2014 Acura RLX
Base price: $50,000 (estimated)
MPG: 20 city/31 highway
- Luxurious interior
- Roomy cabin
- Loaded with high-tech features
- Bland exterior styling
By Jim Prueter
Since its creation in the early 1990s, Acura’s luxury flagship model, the RL, has never equaled the status of competitors from BMW, Audi, or Lexus.
That’s not to say the RL isn’t an excellent sedan with ample sophistication and comfort — it’s that and more, especially with the recent introduction of the completely restyled 2014 RLX.
While the previous RL wasn’t the most memorable car ever built, it did have excellent handling, thanks to its super-handling all-wheel drive system (SH-AWD), a full-time, fully automatic handling system. Though the new RLX comes equipped with standard front-wheel drive instead, it has precision all-wheel steering (P-AWS), which continuously and automatically alters the toe-angle of the rear wheels to improve both agility and maneuverability. And it works flawlessly.
The SH all-wheel drive will be available once again on the RLX Sport Hybrid model, coming later this year.
The RLX is powered by just a single engine option: a version of Honda’s 3.5-liter V-6, fitted with cylinder deactivation technology, and good for 310 horsepower. There is a significant improvement over the previous RL’s fuel economy numbers, and it uses a six-speed automatic transmission.
Outside, the styling remains a bit understated. New LED headlamps, that Acura calls “jewel eye,” feature 20 individual LED lights. There’s also the signature Acura grille that, honestly, isn’t getting any better with age.
Inside, the RLX is a genuine luxury experience, but nothing over the top. The dash is nicely covered in hand-stitched leather, real wood veneers, and metal trim. Acura has also included two LCD screens, one 8-inch, the other 7-inch, for vehicle operating functions.
There’s a lot to like about the new RLX and it has good value. But we think it will struggle to pull customers away from BMW, Audi, and other luxury brands.