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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

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.

Safety

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.

Specifications

  • 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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