The 2014 Acura RLX is a new car — though it's arguably a new name for a completely redesigned existing model, the RL. As before, the RLX rides the line between midsize and full-size sedans, with generous interior volume in what's roughly a midsize wrapper. As such, even though Acura also sells the midsize TL, the RLX competes with the likes of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS and Lincoln MKZ.
The RLX's most unique features are its active steering and optional hybrid-based all-wheel drive.
(Skip to details on the RLX Hybrid.)
The RLX is distinguished mainly by its headlights, which double as daytime running lights: two stacked rows of four separate LEDs on either side. The separate lights inboard of the LEDs are the high-beams. The Acura signature shield grille is toned down in both size and impact, mitigating a controversial feature of earlier Acuras.
The RLX is close in length to the outgoing RL, but it gains 2 inches in width and wheelbase, the latter of which contributes to greater backseat legroom. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard and 19-inch rims are optional.
The RLX has standard leather upholstery with a stitched instrument panel, center console and steering wheel. Metal trim is included along with imitation wood. Uplevel Milano perforated leather seats are optional.
The dashboard features two large displays: an 8-inch navigation screen up high and a 7-inch touch-screen below it. The top one is mainly navigation and is controlled primarily by a multifunction knob below the smaller screen. The touch-screen mainly incorporates audio, ventilation and other features. Apart from the touch-screen, all buttons are mechanical buttons rather than touch-sensitive "capacitive" panels.
Standard features include a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a moonroof, three-zone automatic climate control, push-button start and Bluetooth hands-free phone capability. The standard stereo includes satellite radio, a Pandora internet radio interface, and USB and auxiliary jacks. A new Krell-brand premium stereo comes in higher trim levels, one of which is named after the audio system.
Under the Hood
The front-wheel-drive RLX has a new direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 310 horsepower and teams with a six-speed automatic transmission. Equipped with cylinder deactivation, the V-6 engine has a preliminary mileage estimation of 20/31 mpg city/highway.
Four-wheel steering is standard. Though each rear wheel can steer independently, Acura's Precision All-Wheel Steer (that's right, PAWS) essentially turns both rear wheels a few degrees in the opposite direction from the front wheels at low speeds for tight cornering, and the same direction as the front wheels at high speeds for stable lane changes. The rear wheels also toe inward under aggressive braking, again for stability.
Acura says standard automatic Agile Handling Assist can brake individual wheels, allowing the car to follow a tighter line with less steering effort.
Coming later in the model year is an innovative all-wheel-drive system that combines conventional front-wheel drive with electric-powered rear wheels. Termed Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, the system boasts 370 hp total. Acura predicts this car's mileage as 30/30 mpg city/highway.
Standard safety features include frontal, front-seat side-impact and side curtain airbags that protect the front and rear seats. Antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are also included, as required by law.
Active safety features, some of which are options, include forward collision warning with collision mitigation braking system, which applies the brakes automatically if a collision is imminent. There's also lane departure warning, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring. Acura offers a multiview backup camera and standard front and rear parking sensors.
The standard cloud-based AcuraLink connectivity system, which provides many convenience features, can also call for help in the event of an airbag deployment.
The hybrid version of Acura's luxury sedan is finally gearing up to hit dealerships in the spring. The automaker is touting it as the "most powerful and technologically advanced vehicle in Acura history."
The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD keeps its gas-powered sibling's looks. Both the RLX and RLX Sport Hybrid sedans bridge the gap between the midsize and full-size sedan categories.
Two large screens highlight the instrument panel. An 8-inch color screen on top combines information and navigation functions and below it, a 7-inch color touch-screen controls the audio system and other features. Two new interior features include an electronic gear selector and a head-up display. Other tech features include the automaker's cloud-based connected multimedia system, AcuraLink, along with two available audio systems; the 14-speaker Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio system comes with the Technology Package, while a 14-speaker Krell system comes in the Advance Package.
Under the Hood
The all-wheel-drive RLX Sport Hybrid combines the forces of a 310 hp, 3.5-liter direct-injection V-6 with a three-motor hybrid electric system and a 260-volt lithium-ion battery pack, giving the sedan a total output of 377 hp; the trio of electric motors includes two 27-kilowatt rear motors and a 35-kilowatt front motor. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Acura says the sedan has a zero-to-60 mph time comparable with competing V-8s while boasting four-cylinder-worthy estimated fuel economy of 28/32 mpg city/highway; it's assisted by a stop-start feature as well as regenerative braking.
Safety features include a multiview backup camera, a collision mitigation braking system, forward collision and lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and a blind spot warning system.
Pricing for the RLX Sport Hybrid has not yet been announced. The gas-only model starts at $49,345 including an $895 destination charge.
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