By Micah Muzio
KBB Expert Rating: 7.9
The 2014 RLX is Acura's new flagship sedan (replacing the departed RL). Befitting its flagship status, the mid-size RLX is endowed with high-end interior appointments along with the latest technology, including an optional and shockingly capable lane departure prevention feature. Wrapped in restrained but distinct bodywork, the RLX is roughly the same length as the old RL but thanks to a longer wheelbase Acura's ultimate sedan boasts segment-topping rear-seat legroom. Refined ride and handling, and a roomy, classy interior propel the RLX to heights of excellence never seen in its RL forebear. Whether that excellence will help the Acura RLX take meaningful market share from the dominant BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans remains to be seen.
You'll like the Acura RLX if you prefer subdued styling over typical luxury flash. Where the RLX really shines is from the driver's seat where the sedan's skillful suspension tuning delivers a balanced blend of bump suppression and engaging handling.
Potential RLX dislikes include comparatively low-key styling and the lack of a rear-wheel-drive option. Those looking for a super high-performance model a la AMG or BMW's M division will have to find their kicks elsewhere.
KBB Expert Ratings
Compared to the departed 2013 Acura RL the 2014 RLX features...well...an X in its name. More substantive changes include a completely redesigned interior and exterior, a new all-wheel steering system, the addition of a hybrid all-wheel-drive model and a modernized 2-screen infotainment system.
Driving Impressions In the ways luxury car buyers actually use their cars, the Acura RLX performs brilliantly. For long commutes or short jaunts, the suspension deftly smooths the road's...... imperfections. At the same time, the new electric steering system enables direct control of the vehicle while also filtering vibration and harshness that might otherwise reach the driver's hands. Further enhancing the dynamic experience is a standard all-wheel steering system and firm but communicative brakes. Acceleration from the 3.5-liter V6 is strong and smooth, aided by the well-spaced gears and silky shifts from the 6-speed automatic transmission. Amid the free-flowing praise we should also point out that the RLX is really quiet, thanks to a vibration-reducing active engine mount, an active noise reducing sound system, and on the Tech models and above, noise-reducing 19-inch wheels along with acoustic glass that further minimizes wind and engine noise.
P-AWS (PRECISION ALL-WHEEL STEERING)
All-wheel steering is the Pauly Shore of automotive technology, persistent yet rarely popular. Unlike Pauly, we're big fans of the RLX's P-AWS system, which independently adjusts rear-wheel toe angles up to two degrees either direction, noticeably improving vehicle agility and stability.
Do you ever wish your braking foot could take a brake? Then say hello to Brake Hold, a new feature that automatically holds the RLX in place when stopped. When the light turns green just press the gas pedal with your well-rested right foot and you're on your way!
Somebody once said "space is the ultimate luxury." Obviously that person never owned a yacht or enjoyed a private concert from Beyonce, but those who truly relish space will appreciate the ample rear-seat legroom and usable middle seat of the RLX. That roominess extends rearward to the spacious 15.3-cubic-foot trunk. The sedan's ample quarters are adorned in uplevel materials arranged in a contemporary but not excessively stylized layout while the dash is cleanly arranged featuring intuited climate controls, a 7-inch haptic-feedback touchscreen featuring large icons, and switchgear that moves with a premium feel.Exterior
Design is always subjective but to our eyes the 2014 Acura RLX looks a little plain. That's not to say effort wasn't spent injecting style into the sedan. Along the sides, you'll find tasteful body sculpting while the RLX's face is dominated by intricate headlights, each containing a whopping 10 LED lighting elements that we're told (and believe) improve visibility for the driver. Though roughly the same length as the RL it replaced, the 2014 RLX is nearly two inches wider helping facilitate a slightly roomier interior.
Among the Acura RLX's abundant standard features are a moonroof, capless fuel filler, tri-zone climate control, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, and a 10-speaker audio system. Tech features include a 7-inch touchscreen, an 8-inch information screen, Bluetooth connectivity and keyless entry with push-button start. Adding to the safety of the RLX sedan are seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag supplemented by advanced driver aids like forward collision warning and lane departure warning.
Options for the 2014 RLX are divided into packages, each including the features of the package beneath it. First up is a voice-activated navigation system that includes AcuraLink, which bundles smartphone-like functionality, real-time news and information, a concierge service, and accident notification. Next is the Technology Package that adds leather seats, power-retractable side mirrors, acoustic glass and 19-inch noise-reducing wheels. The Krell package piles on with a Krell "ultra-premium" 14-speaker audio system and rear sunshades, while the top-tier Advance Package overflows with adaptive cruise control, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, lane-keeping assist, parking sensors, and other niceties.
An all-wheel-drive hybrid Acura RLX will be introduced in due time, but for now the only powertrain choice is a 3.5-liter V6 spinning the front wheels. The sole transmission choice is a 6-speed automatic featuring steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual control. Pushing the RLX's "sport mode" button inspires the sedan to sportier shift behavior, throttle sensitivity, steering response, and operation of the P-AWS system for an enhanced sense of driver control. To help maximizing engine efficiency the V6 features direct injection along with the ability to run in fuel-saving 3-cylinder mode at low engine loads, supported by an active engine mount that reduces vibration when it does.
310 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
272 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/31 mpg
The base 2014 Acura RLX has a starting price of $49,345 including destination, rising to $61,345 for the very well-equipped RLX Advanced Package. With the exception of the similarly priced Lexus GS, the 2014 RLX sedan handily undercuts competitors including the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class when comparing models that match the RLX's horsepower. However, one of the RLX's biggest competitors comes from within Acura's gates. For about $44,000, you could also buy a fully loaded Acura TL with nearly identical interior space, a slight 5-horsepower deficit, and Acura's super-handling all-wheel drive. Something to think about. And while you're thinking be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price for the most up-to-date pricing of the Acura RLX in your area. As for resale values, Acuras tend to hold their value well over the long haul, a trend we expect to carry on with the RLX.