By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
As Acura’s flagship sedan, the 2016 RLX is a rolling technology showcase. From its phalanx of onboard safety features such as the Surround View camera and Road Departure Mitigation system, to the sophisticated all-wheel-drive hybrid model, Acura’s RLX remains a technological tour de force. Although not as dynamically styled as the Cadillac CTS, Infiniti Q70 or BMW 5 Series, the RLX luxury sedan for 2016 excels in the art of subtlety and style and is certainly as handsome as the Lexus GS and Lincoln MKZ. The front-drive Acura RLX makes for a very comfortable and capable luxury cruiser, but it’s the hybrid model with its torque-vectoring electric motors and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) that will appeal to the driving enthusiast.
If you prefer a sure thing to a roll of the dice, Acura’s legendary record for reliability makes spending $50,000-plus on a 2016 Acura RLX luxury sedan about as safe a bet as you can make. Performance fans will love the hybrid’s SH-AWD and its 32-mpg highway fuel economy.
If you’re seeking pure performance above all else, you’ll be happier with a high-powered competitor such as the Cadillac CTS, Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series. Those seeking maximum fuel efficiency will do better with an Audi or BMW diesel, or the Lincoln MKZ hybrid.
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Acura’s 2016 RLX luxury flagship now offers AcuraWatch (a suite of driver-assist features such as cross-traffic monitor and collision mitigation) on all trims. A Surround View monitor and Road Departure Mitigation system are new this year, and all models receive revised suspension tuning and new 19-inch alloy wheels.
The Acura RLX performance-luxury sedan straddles the line between being a comfortable daily driver during treks to work and a thrilling corner-carver when it comes to clock out. Where some...
... performance-luxury sedans replicate the feel of driving a horse and buggy over a cobblestone street, the 2016 RLX from Acura feels serene yet confident. The front-drive RLX isn’t going to be able to keep up with a BMW or Cadillac in the curves, but the SH-AWD on the hybrid model certainly can. The RLX hybrid uses the same 3.5-liter V6 engine as the base car, but adds an additional 67 horsepower for a total output of 377. A set of electric motors at the rear wheels employs torque vectoring to route power to whichever tire needs it most. Toss the RLX into Sport mode, and the performance quickens with gearshifts occurring at higher rpm.
LANE-KEEPING ASSIST SYSTEM
This available safety feature proves how the 2016 Acura RLX is getting closer and closer to being an autonomous car. If the RLX sedan drifts from its intended course, cameras sense the painted lane markers and will order the car to steer itself back into the proper lane.
KRELL AUDIO PACKAGE
Krell is well known in the world of home audio, where systems can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. As part of the Advanced Package, the amazing 14-speaker Krell audio option in Acura’s 2016 RLX luxury sedan is a total steal.
The 2016 Acura RLX sedan's 5-passenger cabin lives up to luxury-car standards thanks to quality materials, a slick dual-screen information system in the center dash and thoughtful touches such as power-operated steering-wheel adjustment. The RLX is also roomy. Rear-seat passengers are treated to a copious 38.8 inches of legroom. Even with that stretch-out room, trunk capacity is still roughly 15 cubic feet, ample for most duties. Detractors include touch-based controls of functions such as fan speed and airflow, which would be easier to use with traditional buttons or switches. Hybrid RLX models substitute the gear lever for a series of buttons.
Design is always subjective, but our eyes perceive the RLX as a bit plain. A more optimistic adjective would be "understated." However you say it, Acura's RLX luxury sedan for 2016 is distinct in its indistinctiveness. That's not to say effort wasn't spent putting some pizazz into this premium sedan. Tasteful body sculpting graces the sides, and in front are headlights that house a whopping 10 LED lighting elements that we're told improve visibility for the driver. Though roughly the same length as the RL it replaced, the RLX is nearly two inches wider, which helps facilitate a slightly roomier interior.
Spend even the least on a 2016 Acura RLX w/navigation and you'll get a standard V6 engine, 10-speaker Acura/ELS audio system with hard-drive media storage and USB input, Bluetooth streaming, tri-zone climate control, navigation, rearview camera, moonroof, 19-inch wheels and the Precision All-Wheel Steer system. You'll still have to pay extra for real leather instead of Leatherette, but the front seats are heated and feature 12-way-power adjustment. RLX hybrid models include standard all-wheel drive, a head-up display that projects information on the screen in front of the driver and 19-inch wheels.
Most major options and amenities for the 2016 RLX are bundled into packages. The Technology Package adds a leather interior, a 14-speaker Acura/ELS audio system, high-performance tires and the AcuraWatch suite of safety systems including Adaptive Cruise Control, Cross Traffic Monitor, Forward Collision Alert, Blind-Spot Information, Collision Mitigation Braking, Multi-View Rear Camera, Lane Keep Assist and Road Departure Mitigation. Topping the list is the Advance package that includes Krell audio, surround-view camera, AcuraWatch, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, bi-directional remote engine starter and power-folding side mirrors.
Two versions of the RLX are available, each quite different in how it puts power to the wheels. Standard 2016 RLX models are front-wheel drive and are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 310 horsepower and is equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (those letters stand for Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) uses the same gasoline V6 as the regular version, plus three electric motors. Two of them are used in place of a traditional driveshaft and differential to power the rear wheels, while the third motor supplements engine torque to the front wheels and uses regenerative-braking energy to feed a lithium-ion battery pack. Acura's luxury hybrid further stands out with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
310 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
272 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/31 mpg
3.5-liter V6 + 3-motor hybrid
377 horsepower (combined)
341 lb-ft of torque (combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/32 mpg
The 2016 Acura RLX performance sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that starts just under $52,000 and climbs to the low-$60,000 range when loaded. Hybrid versions of the RLX start around $61,000 and move up to the upper-$60,000 range with the Advance Package. At its starting price, the RLX is comparable to the entry prices of rivals like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Infiniti Q70 and Jaguar XF. Four-cylinder versions of the Cadillac CTS and Audi A6 begin a few thousand lower, and the Lexus GS also undercuts the starting price of the RLX. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their new RLX. Resale value is not a strong suit for Acura's flagship, with it predicted to lag leaders like the Lexus GS.