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 four 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.