New 2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Sedan
Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Sedan
The 2019 Acura RLX isn’t among the usual premium-midsize-sedan choices, but it could be an engineer’s dream car.
2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Pricing
For Sale Near 20146
2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid KBB Expert Review
The 2019 Acura RLX swims in the same luxury-midsize-sedan waters as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Lexus GS. But it’s a little larger and counts as the flagship model from Honda’s upscale marque. It started life at a disadvantage because it wasn’t interesting enough compared with the Germans, not in the design department or from the driver’s seat. Last year’s update shifted the momentum. It might still be tricky to discern Acura’s target audience for this car, but the Sport Hybrid variant is particularly intriguing. Its powertrain and driving abilities would appeal to someone who likes to nerd out on cutting-edge engineering. Audiophiles may also apply, since the RLX Sport Hybrid has an ear-tingling/caressing Krell system.
You'll Like This Car If...
Substance means more than status. The top-level 2019 RLX comes with an exceptionally well-engineered drivetrain, delivering impressive performance and fuel efficiency. Both models also provide high levels of equipment for relatively reasonable pricing.
You May Not Like This Car If...
It’s important to have choices. Where the RLX misses the mark is offering only two trim levels. Nor does it come with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration (which is fast becoming standard everywhere else). Yet Honda can put it in the Fit subcompact hatchback. And despite exemplary reliability, resale values are disappointing.
What's New for 2019
The 2019 Acura RLX range comes into this new model year in exactly the same state as it left the previous one.
The range-topping 2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid has what the company calls “super handling all-wheel drive” or SH-AWD. For once, this is not mere marketing. The handling really is super. Power comes in strong even at low engine speeds, thanks to the three electric motors, and apportioned to whatever wheels have the most traction. This allows the driver to take corners at sports-car speeds and not have the front tires gradually lose grip while squealing in complaint. The RLX Sport Hybrid goes where it’s pointed and feels like it would take an earthquake to shake it off line. Our only reservation is how important this commendable trait might be to the average buyer of a luxury sedan. Perhaps that’s the point, that the RLX Sport Hybrid isn’t average but comes with a distinct appeal. Luckily, the ride quality can also be supple. And all-wheel steering endows the lower-powered RLX with impressive agility.
PUTTING THE SPORT IN HYBRID
Think of a hybrid and some slow-moving vehicle is probably the first image. The RLX Sport Hybrid isn’t that car. Its drivetrain (including an electric motor at each rear wheel) synchronizing in the service of exceptional traction and fuel efficiency is a prime example of engineering brilliance.
14-SPEAKER KRELL AUDIO SYSTEM
Krell is one of those high-level audio brands that makes super-expensive home systems. The RLX Sport Hybrid is the only vehicle with a Krell setup. It makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the Vienna Philharmonic’s string section, only you’re holding a steering wheel instead of a violin.
Occupants in the new Acura RLX enjoy a roomy cabin. Technically, accommodation is for five, but that includes the smaller middle seat in the back. Rear legroom of 38.8 inches is expansive, while the front seats are comfortable and supportive enough for many hours of driving. Materials and build quality are equally superb, and although the dual-screen infotainment system is easy to use, it’s becoming dated. No smartphone integration in a 2019 luxury sedan is an oversight. The regular model’s trunk space is 14.9 cubic feet -- not bad, but some rivals (like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class) do better. The RLX Sport Hybrid’s lithium-ion battery pack reduces that to 12 cubic feet, which also makes a pass-through unworkable.
Acura has embraced a fresh design language in vehicles like the RLX, and its RDX and MDX crossover SUVs. Subjectively speaking, it’s an improvement. The new RLX is too good to be saddled with anonymous looks. When we get out the tape measure, we find the car is, at 198 inches, longer than rivals like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. This puts it somewhere between the accepted classification of a midsize sedan and a full-size counterpart, meaning more space for the money.
Notable Standard Equipment
The entry point into 2019 RLX ownership is the regular version with front-wheel drive, 310-horsepower V6 and Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) setup. Its standard equipment includes leather upholstery, heated 12-way power-adjustable front seats, LED headlights, GPS-linked tri-zone climate control, moonroof, navigation with real-time traffic updates, 14-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, USB port, and HD radio. The AcuraWatch array of driver aids is also standard, including forward-collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, Traffic Jam Assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning/lane-keeping assistance, and a multi-view camera system.
Notable Optional Equipment
For more power, more driven wheels and more features, the 2019 RLX Sport Hybrid is the way to go. As well as the aforementioned Krell audio system, there are ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, heated steering wheel, head-up display, LED fog lights, parking sensors at both ends, 360-degree camera system, upgraded climate control with an air quality sensor, power rear sunshade, remote start, windshield de-icer, and self-dimming side mirrors. Actual extras are limited to things like a trunk lid spoiler, different design of 19-inch alloy wheels, and RLX logo-projecting puddle lights.
Under the Hood
A refined 3.5-liter V6 propels the regular 2019 RLX with 310 horsepower. This drives the front wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission using steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. For undemanding luxury transport from home to office, gym and the in-laws, it’s fine. The RLX Sport Hybrid is far more remarkable. Up front are a 3.5-liter V6 and an electric motor, joined by two further electric motors, one driving each rear wheel. The transmission is a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual (think of it as an automatic), also with shift paddles. The whole system develops 377 horsepower with a healthy push available at low and not-so-low speeds. The regenerative braking also simulates torque vectoring (where the outside wheels take a corner faster than the inside wheels). To the driver, it all feels seamless.
310 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
272 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg
3.5-liter V6 + 3-motor hybrid (RLX Sport Hybrid)
377 horsepower (combined)
341 lb-ft of torque (combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/29 mpg
Add a destination charge of $995 to the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and the 2019 Acura RLX starts at $55,895. The 2019 RLX Sport Hybrid is priced from $62,895. In comparison, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz E300 starts at $54,495, the BMW 5 Series about $100 less than that. But, and it’s a major point, those cars have 4-cylinder engines and not the same level of standard equipment. The 316-horsepower Volvo S90 T6 starts at $55,445, while the V6-powered Lexus GS 350 ($52,190) gives the RLX more direct competition with 311 horsepower and better resale values. The Sport Hybrid shakes out as an interesting equipment/power/tech proposition for the money. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new RLX. Resale values are expected to be below average for this class.
OK, so what's next?
I'm interested in the newest version of this car. What's for sale near me?
I'm interested in this car, and I'd like to trade in my current car while I'm at it.
Then again, maybe I should be thinking about a used car.
Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Consumer Reviews
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2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Photos and Videos
2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Specs
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How does it compare?
|#1||2019 INFINITI Q70||420|
|#2||2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid||377|
|#3||2019 Kia K900||365|
|#4||2019 BMW 5 Series||335|
|#5||2019 Lincoln Continental||335|
|#1||2019 Tesla Model 3||116|
|#2||2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid||28|
|#3||2019 Audi A6||25|
|#4||2019 BMW 5 Series||24|
|#5||2019 Kia K900||21|
|#1||2019 Lincoln Continental||5 / 5|
|#2||2019 Tesla Model 3||4.7 / 5|
|#3||2019 INFINITI Q70||4.5 / 5|