Acura has high hopes for the new RLXFri, 15 Feb 2013
What Is It? The new RLX is the luxury leader of the Acura division, and the brand is hoping to dazzle the market with an array of features when the car hits showrooms March 15. Everything from its “jewel-eye” LED headlights to its LED taillights and a laundry list of high-tech features in between, from four-wheel steering to improved AcuraLink infotainment connectivity. At launch the RLX will offer “Precision All-Wheel Steer,” or P-AWS. Don't call it PAWS, Acura says. P-AWS electronically alters toe in the rear wheels to help high-speed turning and low-speed parking maneuvers as well as toeing in the rear wheels for stability under braking.
Coming later this year is the higher-tech, higher-mileage, no doubt higher-cost Hybrid AWD model, with two electric motors powering the rear wheels and a third electric motor sandwiched in the transmission helping power the front wheels. A dual-clutch transmission will also come with the hybrid.
At launch you can get only the 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 sending 310 horsepower to the front wheels. Transmission is a six-speed automatic.
What Is It Like To Drive? The front-drive version works pretty well on the road. When we spent a morning driving an RLX over some terrific twisting two-lanes in Northern California we had a fun time. The new Agile Handling Assist that applies subtle braking to individual wheels to guide the car through corners no doubt helped, along with the P-AWS. The electric power steering was a good mix of comfort and road feel. As is, it's not a bad sedan.
There's more room inside, particularly in the back seat, where 2 inches of extra wheelbase translates to 2 more inches of leg room. The AcuraLink infotainment system offers more connectivity, including Pandora and Aha. On premium packages there's even a personal assistant available (for a fee) at the touch of a button to make reservations for you.
Do I Want It? Not many people wanted the old RL. After peaking at 17,572 sales in 2006, the RL went off the radar, garnering only 1096 sales in 2011 and less than that last year. Acura hopes that by loading features and options on it, sales will perk up. But the features -- like direct injection, Lane-Keep Assist, electric parking brake, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow -- are nothing new, except to Acura, and should have been around on the old RL years ago.
The RLX drives nicely and is comfortable inside, but only insofar as it's the best Accord ever made. The Honda and Acura faithful should start looking at it as a way to move up while other owners may appreciate the $49,345 base price without noticing the $60,000-plus top end price. It's a nice, roomy, not-bad-handling, well-connected car. But for the same money there are so many others in the mid-luxury and luxury segments.
2014 Acura RLX
On Sale: March 15
Base Price: $49,345
Drivetrain: 3.5-liter 310-hp, 272-lb-ft V6; six-speed automatic, fwd
Curb Weight: 3933 pounds
Fuel Economy: 20 city/31 hwy/24 combined