2014 Acura RLX
Date Posted: June 6, 2013
By Zack Spencer
Acura has an all-new flagship sedan, packed with technology.
I'm always amazed by the choices car manufactures make when it comes to naming their products. In the case of Acura, they used to have great names like Legend and Integra, which they abandoned about ten years ago in favour of letters. The Legend became the RL. I'm not sure about you but I'd much rather drive a Legend than an RL--very regal sounding. Then there is the choice of letters. Acura uses X on their SUV's, like the RDX and bigger MDX. X makes sense as these vehicles have AWD capability, kind of playing off the 4X4 image, even though they are not true 4X4 vehicles. So the introduction of the all-new RLX would bring to mind a flagship luxury sedan with AWD. No. The RLX is a front wheel drive sedan and the X must now stand for all wheel steering. Don't worry I'm confused too, because the last model RL actually had AWD and it didn't have an X in the name. Acura, stick with something, anything.
To clarify, this is an all-new top of the line sedan from Acura running of an all-new platform and with an all-new name. The RLX. Now if you can't remember what the old RL looked like don't beat yourself up, it was a forgettable car, so much so that they didn't sell many. Acura hopes to change that with this more modern and larger sedan. The wheelbase has been lengthened and the overhangs tidied up to produce a more interesting looking car. The most dramatic feature is the new headlight cluster, which features two rows of high and low bean LED lights. This is typically something found on very high-end cars like the Porsche Panamera Turbo. Acura has embraced the large shield-like grille, they have no plans on changing it, but to their credit they have toned down the polarizing design a bit. The rest of the car is rather handsome but a tad conservative, much like the people who will be attracted to this car.
With a starting price of $49,990 this RLX competes very well with many other luxury sedans but is more expensive than the Lexus ES, which I feel will be the main competition for this product. Acura sees it differently, they hope to lure buyers looking at BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E Class and other rear or all wheel drive vehicles. The Lexus ES is the rear competitor and on interior dimensions it is also the closest. The Lexus has more rear legroom but the RLX provides more shoulder room. Regardless, this is a big car, with plenty of room for all passengers. The front seats are comfortable and beautifully covered in leather. The dash and centre console also has leather, plus the lower door panels feature soft touch materials, something very few companies pay attention too. The centre console has two screens; one for the navigation and backup camera, the second is the radio and information screen. Both look large and the buttons are also large for many of the baby boomers that will be interacting with the console.
The X in RLX must stand for their new all wheel steering system, capable of turning each of the rear wheels independently of each other. The real name is P-AWS or Precision All-Wheel Steer. This means that the rear wheels are able to move up to 1.8% in or out. This sounds like a very small amount but in practice the feeling is very sure footed. In some instances the rear wheels will turn opposite to the front wheels for maneuvering, like parking. The rear wheels will also move in the same direction as the front wheels when changing lanes at high speeds. The third and most advanced part of this system is the ability of the rear wheels to toe-in when the car is braking. This provides more stability and shortens braking distances. Other advancements include a church quiet cabin thanks to noise canceling technology, like a set of Bose headphones. The all-new 3.5L direct injection engine is superb. Smooth and powerful, with a lot of torque, this 320hp unit has the ability to shut off three cylinders when cruising for optimal fuel consumption.
The RLX is an interesting car from Acura. They have to be applauded for improvements over the lacklustre styling of the old RL. The interior is fantastic and now features an optional KRELL ultra high-end audio system. The new RLX is bigger but lighter than the older car, thanks to the use of many aluminum parts, including body panels. The 3.5L V6 is up for the task and the all wheel steering system is bold. I'm not sure if buyers were asking for all wheel steering but Acura claims it will make this new RLX a must drive for driving enthusiasts. I believe that omitting the AWD system found in the last car, and going to front wheel drive system, really limits the buyer pool. With Audi, BMW, Mercedes and others going with a full-line of AWD vehicles, this is a misstep. The RLX is more expensive than the Lexus ES but I truly believe that it is the vehicle most likely to be cross-shopped. On that front the RLX leaves the ES in the dust.
The Good, The Bad
A beautiful interior that is quiet and refined. Excellent fuel economy.
The lack of AWD will limit the appeal of this new RLX.
Power: 3.5L V6 with 310hp
Fill-up: 10.5L/6.4L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $49,990-$62,190