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2015 Acura RLX

Overview
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2015 Acura RLX Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.8

Acura's flagship sedan, the 2015 RLX, is a reinvented version of the former RL that boasts premium amenities, refined driving manners and a roomy interior under a conservative yet classy skin. The Acura RLX aims to stand out from higher-profile luxury sedans such as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lexus GS, Cadillac CTS and Audi A6 with high-tech features like a lane-keeping system that can all but drive the car for you and standard all-wheel steering for better handling. A range-topping hybrid model that features three electric motors and all-wheel drive is also offered. The RLX tends to fly under the radar, but buyers willing to put it on their own can find a lot to like.

You'll Like This Car If...

The RLX's subdued styling will attract buyers of a $50,000-plus executive sedan who don't require a flavor-of-the-week automotive fashion statement. Ironically, since the RLX is so new, it can still turn heads. Drivers seeking a cutting-edge hybrid luxury sedan will find one in the new RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you want blistering performance in your luxury sedan, look to high-powered models from BMW, Audi or Mercedes. Conversely, while the Acura RLX hybrid's 32-mpg highway rating is efficient, it can't match the figures put up by diesel variants of the competition.

What's New for 2015

Just introduced last year, the RLX luxury sedan carries over largely unchanged. More recent is the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid, the range-topping version of Acura's flagship that features a gasoline engine, three electric motors and all-wheel drive. Offered as a late 2014 model, there technically isn't a 2015 Acura RLX hybrid.

Driving the RLX
Driving Impressions

Many executive cars tout an edgy, performance-oriented side that can vanquish freeway onramps and speed past slower traffic with delight. Truth is, most will serve as cushy commuters for busy...

... professionals concerned more about numbers on a spreadsheet than those reflecting 0-60-mph times. Put in this perspective, the 2015 Acura RLX performs brilliantly. For trips across the state or jaunts to the market, the RLX is quiet and solid. Its suspension quells road imperfections and its 3.5-liter V6 is strong and smooth. That's not to say the RLX can't be quick on its feet. Throw it in Sport mode and Acura's luxury sedan raises its pulse noticeably, shifting gears at a higher rpm for quicker acceleration. When using the optional Lane Keeping Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control, the RLX can practically drive itself (more on that below).

LANE-KEEPING ASSIST SYSTEM
This optional feature is further proof that we are getting closer to autonomous cars. If you drift from a lane, the RLX has the ability to steer itself back in line. More vehicles are featuring this safety technology, but it works particularly well in Acuras.

KRELL AUDIO PACKAGE
There's only one car that currently offers a Krell audio system, and it's the Acura RLX. Krell is among the crème de la crème of high-end audio, producing the kind of home gear that costs tens of thousands of dollars. Here the wondrous 14-speaker system is a relative bargain.

2015 Acura RLX Details
2015 Acura RLX photo Interior

The 2015 RLX's 5-passenger cabin easily 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 air flow, which would be easier to use with traditional buttons or switches. Hybrid RLX models substitute the gear lever for a series of buttons.

Exterior
2015 Acura RLX photo

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 luxury sedan is distinct in its indistinction. That's not to say effort wasn't spent putting some pizazz into this premium sedan. Along the sides is tasteful body sculpting, and in front the RLX features headlights that house 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 RLX is nearly two inches wider, which helps facilitate a slightly roomier interior.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Spend even the least on a base 2015 Acura RLX 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, moonroof, 18-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.

Optional Equipment

Most major options and amenities for the 2015 RLX are bundled into packages. The RLX with Navigation adds the obvious, along with the AcuraLink The Next Generation system that interfaces with mobile phones to provide vehicle tracking, concierge service and more. The Technology Package adds leather interior, blind-spot monitoring, a 14-speaker Acura/ELS audio system and high-performance tires. The Krell package brings that euphonious audiophile sound system plus power rear sunshade and manually operated rear side-door sunshades. Topping the list is the Advance package that includes adaptive cruise control, the lane-keeping feature, heated and ventilated front seats and an automatic emergency braking system.

Under the Hood

Two versions of the RLX are available, each quite different in how it puts power to the wheels. Standard 2015 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. New is the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD. A mouthful for sure, those letters stand for Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. The RLX hybrid 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.

3.5-liter V6
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

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