Acura just debuted their new 2014 RLX flagship, which will replace the RL model lineup. The RLX is the most powerful, spacious and technologically advanced Acura sedan ever and will be available in 5 levels of trim: the base RLX which will start at $48,450; the RLX Navi starting at $50,950; the Tech RLX priced at $54,450; the RLX Krell model which starts at $56,950, and the flagship RLX Advance model beginning at $60,450. An RLX Sport Hybrid is scheduled to bow in the not-too-distant future.
The all-new Acura RLX is positioned in the luxury sedan category and is based on the grand concept of “Takaburi” which translates as Exhilaration packaging and focuses on Smart Exhilarating luxury. The RLX fathers a longer wheelbase than the outgoing RL and is also wider and taller than the RL. It reaches into the high-end luxury sedan market with an array of advanced safety, driver-assistive and infotainment technologies. The performance philosophy subscribes to “Inomama” which also means “At the will of the driver.”
Power for all RLX models is provided by a transversely mounted 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 engine with Direct Injection, Earth Dreams Technology, Variable Cylinder Management and drive-by-wire throttle. The engine develops 310 horsepower at 6,500 rpm along with 272 pound feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. A 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters, Sport mode and Grade Logic Control gears provide force to the front wheels with Precision All-Wheel Steer featuring Agile Handling Assist.
Visually, the all-new Acura RLX blends a sleek overall shape, an “aero-fused” cabin silhouette and close tolerances for the wheel wells and body-panel gaps for heightened elegance and aerodynamics. The styling begins with a dynamic front-end featuring the RLX’s signature Jewel Eye LED headlights, a substantial presence that imparts a look of power and confidence while also proving highly aerodynamically efficient. This provides powerful down the road illumination and advanced pedestrian safety features. Decisive character lines begin alongside the hood sweeping over the front wheel arches then along the body sides, which feature lines that subtly rise along the lower body sides while changing the light reflections and creating a visual signature for the RLX.
The cabin is wide and aerodynamic allowing for a roomy interior and a quiet ride quality as air slips smoothly over the cabin’s flush-mounted available acoustic glass and other drag-and turbulence-reducing design details. Wheel-arches use a much smaller gap to the tire than on the RL, resulting in a poised integrated and finished look for the profile.
My test 2014 Acura RLX Advance was a production ready model that sported a metallic Black exterior finish and a Charcoal and Gray interior with polished wood trim accents. The base price was set at $60,450 which came to $61,345 after adding the Destination and Handling charge.
Acura portrays the all-new RLX as the epitome of Smart Luxury, but the term seems to lack substance and doesn’t really reflect the car’s true intended image. Essentially, it is a spirited, luxury sedan that performs well, is comfortable, and given the content of the Advance model certainly justifies the price tag. Actually, driving the RLX defines its place in the segment, though the styling could and should reflect a higher level of emotional response from onlookers. It is not unattractive, mind you, but its flagship status would benefit from a greater styling differentiation, setting it apart from its stablemates.
The press launch driving experience began in Calistoga, CA and took in several scenic and challenging back roads in Napa and Sonoma counties with some freeway driving thrown in for good measure. We ended at Sonoma Raceway where autocross comparisons were set up between luxury models from both BMW and Mercedes Benz, as well as on track exercises. In an Active Cruise Control system comparison with the Lexus GS the RLX proved superior.
The base RLX will come standard with the following:
- Precision All-Wheel Steering
- Jewel Eye LED headlights
- 18-inch noise-reducing alloy wheels
- Forward Collision Warning
- Lane Departure Warning
- Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control
- Electric parking brake
- Smart Entry with push button start
- A leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
- Heated 12-way adjustable front seats
- Power tilt and telescoping steering column
- 8-inch color audio/information screen
- 7-inch On-Demand Multi-Use Display with audible and tactile feedback
- Bluetooth HandsFreeLink
- Acura’s ELS 10-speaker audio system with XM and HD Radio
- A power tilt/slide sunroof
- Power heated side mirrors
The RLX Navi adds:
- Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition
- Next-generation AcuraLink and Color Multi-Information Display
RLX Tech adds:
- 19-inch noise-reducing alloy wheels
- Michelin 245/40 R19 M+S all-season tires
- Premium Milano leather seats
- Blind Spot Information system
- Acura’s ELS 14-speakerStudio Premium Audio System
- Acoustic glass (windshield, front and rear door windows)
- Rain sensing windshield wipers
- Power retractable side mirrors
- Smart Entry (all four doors and trunk) with Push Button start.
The RLX Krell ups the offering with:
- Krell ultra-premium 14-speaker audio system
- Expanded rear door sunshades and a power operated rear window sunshade.
The top-of-the-line RLX Advance adds:
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow
- Collision Mitigation Braking System
- Lane Keeping Assist System
- Parking sensors (2 front/4 rear)
- Ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a rear seat foot light
In the final analysis, the 2014 Acura RLX Advance delivered better than satisfactory acceleration, precise handling characteristics and a comfortable ride quality. The 3.5-liter Direct Injection V-6 delivers more power with greater efficiency than the RL’s 3.7-liter port injection that it replaces. I only piloted the Advance RLX, but the basic mechanicals are the same for all other trim levels. Certainly, one can pay less for an RLX, but you also get less in terms of feature and equipment content. Let your budget be your guide.