Making its world debut in Los Angeles, the 2014 Acura RLX is the most ambitious offering to date from Honda's luxury division. Intended to take on premium rivals from around the world, the striking luxury-performance sedan moves well beyond the existing RL by introducing an entirely new level of design and execution along with a host of new technologies to the Acura fold.
The RLX experience will be available in five different grades of goodness when it goes on sale early next year, and all share the same outstanding dynamic experience and elegant ambiance. According to the Jeff Conrad, the division's vice president and general manager of sales, every RLX will provide anyone behind the wheel with "a feeling of connection to the product, to the road, and to the world from the very moment they enter the vehicle."
Matching sweeping "aero-fused" exterior lines with elegant accents like new Jewel Eye LED headlamps and standard 18-inch or 19-inch alloy wheels, the RLX certainly doesn't lack for curb appeal. There's far more than just good looks here, though. The RLX body structure is 55 percent high-strength steel that greatly enhances its bending and torsional rigidity compared to the RL, while and the car's front fenders and hood as well as many internal elements are made from weight-saving aluminum -- collective changes that help reduce curb weight by 275 pounds.
Inside of its spacious passenger compartment, the RLX features loads of soft- touch surfaces set off with premium metal and wood-grain accenting. The extensive roster of standards in even the base Acura RLX includes things like a power tilt/telescoping steering column, dual central touch screens, tri-zone climate control, and a 10-speaker ELS audio system with HD radio, XM radio, a Pandora interface, USB/AUX connectivity, and Bluetooth. It also will introduce the next-gen AcuraLink Connectivity system.
The model hierarchy commences with an RLX with Navigation and RLX with Technology Package, while an RLX with Krell Audio package that brings an ultra-premium sound system and the RLX with Advance Package that adds features like a leather dash and available Milano leather seats fill out the upper end of the mix.
Standard engine in the 2014 RLX is an all-new 310-horsepower direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 with Variable Cylinder Management. Backed by a paddle-shiftable 6-speed sequential automatic transmission and capable of delivering over 90 percent of its 272 lb-ft of peak torque between 2,000-6,000 rpm, this efficiency expert should give the RLX impressive acceleration and help it deliver projected 20-mpg city/31- mpg highway numbers.
The RLX chassis is an equally impressive bit of work and introduces precision All-Wheel Steer -- the first such technology allow individual control of each rear wheel - and Agile Handling Assist dynamic braking that are integrated into the Vehicle Stability Assist system. Other advanced elements in the Acura RLX tech portfolio include Adaptive Cruise Control with low-speed follow, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning.
Late next year, the RLX lineup will be expanded with the arrival of a new gas/electric version that uses Acura's new Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD) technology. Producing 370 horsepower, this meaner, greener variation is expected to earn 30-mpg EPA ratings on both city and highway cycles.
Pricing for the 2014 Acura RLX will be announced closer to its on-sale date.