Acura has made a strong pitch at getting back on track in the luxury sedan field this year with their all-new redesigned 2014 RLX. It loses the pasted on bird-beek look with an all new style front to rear that comes off much more elegant and sophisticated than before.
Up front are some handsome new “Jewel Eye” LED headlights that I really like. They have multiple lamps that really elevates the look. A new satin finish grille is softer in appearance and looks well in keeping with the RLX’s mission as Acura’s top model.
The silhouette well proportioned and carries a fresh look. It looks a lot like a BMW 7-Series from various angles, but also not far kin from the new 2014 Honda Accord. Our Advance model had some elegant looking 19” alloy wheels which gives the car an upscale appeal.
The rear of the car continues to be fresh and offers a well planted stance. Curiously, Acura has bucked modern trends of large dual exhaust ports and actually de-emphasized the exhaust pipes. In fact, you cannot see them at all. Instead are large chrome trim elements which frame red reflectors.
The interior is all new as well with generous amounts of stitched soft trims, supple leather and two separate flat screen monitors for infotainment. The cockpit is well laid out with top notch quality in switch gear and technology.
Our RLX Advance had a full suite of techno gadgets including Navigation, active driver assistance systems, heated and cooled seats, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel and rear sun shades just to name a few.
Also part of the package is the top shelf Krell audio system which is right up there with the Harmon Kardon and Mark Levinson systems available in some of Acura’s competitors. The sound is rich, the interface easy to use once you learn it, and it just bumps down right good.
The high use of cheap plastic fake wood trim is distinctly out of place in the RLX however as virtually all of its competition has the genuine article in this price range. We also found issues with the Acura-Link data that is a paid service as part of the navigation system.
In a random test we tried searching “Yogurt” to find a yogurt shop in a well developed area of Scottsdale, AZ. The first four on our list, we followed to the destination and the shops had long closed or were non existent. It seems whatever database Acura uses is well out of date.
Rear seat passengers will however be plenty happy as the space afforded for them is vast. There is huge legroom back here for the largest of passengers, and headroom is generous as well. Best of all, there are heated seats and HVAC vents for them too.
Under the hood is an all-new “Earth Dreams” 3.5 liter direct injected V6 engine. Earth Dreams is Acura and Honda’s marketing theme for their new line of fuel-efficient and environmentally conscious engines, and if its 310 horsepower is saving the world then sign me up.
The thing lays down power with a furious growl that is much fun to listen to. The engine revs aggressively to its 6,800 rpm redline, it’s six-speed automatic transmission doing a snappy job at crisp shifts, especially when set in Sport Mode.
To go with this power, the RLX has a number of exclusive chassis features including a double wishbone front suspension that ties those front drive wheels to the ground quite well. Precision All Wheel Steer is out back to give the car a more agile feel.
Now, the Precision All Wheel Steer is not really four-wheel steering in the pure sense mind you. The system makes constant toe adjustments at the rear wheels independently of one another, with the goal of making the car feel more planted.
These are turns of minute degrees, hardly noticeable by the naked eye. And honestly I could not feel any rear steering going on at any point. This either means it works so well you don’t notice it, or it really doesn’t matter. Either way, I give the RLX’s road manners high marks. It’s a lot of fun to drive for a front-wheel drive car this large.
The suspension’s ability to give a solid luxury car feel is a bit weak however. Bumps, ruts and pot holes crash through to the cabin loud and harshly. On smoother highways the ride is however much more serene and quiet as you would expect. It was only on rougher roads where the RLX lost its quiet calm composure.
We tested the Lane Keeping Assist system, which uses a camera to read highway lines and can actually steer the car back into the lane if you begin to veer out. It actually works well and while it takes getting used to, is a neat feature.
In our time with the RLX we achieved a commendable 27 mpg average combined city and highway. Considering the RLX is rated by the EPA at 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined this is a good showing for a full size luxury sedan.