2018 Acura TLX A-Spec Review

Wednesday August 16th, 2017 at 11:88 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec

Hypes: Greatly Improved Looks, High Quality Build
Gripes: Bouncy Back Seat Ride, Puzzling Transmission Controls

After years of motorsports inactivity, Acura is making a big push to gain race wins for the brand in IMSA GT Daytona class competition. In their first year of combat in this very tough class, the new Acura NSX posted back-to-back wins in the hands of Andy Lally and Katherine Legg over Audi’s R8, Porsche’s 911, Mercedes’ AMG and Ferrari’s 488. The corporate bosses at Acura are hoping the halo effect from NSX success will rub off on their more prosaic and much less expensive line of sedans, like the newly reconfigured TLX A-Spec we recently drove for a week.

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec

Acura thankfully revamped the exterior look of the old TLX, which has been steadily losing sales since the beginning of 2017. In a successful effort to freshen its appearance, they remodeled the tiresome bird beak grill which has marred Acura front ends since 2009. The new frontal look comes direct from the show circuit, where Acura presented a “Precision Concept” sedan in 2016 with a grill featuring hexagonal shields that appear to be moving when they are not.

The frontal redo is quite entertaining, and the rest of the redesign does not let you down. Outlined LED turn signals surround Jewel-eyed headlamps above the new grill. Intriguing power bulges surface the hood, and a conspicuous beltline crease rises from the front fender to a point just below the rear door handle. This character line imparts a fluid sense of motion to even a stationary TLX.

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec

If you opt for the A-Spec package, more goodies are in store. That kaleidoscope grill is blacked out, along with a lower valence that contains inset driving lights that look like they’ve been daubed with mascara. The dramatic effect continues at the back, where a lower skirt beneath the bumper contains a series of vanes to help evacuate rushing air from underneath the body. A quartet of prominent chrome exhaust tips underline the rear guard. Color keyed rocker skirts make the TLX look longer and lower than it really is, while tasty 19 inch alloys finished in gunmetal gray, mount 245/40R19 Michelin MXM4 Primacy tires at all 4 corners.

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec

Inside the cabin, Acura has spiced up the proceedings with their interpretation of sport front seats. These overstuffed lounge chairs are more Barca-lounger than Recaro, however. They aren’t particularly retentive under cornering duress, but they certainly look sporty, with their contrasting piping and multiple pleats. The rear seats lack any pretense at sportiness, and their flaccid belt receptacles make fastening you safety harness more of a challenge than it should be.

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec

Our test model included virtually everything Acura can throw into the TLX A-Spec mix. Along with all-wheel drive (or SH-AWD in Acura-speak) comes a creamy gem of a V6 motor attached to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The paddle shift equipped gearbox run through its gears in such short order that you barely realize it has shifted at all. Unfortunately, the piddling paddles look and feel like cereal box premiums. The 290hp V6 provides authoritative poke when you tromp the accelerator, and a very mellifluous soundtrack through those trumpets below the diffuser. Steering feedback from the low profile Michelins is solid and informative, and the ride and reactions of the A-Spec can be tailored to taste via a command control button on the center console for economy, normal, sport and sport plus modes of driving. If you chose sport plus, you will find the steering akin to rowing an oar in molasses.

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec

If you live where the roads are not always smooth, the TLX A-Spec will be the first to let you know their deteriorated condition. I spent too long pulling passenger duty in the back seat, where every crease in the pavement sent me bouncing aloft. The situation is much better in the front seats, where all that stuffing dampens the pogo pitch. Another source of irritation is the button farm Acura has decided to institute across their entire model range to control transmission shifts. Instead of the reliable, old-school stick with detents, the TLX requires you to evaluate a daunting array of slides, lifts and pushes every time you hope to effect a gear change. It’s completely unnecessary technology that doesn’t even save space on the center console for other purposes.

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX A-Spec

  • Engine: 3.5 liter V-6
  • Horsepower: 290hp
  • Torque: N/A
  • Fuel Consumption: N/A
  • Price as Tested: N/A
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance Review

Friday January 6th, 2017 at 11:11 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance

By David Colman

Hypes: Fast, Solid Handling, Spacious
Gripes: Needs More Buttons, Fewer Menus

In the course of a test year, I drive almost all the mid-price SUVs. For the most part, they make little long lasting impression. Acura’s MDX, however, breaks the mold of boring conformity. This is without doubt the company’s best model, which also explains why it’s their best selling SUV. For 2017, Acura rightly calls the MDX “The SUV Redefined.”

2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance

From a safety standpoint, it scores extremely well in the government’s 5-star safety evaluation, posting a top-ranked 5-star “Overall Vehicle Score.” It also merits a “Recommended” check mark from Consumer Reports, an outfit that is notoriously picky about issuing endorsements. For 2017, Acura has standardized inclusion of all “Acurawatch Features” which had previously been available as extra cost options. These include adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation. As the industry moves ever closer to the self-driving vehicle, these safety enhancements become more and more common. Still, to find them offered as standard on a mid-price SUV comes as a pleasant surprise, especially since their operation proved helpful rather than burdensome during our week long test of the MDX.

2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance

For 2017, Acura has also improved the vehicle’s appearance with a new front fascia derived from their Acura Precision concept car. Gone is the previous model’s broad swath of matte aluminum affixed to the upper grill. Below the beltline, an upturned body color blade functions as a front spoiler while also channeling air into the lower grill. The new look is clean and more practical than the ugly beak it replaces. Inside the MDX, you will now find 4 2.5 amp charging ports strategically located through the cabin which allow for quicker refreshment of your mobile devices.

2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance

The front Sport Seats in the MDX feature handsome perforated premium leather trim. They are well proportioned and padded for long distance comfort and offer ventilation and heating. However, due to Acura’s annoying insistence on using a menu-controlled graphic interface, seat temp actuation requires double menu selection, This is a time-consuming and unnecessary procedure that distracts your driving attention span. Back seat riders are well looked after, with commodious seats and a mini-dashboard for ventilation and seat heater controls. Ironically, those back seater occupants – not tasked with driving – are given simple buttons to control their seat heaters and HVAC.

2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance

All the good looks and vaunted safety ratings wouldn’t mean much if the revamped MDX proved unrewarding to drive. Fortunately, such is not the case. Let’s start under the hood, where a 3.5 liter V6, fitted with all the latest technical tweaks (direct injection, VTEC valve actuation) churns out 290hp which is fed to all 4 wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. I can recall a time when most bicycles didn’t boast 9 gears, let alone SUVs. The upshot of the drivetrain pairing is excellent performance across the board. The engine is explosive enough to drop 0-60mph acceleration times into the high 7 second range, compelling performance indeed for a vehicle weighing 4,200 pounds. The MDX AWD is also rated for 5,000 pound tow duty, and comes equipped with a factory installed receiver jack. The MDX stands 68 inches tall on its 8×20″ alloys. Although Acura does offer optional ($700) running boards they are hardly needed and also ruin the clean appearance of the streamlined body shell.

2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance

The tires chosen for MDX use are Continental Cross Contact mud and snow rated radials measuring 245/50R20. These provided excellent dry and wet weather adhesion, and are responsible for the MDX’s quick cornering reflexes. Equally important is the console-controlled “Sport” driving mode setting (part of a 3-choice Integrated Dynamics System). “Sport” optimizes response of Acura’s Super-Handling AWD system. Manual override of the automatic gearbox via paddles adds to your sense of control here, and any chosen gear can be locked in by double tapping the “D” button on the selector console. Although this quirky shift module, situated between the front seats, does simplify console space, the device never falls readily to finger.

2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance

Gear selection and menu GUI quibbles aside, the MDX is a top notch candidate for
your SUV consideration. It is fast, well built (in Lincoln, Alabama), comfortable and useful. You really can’t ask for more than that for your $57,340.

2017 Acura MDX AWD Advance

  • Engine: 3.5 liter V6, Direct Injection, VTEC, Variable Cylinder Management (VCM)
  • Horsepower: 290hp
  • Torque: 267lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 19MPG City/26 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $57,340
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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2016 Acura RLX Hybrid Review

Friday December 9th, 2016 at 9:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Acura RLX Hybrid

By David Colman

Hypes: Surprising Road Burner in Sport Mode
Gripes: Non-intuitive Transmission Controls

Ever since the Acura division of Honda moved away from using memorable names like Legend and Integra in favor of meaningless letter designations like RLX and TLX, the buying public has become confused about which letter designations stood for which products. Case in point: would you rather say you were driving a an Acura Legend or an RLX? I know that my father, who bought a first generation Legend coupe, would have had trouble coming to terms with the designation RLX. he had enough trouble with the name Acura, which he persisted in calling “Acoora.”

All that being said, I can make the case for RLX serving as an acronym for “Relax,” since this substantial 4-door sedan is quiet enough, comfortable enough, and fast enough to function as a relaxation center on wheels. By the way, those ally wheels measure 19″ x 8″ and come shod with Michelin Green X rubber (245/40R19). You can have your suspension two ways in this Acura. When you press the Start Button on the dash, the system automatically defers to a comfort setting that makes our pot-holed roads tolerable. But if you insist on dialing up improved road holding, there’s a “Sport” switch located on the center console that tightens steering response, increases muffler volume, and blips the throttle on downshifts. While all these sporting affectations may seem incongruous for a two-ton heavy cruiser, the RLX – when configured for Sport – acquits itself with honor on twisty back roads. While you won’t be confusing its performance with that of a 5 Series BMW, the RLX does provide an unexpected dimension of sporting performance.

2016 Acura RLX Hybrid

That the handling can be dialed into the performance realm is a solid positive, because the excellent Hybrid powertrain requires maximum adhesion from the all-season Michelin tires. Power and torque output are substantial: 377hp and 341lb.-ft. of torque, courtesy of one 3.5 liter SOHC V6, supplemented by no less than 3 electric motors. This compendium of motive power drives all 4 wheels, a dispersed allocation of power Acura dubs “Super Handling AWD.” Indeed, the vehicle’s traction is predictable and impressive. Also notable is the linear brake response. In so many Hybrids, regenerative braking diminishes brake feedback, resulting in a jerky, unpredictable pedal for deceleration. In the RLX, what Acura wordily terms “Agile Handling Assist Dynamic Brake System” gets the job done without the usual Hybrid drama.

2016 Acura RLX Hybrid

However, we did encounter a measure of drama when the big sedan refused to re-fire after a fill-up at the local Valero station. When the Start Button was depressed, a message appeared stating “Hold Keyfob Near Start Button.” We repeated this maneuver to no avail. The keyfob seemed dead, so I pressed the lock button which seemed to activate the door locks. But pressing the unlock button did not unlock the doors, so there we were, locked in our RLX which still refused to start. When I opened the locked door, the theft alarm started blaring, and the remote failed to deactivate it. The Valero attendant came over and gave us a look. Our four star clown show at the pump island continued until the Start Button- for no apparent reason – did what it was supposed to do. Finally, we were off and running, alarm bugle silenced at long last. This was not a confidence inspiring episode.

2016 Acura RLX Hybrid

Part of the problem might stem from the RLX’ overly complicated computer-dependent operation system. For example, even the simplest commands, such as fan speed, require you to press a small fan pictograph button on the display screen. This in turn brings up a fan speed screen, which then requires you to identify and press the appropriate up/down fan speed pictograph. The whole process is overly complicated and distracts you from the job of driving. Likewise, for the paddle-shift enabled 7-Speed dual clutch transmission, Acura has eliminated conventional gear shift controls in favor of a series of small buttons mounted on the console tunnel. These consist of a narrow push button for Park, a small, hidden backward slider for Reverse, and a circular Petri dish for Drive. After a solid week of driving the RLX, this system continued to defy intuition and foster annoyance.

2016 Acura RLX Hybrid

The RLX offers the best mileage for a large luxury sedan in this category. You will average a stupendous 30MPG regardless of city or freeway use. The RLX is quiet, spacious and well tailored. But unless you are a technology addict, the car/driver interface can present daunting problems that could be solved by a needed simplification of controls.

2016 Acura RLX Hybrid

  • Engine: 3.5 liter SOHC V^ VTEC plus 3 Electric Motors
  • Horsepower: 377hp
  • Torque: 341lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 28MPG City/32MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $66,870
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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2016 Acura MDX AWD Review

Wednesday February 3rd, 2016 at 12:22 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Acura MDX AWD

By David Colman

Hypes: Movie Theater Back Seat, Tows 3500 lbs.
Gripes: Lag on Downshifts, Poor LED Headlight Pattern

In 2014, Acura brought an all new MDX to the mid-size SUV market segment. Since then, this entry, which remains unchanged for 2016, has become the all time top selling SUV with three rows of seating. In practice, this stretched Acura looks and behaves more like a minivan than a sports utility vehicle. Acura does provide something of a placebo to the sports minded with its Integrated Dynamics System (IDS). For example, switching from ‘Normal” to “Sport” by adjusting the IDS’ transmission-tunnel mounted control allows you to tighten steering effort from your driver’s seat perch. But really, the MDX’ long suit isn’t its sports personality. Rather this SUV serves primarily as a mobile comfort lab that crams all the comforts of home into its elongated 194 inch rolling chassis. If you want a real sports SUV, check out the X3 or X5 from BMW and the Macan or Cayenne from Porsche.

2016 Acura MDX AWD

At $58,000, the MDX represents decent value for the dollar if you’re the techie type who values whiz-bang communication protocols over the driving experience. From the technology standpoint, the MDX has few peers in the marketplace today. For example, our Acura included both the “Tech Package” and the “Advance Package” in its all inclusive price. The “Tech Package” consists of such comprehensive enhancements as Navigation with voice command activation, real time traffic information, warning systems for lane deviation, forward collisions, and rear cross traffic, plus 3 zone interior climate control. What Acura terms the “Advance Package” promises to save you from going off the road or crashing into a frontal impediment. These so-called “mitigation” features include a slow speed cruise control for traffic jam stop and go.

To be sure, the cabin of the MDX is a comfy, well designed home site with but one annoying exception. That would be the standard issue “Push Button Shifter” which is mounted on the center console. After a week behind the wheel of the MDX, I still failed to come to terms with its obtuse location and unneeded complexity. The problem here lies in the fact that each gear selection requires a different skill set: engaging “reverse” demands a backward push on a sunken rectangular button, while “drive” requires a downward push on a flush mounted circular button. If you’re good at patting your head while rubbing your tummy, you’ll love this arrangement. But for me, it produced hesitation and uncertainty. The simple act of gear selection, which has long been unconscious and automatic, is more complicated than it needs to be in the MDX.

2016 Acura MDX AWD

Once you do select “drive,” you’ll discover this Acura runs through 9 gears. The upside here is that you’ve got a gear ratio for every occasion. The downside is that it takes the transmission nearly 2 seconds to select a ratio when you floor the throttle in “drive.” This lag time compromises the abundant horsepower (290hp) and torque (267lb.-ft.) of the 3.5 liter V6 engine. And that’s a shame because this sophisticated power plant, with direct injection of fuel, and variable valve timing to maximize combustion burn, allows the MDX to crank off 0-60mph runs in the 6.4 second range. Thanks to the fuel efficient addition of variable cylinder management (VCM), the V6 loafs along on fewer than 6 cylinders when under light cruising loads. This produces an overall EPA estimate of 22MPG, which is unexpectedly frugal for a vehicle weighing in at a chubby 4,290 lbs.

2016 Acura MDX AWD

The strong suit of the MDX is neither its performance, nor the handling of its 245/55R19 Michelin Latitude tires, but rather its sensational list of comfort attributes. For example, where else will you find a 16.2 inch rear screen DVD with HDMI and wireless headphones included in the base price? Where else will you find the complete gamut of active safety devices – from Collision Mitigation Braking System to Road Departure Mitigation – included in the base price? Next year the federal government will be adding just such active safety measures to their testing and rating standards. You can be sure that the MDX will be one of the first SUVs to gain 5 stars in that new category.

2016 Acura MDX AWD

2016 Acura MDX AWD

  • Engine: 3.5 liter V6, SOHC 24 valves, Direct Injection, VTEC
  • Horsepower: 290hp
  • Torque: 267lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 19 MPG City/26 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $58,000
  • Star Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 Acura TLX

Tuesday March 3rd, 2015 at 3:33 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Acura TLX

By David Colman

Hypes: Svelte Shape, Comfy Front and Rear Seats
Gripes: Odd Gear Change, No Owner’s Manual

This new model represents an amalgamation of two previous Acura models, the TL and the TSX. The TL was Acura’s affordable techno deluxe sedan, while the TSX represented entry level Acura ownership in a sporty package. The new TLX does a good job of combining all those virtues in one unit. You can select the base model with a 2.4 liter inline 4 cylinder engine of 206hp, and a starting price of $32,000. This engine produces just 182lb.-ft. of torque, but maximizes thrust through an 8 speed twin clutch semi-automatic gearbox. Unfortunately, the manual transmission formerly offered on the TSX is no longer available. At the other end of the price spectrum is the TLX we spent a week testing. This one stickers for $45,000. The extra investment buys you all-wheel-drive, and a 3.6 liter V6, mounted sideways in the front engine compartment. This 290hp engine produces 267lb.-ft. of torque and drives through a 9-speed automatic that rivals most bicycles for gear selection range.

2015 Acura TLX

Acura’s tight packaging of the TLX invests it with very short overhangs front and rear. Although the grill retains Acura’s trademark chrome V-Blade, an array of 10 LED headlights distinguishes the front end from any previous Acura. The tightly wrapped sheet metal skin makes the TLX look tauter than a Cross Fit champ. Our top model bumps alloy wheel size up from 17 to 18 inches. These handsome pewter finished rims carry Goodyear Eagle LS2 tires measuring 225/50R18 at each corner. The all-wheel-drive (AWD) model we tested features super handling (SH) tweaks, so you’ll find an “SH-AWD” emblem on the trunk. Turn-in is crisp and predictable, steering feedback reassuringly accurate, and handling quite well contained. The all-season Goodyears are the weak link in the adhesion chain, combining early breakaway with significant tire squeal.

Climbing into the TLX cabin, the first think you notice are the ribbed floor mats which give a dimension to black rugs rarely seen. Between the front seats, you’ll find a curious “Electronic Gear Selector” that is a challenge to master. There’s a large round button marked “D” which engages “Drive” when pushed, as long as your foot’s on the brake and the TLX is at a complete stop. A few inches forward is a small square button marked “P” for Park, and between P and D you’ll find a mark for “R” but no button. Rather, to engage R you’ll need to slide a ribbed switch rearwards. This whole gear engagement system is counter intuitive and perplexing. Every time you seek to change direction, you need to study the puzzling layout on the console yet again. For those of you with sporty inclinations, Acura does include small paddles on the steering wheel for manual up and down changes.

2015 Acura TLX

In keeping with the technological prowess of the discontinued TL model, the TLX offers a bevy of safety nannies like lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, front collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and radar assisted cruise control. You can tailor all these functions to your specific profile by using a large central joystick knob that covers everything from seat heaters to lane departure beeps. The one annoyance I could not manage to eliminate was the automatic sliding driver’s seat entry “feature”, which went unmentioned on any menu I could find.

Believe it or not, you don’t get a proper Owner’s Manual with your new $45,000 Acura when you buy this car. Instead, you receive an abbreviated, 143 page “Owner’s Guide” whose introduction states “This guide is not intended to be a substitute for the Owner’s Manual.” Should you seek that elusive document, you discover Acura provides it only in CD form, which they point out “can be printed for your reference” by you. Best of all, the “Owner’s CD” is prominently labeled “Not for in-vehicle use.” We inserted it into the CD slot in the dash, and sure enough, the car spit it back out at us. Oh, they do offer to provide you with “a complimentary printed copy of the Owner’s Manual, Navigation Manual, Vehicle Warranty and Consumer Information Book, but only “if you are the first registered owner of your vehicle.”

2015 Acura TLX

Acura is making a major effort to race the TLX in SCCA’s Pirelli World Challenge Series. After a rather unsuccessful debut in 2014, they will field a 2 car team in the top category of the series in 2015. This entry features a twin turbo version of the V6 used in the production car. If Acura decides to offer a production version of this turbo engine TLX, BMW and Audi owners will be looking in their mirrors for a chrome bladed V.

2015 Acura TLX

  • Engine: 3.5 liter V6, SOHC, 24 valve, VTEC and Variable Cylinder Management
  • Horsepower: 290hp
  • Torque: 267lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/31 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,595
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 Acura RDX AWD with Technology

Friday December 6th, 2013 at 3:1212 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: More Computing Power Than Apollo, Slick Quick Handler
Gripes: Manual Hood Prop on a Forty Grand SUV?

The latest 2014 RDX builds on the positive changes accomplished for 2013, when Acura redid the RDX by installing a 3.5 liter V-6 instead of the previous version’s 2.5 liter turbocharged inline 4. This engine compartment transplant makes a compelling case for giving the formerly underpowered RDX another look. Instead of the turbo motor’s peaky power band and inadequate torque, you’ll revel in the V6′ 273hp and 251 lb.-ft. of torque. There’s more than enough grunt to spin the wheels from a standing start, and you’ll never be disappointed in this engine’s passing lane performance. Connected to the transversely mounted V6 is a 6-speed automatic with well-staged gear sets designed to optimize performance of this 6,800rpm redline engine. You can select your own gear of choice by popping the floor stick into its manual gate, or accomplish the same task by blipping up shift and downshift pads adjacent to the steering wheel. The all-wheel-drive technology RDX, which carries a base price of $39,420, extracts a premium of $1,400 over a similarly equipped two wheel drive model. The upgrade is well worth the additional outlay for the extra grip and security afforded by driving all four wheels. We had a tough time finding the cornering limits of this SUV on dry pavement. Its Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires (235/60R18) hardly ever issued a squeal of discomfort, despite the fact that their tall 60 series sidewall height is far from optimal for sporting assignments.

Over the past several years, Acura has remade this premium Honda brand into a feast for technology lovers. The latest RDX is crammed with features that will delight demanding technocrats. For example, you never need to fumble your key into the ignition slot because a cinnamon red metallic “Stop/Start” button next to the steering wheel forever relieves you of insertion duties. When you engage reverse gear a real time view of the area behind your MDX illuminates the standard Navigation screen, complete with yellow parking guidelines to assist you in judging distance. By pressing “Enter” on the center console’s beefy control knob, you can even toggle the rear display to switch between wide angle, overhead or standard rear views. Moreover, should you wish to remove the yellow guidelines from the picture, simply press the “Cancel” button on the console and hold it down for 3 seconds. You can also program the outside rear view mirrors to tilt down when reverse gear is engaged to improve your view of the curb for parallel parking. This feature can also be engaged or disengaged at will. Talk about customization!

The interior design of the RDX cabin is soothing and spacious. Our “graphite luster metallic” example featured expensive looking mocha leather seats and door panels that contrasted subtly with the chocolate tinted dash and center console. A matte finished pewter molding separated the two interior tone zones. Each front seat features a “Driving Position Memory System” which allows you to retain two favorite seat and mirror positions. Both front seats include standard 2-stage heat settings.

Although the large central Navigation screen, which is shielded by a Visigoth-like hood, looks rather intimidating at first, the cavernous design serves its purpose well by screening out errant light during daytime driving. You can enter a destination into the system by using voice commands (say “Display Destination”) or instruct the data base to search for an ATM, gas station, restaurant or movie theater by saying “Find Nearest…” The Navigation unit also provides you with AcuraLink Real Time Traffic and Real Time Weather, to help you avoid unexpected jams or inclement weather. You can use verbal commands to instruct the system to “Avoid” specific routes, or say “Display Traffic List” to garner a report of nearby incidents to circumvent. Likewise, by saying “Weather Forecast” you can check on the 1-3 day picture, or say “Radar Map” to elicit the kind of color-coded forecast you see on your nightly newscast.

This all encompassing technology package requires you to exert judicious restraint while driving. It’s all too easy to issue verbal commands while ignoring the demands of traffic. If you can keep your mind on your driving while playing the system intelligently at stoplights, your RDX experience will be rich and rewarding, because this SUV is as much fun to drive as it is to command.

2014 Acura RDX AWD with Technology

  • Engine: 3.5 liter DOHC, 24 Valve V-6
  • Horsepower: 273 hp
  • Torque: 251 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 19 MPG City/27 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $40,315
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 Acura RLX

Thursday October 3rd, 2013 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Every Save-You-From-Yourself Option Imaginable
Gripes: Pillow-Soft Ride, Acronym Insanity, Confusing Rear View Mirror

Welcome to the brave new world of Acura acronyms. Although Acura has yet to introduce a George Orwell signature version of the RLX, one should be in the offing to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of 1984. When you push the red metallic start button on the dash of the plush new RLX luxury sedan, you’ll be confronted with such a bewildering array of acronyms illuminating the instrument binnacle that you’ll need Acura’s 52 page “Advanced Technology Guide” before venturing forth. This well illustrated booklet will explain the mysteries of RLX life to the uninitiated. What, you might legitimately ask, does “CMBS” mean? The Collision Mitigation Braking System alerts you to an impending frontal crash and operates 4 stages of audible warning/brake application to lessen impact. You can even chose from 4 distances to initiate the progression. Like CMBS, FCW, or Forward Collision Warning uses a camera mounted between the windshield and the rear view mirror to warn you of impending frontal crashes. Unlike CMBS, FCW does not actually apply your brakes.

ACC references Adaptive Cruise Control, which uses the same technology as FCW to maintain space behind the vehicle in front of you when you’ve engaged cruise control. In theory, ACC sounds good, but in practice it leads to a lot more braking and accelerating than you would manage with your own foot on the throttle. LDW and LKAS complete the befuddling compliment of acronym assists. Lane Departure Warning (LDW) sounds a beep if you stray from your lane without first using your turn signal. The Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) uses that same overhead camera to warn you of errant lane changes, while going one step further by intervening physically. LKAS actually applies correctional torque to the steering mechanism. While LKAS works to keep you in your lane, the confusing dual-image rear view mirror confuses you enough to cause lane wander.
Aside from all the whiz-bang gadgetry, how does the redesigned RLX function as a driver? Pretty well, actually, especially after you first take time to turn off all the nanny nagging beeps and buzzers. The interior is sumptuous and elegant in the manner pioneered long ago by Acura’s first offering in the luxury field, the Legend, a breakthrough sedan which pre-dated Infiniti’s Q45 and Lexus’ LS 400. The RLX is exceptionally spacious, with its wheelbase of 112 inches offering massive legroom for both front and rear seat occupants. At 75 inches, it’s also an inch wider than a Lexus LS 400, so there’s plenty of sprawl room for everyone on long trips. Because the cavernous trunk swallows 15 cubic feet of luggage, a family of 4 can comfortably vacation with all their belongings under cover.

The downside of the space equation is weight, and the RLX has plenty of that at 3,970 pounds. Even though its stout 3.5 liter V-6 makes a respectable 310hp, the car’s power-to-weight ratio of 12.8 pounds per horsepower will not incite sporty driving. The RLX is so softly sprung that it will pitch you off your seat when the suspension rebounds over mild pavement dips and rises. Through sweeping turns, the RLX tracks nicely on its low profile, all-season Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires (245/40R19). On tighter turns, the front-wheel-drive RLX develops pronounced understeer due to its 61/39 front end weight bias. Fortunately, you can dial up a better snubbed ride and quicker throttle response by engaging Sport mode. Unfortunately. the RLX inexplicably defaults to its soft ride setting whenever the engine is switched off.

If you’re looking for a sporty upgrade for your RLX, Acura offers a 370hp V-6 Hybrid combo that should wake up the sleeping giant while returning 30 MPG. The base model V-6 of our test car is good for 20 MPG around town, and 31 MPG on the freeway. One of the most rewarding aspects of Acura ownership is Acura Total Luxury Care (ATLC), which provides you and your RLX with a personalized home page that covers accessories, model specifications, current Acura Financial Services billing, and email reminder notices for service. ATLC also offers 24-hour roadside assistance, and trip planning services that include computerized routing and map information, message relay and airline ticketing. These all inclusive freebies are just part of the housewarming party you’ll get every time you climb into the well tailored cabin of your RLX. If future speak is your native language, RLX is your car.

2014 Acura RLX

  • Engine: 3.5 liter V-6
  • Horsepower: 310 hp
  • Torque: 271 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 20 MPG City/31 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $48,450
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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Tested: 2014 Acura RLX

Friday August 23rd, 2013 at 4:88 PM
Posted by: Francois

What’s New

All new for 2014, the Acura RLX is a full-size luxury sedan powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 310 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. A smooth ride is made possible by a double wishbone suspension and Precision All Wheel Steer (P-AWS) system. FWD is paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters to enable an EPA estimated range of 20 mpg city to 34 mpg highway. Features include multi-view rear view camera, Jewel Eye LED headlights, rear sunshades, keyless start, Krell audio system, and navigation.

The RLX replaces the aging RL sedan. It’s an entirely new design with a new 3.5-liter V6, all-wheel steering and a host of new electronic safety and infotainment features.

The 2014 Acura RLX replaces the aging and rather forgettable RL sedan and it comes none to soon. The RL, while competent, had fallen behind most of the major luxury brands in terms of features, power and price. It was even in danger or being run over by Hyundai’s high-end models. But the RLX remedies all that, with an elegant new cabin, lots of electronic goodies and best of all, performance handling that places it near the top of its field. Acura’s new Precision All-Wheel Steering (P-AWS) employs electronic actuators that steer the rear wheels in conjunction with the front. The result is one of the best handling front-drive cars we’ve driven. Of course, we doubt many RLX drivers will ever push their cars to the limits we did, but it’s nice to know that when spirited drives or emergency maneuvers arise, the RLX has the athleticism to handle whatever is thrown its way. It remains to be seen, however, if consumers will be willing to pony up as much as $60,000 (the starting price is around $48,000) for a car with rather subdued styling and no V8 engine option.


  • Luxury car ride with performance car handling; huge interior; cutting edge infotainment and audio options; super comfy front seats


  • Pricing is a bit high; poor city fuel economy figures; subdued styling and interior color choices

Comfort & Utility

Nobody likes a cramped luxury car, least of all Americans. We need room to stretch and sprawl, which is why we think Americans will love what Acura has created inside the RLX. The car’s cabin has all the prerequisite bells and whistles, along with copious amounts of leather on the seats, doors, dash and console. But what really stands out are the supremely supportive and comfortable front seats and the abundance of space, not just for legs and heads, but elbows and hips too. In fact, there is so much space between the driver’s seat and the door armrest that my arm kept falling into the gulch separating the two. This same theme carries over to the rear seat, where two fairly tall adults can comfortably sit for hours.

From the driver’s seat, the RLX controls are numerous, but logically arranged and fairly intuitive. Immediately to the driver’s right are two large LCD screens, one that operates controls for heating and ventilation, audio and Bluetooth cell phone functions and the other to display the available navigation screen. We like this setup and wish more manufacturers would follow suit, although we must complain that there are too many menu-driven steps to perform simple functions like adjusting the fan speed. Sometimes, a simple rotary knob is all that is required. The RLX model’s steering wheel is festooned with buttons, some redundant for the audio and some primary for the adaptive cruise control and Bluetooth, as well as the multi-tasking information screen. We didn’t like that the primary stalks for the headlights, wipers and turn signals were obscured from view, making it nearly impossible to read their functions.

One last observation pertains to the cabin at highway speed. Where we expect an Acura to be quiet, the RLX goes above and beyond, isolating out the most annoying noises while still allowing in just the right amount of engine and exhaust notes so as not to give the impression you’re driving a cocoon.


Technology is always a strong suit with Acura and the 2014 RLX doesn’t disappoint. The list begins with a suite of active safety features designed to help keep the driver’s attention on the road ahead. Included in the group are Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Information (BLIS), Adaptive Cruise Control (maintains a safe distance between you and the traffic ahead) and Collision Mitigation Braking. However, to get the BLIS system requires purchasing the Technology Package, while the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist can only be had by purchasing the Advance Package option.

The Krell Audio Package brings a high-end Krell audio system with 14 speakers, while the Navigation Package adds a voice-activated navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen. Included with the navigation package is AcuraLink, a system with real-time traffic updates, as well as 2-way communication with the web and apps through a cloud based service. For a slight fee, users can add more features, including automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, in-vehicle local search or search by voice and a personal assistant featuring a live person on call 24/7 to assist you.

Other available features of note include jewel-eyed LED headlamps, power retractable side mirrors, a rearview camera, Smart Key entry with push-button start, heated rear seats, rain sensing wipers and rear parking sensors.

Performance & Fuel Economy

To power its new luxury sedan, Acura conjured up an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine equipped with direct-injection technology. Direct injection provides a better way to deliver fuel to the engine resulting in more power and better fuel economy. Rated at 310 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque, the RLX model’s V6 is no slouch, although it still doesn’t offer up the kind of gut-punching start you feel with a nice, torque happy V8. Fuel economy figures are a mixed bag, with a rather dismal city rating of just 20 miles per gallon, but a much better highway figure approaching 31 mpg.


Acura has taken pains to ensure the RLX will sail through all its crash tests, anticipating a 5 star rating from the government and a good rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Standard safety equipment includes full airbag protection, including a driver’s side front knee airbag. Additional equipment such as Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning can help avoid accidents, as can the advanced suspension and steering assists.

Driving Impressions

Over long stretches of paved roadway, the RLX cruises effortlessly, almost serenely, as it absorbs bumps and blemishes and delivers a first class luxury car ride. The trick up its sleeve, however, comes when the road begins to twist and wind. Where other luxury cars become wallowing marshmallows with tires squealing at every turn, the RLX carves through s-shaped asphalt like a scalpel-wielding surgeon late for his tee off time. The RLX model’s electrically-assisted power steering feels direct and precise and the 6-speed automatic transmission is responsive and quick to pick the right gear when extra throttle is administered. But it’s the RLX model’s P-AWS coupled with the Agile Handling Assist (it uses active braking to help keep the RLX traveling on the intended path) that really gives this big sedan its moves. A front double wishbone suspension and multi-link rear suspension setup fits this car perfectly, allowing us to tear around corners on an enclosed track with abilities previously known only to Acura’s legendary sport coupe, the NSX.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW 5 Series: The 5 Series isn’t as roomy inside as the RLX and its ride tends be a bit on the stiff side. However, the rear-drive 5 Series still feels a bit more agile in the curves and it can be had with a manual transmission and V8 engine.

Audi A6: Although the A6 isn’t as powerful as the RLX and its suspension feels somewhat softer, the A6 model’s interior outshines the RLX, as does its exterior styling.

Infiniti M37: A nicely equipped M37 costs about the same as the RLX with the Advanced Package and offers more hp but worse fuel economy. The M model’s color palate is rather drab and its rear seat is not as accommodating as in the RLX.

Bottom Line

It’s not an incredible car handling experience but it is a sophisticated and satisfying driving experience. The Krell stereo is truly world class and the use of LED headlights is ground-breaking indeed. The RL is looking for a strong model identity and this is a step in the right direction.


  • Base price: $49,345
  • Price as tested: $61,345
  • Powertrain: Naturally aspirated direct-injection 3.5-liter SOHC 60-degree V6 with variable valve timing and lift and variable cylinder management; six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode; front-wheel drive
  • Horsepower/torque: 310 hp at 6,500 rpm; 272 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm
  • Length/weight: 196.1 inches/3,997 pounds
  • Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
  • 0-60 mph: 7 seconds
  • EPA fuel economy: 20/31/24 mpg, city/highway/combined
  • Cargo capacity: 15.1 cubic feet (with Krell audio and Advance package)
  • MSRP: $54,450 (base)

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2013 Acura ILX Premium Review

Wednesday January 9th, 2013 at 10:11 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Looks Like Clark Kent Runs Like Superman
Gripes: Could Do With Plus One Wheels and Tires

The Sleeper of the Year award goes to Acura for this all-new ILX. Here is an unprepossessing 4-door sedan with devastating performance thanks to gymnastic handling and a rev-happy motor. Yet all this latent potential is cloaked by an average looking body shell that would lead you to suspect the ILX is just another boring family car. To the contrary, this latest Acura hot rod is the proud successor to the recently departed and much celebrated Integra Type R. If you will recall, the Type R was the ultimate driving connoisseur’s bargain, an agile and peaky ride that pushed every Pavlovian reaction button for the enthusiast. In turn, the Type R was successor to a long line of deceptively docile looking ancestors from other manufacturers, including Alfa’s Berlina 4-door, Datsun’s iconic 510, and Nissan’s Sentra SE-R.

Best of all, and in keeping with the best sleeper tradition, the price of the ILX is modest enough to make it affordable to the enthusiast without BMW bucks to spend. In “Premium” form, this Acura lists for just $29,200 complete with just about everything you’ll want or need from a daily driver, including 7 speaker sound system, 3 months of free XM Satellite Radio, leather trimmed sports seats, 17” x 7” alloy rims, Xenon HD headlights, and Michelin MXM4 Pilot tires (215/45R17). Best of all the standard equipement is the zingy powerplant under the hood, which displaces 2.4 liters, and produces 210hp at a screaming 8,000rpm.

This is one Acura you’ll definitely want to buy with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. The gear actuation is so precise that shifting from one gate to another feels like making scalpel incisions. The ratios are perfectly spaced to pick up engine rpm at the top end of the scale each time you up shift, so there’s no appreciable loss of thrust. Acura’s VTEC valve actuation is the best in the business. At low speeds, when pottering around town , the valvetrain opts for less overlap and duration to increase mileage and lesson noise. But when you flat foot the gas, the cam timing changes as the VTEC system locks into its performance profile. As the rpm pass 6,000, the engine converts itself into a ferocious beast that suddenly snarls loudly through the free-flow exhaust. Thanks to this aural guide, you hardly need to consult the tachometer about when to up shift. For the record, the tach reads to 8,000rpm, and extracting maximum output from the ILX is reminiscent of riding a Honda CBR superbike, or driving their lamented, recently departed S2000 sports car. Once you rock this motor into its powerband, you’ll never want to stop repeating the trick – for aural gratification is no other reason. And that’s what driving fun is all about, isn’t it?

All these Dr. Jekyll characteristics are perfectly masked by the ILX’ Mr. Hyde exterior treatment, which is so sedate as to render it indistinguishable from dozens of other family sedans on the road. You won’t find any blatant spoilers front or rear, nor any striping or decoration giveaways about the thumping nature of this beast. The ILX is the perfect antidote to decorated pretend racers like the Camaro SS, Mustang GT and Challenger R/T that scream performance but in fact are no quicker over any given piece of road than this Acura.

The ILX is based on Honda’s Civic Si platform, but it bests the Civic in so many ways that the comparison is odious. If you think of the ILX as an Si that’s grown up and graduated from charm school, you’ll get the idea.

2013 Acura ILX Premium

  • Engine: 2.4 liter DOHC 16 valve inline 4 with I-VTEC
  • Horsepower: 201hp
  • Torque: 170 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 22 MPG City/31 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $30,095
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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2012 Acura TSX Special Edition Review

Tuesday March 20th, 2012 at 1:33 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Refined reflexes, Superb shift, Zingy motor
Against: Low torque = peaky performance

Since the demise of the ground-breaking NSX sports car and the discontinuation of the razor sharp Integra Type R, Acura has become an invisible brand to enthusiasts. But for 2012, the luxury division of Honda has introduced a sports-flavored Special Edition version of their most affordable TSX sedan that will have erstwhile marque supporters rallying for a closer look.

The TSX SE is Acura’s best shot at a sports sedan. Unlike any other product in the company’s extensive line, this one is available with a manual transmission 6-speed. The gearbox is a delight to use, with short throws, predictable clutch engagement, and a neatly crafted shift knob that makes you want to work the gearbox even more than you need.

Best of all, those 6 closely spaced ratios control a typical high revving Honda motor that loves to be run to peak rpm in each gear. The exhaust note of the iVTEC 4 cylinder, DOHC, 16 valve engine changes from a purr to a snarl as the variable valve timing kicks in at about 5,500 rpm. By the time you’re ready to upshift, the tachometer needle has zinged past 7,000rpm, and the 201hp motor is emitting a full banshee wail. You’ll never tire of the TSX’s soundtrack. In a model line full of over-refined Acuras, the TSX is the guttural exception, the only Acura that speaks to Honda’s proud roots in racing.

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