped, but you’re getting a "4 Rings" emblem and a whole lot more car for the money. The 2014 A6 2.0 TfSI — base model — retails at $43,995, but that’s not quite a competitor for this fully loaded RLX.

The Best competitor is the 3.0 TFSI Prestige model, which comes in at $55,995 and features a supercharged V-6 that pumps out 310 horses and 325 pound-feet of twist. The power routes through an 8 speed — 2 more gears than the Acura — transmission that then shoots power to all 4 wheels through quattro AWD.

This gets you to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds and up to 130 mph. The A6 3.0 TFSI engine is a little rougher on fuel, getting just 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.

Lexus GS 350

Fellow Japanese automaker, Lexus, chimes in with a luxury car all its own that is more suited to match wits with the RLX. This is the GS 350 Sedan, and it starts out at a cool $47k. This nets you a 3.5-liter V-6 that pumps out 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. This power routes through an 8-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission that delivers power to the rear wheels.

Though it is less powerful than the Acura, it is significantly quicker to 60 mph, completing the task in just 5.7 seconds. It also tops out at 144 mph, clipping both the Audi and the Acura.

In terms of fuel economy, the GS 350 splits the difference at 19 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined.

With the F Sport Package and a few other goodies to bring it up to the level of my fully loaded tester, the GS 350 checks in at $57,563 with destination fee included.


I had a lot of not-so-great things to say about the 2014 RLX, but don’t dismiss it as a loser straight away. It is good for those who want a slightly larger midsize luxury car and for those who want all the bells and whistles in place of pure driving dynamics. Its price is sky-high, but the value is there in terms of features.

It does have a few serious glitches in the navigation software and the voice recognition system, but the rest of the features, including the standard rear and side shades are great additions.

Tons of features to keep you busy
Huge navi screen
Great audio system
Peppy for its size
Legroom galore

Average fuel economy for its class
Very, very expensive
Navigation interface is finicky
Too much NVH for the price range
Can get a 5 Series or Audi A6 well-equipped for less money​


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·

2012 was a big year for Acura. With a tendency to go overboard, Honda’s luxury brand launched 2 concept cars, the NSX and the RLX (at the Detroit Motor Show in January and the New York Auto Show in April, respectively). While the NSX knocked everyone’s socks off with its exquisite design, the RLX blew people away with its ugliness. At least it was just a concept, so there were chances that the production model would be a little more dynamic. But as you might have guessed, that is not what happened.

Contrary to the general trend of assigning an X to the name of vehicles with all-wheel drive, the Acura RL had all-wheel drive while its replacement, the RLX, only has front-wheel drive for the time being. A hybrid AWD version is on its way, but this article focuses on the vehicle we tested a few weeks back: an RLX Elite with front-wheel drive.

While the RLX’s engineers didn’t go wild designing it, it is nonetheless a vehicle with presence, even if only for its “jewel eyes” which definitely stand out from everything else is on the market. Some love them, others don’t.

2 screens and dozens of buttons
The interior, which is fully soundproofed, is distinctly more inspired than the vehicle’s body. The presentation is serious, the materials are carefully chosen and assembled by people with OCD. The dashboard is user-friendly and while not so long ago Acura kept 850 button factories in business, they must all be going bankrupt now, as most functions are now controlled via a 7-inch touch screen. Up higher, there’s an 8-inch screen that displays the GPS and other systems. That said, it’s not all perfect. I found the Krell sound system sub-par for Acura’s largest sedan. It might have helped if I could figure out how to balance the sound. But whatever you do, don’t tell me that it should be a cinch to figure out. In a car, you want everything to be a cinch so that you can keep your eyes on the road and comfortably enjoy your car the rest of the time. And while I’m ranting, I’ll also mention that I didn’t appreciate having to remove my gloves every time I wanted to enter the car. Normally, you just have to touch the exterior handle for the door to unlock, but with my gloves, it didn’t work.

The front seats are deliciously cushy. They offer great support for your entire body, which means the only thing enticing you to stop is going to be your bladder or your stomach. The rear seats are very inviting, too, except maybe for taller folks who will find that headroom is barely sufficient. The trunk is generous in its dimensions and is just as nicely crafted as the passenger compartment. I was almost tempted to crawl in and sleep there overnight. As always, Acura has paid the utmost attention to detail. The rear seatback doesn’t fold down to extend the cargo hold, however. There is only a ski flap.

What an engine!
When the RLX gets going, it exudes happiness thanks to its 3.5-litre V6; the same 1 that purrs within several Acura products. Tremendously powerful and as flexible as a 14-year old Nadia Comaneci, this engine delivers outstanding performance. It pumps out 310 horses at 6,500 rpm and 272 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500, which is more than enough to create torque effect when you accelerate and swerve from side to side. Including all-wheel drive should rectify this unpleasant situation. The variable cylinder management deactivates 3 cylinders when they are not needed. The 6-speed automatic transmission is more discreet than in the past.

Add all these elements together and you get very low fuel consumption. Despite the wickedly cold temperatures when we tested it, I got an average of 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres. In summer, it could easily drop to 9 or 9.5 litres. Not bad for a car with 310 horsepower and weighing more than 1,800 kilograms—and that was occasionally pushed beyond the limits of reason!

Light on its feet
When you drive the RLX, you would never guess that it weighed 1,800 kilograms. This is in large part thanks to its power, but other factors include the super-solid chassis and the perfectly calibrated suspension that balances comfort with excellent road handling. Also helpful is the Precision All-Wheel Steer system that allows the rear wheels to turn in the direction of the front wheels.

I didn’t really see the point of this system when driving on ice, especially since this involved keeping speed down. However, when avoiding an obstruction on super cold but dry asphalt, I came to see the benefits. I almost got the sense that the rear section knew exactly where to go, as though a divine hand guided it on the right trajectory. I don’t know whether this system actually enhances road hold at high speeds, but 1 thing is for sure: it helps with safety. What is more, it contributes to a shorter turning radius.

Despite all this, driving an RLX is not particularly thrilling, mostly due to the steering, which tends to be too soft in the middle and offers poor feedback. The extremely quiet interior is also to blame. The transmission works beautifully for everyday driving but definitely doesn’t enjoy being jostled. Even in manual mode, it prefers to switch gears at its own volition. So, forget about inspired shifting.

The Acura RLX is nonetheless a heckuva car. If you want to drive a prestige vehicle without attracting too much attention, the RLX is a great choice. It should also be added to your list if you’re looking for a reliable ride, as many of its competitors (including the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Cadillac CTS) have yet to master this aspect.

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·

SEATTLE – June 30, 2014 – It’s been very easy to appreciate Acura over the years as it’s always done a great job of introducing useful gadgets into its cars in such a way that’s still intuitive. This is the case with its RLX sedan. A 4 door car that’s competing with the Lexus GS 350, BMW 528i, Mercedes E350 and Infiniti Q-series, the RLX has a great deal going for it. Outside of the “Honda reliability” factor, the RLX has a formidable engine, great handling and all the appropriate tech one would expect in a sedan like this.

While the RLX does start out at around the $48k mark, you can easily climb up to $60k, fully-loaded with all of the options with the “Advance package.” Its baseline engine is a 310-hp/272 lb-ft. of torque 3.5-liter V6, if you add the Hybrid option on the Technology or advance package and that climbs to 377-hp. The hybrid model also adds rear wheel steering as well.

The RLX engine brings a rather spirited driving experience to this vehicle and never feels as if it’s lacking in the performance department. There’s ample passing-power, going on a mountain pass and yet doesn’t “feel heavy” in the front-end of the car. Engine sound is on-point in that it has a very nice somewhat-muted growl with enough to let you know it’s doing something without being too loud in the least.

Its standard 6-speed automatic transmission does have a sport mode with the press of a button and that also helps the car feel nicely liberated and spirited as well. Sport mode holds the lower gears longer and also makes the accelerator pedal more responsive as well.

Our advance packaged model included the Krell audio system which is far and away the best-sounding I’ve hear in any premium-level sedan so far. It blows away the likes of “no highs, now lows it must be Bose” and even the Bang & Olufsen in the Audis. The on-board navigation is simple to use thanks to the center-mounted control knob and its Bluetooth quality for both the driver and listener is very good.

It uses a combination of the control knob and touch to get the job done which gives the driver some really good flexibility. Additionally, the voice commands work very well and as a nice touch, you can have the system display texts from your phone. All and all, Acura is doing a great job of helping drivers avoid eye contact with their cell phones.

Other goodies on this car were adaptive cruise control, heated front seats, multiple climate zones and touch-sensitive panels. Its panel is very responsive and doesn’t seem to lag at all when navigating through the various option screens.

The RLX has a standard back-up camera, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and a forward collision warning system. In addition, there are plenty of air-bags inside that basically wrap the occupants in a cocoon of safety in the event of an accident. Lastly, there’s also the CMBS system which will have the car keep itself within the lane markers for about 10-seconds at a time. After that time, it’ll flash up a “steering required” warning. While it’s a nifty piece of technology, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to somewhat encourage drivers to take their hands off the wheel.

The ride quality of the RLX is well stated and has a very nice compromise of bump dampening and firmness. You can take-on corners with a sense of stability and control while riding in a car that makes you feel a good sense of technical comfort. Steering feel is good as well and even though the car has a 61/39 percent weight distribution, the RLX has a very nice feel to the steering and is an overall rewarding driving experience.

Overall, Acura has done a great job of delivering a quality vehicle that delivers up a rather sublime experience of sportiness and comfort in an attractive package that’s very price competitive. If you’re at all in the market for a higher-end performance-based luxury sedan, then the RXL is certainly worth checking out.

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·

2014 Acura RLX Elite:
Anonymously Good

There's something very appealing about this luxo-sedan. However, its beauty is more than skin deep.

Let's face it; Acura is out to attract premium-brand buyers who don't feel the need to flash their cash (or credit) around in order to boost their self-confidence, and there definitely is a good business case here.

No car in Acura's current line-up represents that strategy better than the 2014 Acura RLX. Actually, even the 2 generations of the Acura RL that preceded it were pretty low-key, but were nevertheless spacious, comfortable, sophisticated and reliable.

Of course, I'm not implying that the RLX isn't attractive. There's just no flair to the car's exterior design, yet it does look smart and refined, thanks to certain details like the LED headlights, the long nose and short deck as well as just the right amount of chrome trim. In addition, the compromise of a conservative design is that it generally ages more gracefully.

The RLX goes head to head with large luxury sedans such as the Cadillac XTS, the Lincoln MKS and the 2015 Hyundai Genesis.

Honda and consequently Acura have always resisted the temptation to produce a V8 engine for their production cars and trucks. In their quest to be a sensible, environmentally friendly company, they never offered astronomic levels of horsepower in any of their vehicles, although that will change this year with the 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid that will be packing 377 ponies. The upcoming Acura NSX supercar will likely crack the 400-hp threshold.

Quite frankly, nobody needs that much power in a passenger car. The direct-injected 3.5L V6 does a fine job of whipping the RLX up to speed swiftly, with a responsible 310 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. It's connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission with includes paddle shifters, while a Sport mode makes for slightly quicker throttle response and gear changes.

Equipped with cylinder deactivation, the V6 engine delivered a respectable fuel economy average of 11.5 L/100km during our winter test week. Ironically, the heavier and all-wheel-drive 2014 Acura MDX we drove earlier this year was more efficient, but we did rack up a lot more highway mileage in the SUV.

Since the RLX is front-wheel drive, its mission is to provide a comfortable and refined driving experience, with performance and handling on a side dish. Equipped with a double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension, electric power steering and all-wheel steer, the 2014 Acura RLX can throw its weight around without fuss, although there is a fair amount of body roll while driving down twisty roads.

We were less impressed with the car's ride stiffness. Even on the highway, the RLX would thump over cracks and frost heaves, sending a jolt up through the cabin and disrupting the otherwise serene atmosphere.

That cabin benefits from high-quality components and an elegant design, with stitched leather on the dashboard, restrained brightwork as well as available Milano leather upholstery and wood trim – woodgrain, actually, not the real thing.

Thanks to the silent cockpit and comfy seats, you'll feel just as relaxed in traffic as you would be during a leisurely weekend stroll through the countryside. The car's width also translates into lots of shoulder and hip room, which is especially good for back-seat passengers.

The mid-level Technology Package adds a heated steering wheel, power-folding mirrors, a blind spot monitor, rain-sensing wipers and 19-inch wheels (up from the base trim's 18-inchers). A navigation system with an 8-inch display is also included; Honda's map and menu graphics are really starting to look archaic, but the system works well.

In the range-topping Elite variant we tested, you get ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, adaptive cruise control, rear sunshades, park sonar, a lane keep assist system and a blissfully good Krell 14-speaker surround sound system.

As in the MDX, there's also a touchscreen for fiddling with the sound and climate control systems, and below it, a multifunction knob and a row of buttons provide quick access to system menus as well.

The 2014 Acura RLX starts out at $49,990 before freight and delivery charges. It's obviously cheap if you were considering a big German luxury sedan, but a little more expensive than the aforementioned Genesis and MKS which both offer AWD unlike the Acura. Our Elite tester was priced at $62,190.

Buyers get to experience Acura's complimentary maintenance program which is just being introduced with the new RLX. It offers 4 years or 80,000 km (whichever comes 1st) of free scheduled maintenance. A concierge service is optional as well, with agents waiting by the phone for you; they can book you a flight, find the nearest Chinese buffet or tell you who Kim Kardashian's latest date was.

The RLX is a big, quiet and comfortable sedan, and just like its predecessor, can be driven fast without getting noticed. It might be an anonymous luxury car, and the only way it will give you goose bumps is with the A/C on full blast, but we finished up our test week impressed at how smooth and competent it really is.


Junction Produce VIPStyle
16 Posts
I test drove this car. Really liked it, but only thing was driving the car, it seems so wide and big in the lane for some reason. The tech is cool. My fav was the headlights at night. Different from driving a RL or Legend.

1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Collingwood, Ont. – It had been almost exactly a year since I last drove the Acura RLX – the flagship in Honda’s upscale brand – and in getting back into the car you see featured here, I was quickly refreshed on the fleeting impressions it had made on me.

1st off, it’s a handsome car, if somewhat forgettable save for the multi-lens LED headlights. In person, it commands more respect than it does in photos thanks to its solid proportions and imposing scale, letting observers know that this is no entry-level sedan.

Inside, 1 is reminded of an oversized Accord that has spent a few more classes in finishing school. The materials are all luxurious and supple where they need to be, with the appropriate applications of high-grade trim where warranted for visual appeal. The overall effect is lacking some of the artful design emerging in many of the best of the class competitors. The Krell sound system remains 1 of the highlights of the car with its sensational power and sound quality.

All of that applies to the front-wheel-drive RLX Elite that I drove last year with its P-AWS (active all-wheel steering) and its front-wheel drive, just as much as it applies to the new offering we’re examining here.

Befitting its place in the mid-size luxury sedan class, Acura Canada is now offering a version of the RLX with its SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive) system. Canadian luxury car buyers have shown with their cheque books that it is their overwhelming preference to have 4 wheels dispensing the power rather than just 2, so this move was an absolute necessity for Acura to be taken seriously in this segment.

But this is not like Acura’s usual SH-AWD system. This time, the rear wheels are motivated solely by electric power, as the RLX presents the first application of the new Sport Hybrid system.

In what is a world 1st, Acura has incorporated a 3-motor hybrid system. The 1st motor is integrated into the 7-speed DCT transmission. It’s a low-speed unit that essentially replaces 1st gear. It provides up to 109 lb-ft of torque between 500-2,000 rpm and aids the gasoline engine powering the front wheels up to speed from a standstill.

The 3.5L direct-injected V6 is essentially carryover from the FWD RLX, providing the same 310-hp output and 273 lb-ft of torque. Vibrations have now been quelled in this 2015 car, with a camshaft valve timing change, for those keeping track of the minutiae.

Where things really get interesting, is toward the back of the car with a pair of higher-speed smaller motors each directing up to 54 lb-ft of torque to a single rear wheel. This Twin Motor Unit (TMU) enables a host of benefits including improved acceleration, efficiency and even handling.

All of this hardware, in addition to the Power Drive Unit (the same battery pack used in the Accord Hybrid) adds 110 kg of mass to the RLX versus the front-drive version. While additional weight automatically equates to worse performance in most cars, here all is not lost.

For 1 thing, most of the extra mass is clustered around the rear axle, meaning it’s both low in the car, and moved rearward. This translates to a centre of gravity that is not adversely affected, and in fact the fore-aft weight distribution is better balanced on the heavier Hybrid car. Plus the combined drivetrain now peaks at 377 horsepower and 341 lb-ft of torque – considerable improvements versus the non-hybrid RLX.

Much more importantly, the rear Twin Motor Unit has a few tricks up its sleeve to make the RLX Sport Hybrid a more dynamic performance machine. By having 2 independent motors driving the rear wheels, torque vectoring can dramatically assist the handling. The TMU can generate a yaw moment in the vehicle, essentially rotating it on an axis thanks to positive torque being directed to the outer wheel, while negative torque is applied to the inner wheel. Even in gentle, off-throttle cornering, this benefit can still assist the dynamics of the car.

The benefits of the TMU are much greater than just torque vectoring. Traction for acceleration is obviously improved versus the FWD RLX, but like most hybrid systems, the improvement to fuel efficiency is also significant.

Here Acura has set up 7 different drive modes to optimally suit the different types of motoring circumstances a driver could encounter. In EV mode, the rear TMU will launch the car under light acceleration and maintain it under light power – in stop and go traffic, for instance. Under normal, gentle acceleration, the engine and front motor will pull the car along. At high speed cruising, the engine will also be called on to keep the car rolling.

Under heavy acceleration and in slippery conditions, all systems are called to action, ensuring the power is delivered to the appropriate wheels. During deceleration, regeneration occurs to front and rear motors.

The infotainment system and standard Head-Up Display feature graphics that can help show curious drivers in real-time how all the power is being dispensed around the car. The computers will also tell you how efficient the RLX Sport Hybrid is, too. The government 5-cycle rating system estimates the RLX Sport Hybrid at 8 L/100 km city, 7.5 highway and 7.7 combined – excellent figures for such a large, capable and luxurious sedan.

1 additional benefit to the rear TMU set up: unlike in a traditional rear- or all-wheel-drive car, there’s no prop shaft in the RLX, resulting in virtually no “centre hump” intrusion to the passenger compartment, helping the RLX maintain its best-in-class rear seat space. Plus, power travelling down a prop shaft creates a slight delay in throttle response. With the instantaneous nature of the electric motors, Acura claims a livelier feel and higher level of throttle responsiveness.

The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD is an unquestionable technological tour de force, but how does it all translate to a real-world driving experience?

Very well, actually. Driven around Collingwood, Ontario, the RLX hybrid is smooth, quiet and refined, just as it should be in this class of luxury cars. Despite being a very large car, it does not embarrass itself when the roads begin to curve.

Although our drive was relatively brief – only a few hours – I would rather press the RLX Sport Hybrid on roads more familiar to me to really assess the effectiveness of the torque vectoring. Most buyers in this category will surely feel the RLX Sport Hybrid delivers performance on par or superior to the competitors without ever really needing to push the car anywhere near its limits.

Passing power and responsiveness is formidable and even the regenerative braking is far less grabby and artificial-feeling than in most other hybrids. The 7-speed DCT transmission will give fun throttle blips before downshifting when Sport mode is engaged. While reasonably rapid, the shifts called upon by the steering wheel mounted paddles were not as lighting-fast or crisp as the shifts executed by some of the competitors’ gearboxes – especially those using the excellent ZF 8-speed transmission.

Acura’s previous flagship – the RL – was as memorable as a stale soda cracker. As a result, Acura needs to work extra hard to lure away buyers of competitive models, and they seem to be serious about it this time. The RLX Sport Hybrid is an excellent offering in a stellar group of competitors, but it also represents 1 of the best values. Offered only in full Elite trim, the $69,990 RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD undercuts similarly equipped competitors from Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz by anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000. Infiniti’s Q70h skirts under the RLX by a little more than $1,000, but does not offer all-wheel drive.

For buyers intrigued by the latest technological fads, Acura’s offering in the mid-size luxury sedan market puts its high tech to great use, while providing a luxurious and engaging driving experience.

Pricing: 2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH AWD
Base Price: $69,990

BMW ActiveHybrid5 and 535d
Infiniti Q70h
Lexus GS450h
Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid and E250 BlueTec


1,199 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Acura hailed the RLX as its most sophisticated product to date when it arrived for the 2014 model year. Sadly, Nobody was listening.

In its 1st full year on the market, only 3,413 copies of the RLX sold and 2015 is off to a rough start. It’s too early to tell how the rest of the year will go, but RLX sales are down almost 54 percent in the 1st quarter of 2015 compared to last year.

Meanwhile the aging Infiniti Q70 (formerly the M) is outperforming the RLX despite its lack of an up-to-the-minute powertrain.

Powertrain Re-Cap

To recap, the RLX is available with either front- or all-wheel drive. The less expensive front-wheel drive models get all-wheel steering to improve cornering agility and braking, but the all-wheel drive model is Acura’s real piece de resistance.

It uses a 3.5-liter direct injection V6 mated to an electric motor and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that work in concert to power the front wheels. A pair of electric motors power the rear wheels independently. They can also individually brake to offer something akin to – but not the same as – rear-wheel steering for enhanced handling.

Infiniti sells the Q70 with either rear- or all-wheel drive layouts with provision for a V6 or V8 with a regular or extended wheelbase as well as a hybrid model. 6-cylinder models use multi-port injection while the V8 takes advantage of direct injection. Regardless of which engine type you choose, the Q70 comes with a 7-speed automatic.

Acura’s hybrid technology boosts the V6 powertrain to a total of 377 HP, which isn’t as robust as the V8 Q70 with 416, but it’s still quick from a dead stop. The 5.6-liter V8 will tug the Q70 off the line with purpose, but that power comes with a significant pump tax.

Gulps Per Gallon

In an identical loop, the Q70 – equipped with all-wheel drive, the V8 and the extended wheelbase – averaged an eye watering 13 MPG. The RLX Sport Hybrid got 22.4 MPG. It’s true that the Infiniti is more powerful, but the extra muscle isn’t worth suffering through such poor mileage to enjoy.

Ride Comfort

But the Infiniti Q70 has other advantages that might make it worthwhile even if it is a gas-guzzler. Compared to the RLX, it has a smooth ride better damped to disguise broken pavement. It also offers you a greater breadth of options than Acura can because there are a greater number of variants. For example, the all-wheel drive V8 extended wheelbase model offers an extra 3 inches of legroom and almost an extra inch of headroom in the 2nd row at a $1,700 premium over the regular wheelbase model. Even with all the extra space, it is still 9 pounds lighter than the RLX Sport Hybrid.

A bloated curb weight isn’t the only area Acura’s car takes a hit. It sacrifices trunk space and a folding rear seat to house most of its hybrid components. In the end, it only has 12 cubic feet of trunk space.

AWD: Tradition Beats Technology

The Infiniti’s traditional all-wheel drive system also transfers power as smoothly as you would expect from such a system. While cornering, the RLX Sport Hybrid’s rear electric motors create a sensation of resistance that isn’t inexcusably jarring, but it’s noticeable and unpleasant. It seems as if Acura’s new hybrid all-wheel drive system needs work before it can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with traditional mechanical systems.

But that’s really the only part of the powertrain that stands out in a negative way. Acceleration is smooth, quiet and relatively efficient for a sedan that weighs 4,354 lbs.

Steering is lighter in the Acura than the Infiniti, but not to a fault. The RLX cabin is neatly assembled with high quality materials that feel appropriately in context save the touch screen. Its menus are confusing at times and can be more difficult to navigate than what you will find in the Infiniti.

And that isn’t the only place where the Q70L’s interior has an edge because the front seats and armrests are also more ergonomic in the Infiniti.

2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid vs Infiniti Q70L

Compare Specs
2015 Infiniti Q70L

2015 Infiniti Q70L
2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
Vehicle 	2015 Infiniti Q70L 	Advantage 	2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
Engine 	5.6-liter V8 	– 	3.5-liter V6, 3 electric motors
Transmission 	seven-speed automatic 	RLX Sport Hybrid 	seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Horsepower 	416 	Q70L 	377
Torque 	414 lb-ft 	Q70L 	341 lb-ft
Wheelbase 	120.1 inches 	– 	112.2 inches
Length 	202 inches 	– 	196.1 inches
Curb weight 	4,345 lbs 	Q70L 	4,354 lbs
Front seat headroom 	39.1 inches 	Q70L 	37.6 inches
Front seat legroom 	44.4 inches 	Q70L 	42.3 inches
Rear seat headroom 	37.7 inches 	Q70L 	36.9 inches
Rear seat legroom 	41.8 inches 	– 	38.8 inches
Cargo capacity 	14.9 cubic feet 	Q70L 	12 cubic feet
Starting price (US) 	$67,995 	RLX Sport Hybrid 	$60,845
As-tested price (US) 	$67,995 	RLX Sport Hybrid 	$66,845
Observed fuel economy (US) 	13 MPG 	RLX Sport Hybrid 	22.4 MPG
Starting price (CDN) 	$70,395 	Q70L 	$72,119
As-tested price (CDN) 	$70,395 	Q70L 	$72,119
Observed fuel economy (CDN) 	18 l/100 KM 	RLX Sport Hybrid 	10.5 l/100 KM

Value Proposition

Infiniti would have the fight sewn up without breaking a sweat if that were the whole story, but as usual there’s more.

We borrowed an RLX Sport Hybrid loaded with the “Advance Package” that includes adaptive cruise control, a lane keeping assistance system, heated front and rear seats, cooled front seats and a 14-speaker premium audio system to name a few. That package brings the price to $66,845 including delivery. The Infiniti Q70L comes with most of those upgrades except for the safety systems like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance provided you buy the V8. So equipped, it runs $67,955. The same safety technology is still available, but it calls for the $7,200 “Deluxe Technology Package” which slingshots the price to $75,155.

Suddenly, the RLX doesn’t seem so bad after all. Sure the ride is rougher, but in exchange you get fuel efficiency akin to a much smaller and less powerful vehicle. The Infiniti’s interior design is more grandiose, but you’ll wind up spending roughly $8,000 more on it to enjoy the same convenience features as you would in the RLX.

The Verdict:

Even if the RLX doesn’t have the same premium feeling as the Q70, we would recommend it based on fuel economy and value for the money. After all, that’s what buying a luxury sedan from Honda or Nissan is all about. Isn’t it?

2015 Infiniti Q70L AWD
Smooth acceleration
Comfortable ride
Loads of interior room
V8 power
High price
Bad gas mileage

2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
Good mileage
Relative bargain
Powerful enough
Fantastic transmission
Relatively rough ride
Quirky electric rear wheel power
Annoying touchscreen interface​

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