By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
The 2017 Acura RLX is the flagship sedan from Honda's luxury division. While this model isn't as well known as rivals such as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 or Lexus GS, it hides quite a few tricks up its sleeve. Those open to driving a vehicle that flies below the radar will find a comfortable, powerful and competent luxury sedan that is flush with safety and driver-assist technologies. While the standard model with its front-drive setup won't make driving enthusiasts salivate, the hybrid RLX version just might. That top-line Acura sedan has a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system derived in part from the Acura NSX, and like that supercar features a hybrid powertrain that makes it powerful and remarkably efficient.
If you want a substantial luxury sedan that oozes calm sophistication and includes a wealth of safety and driver-assist technology, all while flying under the radar, put the 2017 Acura RLX on your consideration list.
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A year after introducing the AcuraWatch suite of features that includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitor, Acura has made the package standard on all trims for 2017.
Standard, front-wheel-drive (FWD) versions of the 2017 Acura RLX serve up a quiet and comfortable driving experience. The 310-horsepower V6 is strong, and power flows smoothly through this Acura's 6-speed...
... automatic transmission. Though relatively nimble, the standard RLX doesn't have the taut dynamics of a BMW, Audi A6 or AMG variant of the Mercedes E-Class. Hybrid RLX models, however, add a nice helping of performance both in power output -- an extra 67 horsepower -- and more significantly Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). More relevant for most will be the RLX's semi-autonomous driving features, which can follow the car ahead via radar-based cruise control and even keep it within lanes via the now-standard Lane Keeping Assist System.
Formerly an option, this suite of safety and driver-assistance functions now comes standard on the 2017 RLX. It bundles features like adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation braking, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and road-departure mitigation.
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 2017 RLX luxury sedan is a total steal.
The 2017 Acura RLX sedan's 5-passenger cabin lives up to luxury-car standards thanks to quality materials, a slick dual-screen information system and thoughtful touches such as power-operated steering-wheel adjustment. Rear-seat passengers are treated to a generous 38.8 inches of legroom. Even with that stretch-out room, trunk capacity is still roughly 15 cubic feet, ample for most duties. Hybrid models, however, have less trunk space: 11.6 cubic feet. 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.
While design is inherently subjective, our eyes perceive the RLX as a bit plain. A more optimistic adjective would be "understated." 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. Though roughly the same length as its Acura RL predecessor, the RLX is nearly two inches wider, which helps facilitate a slightly roomier interior. All models have a power roof, and aside from badging you'll have a hard time telling the hybrid RLX apart from the standard one.
The Acura RLX flagship sedan is now even better equipped thanks to the AcuraWatch suite of features mentioned in "Favorite Things" now standard across the lineup. Additionally, even a base RLX comes with leather interior, 12-way power-operated and heated front seats, moonroof, multi-view rearview camera, navigation system, tri-zone climate control and rear-seat pass-through. Audio is provided by a 14-speaker AM/FM/CD/USB system with Bluetooth wireless connectivity, HD Radio and Siri voice integration. Hybrid models add all-wheel drive, head-up display and LED fog lights.
With the Technology package now standard on the RLX, this low-volume seller offers just one main bundle: the Advance Package that includes an exceptional Krell audiophile system, sunshades for the rear window and rear side windows, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, surround-view camera, foot-well lighting, front and rear parking sensors, and auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors.
Standard RLX models are front-wheel drive and powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 310 horsepower and uses a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2017 RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD has the same gasoline V6 as the standard model, plus three electric motors. Two of those motors 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. Standard models’ fuel economy reaches 30 mpg on the highway, while hybrid variants nearly achieve that number in combined city and highway driving. Note that premium unleaded gasoline is required for both models.
310 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
272 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/30 mpg
3.5-liter V6 + 3-motor hybrid
377 horsepower (combined)
341 lb-ft of torque (combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/30 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Acura RLX sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that starts just over $55,000. That's about $3,000 over last year, but this current model includes the formerly optional Technology package. The one package for 2017, Advance, is $6,000 extra. The 2017 RLX Hybrid begins just over $61,000 and will join the 2017 lineup later than the standard model. At these prices, the RLX now starts slightly higher than base models of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Lexus GS. The caveat is that base models of those vehicles are all powered by 4-cylinder engines, and the Acura has a more robust suite of standard features. As a whole, the Acura RLX is a solid value. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their new RLX. Regarding residuals, the Acura RLX has historically suffered poor resale value.