Considering the miserable sales failure of Acura’s top of the line RL, you have to wonder how that model, or indeed, the entire Acura brand continues to survive. The 2014 RLX is the brand’s new flagship, replacing the discontinued RL.
RLX styling is unremarkable, except for exterior lighting. There, RLX features what Acura calls Jewel Eye LED headlights. Using five small LED projector fixtures per side, the unique application not only gives the RLX a unique appearance, but offers outstanding light distribution and excellent down-the-road illumination. The RLX taillights use distinctive periphery LED illumination.
With a 2.0-inch-longer wheelbase and 1.7-inch-wider body than the outgoing RL, the cabin feels much roomier than before, The 2014 RLX interior is an all-new design that combines five–passenger comfort with perhaps the most luxury and technology ever offered in an Acura. High-end premium details like a stitched leather instrument panel cover, soft-touch materials, premium finishes and rich wood-grain accents combine to create a distinctive environment.
The new RLX attempts to move farther into the high-end luxury sedan market with an incredible array of advanced safety, driver-assistance, and information technologies.
The RLX is a midsize luxury sedan available in five trim levels: base, RLX with Navigation, RLX with Technology package, RLX with Krell Audio package, and RLX with Advance package. There are no individual options.
The base RLX has 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), heating and memory functions for the front seats, leatherette upholstery and tri-zone automatic climate control. Also standard are a rearview camera, Bluetooth, SMS text-to-speech capability for MAP-enabled phones and a 10-speaker ELS sound system with a CD player, digital music storage, a USB/iPod interface, HD radio and satellite radio.
Moving up to the RLX with Navigation adds navigation capability to the existing 8-inch screen at the top of the dash, plus access to the AcuraLink suite of smartphone apps. In addition, the climate control system uses the nav system’s GPS to adjust cabin temperature according to the angle of the sun.
The Technology package equips the car with 19-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, power-retractable mirrors, a blind spot monitoring system, noise-reducing acoustic glass, leather upholstery, wood interior accents and a 14-speaker ELS sound system. Also, the keyless system now works on all four doors, rather than just the front doors and trunk. Upgrading to the RLX with Krell Audio provides the deluxe 14-speaker Krell sound system, plus full sunshade coverage for the backseat.
Finally, there’s the RLX with Advance package, which adds adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation system with automatic braking, a lane keeping assist system, front and rear parking sensors, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.
The 2014 RLX is powered by an all-new 3.5-liter direct Injection SOHC V-6 engine matched to a sequential 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Rated at 310 horsepower and 272 lb.-ft. of torque, the V-6 develops an additional 10 horsepower and 1 lb.-ft. of torque compared to the 3.7-liter engine equipped in the RL.
In spite of the horsepower increase, the new engine has impressive EPA- fuel economy ratings of 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 24 combined. Our RLX Advance went from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds.
Most drivers won’t know (or care) about the standard Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) system on the RLX. P-AWS is an all-electric system that continuously monitors and calculates the correct amount of independent rear-wheel steering (toe angle) to enhance driving dynamics.
Up front, the RLX uses a new double-wishbone, lower double-joint front suspension to improve handling agility. In back, the RLX’s multi-link rear suspension is optimized for a flat ride during cornering. Unfortunately, all of that steering and suspension hardware does nothing for ride quality. The 19-inch wheels, low profile tires and unnecessarily stiff shock absorbers let you feel every crack and pavement imperfection. Ride quality can only be described as unacceptably harsh.
Our test car was a fully loaded, $60,450 RLX with the Advance package.