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Discussion Starter #201
TopSpeed


Following the 2013 model year, Acura axed its aging flagship, the RL , and introduced a new sedan for the 2014 model year. The 2014 RLX — yeah, we know it’s not the most creative of names — is Acura’s answer to the 5 Series and A6, but can the Japanese luxury-car builder really compete with the best of the best? With Honda’s venerable 3.5-liter V-6 boosted to 310 horsepower under the hood, the new sedan is poised to make a valiant effort at least.

I recently got the chance to get behind the wheel of the new RLX sedan, and I had some mixed feelings about it. It certainly didn’t lack in features, as it came with leather everything, touchscreen, Krell audio system with 14 speakers, tri-zone climate control, and much more, but something just wasn’t quite "luxurious" about it. As a 1st impression, it wasn’t promising.

After a full week behind the wheel of the newest member of the Acura family, did the RLX change my feelings about it?


Exterior

Sure, there are some key things that separate the RLX from the Accord like the LED lighting all around, the Jewel Eye LED headlights and the hit-or-miss "shield" grille, but it wasn't quite enough to make me feel like it was worth the extra scratch on the sticker price.

Oh Acura, when will you learn that we are not fooled by changing badges, stretching wheelbases and adding equipment? The RLX is yet another Acura-Honda Honda badge-swapping job, as Acura seemingly took the Accord Touring sedan, stretched its wheelbase by 2.9 inches and called it a "Luxury" car. Sure, there are some key things that separate the RLX from the Accord like the LED lighting all around, the Jewel Eye LED headlights and the hit-or-miss "shield" grille, but it wasn’t quite enough to make me feel like it was worth the extra scratch on the sticker price.


I do happen to like the look of the Accord, however, so I cannot say that I took issue with the look of the RLX. The tester I had was white, so some of the body lines are hidden. That said, I do like the body line that starts at the front fender, angles downward on the front door and sweeps down the length of the vehicle.

Around back, the LED taillights stand out nicely at night, but are a little overbearing in the daytime. The rear bumper is also fairly boring, save for the chrome-outlined reflectors on the lower, outside edges. Up front, the Jewel Eye headlights, are pretty awkward-looking in the daytime but they looked great at night. I also still dislike the massive beak-like grille that stands out like a sore thumb.

The glasshouse is identical to that of the Accord, giving the RLX almost the exact same silhouette as the Accord.


Adding to the fairly substantial list of standard equipment, my test model came with rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, and the loudest power-folding mirrors I’ve ever heard.

2014 Acura RLX - Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase 112.2 In (2850 MM)
Length 196.1 In (4982 MM)
Height 57.7 In (1465 MM)
Width 74.4 In (1890 MM) }
Front Track 64.3 In (1632 MM)
Rear Track 64.2 In (1630 MM)
Ground Clearance (unladen) 4.5 In (115 MM)​


Interior

By far my favorite feature of the RLX is the Krell, 14-speaker audio system that sounds absolutely awesome.

Fortunately, the inside of the RLX is not a warmed over version of the Accord. The steering wheel feels nice in my hands and has all of the controls I needed without being overbearing. Everything else — except the navigation system screen — seems well placed. The audio system touchscreen is sensitive and the vibrating feedback is a nice touch. A really cool addition up front was the push-button-open feature for the glove box, which gave the instrument panel a cleaner look.


The leather seats are soft, supple and perforated, helping to keep my backside cool. To help with the derriere temperature control, the front buckets are fitted standard with seat ventilation. For those of you in cooler climates, Acura has added heaters in all 4 seats at no charge.

By far my favorite feature of the RLX is the Krell, 14-speaker audio system that sounds absolutely awesome. Sure, I have had louder systems and those with better bass, but this system has the perfect balance.


Now onto the bad stuff... The navigation system is a huge sore spot. First of all, the screen is not angled toward the driver, making me have to kind of stretch my neck to get a clear look at it. Also, the human-navigation system interface is a joke. The voice control is among the worst I have ever sampled and the hands-on interface is slow to respond and clunky. Worst of all, I understand that Acura does not want driver’s operating the system while the car is moving, but it needs to add in a passenger-override feature to allow the passenger to control the navigation while the car is in motion. There is nothing more annoying than fighting that terrible voice-recognition system, than having to pull over to manually enter my new destination. Expletives were uttered, and I may have called Acura’s engineers idiots on a few occasions...

2014 Acura RLX - Interior Specifications
EPA Cargo Volume (SAE) 14.7 Cu Ft
Headroom (Front/Rear) 37.6 In (954 MM) / 36.9 In (937 MM)
Legroom (Front/Rear) 42.3 In (1074 MM) / 38.8 In (985 MM)
Hiproom (Front/Rear) 55.9 In (1419 MM) / 54.5 In (1385 MM)
Shoulder Room (Front/Rear) 59.6 In (1514 MM) / 57.0 In (1449 MM)​

Drivetrain

Under the 2014 RLX's hood is the same engine as the 2014 Accord, but Acura manages to push its output to 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque.

Under the 2014 RLX’s hood is the same engine as the 2014 Accord, but Acura manages to push its output to 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. This is an increase of 32 horsepower and 20 pound-feet over the 2014 Accord that I tested earlier this year. Mated to this engine is Acura’s 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift, which gave me a set of paddle shifters to slam through the gears with.


Also included is a "Sport" mode button, which adjust the shift points and allows for more aggressive engine braking. While I appreciate the option, this mode leaves a lot to be desired.

Fuel economy is pretty decent for the bulky V-6, as it is rated 20 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. Those numbers could be considered decent, but in this game Acura should be striving for more than mediocrity.

2014 Acura RLX - Drivetrain Specifications
Engine Type Aluminum-alloy direct injection V-6
Displacement 3.5 liters
Valvetrain 24-valve, SOHC i-VTEC
Horsepower (HP @ RPM) 310 @ 6,500
Torque (LB-FT @ RPM) 272 @ 4,500
EPA Fuel Economy Ratings (City / Highway / Combined) 20 / 31 / 24​

Driving Impressions

There were OMFG moments, when the ACC would malfunction because the car in front of me turned, leaving me to jam on the gas pedal to get the car moving again.

Driving the Acura RLX is really a mixed bag of nuts. It performs adequately for a near-4,000-pound sedan, but it is grossly underwhelming for its class and price point. Its 0-to-60 mph time is in the low-6-second range and the ride is okay, but at over $60,000, there needs to be a lot of luxury to overcome the sub-par performance. Unfortunately, the RLX does not offer the amount of luxury needed to overcome that.


Inside the cabin, things are pretty hush-hush on smooth asphalt, but hit a little roughness and things get loud quickly. As for harshness, the RLX’s low-profile tires and 19-inch wheels make for a rougher ride, but they do enhance its tossability in the corners. Make no mistake, though; it is no BMW or Audi.

We took a long trip to the beach, so I got a good feel for the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist, and they worked well for the most part. There were OMFG moments, when the ACC would malfunction because the car in front of me turned, leaving me to jam on the gas pedal to get the car moving again. In total, cruising the interstate is made much easier by this system.

Overall, this felt more like a high-$40,000 car than a low-$60k car, but some of the features that came standard on my tester would drive the 5 Series into the $60k range.


Pricing

The RLX that Acura delivered to me calls for a hefty sum. $60,450. With delivery and all of that jazz, the RLX comes in at $61,435.

Competition

Audi A6
The Audi A6 makes things pretty tough on potential RLX buyers. Sure, it is a little smaller than the RLX and the cabin is a tad more cramped, but you’re getting a "4 Rings" emblem and a whole lot more car for the money. The 2014 A6 2.0 TfSI — base model — retails at $43,995, but that’s not quite a competitor for this fully loaded RLX.

The Best competitor is the 3.0 TFSI Prestige model, which comes in at $55,995 and features a supercharged V-6 that pumps out 310 horses and 325 pound-feet of twist. The power routes through an 8 speed — 2 more gears than the Acura — transmission that then shoots power to all 4 wheels through quattro AWD.

This gets you to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds and up to 130 mph. The A6 3.0 TFSI engine is a little rougher on fuel, getting just 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.

Lexus GS 350

Fellow Japanese automaker, Lexus, chimes in with a luxury car all its own that is more suited to match wits with the RLX. This is the GS 350 Sedan, and it starts out at a cool $47k. This nets you a 3.5-liter V-6 that pumps out 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. This power routes through an 8-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission that delivers power to the rear wheels.

Though it is less powerful than the Acura, it is significantly quicker to 60 mph, completing the task in just 5.7 seconds. It also tops out at 144 mph, clipping both the Audi and the Acura.

In terms of fuel economy, the GS 350 splits the difference at 19 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined.

With the F Sport Package and a few other goodies to bring it up to the level of my fully loaded tester, the GS 350 checks in at $57,563 with destination fee included.


Conclusion

I had a lot of not-so-great things to say about the 2014 RLX, but don’t dismiss it as a loser straight away. It is good for those who want a slightly larger midsize luxury car and for those who want all the bells and whistles in place of pure driving dynamics. Its price is sky-high, but the value is there in terms of features.

It does have a few serious glitches in the navigation software and the voice recognition system, but the rest of the features, including the standard rear and side shades are great additions.

LOVE IT
Tons of features to keep you busy
Huge navi screen
Great audio system
Peppy for its size
Legroom galore

LEAVE IT
Average fuel economy for its class
Very, very expensive
Navigation interface is finicky
Too much NVH for the price range
Can get a 5 Series or Audi A6 well-equipped for less money​

 

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Discussion Starter #202
TechHive


I was heading to Fargo to get stuck in traffic. (Yes, there is traffic in Fargo.) I was driving a tastefully maroon-hued Acura RLX Advance, which offers something called Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low Speed Follow. It sounds clunky, but it’s actually quite useful.

You press a button on the steering wheel that looks like a car running over speed bumps. Magically, the RLX maintains your current speed. If some guy in a Ford pickup wearing overalls and eating cheese curds by the handful suddenly pulls in front of you, the RLX will give him the ultimate “no problemo” signature move: It adjusts your speed automatically and maintains a safe, cheese-curd-friendly distance, all the way down to a full stop if necessary.


The button to activate adaptive cruise control is on the steering wheel.

I arrived a little after 5:00 p.m. in Fargo—right about the time the Wal-Mart day shift ends. I merged into traffic and punched the ACC button at around 60 mph. I’d already shown how the RLX can keep you centered in your lane for short spurts. With both ACC and lane-keeping activated, it’s like driving a maroon robot on 4 wheels without using your hands or feet. Cool.

The ACC worked fine, for the most part. Traffic jams are a little unpredictable. Modern cars are not ready to understand the difference between a canoe that’s sticking off the back of a Subaru and one that’s rolling down the highway in front of you. If Billy Bob swerves into your lane, it’s disconcerting to have the RLX brake suddenly on its own. You have to restrain your own instinct to brake. It reminds me a bit of Apple’s Siri: It’s amusing to dictate a text message to her, but it’s much easier to do it yourself.


You set the warning distance for Adaptive Cruise Control from the center display.

I might have been less disconcerted if I’d felt better informed about what’s happening—especially in the case of full stops. When you enable normal cruise control, you see an icon of a car in the instrument cluster. When adaptive cruise starts working, the car icon flashes white, and you’ll see tiny red taillight icons. The RLX Advance also beeps at you once to indicate when ACC is working, and again when it’s disabled.

For Low Speed Follow, I wanted more visual aids than that. Maybe a head-up display that shows lights coming closer and closer together. Maybe the beeps get louder. Or maybe I just need to get used to the feature.


Most of the visual cues for adaptive cruise control show in the center of the instrument cluster, and there are also audio cues.

Eventually, the traffic loosened. I never hit the brakes on my own. All I did was press the ACC resume button when the RLX Advance came to a complete stop. In consistent traffic slowdowns, the feature is flawless. In other cases, you may have to take over. For the most part, you’ll probably hover your foot over the brakes no matter what’s happening.

Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow is available only on the RLX Advance, which costs $60,450. That’s exactly $12,000 more than the base Acura RLX. My entire family could go on a Caribbean cruise for $12,000. I could buy a used Nissan Versa and have money left over for an annual tanning club membership. And I’m not even into tanning!

Of course, with the RLX Advance, you gain much more than traffic jam assistance. There’s a collision warning system, lane-keeping, a power rear sunshade, a full-time paid masseuse (not really, but the seats are extremely comfortable) and tons of extras. And, what’s the real cost of accident avoidance, anyway? I never even came close to hitting Billy Bob’s truck.

Several less expensive (and smaller) luxury cars offer low-speed adaptive cruise control such as the Mercedes-Benz CLA ($32,400 with the extra tech package) and the new 2015 Audi A3 ($38,350 at Prestige trim level that includes stop-and-go adaptive cruise). However, for similar full-sized sedans like the 2014 Audi A7 ($67,400), the Acura RLX’s pricing is competitive.

For those of us who just need to drive to Wal-Mart, the Acura RLX Advance’s Low Speed Follow is overkill. For peace of mind in a life filled with heavy commute traffic, however, it’s certainly helpful. As a proof-of-concept for future autonomous driving, it’s essential.

 

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Discussion Starter #203
CarGuide


2012 was a big year for Acura. With a tendency to go overboard, Honda’s luxury brand launched 2 concept cars, the NSX and the RLX (at the Detroit Motor Show in January and the New York Auto Show in April, respectively). While the NSX knocked everyone’s socks off with its exquisite design, the RLX blew people away with its ugliness. At least it was just a concept, so there were chances that the production model would be a little more dynamic. But as you might have guessed, that is not what happened.

Contrary to the general trend of assigning an X to the name of vehicles with all-wheel drive, the Acura RL had all-wheel drive while its replacement, the RLX, only has front-wheel drive for the time being. A hybrid AWD version is on its way, but this article focuses on the vehicle we tested a few weeks back: an RLX Elite with front-wheel drive.

While the RLX’s engineers didn’t go wild designing it, it is nonetheless a vehicle with presence, even if only for its “jewel eyes” which definitely stand out from everything else is on the market. Some love them, others don’t.

2 screens and dozens of buttons
The interior, which is fully soundproofed, is distinctly more inspired than the vehicle’s body. The presentation is serious, the materials are carefully chosen and assembled by people with OCD. The dashboard is user-friendly and while not so long ago Acura kept 850 button factories in business, they must all be going bankrupt now, as most functions are now controlled via a 7-inch touch screen. Up higher, there’s an 8-inch screen that displays the GPS and other systems. That said, it’s not all perfect. I found the Krell sound system sub-par for Acura’s largest sedan. It might have helped if I could figure out how to balance the sound. But whatever you do, don’t tell me that it should be a cinch to figure out. In a car, you want everything to be a cinch so that you can keep your eyes on the road and comfortably enjoy your car the rest of the time. And while I’m ranting, I’ll also mention that I didn’t appreciate having to remove my gloves every time I wanted to enter the car. Normally, you just have to touch the exterior handle for the door to unlock, but with my gloves, it didn’t work.

The front seats are deliciously cushy. They offer great support for your entire body, which means the only thing enticing you to stop is going to be your bladder or your stomach. The rear seats are very inviting, too, except maybe for taller folks who will find that headroom is barely sufficient. The trunk is generous in its dimensions and is just as nicely crafted as the passenger compartment. I was almost tempted to crawl in and sleep there overnight. As always, Acura has paid the utmost attention to detail. The rear seatback doesn’t fold down to extend the cargo hold, however. There is only a ski flap.

What an engine!
When the RLX gets going, it exudes happiness thanks to its 3.5-litre V6; the same 1 that purrs within several Acura products. Tremendously powerful and as flexible as a 14-year old Nadia Comaneci, this engine delivers outstanding performance. It pumps out 310 horses at 6,500 rpm and 272 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500, which is more than enough to create torque effect when you accelerate and swerve from side to side. Including all-wheel drive should rectify this unpleasant situation. The variable cylinder management deactivates 3 cylinders when they are not needed. The 6-speed automatic transmission is more discreet than in the past.

Add all these elements together and you get very low fuel consumption. Despite the wickedly cold temperatures when we tested it, I got an average of 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres. In summer, it could easily drop to 9 or 9.5 litres. Not bad for a car with 310 horsepower and weighing more than 1,800 kilograms—and that was occasionally pushed beyond the limits of reason!

Light on its feet
When you drive the RLX, you would never guess that it weighed 1,800 kilograms. This is in large part thanks to its power, but other factors include the super-solid chassis and the perfectly calibrated suspension that balances comfort with excellent road handling. Also helpful is the Precision All-Wheel Steer system that allows the rear wheels to turn in the direction of the front wheels.

I didn’t really see the point of this system when driving on ice, especially since this involved keeping speed down. However, when avoiding an obstruction on super cold but dry asphalt, I came to see the benefits. I almost got the sense that the rear section knew exactly where to go, as though a divine hand guided it on the right trajectory. I don’t know whether this system actually enhances road hold at high speeds, but 1 thing is for sure: it helps with safety. What is more, it contributes to a shorter turning radius.

Despite all this, driving an RLX is not particularly thrilling, mostly due to the steering, which tends to be too soft in the middle and offers poor feedback. The extremely quiet interior is also to blame. The transmission works beautifully for everyday driving but definitely doesn’t enjoy being jostled. Even in manual mode, it prefers to switch gears at its own volition. So, forget about inspired shifting.

The Acura RLX is nonetheless a heckuva car. If you want to drive a prestige vehicle without attracting too much attention, the RLX is a great choice. It should also be added to your list if you’re looking for a reliable ride, as many of its competitors (including the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and Cadillac CTS) have yet to master this aspect.
 

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Discussion Starter #204
CommDigiNews


SEATTLE – June 30, 2014 – It’s been very easy to appreciate Acura over the years as it’s always done a great job of introducing useful gadgets into its cars in such a way that’s still intuitive. This is the case with its RLX sedan. A 4 door car that’s competing with the Lexus GS 350, BMW 528i, Mercedes E350 and Infiniti Q-series, the RLX has a great deal going for it. Outside of the “Honda reliability” factor, the RLX has a formidable engine, great handling and all the appropriate tech one would expect in a sedan like this.


While the RLX does start out at around the $48k mark, you can easily climb up to $60k, fully-loaded with all of the options with the “Advance package.” Its baseline engine is a 310-hp/272 lb-ft. of torque 3.5-liter V6, if you add the Hybrid option on the Technology or advance package and that climbs to 377-hp. The hybrid model also adds rear wheel steering as well.


The RLX engine brings a rather spirited driving experience to this vehicle and never feels as if it’s lacking in the performance department. There’s ample passing-power, going on a mountain pass and yet doesn’t “feel heavy” in the front-end of the car. Engine sound is on-point in that it has a very nice somewhat-muted growl with enough to let you know it’s doing something without being too loud in the least.


Its standard 6-speed automatic transmission does have a sport mode with the press of a button and that also helps the car feel nicely liberated and spirited as well. Sport mode holds the lower gears longer and also makes the accelerator pedal more responsive as well.


Our advance packaged model included the Krell audio system which is far and away the best-sounding I’ve hear in any premium-level sedan so far. It blows away the likes of “no highs, now lows it must be Bose” and even the Bang & Olufsen in the Audis. The on-board navigation is simple to use thanks to the center-mounted control knob and its Bluetooth quality for both the driver and listener is very good.


It uses a combination of the control knob and touch to get the job done which gives the driver some really good flexibility. Additionally, the voice commands work very well and as a nice touch, you can have the system display texts from your phone. All and all, Acura is doing a great job of helping drivers avoid eye contact with their cell phones.


Other goodies on this car were adaptive cruise control, heated front seats, multiple climate zones and touch-sensitive panels. Its panel is very responsive and doesn’t seem to lag at all when navigating through the various option screens.


The RLX has a standard back-up camera, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and a forward collision warning system. In addition, there are plenty of air-bags inside that basically wrap the occupants in a cocoon of safety in the event of an accident. Lastly, there’s also the CMBS system which will have the car keep itself within the lane markers for about 10-seconds at a time. After that time, it’ll flash up a “steering required” warning. While it’s a nifty piece of technology, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to somewhat encourage drivers to take their hands off the wheel.


The ride quality of the RLX is well stated and has a very nice compromise of bump dampening and firmness. You can take-on corners with a sense of stability and control while riding in a car that makes you feel a good sense of technical comfort. Steering feel is good as well and even though the car has a 61/39 percent weight distribution, the RLX has a very nice feel to the steering and is an overall rewarding driving experience.


Overall, Acura has done a great job of delivering a quality vehicle that delivers up a rather sublime experience of sportiness and comfort in an attractive package that’s very price competitive. If you’re at all in the market for a higher-end performance-based luxury sedan, then the RXL is certainly worth checking out.
 

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Discussion Starter #205
AutoGo

2014 Acura RLX Elite:
Anonymously Good

There's something very appealing about this luxo-sedan. However, its beauty is more than skin deep.

Let's face it; Acura is out to attract premium-brand buyers who don't feel the need to flash their cash (or credit) around in order to boost their self-confidence, and there definitely is a good business case here.

No car in Acura's current line-up represents that strategy better than the 2014 Acura RLX. Actually, even the 2 generations of the Acura RL that preceded it were pretty low-key, but were nevertheless spacious, comfortable, sophisticated and reliable.


Of course, I'm not implying that the RLX isn't attractive. There's just no flair to the car's exterior design, yet it does look smart and refined, thanks to certain details like the LED headlights, the long nose and short deck as well as just the right amount of chrome trim. In addition, the compromise of a conservative design is that it generally ages more gracefully.

The RLX goes head to head with large luxury sedans such as the Cadillac XTS, the Lincoln MKS and the 2015 Hyundai Genesis.


Honda and consequently Acura have always resisted the temptation to produce a V8 engine for their production cars and trucks. In their quest to be a sensible, environmentally friendly company, they never offered astronomic levels of horsepower in any of their vehicles, although that will change this year with the 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid that will be packing 377 ponies. The upcoming Acura NSX supercar will likely crack the 400-hp threshold.

Quite frankly, nobody needs that much power in a passenger car. The direct-injected 3.5L V6 does a fine job of whipping the RLX up to speed swiftly, with a responsible 310 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. It's connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission with includes paddle shifters, while a Sport mode makes for slightly quicker throttle response and gear changes.


Equipped with cylinder deactivation, the V6 engine delivered a respectable fuel economy average of 11.5 L/100km during our winter test week. Ironically, the heavier and all-wheel-drive 2014 Acura MDX we drove earlier this year was more efficient, but we did rack up a lot more highway mileage in the SUV.

Since the RLX is front-wheel drive, its mission is to provide a comfortable and refined driving experience, with performance and handling on a side dish. Equipped with a double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension, electric power steering and all-wheel steer, the 2014 Acura RLX can throw its weight around without fuss, although there is a fair amount of body roll while driving down twisty roads.


We were less impressed with the car's ride stiffness. Even on the highway, the RLX would thump over cracks and frost heaves, sending a jolt up through the cabin and disrupting the otherwise serene atmosphere.

That cabin benefits from high-quality components and an elegant design, with stitched leather on the dashboard, restrained brightwork as well as available Milano leather upholstery and wood trim – woodgrain, actually, not the real thing.


Thanks to the silent cockpit and comfy seats, you'll feel just as relaxed in traffic as you would be during a leisurely weekend stroll through the countryside. The car's width also translates into lots of shoulder and hip room, which is especially good for back-seat passengers.

The mid-level Technology Package adds a heated steering wheel, power-folding mirrors, a blind spot monitor, rain-sensing wipers and 19-inch wheels (up from the base trim's 18-inchers). A navigation system with an 8-inch display is also included; Honda's map and menu graphics are really starting to look archaic, but the system works well.


In the range-topping Elite variant we tested, you get ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, adaptive cruise control, rear sunshades, park sonar, a lane keep assist system and a blissfully good Krell 14-speaker surround sound system.

As in the MDX, there's also a touchscreen for fiddling with the sound and climate control systems, and below it, a multifunction knob and a row of buttons provide quick access to system menus as well.


The 2014 Acura RLX starts out at $49,990 before freight and delivery charges. It's obviously cheap if you were considering a big German luxury sedan, but a little more expensive than the aforementioned Genesis and MKS which both offer AWD unlike the Acura. Our Elite tester was priced at $62,190.

Buyers get to experience Acura's complimentary maintenance program which is just being introduced with the new RLX. It offers 4 years or 80,000 km (whichever comes 1st) of free scheduled maintenance. A concierge service is optional as well, with agents waiting by the phone for you; they can book you a flight, find the nearest Chinese buffet or tell you who Kim Kardashian's latest date was.


The RLX is a big, quiet and comfortable sedan, and just like its predecessor, can be driven fast without getting noticed. It might be an anonymous luxury car, and the only way it will give you goose bumps is with the A/C on full blast, but we finished up our test week impressed at how smooth and competent it really is.

 

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Discussion Starter #206
New Owner

Well everyone, I have finally departed ways with my 2004 Acura TSX with Navi. It was a great car that never gave me problems - it will be missed. I now have a 2014 Acura RLX Advance which has a ton of tech - cannot believe how much I have missed in the last 10 years. Lots to learn ...
 

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Discussion Starter #207
Delay


Acura planned to debut its RLX Hybrid sedan in spring 2014.

But spring came and went, and as of midsummer the car still is not available for purchase in the U.S.

Rumors abound about the RLX Hybrid’s delay, but Mike Accavitti, senior vice president and general manager of Acura in the U.S., is tight-lipped, saying the car isn’t on sale yet due to a “technical” issue.

“I can tell you that it just hasn’t met with our expectations yet,” he tells WardsAuto in a recent phone interview.

Purported reasons for the car’s delay range from a lithium-ion-battery shortage to engineers needing to work out the kinks of the car’s 3-electric-motor Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system.

The RLX’s powertrain setup is similar to that in the future NSX supercar, a prototype of which went up in flames last month while undergoing testing on Germany’s Nurburgring track. However, the RLX Hybrid has a more modest output than the NSX, requiring less cooling.

The RLX Hybrid will make 377 hp via its powertrain: 3 electric motors paired to a 3.5L direct-injected V-6. The NSX is expected to make more than 500 hp from a mid-mounted V-6 with twin turbochargers mated to 3 electric motors.

Accavitti expects RLX Hybrid sales to commence relatively soon, noting some units were on a boat from Japan in late July.

“They should be arriving here within the next month or so, and hopefully they’ll get to dealerships soon after that,” he says.

While the RLX Hybrid is expected to be a niche vehicle for Acura, Accavitti says the unique 3-motor/AWD technology under its hood lends cachet, and the Honda near-luxury brand is “looking forward to getting that in the marketplace as soon as we can.”

For the past year, Acura’s U.S. dealers have had only the front-wheel-drive non-hybrid RLX flagship sedan to sell. Volume, while up through July, is a fraction of what the segment’s top sellers racked up.

From January through last month, RLX deliveries rose 7.1% over the same period year-ago, to 2,285 units.

The Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5-Series sold 41,244 and 33,293 units, respectively, in the 1st 7 months. The totals made the German cars the No.1 and No.2 top-selling models through July in WardsAuto’s Middle Luxury Car segment.

However, the RLX is performing better than its predecessor, the RL, did in its final years.

From 2009 through 2012, RL sales ranged from a peak of 2,043 to a low of 379.

The 2nd-generation RL’s best volume, 17,572 units, was in 2005, the car’s 1st full year of sale.

Accavitti says Acura has plans to boost FWD RLX sales but won’t go into detail.

“That’s a real difficult segment to compete in,” he says. “We’re never really satisfied with our sales rate. I’m not. I think we can always do better.”
 

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Green Car Reports


Several manufacturers now offer gas-saving hybrid versions of their vehicles but it's surprisingly rare to find 2 companies who have gone about it in the same way.

The early pioneers, Toyota and Honda, fielded completely different systems at launch--and well over a decade down the line Honda has once again introduced a new hybrid system.

Called Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) it debuts in the 2014 Acura RLX Hybrid and could be the most sophisticated hybrid system yet.

It combines traditional hybrid benefits with some of those of certain pure electric vehicles, like torque vectoring to individual wheels.


1 engine, 3 motors

At its heart, the RLX Hybrid has the same 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 as other RLX models.

It features i-VTEC variable valve timing and Variable Cylinder Management, a fuel-saving technology that disables 1 bank of cylinders on light throttle loads to save fuel. Intriguing, but nothing out of the ordinary.


From there, the hybrid components come into play. Honda's traditional automatic transmissions and CVTs have made way for a new 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Similar to Honda's old IMA hybrid system, it features an integrated electric motor that provides motive power at low speeds, torque-fill between gearchanges and is used for the car's regenerative braking system, feeding power back to the battery pack.

That motor develops 35 kilowatts (47 horsepower) and a useful 109 lb-ft of torque--but it's only 1 part of the SH-AWD system.


At the rear, Honda installs what it calls a 'Twin Motor Unit'. As the name suggests, this comprises 2 more electric motors--1 per wheel--each developing 27 kW and 54 lb-ft.

That's where both the 'Super-Handling' and the 'All-Wheel Drive' come in. As each motor is fed independent power, the RLX Hybrid can vary output from each rear wheel depending on driving conditions.


It should be noted that this is not comparable to a previous Honda system also dubbed SH-AWD--which instead used a conventional central propeller shaft and split power between the rear wheels using an electromagnetic clutch.

The new system eliminates the old drive shaft and rear differential in favor of the twin electric motors.


Benefits

While that's useful for traction-loss situations such as snowy or wet roads, it also means improved roadholding on dry roads too.

Just like the all-electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive, varying torque between the rear wheels means the car can adjust its line to reduce understeer--boosting power to the outside tire to help rotate the car.

It's also brisk in a straight line. With a total system output of 377 horsepower and 377 lb-ft, it's 67 hp and over 100 lb-ft stronger than the non-hybrid V-6 drivetrain.

Honda says its performance is comparable with more conventional V-8-engined rivals, yet economy is much improved at 30 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 32 mpg highway).

For further reference, that's 6 mpg better than the standard 2014 RLX's combined mileage, a full 8 mpg better in the city and 1 mpg better on the highway despite the extra weight of all those hybrid components.


Improved hybrids all round

SH-AWD is just one of the new hybrid systems launched by Honda in recent years to replace the old Integrated Motor Assist setup, which debuted with the 1st-generation Honda Insight in 1999.

Sitting below it, and used in the Honda Accord Hybrid, is the Sport Hybrid Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive setup. This uses 2 motors and also comes in a plug-in format.

Below that, is i-DCT, used in the Japanese-market Honda Fit Hybrid.

This is a simpler single-motor system that directly replaces IMA. Unlike IMA it can fully drive the Fit with the engine off, while the old manual and CVT transmission options are replaced with a new dual-clutch transmission for a sportier feel.


Honda's hybrids don't stop there though. SH-AWD will be making a further appearance in the upcoming Acura NSX supercar.

While the RLX's setup is biased for front-drive vehicles, the NSX will pair a mid-mounted V-6 engine and hybrid system with twin-motor power to the front wheels, instead.

Still in development, the new NSX could dethrone the new BMW i8 as 1 of the most sophisticated sports cars on sale.

In the meantime, customers are still waiting to get their hands on the hybrid RLX, which has suffered "technical" delays, according to Wards Auto.

Originally slated for the Spring, it's now expected to go on sale "soon", after Acura delayed it through concerns it didn't meet the firm's expectations.

 

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Discussion Starter #209
Msn


Rating: 7.5
Bottom Line:
The 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD packs a lot of high-tech features and a punch with its integrated hybrid system, but vanilla styling and interesting driver integration choices may not be enough to sway customers away from Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
Pros:
Amazingly smooth transmission
More legroom than the competition
Most powerful Acura built to date

Cons:
Uninspiring steering feel
Less than stellar gas mileage
Anonymous styling​

Acura's RLX Sport Hybrid takes Acura to new levels both in power and technology. Every driver aid you can think of is available, including lane-keep assist, multiview backup camera and adaptive cruise control, just to name a few, along with an all-wheel drive hybrid system that makes this car the most powerful Acura ever made. But the bells and whistles can't mask an utterly anonymous design, and while the overall driving experience is good, we wonder if it will matter to "sport hybrid" buyers.

Model lineup
The 4-door RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) is available in 2 trim levels, with the Advance package as the base and the Technology package as the range-topper. Some common features between the 2 are LED lighting at every corner of the car, a power moonroof, navigation, Bluetooth and satellite radio, and an acoustic glass windshield to help cut down cabin noise. A fine-looking set of 19-by-8-inch wheels designed to reduce noise are shod with 245/40/19 high-performance all-season tires.

A Technology package includes a blind-spot information system, the Acura/ELS Studio audio system with media storage, and a collision mitigation braking system with head-up warning and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Spring for the Advance package and you add a crisp Krell audio system, power rear sunshade, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow and a lane-keeping assist system.

Under the hood
The RLX Sport Hybrid has a single powertrain option sending power to all 4 wheels. The 24-valve single-overhead-cam i-VTEC 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 engine produces 310 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm that goes to the front wheels. Rear-wheel power comes from a pair of permanent magnet electric motors, each producing 36 horsepower and 54 lb-ft of torque, thanks to a 1.3-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. A single electric motor integrated with the dual-clutch transmission provides a 47 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of boost to the front wheels, as well as regenerative braking for converting engine power to recharge the lithium-ion battery. Total system power comes in at a whopping 377 horsepower — the highest for a production Acura to date.

As mentioned, a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is responsible for getting the petrol power to the ground and can be controlled by a set of steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Gear selection is no longer through a physical gear selector, but rather an electronic set of Drive, Neutral and Park buttons mounted in the center console (Reverse is selected by its own dedicated switch).

Inner space
1 of the 1st things you'll notice is the quiet interior. It shouldn't come as a surprise, either, because the engineers at Acura spent a lot of time trying to reduce noise levels over the previous RL. Acoustic material backs just about everything, from the rear deck to the carpets. Special 4.7-mm-thick sound-insulating glass is used for all doors, featuring an acoustic membrane that helps reduce interior noise up to 14.7 decibels over the outgoing RL's thicker 5 mm tempered glass. Their hard work certainly paid off.

A longer, wider chassis allowed for increased interior space, most notably for the rear-seat passengers. At 38.8 inches the RLX has the longest rear-seat legroom when compared with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 or Lexus GS.

The head-up display that shows vehicle speed and torque vectoring is a bit confusing and distracting, especially when you're trying to actually see the road while driving. Fortunately, the feature can be disabled, allowing you to see the road and not worry about how much torque is going to the right rear wheel in the middle of a turn. It is a cool thing to show the neighbors, though.

Call us old fashioned, but we weren't overly impressed by the dual-screen infotainment display. A 7-inch on-demand multiuse display controls the audio system and relies on a touch screen in lieu of physical buttons. While it reduces clutter, we miss the more direct feel of control provided by physical knobs and buttons. We really missed a central command knob a la Audi MMI controls. The second 8-inch screen displays navigation instructions and vehicle information, including hybrid system performance. That's 2 different displays on top of the traditional gauges and head-up display. It's almost information overload.

Steering-wheel controls are a bit cluttered as well, and their operation can be a bit complicated. By our count there are 8 systems controlled through the various knobs and buttons mounted on the wheel — but again, a tech-savvy prospective buyer might see the clutter as a boon.

The newly styled transmission controls are intuitive and they really clean up the center console, almost leaving it too bare. This could have been a good opportunity for an MMI-like dial for system control.

On the road
The new RLX Sport Hybrid is fast — faster than both the Audi A6 3.0T and the Lexus GS Hybrid. During normal operation the engine drives the front wheels and the hybrid system lies in wait. The motor connected to the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is at the ready for a power boost, and both front and rear systems combine when max power is needed.

Also impressive is the new torque-vectoring management of the SH-AWD system. In dynamic driving situations, the system — based on steering and throttle input — will produce negative torque from brake-energy regeneration on the inside rear wheel while the outside rear wheel gets an e-boost from its electric motor, helping to rotate the rear of the car. Unlike the old system, the updated torque vectoring works both in on- and off-throttle situations.

Though you have to really push to feel the effects of the SH-AWD, it's impressive. Fight the urge to countersteer when you've got the tail wagging, and the RLX Sport Hybrid simply sorts itself out. You'll hear the front tires squealing, but the car doesn't actually understeer.

That being said, while the system itself is great for managing the RLX, the steering feel could be a lot better, especially considering the amount of effort engineers put into its development. It's a little light, and the ratio just isn't fast enough. An Audi A6 was on hand for us to compare, and even without the Sport package the Audi's steering was a much more fluid proposition; it didn't feel like we needed to keep correcting midcorner. In the Acura you feel like you turn the wheel, enter the corner, and then have to dial in more steering. On initial steering input, it feels as if you have to turn the wheel too much for the result you're looking for.

At times the car felt a little oversprung, but that's because it weighs 4,312 pounds. Compared with a similarly equipped nonhybrid RLX, the all-wheel-drive hybrid system adds over 300 pounds to the car. When compared with the Audi A6, we have to tip the hat again to the A6 as it provided a more comfortable ride.

The 7-speed DCT is impressively smooth. It's 1 of the best we've driven to date. Sport mode provided aggressive shifts, while Acura's Grade Logic Control System kept the transmission in the best gear instead of continuously shifting around when we went up steep hills. Also impressive were seamless transitions from electric power to gas and vice versa. Acura took the opportunity to optimize the camshafts to smoothly re-engage the engine from an idle-stop as well as to completely close the valves on the rear cylinders when the variable cylinder management deactivates half of the cylinders.

The adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow is a great feature. It uses radar to manage distance to the car in front, as well as regulating distance when you prefer to use a preset speed. The low-speed follow is designed for use in congested traffic and, once you gain trust in the system, reduces driver workload in those stressful situations. Again, using the adaptive cruise control radar, the system can maintain a preset following distance and actually stop the car if it detects that the car ahead has slowed to a stop.

Fuel mileage during our time behind the wheel was a bit confusing. The RLX is rated at 28 mpg city/32 mpg highway, but we had a tough time meeting either of those numbers, even when driving at a reasonable pace. Perhaps we should have relied on the reactive-force gas pedal a little more (it informs the driver when gas mileage is about to worsen, and when traction is less than ideal).

Right for you?
With production set to take place in Sayama, Japan, Acura is launching the RLX Sport Hybrid in the spring of 2014. We have yet to receive any pricing details, but we expect the RLX Sport Hybrid to retail in the neighborhood of $67,000.

Our struggle with the RLX Sport Hybrid is that we're not quite sure what Acura is trying to accomplish. Behind the wheel it's not fun or fluid enough to really push, so why equip it with all the fancy tech? It's cool stuff, and the closest thing you're going to get to a preview of the upcoming NSX systems, but the car doesn't exactly make you want to go tackle the twisties. Coupled with a design that blends in with its contemporaries, and anonymity is 1 of the RLX's biggest downfalls.
 

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Discussion Starter #210

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Discussion Starter #211
Recall


Acura says it is recalling 43,000 vehicles in the U.S. to replace both front seat belts.

The car maker owned by Honda Motor Co says that in temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the seat belts might not release. Acura says no injuries have been reported related to the seat belts.

The recall announced Saturday covers 7,000 2014 RLX and 36,000 2014 and 2015 MDX models.

Acura says it will begin mailing notices to vehicle owners in late October, and they should take their vehicle to an authorized dealer as quickly as possible. Acura says owners can also check if their vehicle is covered by going to recalls.acura.com.
 

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Discussion Starter #213
Autos.ca


Collingwood, Ont. – It had been almost exactly a year since I last drove the Acura RLX – the flagship in Honda’s upscale brand – and in getting back into the car you see featured here, I was quickly refreshed on the fleeting impressions it had made on me.

1st off, it’s a handsome car, if somewhat forgettable save for the multi-lens LED headlights. In person, it commands more respect than it does in photos thanks to its solid proportions and imposing scale, letting observers know that this is no entry-level sedan.


Inside, 1 is reminded of an oversized Accord that has spent a few more classes in finishing school. The materials are all luxurious and supple where they need to be, with the appropriate applications of high-grade trim where warranted for visual appeal. The overall effect is lacking some of the artful design emerging in many of the best of the class competitors. The Krell sound system remains 1 of the highlights of the car with its sensational power and sound quality.

All of that applies to the front-wheel-drive RLX Elite that I drove last year with its P-AWS (active all-wheel steering) and its front-wheel drive, just as much as it applies to the new offering we’re examining here.


Befitting its place in the mid-size luxury sedan class, Acura Canada is now offering a version of the RLX with its SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive) system. Canadian luxury car buyers have shown with their cheque books that it is their overwhelming preference to have 4 wheels dispensing the power rather than just 2, so this move was an absolute necessity for Acura to be taken seriously in this segment.

But this is not like Acura’s usual SH-AWD system. This time, the rear wheels are motivated solely by electric power, as the RLX presents the first application of the new Sport Hybrid system.


In what is a world 1st, Acura has incorporated a 3-motor hybrid system. The 1st motor is integrated into the 7-speed DCT transmission. It’s a low-speed unit that essentially replaces 1st gear. It provides up to 109 lb-ft of torque between 500-2,000 rpm and aids the gasoline engine powering the front wheels up to speed from a standstill.

The 3.5L direct-injected V6 is essentially carryover from the FWD RLX, providing the same 310-hp output and 273 lb-ft of torque. Vibrations have now been quelled in this 2015 car, with a camshaft valve timing change, for those keeping track of the minutiae.


Where things really get interesting, is toward the back of the car with a pair of higher-speed smaller motors each directing up to 54 lb-ft of torque to a single rear wheel. This Twin Motor Unit (TMU) enables a host of benefits including improved acceleration, efficiency and even handling.

All of this hardware, in addition to the Power Drive Unit (the same battery pack used in the Accord Hybrid) adds 110 kg of mass to the RLX versus the front-drive version. While additional weight automatically equates to worse performance in most cars, here all is not lost.


For 1 thing, most of the extra mass is clustered around the rear axle, meaning it’s both low in the car, and moved rearward. This translates to a centre of gravity that is not adversely affected, and in fact the fore-aft weight distribution is better balanced on the heavier Hybrid car. Plus the combined drivetrain now peaks at 377 horsepower and 341 lb-ft of torque – considerable improvements versus the non-hybrid RLX.

Much more importantly, the rear Twin Motor Unit has a few tricks up its sleeve to make the RLX Sport Hybrid a more dynamic performance machine. By having 2 independent motors driving the rear wheels, torque vectoring can dramatically assist the handling. The TMU can generate a yaw moment in the vehicle, essentially rotating it on an axis thanks to positive torque being directed to the outer wheel, while negative torque is applied to the inner wheel. Even in gentle, off-throttle cornering, this benefit can still assist the dynamics of the car.


The benefits of the TMU are much greater than just torque vectoring. Traction for acceleration is obviously improved versus the FWD RLX, but like most hybrid systems, the improvement to fuel efficiency is also significant.

Here Acura has set up 7 different drive modes to optimally suit the different types of motoring circumstances a driver could encounter. In EV mode, the rear TMU will launch the car under light acceleration and maintain it under light power – in stop and go traffic, for instance. Under normal, gentle acceleration, the engine and front motor will pull the car along. At high speed cruising, the engine will also be called on to keep the car rolling.

Under heavy acceleration and in slippery conditions, all systems are called to action, ensuring the power is delivered to the appropriate wheels. During deceleration, regeneration occurs to front and rear motors.


The infotainment system and standard Head-Up Display feature graphics that can help show curious drivers in real-time how all the power is being dispensed around the car. The computers will also tell you how efficient the RLX Sport Hybrid is, too. The government 5-cycle rating system estimates the RLX Sport Hybrid at 8 L/100 km city, 7.5 highway and 7.7 combined – excellent figures for such a large, capable and luxurious sedan.

1 additional benefit to the rear TMU set up: unlike in a traditional rear- or all-wheel-drive car, there’s no prop shaft in the RLX, resulting in virtually no “centre hump” intrusion to the passenger compartment, helping the RLX maintain its best-in-class rear seat space. Plus, power travelling down a prop shaft creates a slight delay in throttle response. With the instantaneous nature of the electric motors, Acura claims a livelier feel and higher level of throttle responsiveness.


The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD is an unquestionable technological tour de force, but how does it all translate to a real-world driving experience?

Very well, actually. Driven around Collingwood, Ontario, the RLX hybrid is smooth, quiet and refined, just as it should be in this class of luxury cars. Despite being a very large car, it does not embarrass itself when the roads begin to curve.


Although our drive was relatively brief – only a few hours – I would rather press the RLX Sport Hybrid on roads more familiar to me to really assess the effectiveness of the torque vectoring. Most buyers in this category will surely feel the RLX Sport Hybrid delivers performance on par or superior to the competitors without ever really needing to push the car anywhere near its limits.

Passing power and responsiveness is formidable and even the regenerative braking is far less grabby and artificial-feeling than in most other hybrids. The 7-speed DCT transmission will give fun throttle blips before downshifting when Sport mode is engaged. While reasonably rapid, the shifts called upon by the steering wheel mounted paddles were not as lighting-fast or crisp as the shifts executed by some of the competitors’ gearboxes – especially those using the excellent ZF 8-speed transmission.


Acura’s previous flagship – the RL – was as memorable as a stale soda cracker. As a result, Acura needs to work extra hard to lure away buyers of competitive models, and they seem to be serious about it this time. The RLX Sport Hybrid is an excellent offering in a stellar group of competitors, but it also represents 1 of the best values. Offered only in full Elite trim, the $69,990 RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD undercuts similarly equipped competitors from Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz by anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000. Infiniti’s Q70h skirts under the RLX by a little more than $1,000, but does not offer all-wheel drive.

For buyers intrigued by the latest technological fads, Acura’s offering in the mid-size luxury sedan market puts its high tech to great use, while providing a luxurious and engaging driving experience.

Pricing: 2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH AWD
Base Price: $69,990

Competitors:
BMW ActiveHybrid5 and 535d
Infiniti Q70h
Lexus GS450h
Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid and E250 BlueTec

 

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Discussion Starter #214
Globe & Mail


There are ski hills aplenty near Collingwood, Ont., but no race tracks. And while the local roads do boast a few challenging curves, enjoyment is discouraged by suffocating speed limits. Just as well, then, that the roads here on the southern shore of Georgian Bay do possess a network of roundabouts.

Why does this matter to the evaluation of a new hybrid-powered luxury sedan? Because the electric part of the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD powertrain (don’t even ask what the SH stands for: the name is long enough already) is intended to benefit its handling as much as its performance and fuel economy. And in the absence of a track, a few laps of a traffic-free roundabout can reveal much.

Like many of its mild-hybrid luxury counterparts, the Hybrid SH-AWD has an electric motor paired with its gasoline powertrain – in this case, a 3.5-litre, V-6 driving the front wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox. But there is also a pair of electric motors out back, 1 driving each rear wheel.

Besides making the RLX into an all-wheel-driver, the rear motors can be controlled independently to provide, in effect, an element of rear-wheel steering. Orchestrated by super-smart software, this can be used to promote agility or enhance stability as needed. In turn, that should allow Acura to use a softer suspension than would otherwise be the case.

1st-drive impressions at a preview event near Collingwood reveal a gap between the theory and the practice. The ride is distinctly firm, albeit still liveable; and while the RLX feels precise and agile in moderate-to-brisk driving, it hardly seems a quantum leap better than some conventionally engineered rivals. Nor is the steering response especially engaging.

More concerning, our test car’s tail got squirrelly while we energetically negotiated 1 particular back-road curve. Further exploration on a Collingwood roundabout showed it wasn’t a 1-off aberration. And yes, this was on dry pavement.

Another Sport Hybrid we drove a week later kept its tail in line but surprised us instead with sudden-onset understeer through 1 fast curve. Of course, the stability-control system quickly reined in any waywardness, but this was hardly the sure-footedness we expect from an all-wheel drive car.

The performance/economy part of the equation is much more convincing. It would take extreme feather-footing to accelerate this two-ton car from rest on electric power alone, but in cruise mode it’ll skim silently along on battery power at up to 80 km/h for a few kilometres at a time. Depending on battery state of charge and other factors, the transitions in and out of EV mode are somewhat random – but they are also seamless.

We drove the RLX briskly along rural roads, and after about 50 kilometres the trip computer was showing average fuel consumption of 8.1 L/100 km. Then, finding a level stretch of road, we attached our test gear and did several full-bore 0-100-km/h runs. The results averaged out at 5.8 seconds, which is plenty quick. Resuming normal driving, we completed the 94-km route with the computer still showing 9.1 L/100 km – including the acceleration runs – at the finish.

On a purely objective basis, the RLX Hybrid’s package of luxury, technology, space and pace seems enough to justify its $69,990 asking price, with compact-car fuel economy as a feel-good bonus. But to seriously challenge the name-brand luxury heavyweights, Acura also needs to deliver a uniquely compelling driving experience. On paper, the Hybrid SH-AWD technology has the potential to do that. On pavement, we’re still waiting to feel the results.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

You’ll like this car if ... you’d rather take the road less travelled in a car that puts cutting-edge technology and a small carbon footprint before conventional notions of prestige and style.

TECH SPECS

Price: $69,990
Engines: 3.5-litre, V-6 direct-injection gas engine plus 3 electric motors
Drive: 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission and AWD
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.0 city, 7.5 highway
Alternatives: Audi A6 TDI, BMW ActiveHybrid 5, BMW 535d, Lexus GS450h, Infiniti Q70h, 2014 Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid

RATINGS

Looks: Despite some novel sculpting along its flanks, the basic shape maintains a long tradition of conservative, anonymous styling for Acura’s largest and most expensive sedan.
Interior: Luxuriously appointed, and by the numbers it has the roomiest rear cabin in its class (though real-world sprawl space out back is compromised somewhat by tight foot-room under the front seats).
Technology: Apart from the unique Hybrid AWD powertrain, it comes loaded with safety and info-communi-tainment devices including 2 – count ’em, 2 – big-screen TVs on the dashboard
Performance: We’re unconvinced by the rear electric motors’ contribution to handling, but what’s not to like about a big luxury car that can sprint like a V-8 or scrooge like a 4-cylinder?
Cargo: The battery pack in the trunk behind the back seat reduces cargo volume from 423 litres on the FWD RLX to 328 litres in the Hybrid – less than in most compact sedans.

The Verdict

7.0

Acura’s new flagship sedan delivers everything you’d expect in a $70,000 luxury car … except for a truly compelling reason to buy it.​
 

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Discussion Starter #215
Driving w/ video




Overview Somewhat somnolent styling masks a very sophisticated powertrain
Pros Power, fuel economy, sophistication
Cons Weight, rear trunk storage capacity, complicated AcuraLink infotainment system
Value for money Excellent
What would I change? Less complication to the AcuraLink system and, in an ideal world, build the entire car out of aluminum to reduce the weight penalty of the electric drive system
How I would spec it? Just the way it is

Acura’s new RLX Sport Hybrid may be the best car you’ll never test drive. Never mind the reasons — the somnolent styling or the disastrous name change from Legend to RL — for the drop off in what was once the most popular luxury car in North America (the Legend accounted for almost half of Acura’s sales at its peak), the Sport Hybrid version of the RLX is 1 of the most supremely sophisticated luxury automobiles money can buy. Indeed, not only is the electrified version of Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system the technological equal of Porsche’s million-dollar 918, but it also will provide the underpinning — albeit with the gas engine moved rearward and the electric motors forward — for Acura’s own supercar, the much-anticipated NSX.

Unfortunately, if the recent sales history of the RL is any indication (Acura has sold, on average, less than 150 RL/RLXs annually since 2008), precious few of you will ever find yourself behind the wheel of this gem. More’s the pity.



So, what makes this 2015 top-of-the-line Acura so noteworthy? For 1 thing, it sports no less than 4 separate motivators, 1 of them gasoline — Acura’s ubiquitous 3.5-litre V6, this version with 310 horsepower — and 3 electric motors, one 47-hp version mounted directly to the engine/transmission unit and 2 more 36-hp units individually powering the 2 rear wheels.

More importantly, the finesse with which they power the RLX is nothing short of astounding. Depending on the mode, 1 can have the gas engine alone driving the front wheels or, if all hands are needed on deck, all 4 simultaneously coming together for 1 (fairly rapid) 377-horsepower charge. Under more moderate demands, only the 2 electric motors are used when leaving a stoplight, their low-end torque providing at least modest acceleration. On fairly level ground, the hybrid RLX can also glide at speeds up to 80 kilometres an hour on electric power alone. And in slippery conditions, the combination of the gas engine powering the front wheels and the electric motors powering the rears provides the all-wheel-drive traction needed.

Were this all the trickery the Sport Hybrid had to offer, however, it would be a waste of complexity — far less sophisticated hybrids perform much the same feats. The last little trick in the RLX’s repertoire, the part that has me salivating at the prospect of this technology fully NSX-ed out, is that Acura uses those 2, individually controlled, rear electric motors to torque-vector power distribution.




For the uninitiated, torque vectoring is the fancy-schmancy buzzword for transferring differing amounts of power to the rear wheels to get sporty cars to better turn in. Essentially, what happens is a microcomputer slows the inside rear wheel while simultaneously speeding up the outside rear wheel, both actions encouraging a more rapid pivot. In traditional all-wheel-drive systems — like Acura’s own Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system — this is accomplished by simply braking the inside wheel while sending more power to the outside.

The infinite controllability of the RLX’s electric motors, however, allows Acura to slow the inside rear wheel by reversing the polarity of its motor while sending more electrons to its opposing twin. Keen minds, especially the environmentally conscious, will recognize the inside wheel’s reversal of polarity as the regenerative braking credited for the superior fuel economy of their electrified cars. This means that while cornering hard, the RLX is actually recharging its battery. Many modern cars claim to marry the seemingly disparate capabilities of performance and economy. Only 1 — the RLX Sport Hybrid — can profess to do both simultaneously.




That’s all fine and good, but how does Super Hybridization work in real life? Well, Acura says it offers the performance of a V8 with the fuel economy of a 4-cylinder. Half of that claim is absolutely true, Acura’s specification of 377 horses seeming to underestimate the RLX’s acceleration. On the other hand, positing that it sips fuel like a 4 seems like a fairy tale too far, my 9.3 L/100 km average about 20% higher than the 7.7 L/100 km the RLX is rated for. NRCan’s 7.5 L/100 km highway rating seems pretty spot on, but claiming 1 can get by on just 8.0 L/100 km of city driving seems a tad optimistic. Nonetheless, a 9.3 L/100 km average in a mid-sized luxury sedan weighing 1,980 kilograms is none too shabby. Besides, the Sport Hybrid is, like other hybrids, somewhat temperature sensitive. In warmer temperatures, it switches, more immediately, into its EV mode and will also travel farther on electric power alone both of which should bolster the consumption a little.

Is the RLX all that a hybrid can be? Not yet. Had Honda been more daring, it might have constructed its topflight sedan — a la Audi and Jaguar — of lighter-than-steel aluminum. The weight savings might then have allowed a bigger battery than the minuscule 1.3 kW-h lithium-ion affair, offering perhaps even more power and certainly longer EV operation. The battery also takes up a fair amount of space in the trunk, limiting cargo capacity.

That said, the integration of said battery, 3.5L gas engine and 3 electric motors is the most comprehensively choreographed ballet of electrons and hydrocarbons yet. That all this sophistication costs but $69,990 is message worth trumpeting. The RLX is deserving of more attention than it will get.

Handling, interior also impress in the RLX




Lost in all this talk of sophisticated high-techery, I hardly mentioned the RLX’s more salient points such as handling and interior comfort. As for the former, the Sport Hybrid handles more adeptly than its somnolent exterior styling would indicate. It’s no BMW, but neither is it a Lexus LS460. Combined with an engine that makes distinct vroom noises, there is a surprising sportiness to the top-line Acura.

The interior is everything you’d expect of an Acura. It’s refined, luxurious and loaded with tech. My only complaint would be this last. The AcuraLink system is unnecessarily complicated and relatively difficult to manipulate. Ordinary tasks like pairing of phones or managing the split screen simply take too much effort compared with other systems. And with 3 different screens — the traditional gauges, the radio/air conditioning interface and the AcuraLink screen, there’s just too much going on. The leather seats and the push-button transmission, on the other hand, are to die for.

A breakdown of the Acura RLX Super Hybrid’s Drive Modes




The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system is a model of complexity and ingenuity, its V6 gas engine, front electric motor and twin rear-mounted electric motors all working together in complete harmony. Depending on the situation, the Sport Hybrid can work in the following modes:

EV Launch: Under light-to-moderate loads, the rear motors alone provide driving power, relying strictly on the battery. In EV Launch mode, on a fully charged battery, the RLX may be able to travel as long as 10 kilometres.

Engine Drive: Under gentle acceleration after launch, the front wheels pick up the load using engine power only, while the front motor reverses polarity into a generator pumping electrons back into the 1.3-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.

EV Cruising: When cruising at speeds lower than about 80 km/h, the rear motors can power the rear wheels using only battery power.

Power Acceleration: Under hard acceleration, at speeds up to 120 km/h, all 4 wheels are driven through a combination of the gas engine driving the front wheels and the rear electric motors powering the rear wheels. The front motor only provides assist under acceleration from a standing start and doesn’t contribute any motivation at highway speeds.​



Engine Cruising: When cruising at higher speeds, Acura has determined that the best fuel economy is achieved by having the gas engine alone power the front wheels. The front motor-generator, meanwhile, charges the battery whenever possible, using excess engine power.

Deceleration: When braking, both the front and rear motors reverse polarity and pump electricity back into battery pack. In this regeneration mode, the engine is disconnected to eliminate engine friction and maximize the recharging.

AWD: Under slippery conditions, all 4 wheels are driven using the gas engine to power the front wheels and the twin electric motors for the rear wheels.

Cornering under Deceleration: The inside rear electric motor reverses polarity, providing negative torque to the inside rear wheel. Positive (driving) torque continues to be applied to the outside rear wheel, offering faster turn-in. The reversing of the polarity of the inside rear motor also provides regenerative braking, recharging the battery

Cornering under Partial Throttle: Optimization of front-to-rear and right-to-left torque distribution for improved cornering performance.

Cornering under Acceleration: On corner entry, the same torque split is used as cornering under deceleration, i.e., negative (regenerative braking) torque on the inside rear wheel while more power is transmitted to the outside tire. At corner exit, however, this positive torque is sent to both rear wheels to provide maximum acceleration.​



The Specs

Type of vehicle Rear-wheel-drive, luxury 4-door sedan
Engine 3.5L DOHC V6
Power 377 hp; 341 lb.-ft. of torque
Transmission 7-speed dual clutch manumatic
Brakes 4-wheel disc with ABS
Tires 245/40R19
Price (base/as tested) $69,900/$69,900
Destination charge $1,995
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km) 8.0 city, 7.5 highway
Standard features Power door locks, windows and mirrors, tri-zone climate control air conditioning, Krell ultra-premium14-speaker audio system with CD/AM/FM/XM/MP3/WMA, Sirius satellite radio, Acura navigation system with voice recognition, AcuraLinks infotainment system, 11-volt power outlet, rear back-up camera, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, leather seats, 12-way power adjustable front seats, power moonroof, adaptive cruise control, auto headlights, dual front air bags, dual front side air bags, front and rear side curtain air bag, driver knee air bag, rear back up camera, tire pressure monitoring system, Blind Spot Information system, Lane Keeping Assist system, Stabilitrak vehicle control system, electronic brake force distribution

 

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Discussion Starter #216
TopSpeed


The Acura RLX was introduced in 2013 for the 2014 model year and served as a follow-up to the 2nd-generation RL, which at the end of its lifespan was in desperate need of replacement. Like the RL, the RLX has its sights set on the midsize luxury segment, which includes the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It’s powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 producing 310 horsepower, but unlike most of its German rivals, it puts it power down through the front wheels — a potential turn-off for some buyers. Fortunately, Acura has addressed this shortcoming with the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD.

The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD is Acura’s new flagship, and has the potential to be a game-changer when Acura needs it the most. Acura’s range has been a bit stagnant these past few years. Much of the sporting juju Acura earned with cars like the original NSX, Integra, and RSX has been largely forgotten thanks to years of building extraordinarily average sedans and SUVs that haven’t quite been able to take the fight to rivals from Germany and Japan.

This newfound swagger comes with its innovative new Super Handling all-wheel-drive hybrid drivetrain. Unlike other hybrids in its sector the RLX Sport Hybrid’s electric motors and batteries don’t just improve fuel economy, they also add healthy dose of power and actually improve performance rather than hinder it. More on this later, but for now, we can view the RLX Sport Hybrid as a luxury sedan that previews the next NSX’s drivetrain.


Exterior

Styling is instantly recognizable as an Acura, but the company has put itself in a position where it’s now difficult for even a trained eye to tell an ILX, from a TLX, from an RLX. Acura’s sedans aren’t by any means offensive to look at, but you do get the sense the company is playing it a bit safe. The RLX doesn’t really move the game on all that much from the RL, which had already overstayed its welcome by about 3 years. Acura’s cool “Jewel Eye” LED headlamps are easily the RLX’s 3 unique and eye-catching exterior feature.

Size-wise, the RLX falls comfortably into the midsize luxury class also occupied by the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes Mercedes -Benz E-Class, and Lexus Lexus GS. At 196.1 inches in length it’s about 3 inches longer than the BMW BMW 5 Series, but its wheelbase is nearly 5 inches shorter at 112.2. Its body utilizes both steel and aluminum body panels, which Acura says keeps weight to a minimum and aids handling, braking, acceleration and fuel economy.

Exterior Dimensions
Headroom (front/rear) 37.6 in (954 mm) / 36.9 in (937 mm)
Legroom (front/rear) 42.3 in (1074 mm) / 38.8 in (985 mm)
Shoulder Room (front/rear) 59.6 in (1514 mm) / 57.0 in (1449 mm)
Hiproom (front/rear) 55.9 in (1419 mm) /54.5 in (1385 mm)
EPA Passenger Volume 102.1 cu ft
Wheelbase 112.2 in (2850 mm)
Length 196.1 in (4982 mm)
Height 57.7 in (1466 mm)
Width 74.4 in (1890 mm)
Track (front/rear) 64.3 in (1632 mm) / 64.2 in (1630 mm)
Ground Clearance (unladen) 4.5 in (115 mm)​

Interior

The interior is relatively familiar Acura fare. Surfaces appear high-quality, but there’s not much in the way of interior customization. Weirdly, the Technology Package interior is available in both ebony and graystone leather, while the Advance Package is only available in ebony. Both are trimmed with dark mahogany-like accents, and controls appear ergonomic and well positioned.

The infotainment and sat-nav screens are stacked on top of 1 another and are both suitably large. Bluetooth, hands free phone, blind spot detection, phonebook, acoustic glass, and music app compatibility are also standard.


Drivetrain

Underneath the RLX Sport Hybrid’s staid styling lies its real party trick. The market is flooded with luxury hybrids, but none utilize their electric motors the way the RLX Sport Hybrid does. The drivetrain consists of a 310 horsepower, 3.5-liter, i-VTEC V6 and 3 electric motors: 1 up front mounted inside in the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox and 2 at each of the rear wheels. There are no rear drive shafts or rear differential; all power to the rear wheels is generated exclusively by the 2 36-horsepower electric motors.

Here’s where things get interesting. Both rear motors distribute both positive torque for propulsion and negative torque under regenerative braking to harvest and store energy as electricity, and they’re able to do this completely independent of 1 another. This torque vectoring allows from some intriguing possibilities. In certain scenarios, the RLX Sport Hybrid is capable of applying 100 percent of its torque to the outside wheel while cornering, and negative torque to the inside rear wheel. It’s a revelation in terms of handling and does a great job of mitigating understeer. It also cleverly disguises the RLX Sport Hybrid’s substantial weight penalty over the non-hybrid RLX, though the hybrid does boast improved weight distribution.

Between the internal combustion engine and the 3 electric motors, the RLX Sport Hybrid produces a formidable 377 horsepower and 341 pound-feet of torque. The 0-to-60 sprint takes an impressive 5 seconds flat, all while returning 32 mpg on the highway and 28 in the city.

Drivetrain/Specifications
PHP:
Engine	RLX Sport Hybrid
Engine Type	Aluminum-alloy direct injection V-6
Displacement (liters)	3.5
Horsepower @ rpm (SAE net)	310 @ 6500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm) (SAE net)	273 @ 4700
Valvetrain 	24-valve, SOHC i-VTEC®
Variable Cylinder Management™ (VCM®)	•
Compression Ratio	11.5:1
Throttle Control 	Drive-by-Wire throttle system
CARB Emissions Rating 	LEV 3 SULEV 30
Tune-Up Interval 	100k +/- miles no scheduled tune-ups
3-MOTOR SYSTEM	RLX Sport Hybrid
Motor Type	Permanent Magnet
Front Motor Horsepower (kW) @ rpm	47 (35) @ 3000
Front Motor Torque lb.-ft. (Nm) @ rpm)	109 (148) @ 500-2000
Dual Rear Motors Horsepower (kW) @ rpm	36 + 36 (27 + 27) @ 4000
Dual Rear Motors Torque lb.-ft. (Nm) @ rpm) 	54 + 54 (73 + 73) @ 0-2000
System Combined Horsepower	377
System Combined Torque (lb-ft)	341
BATTERY	RLX Sport Hybrid
Battery Type	Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Capacity 	1.3 kWh
Voltage 	260V

Prices

The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD starts at $59,950 and comes in 2 trim levels. The base Technology Package comes standard with an electronic gear selector, a heads-up display, heated seats and a reactive-force accelerator pedal (which applies reactive force to help the driver apply power as efficiently as possible). Adding another $6,000 will get you the Advance Package, which adds collision detection, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, Krell premium audio system, heated rear seats and rear footwell lighting.
PHP:
Model	Price	Fuel Economy
RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD with Technology Package	$59,950	28/32/30
RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD with Advance Package	$65,950	28/32/30
Competition
BMW ActiveHybrid 5
The Acura out-muscles the similarly priced BMW ActiveHybrid 5 by some margin, but it can’t match the BMW i BMW i n terms of customization. The ActiveHybrid 5 offers more interior color options, as well as some nifty optional M Sport bodywork.

At 5.9 seconds, the ActiveHybrid 5 is nearly a second off the Acura’s 0-to-60 time, but what it lacks in straight-line performance, it makes up in fuel economy, getting 40 mpg on the highway to the Acura’s 32 mpg. It’s powered by BMW’s 3.0-liter straight 6, and is augmented by a pair of turbochargers and a single electric motor. In total, it produces 340 horsepower and is capable of driving up to 2.5 miles on electric power alone. The BMW also has an 8-speed transmission to the Acura’s 7, but at that point, who’s counting?

With an asking price of $61,845, it’s somewhere between the RLX Sport Hybrid’s 2 price points, but the BMW has the superior interior, which is hard to pass up.

Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid
At $56,700 the Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid is appreciably less expensive than both the Acura and the BMW, and, like the BMW, it’s infinitely more customizable both inside and out.

It’s powered by a normally aspirated, 3.5-liter V-6 and a single electric motor producing a combined 329 horsepower. At 30 mpg on the highway, it’s lagging a bit behind the Acura at 32 mpg, and way behind the BMW at 40 mpg. Unlike many hybrids, it actually gets worse mileage under city driving conditions — 24 mpg to the BMW’s 44 and the Acura’s 28 in the city.

Overall, I am a big fan of the styling of the current E-Class. The new 1-piece LED headlamps and horizontal taillights give it a thoroughly modern appearance, but it’s also instantly recognizable as a Mercedes.

Lexus GS 450h
Lexus offers 2 different versions of its GS hybrid starting at $60,430, the base GS 450h and the GS 450 Hybrid F Sport, but, other than some visual and suspension upgrades for the F Sport, there’s no discernible difference in performance or efficiency between the 2.

We really liked the GS 450h when we drove it last month, but, on paper at least, the RLX Sport Hybrid has it beat. With 34 mpg on the highway, the GS has a slight edge in terms of fuel economy, but is over half-a-second slower to 60 mph. But we like that it’s a relatively powerful (338 horsepower) rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan that’s fun to drive. Go for the optional sport suspension too. It’s rather good.

We weren’t fans of the cheap-looking interior wood trim, but the GS hybrid does come with plenty of well-appointed standard features. We also felt the drivetrain would have been better served with a traditional automatic or dual clutch transmission rather than Lexus’ CVT.


Conclusion

It will be interesting to see if the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD drivetrain gets applied to other platforms in Acura’s, or even Honda Honda ’s, range. We already know a similar system will power the forthcoming NSX, which will feature the same torque-vectoring tricks. It would also seem to make sense on Acura’s soft-roaders, the RDX and MDX.

The RLX Sport Hybrid applies this new technology well, but we’d like to see some sporty visual queues to help differentiate it from the base RLX. As it is, trying to pick out differences between the 2 is like playing a really, really hard version of 1 of those touch-screen spot the difference game. Given the changes under the skin and sporty pretenses, we’d like to see something a bit meaner looking.

Looks and options aside, parent company Honda changed engine technology forever with innovations like VTEC and CVCC. Let’s see if it can make history again with its trick new all-wheel-drive hybrid drivetrain. The RLX Sport Hybrid is just the first step.

LOVE IT
Trick drivetrain brings hybrid hypercar tech to the masses.
LED headlamps look properly futuristic.
Gobs more power that comparably priced hybrids.

LEAVE IT
Not the most interesting thing to look at.
Chunky, but able to hide its weight well.
Limited interior color and trim options.​

 

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Discussion Starter #217
AutoChannel


Don't confuse the Acura RLX with its RL predecessor. There is much more difference than the minimally-changed name would suggest. The RLX is larger than the RL, especially inside, and there especially in rear seat space, where the RL was lacking. Its V6 engine is smaller in displacement -- and makes more power on less fuel. And while it is Acura's flagship luxury sedan, it does not lack for performance and agility.

Or technology, another Acura trait. While the word "technology" is now often used to refer to electronic infotainment, safety, and gadgetry systems, and the RLX can be had with the current state of the art in all of those systems, here it also refers to the underlying engineering. Direct fuel injection and Variable Cylinder Management give its new 3.5-liter V6 310 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque when needed -- and deactivate cylinders for fuel savings when power is not necessary. "Precision All-Wheel Steering", hereafter known as P-AWS, transparently aids handling and stability. It changes toe-in under braking, adding stability. The rear wheels are moved in the same direction as the fronts during medium- to high-speed maneuvering, and opposite the fronts in low-speed corners. This improves response, reduces understeer, and ever so slightly reduces tire scrub for a small improvement in fuel economy as well. Agile Handling Assist can activate 1 rear brake to help quicken turn-in when cornering. Shades of the Japanese supercars of the 1980s, but much-improved thanks to modern electronics. Both systems are found in all front-wheel drive RLXes.

Want all-wheel drive in your RLX? That's almost a different car -- the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD. The V6 and a 47-hp electric motor drive the front wheels, while rear drive is taken care of by twin 36-hp electric motors, with torque vectoring under computer control. Combined system maximum horsepower is 377, the highest yet in an Acura. You want impressive technology? There it is, and consider that a test run for the next-generation NSX.

But my test car for the past week was a "regular" RLX, in premium Advance trim. The P-AWS system gave it surprising agility and controllability, important not only for driver enjoyment but also for active safety -- the accident you can avoid is 1 you don't have. It felt like it had a good AWD system, like Acura's own (non-hybrid) SH-AWD. As a midsize, mid-luxury sports sedan, the RLX's competition includes the best efforts of the German, American, and Japanese manufacturers, such as the Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS, and Lexus GS. The late RL was under-equipped for that fight. The RLX is more than competitive.

In Acura fashion, "trim levels" are option packages. All have the expected amenities including a rearview camera (here with multiple viewing angles), comprehensive information system display, power everything (windows, mirrors, front seats, steering wheel, and sunroof), a premium audio system with all current input modes including Bluetooth® streaming, and LEDs for interior and exterior lighting, including headlamps and taillamps and Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) safety systems and more. "RLX With Navigation" adds a voice-recognition navigation system, the AcuraLink® telematics system, a GPS-linked tri-zone automatic climate-control system, and color, instead of monochrome, Multi-Information Display (MID). "With Technology Package" adds larger wheels, premium leather and ebony wood interior accents, a blind-spot information system (BSI), upgraded audio, acoustic glass for a quieter interior, and retractable side mirrors. The "Krell Package" further upgrades the audio and improves sunshades for rear passengers. "Advance Package" means premium level, with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Mitigating Braking System (CMBS), the Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), parking sensors, ventilation added to the front seats and heating to the outboard rear, and, yes, more. It's beyond fully-equipped…

APPEARANCE: Acura's grille design has undergone many a transformation over the years, but its basic 5-sided shape establishes continuity, if the details have sometimes been more than a little controversial. The current grille would be identifiably Acura even without the "A" logo in the thick top crossbar. Ditto for the overall shape, with graceful proportions, sharply-sculpted details, and signature wheel arches. Technology is announced by the multi-faceted Jewel-Eye™ LED headlights. They are very different from the more familiar halogen and HID lights. Chrome trim around the grille, headlights, and side windows gives the expected luxury touch. LEDs are used in the front door handles, and light when the fob-carrying driver gets within 5 feet or so, a thoughtful touch at night. LED taillights dominate the rear, and the exhausts are hidden.

COMFORT: It's not quite a stretch limo, but close. RL sales were lost because of a lack of rear-seat space. That will not be an issue here. The RLX is the most spacious Acura sedan yet, especially in the rear. In Advance trim, rear outboard positions have 2-level heat. Which won't impress front passengers, who get 3 levels of heat or cooling instead of the standard 2 of heat. Seat comfort is as expected in a luxury car, long trips a specialty. Milano leather graces the Navigation and higher models, and stitched leather is found on the doors, instrument panels, and steering wheel rims of all. It's a handsome, contemporary package, with good ergonomic design and useful storage -- the console box opens from the side, either side, for convenience of both front occupants. Instrumentation is bright and easily visible, and, in upper models, twin screens allow display of navigation and information simultaneously -- with further information directly in front of the driver, between the tach and speedometer. And yes, it's all programmable, with enough to keep a technophile happy for a while. There's plenty of trunk space, although, as is common in the luxury classes, the rear seat does not fold. There is a lockable ski pass-through.

SAFETY: Nearly all existing electronic safety systems are either standard or available in the RLX. Its "Advanced Compatibility Engineering" II unibody structure and full suite of airbags form a solid base for passive passenger protection, while antilock disc brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution and the maneuverability advantages of the P-AWS and Agile Handling Assist systems take care of active safety.

RIDE AND HANDLING: The RLX's double-wishbone front, multilink rear suspension is tuned in the European luxury manner for a good balance between comfort and cornering ability. Comfort prevails, but maneuverability is good as well. Understeer is reduced and turn-in sharpened by the P-AWS and Agile Handling Assist systems (and yes, controllability and maneuverability aren't merely enjoyable aspects of driving, they are important to safety). Steering effort is moderate, never too light or too heavy. The acoustic glass used in Technology models and above further helps cabin quiet.

PERFORMANCE: You don't have to run the RLX's 3.5-liter V6 up to redline to get anywhere. Statistics of 310 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 272 lb-ft of torque at 4500 hint that everything happens high in the rev range, but the i-VTEC valve control system ensures that there is plenty of low- and mid-range torque for everyday driving. Put the shifter in D and relax… or, especially when the road is interesting, use "S" sport mode with shifting of the 6-speed automatic re-mapped for quicker acceleration. Cylinder deactivation further improves highway economy, as power is needed for acceleration, but not necessarily for maintaining a steady pace. With a sub-6.0 second 0-60 time, the RLX is quick enough for its mission. Shift for yourself via the paddles behind the steering wheel, and you will become acquainted with a seriously strong top end. EPA mileage figures are 20 mpg city, 31 highway. In mostly secondary road and city driving, I got between 19 and 22 mpg. A highway drive, at realistic speeds, returned 27, with plenty of hills to deal with. The week's average was 21, but that could be easily improved by more highway driving. Or easily decreased by keeping the revs up… Yes, there is more than a bit of sport with all of the luxury comfort.

CONCLUSIONS: Acura's RLX combines luxury refinement and comfort with engineering, safety, and entertainment technology and impressive performance.
SPECIFICATIONS
2015 Acura RLX Advance
Base Price $ 60,450
Price As Tested $ 61,345
Engine Type aluminum alloy SOHC 24-valve V6 with direct fuel injection, Variable Cylinder Management, i-VTEC variable valve timing and lift control
Engine Size 3.5 liters / 212 cu. in.
Horsepower 310 @ 6500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 272 @ 4500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed multi-mode automatic
Wheelbase / Length 112.2 in. / 196.1 in.
Curb Weight 3997 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 12.9
Fuel Capacity 18.5 gal.
Fuel Requirement 91 octane premium unleaded gasoline
Tires 245/40R19 98W m+s Michelin Primacy mxm4
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, ABS, EBD, BA, VSA standard
Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone, independent multi-link
Drivetrain transverse front engine, front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 20 / 31 / 21
0 to 60 mph 5.8 sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Destination Charge $ 895​
 

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Discussion Starter #218
Recall


WASHINGTON — America Honda Motor Co. is recalling approximately 9,700 2014-'15 Acura RLX sedans in the U.S. to replace both headlight assemblies.

"The reflective film backing material inside the headlights may delaminate," said the company in a statement on Thursday.

Honda said the vehicles no longer conform to a federal safety standard governing visibility.

No crashes or injuries have been linked to the recall.

The recall will begin in early February. Owners can contact Acura at 1-800-382-2238.

No information about the recall has been posted on the Web site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which oversees vehicle safety in the U.S.

Edmunds says: Owners should schedule a service appointment once they receive notification of this recall from Acura. But if you have a concern in the meantime, it's best to contact your dealer.
 

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Discussion Starter #219
Mugen


Honda has outlined some of the show cars that will be on display at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January.

Headlining the display will be the Cyber Concept N-Box Slash Code: 89, a customized version of the recently released N-Box Slash (or simply "N/" according to the tailgate) supercompact. However, while the production version is available with a variety of retro-themed interiors like a pastel-and-ivory Hawaiian surf shack or a red-and-checkerboard 1950s diner, the Code: 89 takes the opposite tack.

It strips away the chrome and dog dish hubcap-style wheels for an design that could be cruising the surface of the Death Star. The upper grille comprised of geometrically arranged hexagons. An "OPEN" arrow on the hood recalls the hatch of a fighter jet space station. Its yawning lower grille is beset with yet more polygons, surrounded by fog lights that glow like the warp core of the starship Enterprise. Even the spokes on the wheels form hexagons.

In addition, Honda is promising Mugen-tuned versions of the Legend (aka Acura RLX), recently-launched Grace (Fit sedan) hybrid, an artsy N-One Relax Concept an N-One built for a 1-make race series, and an unnamed new 6-seater hybrid model.

 

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Discussion Starter #220
Are Some of the Pics Wrong


The 2015 Acura RLX is a veritable showcase of technology and it’s rolling proof of how the company has embraced and developed the next generation of personal vehicle motivation.

Honda is recognized globally for its engineering prowess. The RLX is the pinnacle of that effort to date (until the next generation NSX Super Car arrives later this year).

That limited-production sports car is expected to have a conventional engine driving 1 set of wheels and electric motors the other.


You don’t have to wait and spend more for fewer seats. At $70,000, the Sport Hybrid version of the 2015 RLX offers that same combination of engine and 3-motor power in a luxurious 4-door sedan, along with a treasure chest of other slick engineering.

I will get to the car itself in a bit, but 1st a glance at the engineering/technology.

The RLX has a 310-horsepower V6 engine driving the front wheels, a pair of 36-horsepower electric motors driving the rear wheels (one each) and a 46-horsepower electric motor hooked up to the engine up front.

The engineering accomplishment centers around what they do and how well they work together.

Pay attention to the Heads Up Display (HUD) in the windshield and you can see:


ELECTRIC LAUNCH

The electric motors drive the rear wheels to get the car underway silently under low throttle conditions. It can continue in this manner as long as the juice from the 1.3 kW-h lithium-ion battery holds out and you don’t push too hard — up to 10 kilometres.

ADD THE ENGINE

Even slight pressure on the accelerator will bring the engine to life and the front wheels into play for extra propulsion. At this point the electric motor up front starts to generate electricity to recharge the battery pack.


ELECTRIC ONLY

At speeds up to 80 km/h the car can be driven by the rear electric motors only under very light throttle.

GAS ONLY

At higher speeds the engine drives the front wheels, the front electric motor charges the battery pack and those at the rear get a rest.


FULL POWER

Goose the gas and the engine and both motors put a total of 377 horsepower to the ground.

REGEN

While decelerating or braking, all 3 electric motors go into regeneration mode, recharging the battery pack.


NOTHING NEW, YET

Technophiles may note that there is nothing new here and that plenty of hybrids act in the above manner — or some semblance of that. But from here on is where the clever engineering and countless weeks and months of development show.

AWD

If sensors detect low traction situations, the RLX converts to AWD. All 4 wheels are driven — the fronts by the engine, the rears by the motors.

CORNERING ASSIST

Accelerate through a corner and additional power is applied to the outside rear wheel to help push the car around the corner. At the same time the polarity of the motor at the inside rear wheel is reversed, causing regenerative braking, pulling the car into the turn while generating the added power for the outside wheel.


POWER OUT

As you accelerate out of the turn, both rear motors supply power for added thrust.

NORMAL

Under normal conditions, where you are not trying to accelerate to and through a corner, the control units apportion power front-to-rear and side-to-side appropriately for a seamless transition through the turn.

Most drivers will never sense the complexity or benefits of this combination of power inputs and distribution and that’s why I mention the HUD display which shows, graphically, what is going on at each wheel, including the reverse direction of power to the inside wheel in some cornering situations. What they will notice is a very smooth, powerful, refined and sophisticated luxury car.


The design is somewhat short of attention-getting, other than the wicked LED headlights. They not only make for brilliant lighting at night, while using very little power, but a pretty sharp look in the daylight.

Inside, you will find a full-feature luxury car loaded with amenities and technology. Quality, fit and finish, leather and wood are all top class. There is a configurable screen between the speedometer and tachometer, the aforementioned HUD and there are 2 information screens on the center stack. A row of console-mounted push buttons and pull levers operate the automatic transmission.

The RLX also has the latest version of AcuraLink which is a little more complicated than I’d like, requiring a lot of attention to do simple chores like changing stations. The only conventional knob to be found is actually a control for the AcuraLink system.


There is plenty of head, leg and shoulder room for 4 big adults. Trunk space is restricted by the big battery pack over the rear axle.

On the road, if you can tear your attention away from all the electronic trickery going on, you will notice an agile car. Much of the alacrity comes from the sophisticated Super Handling AWD system and the ability to push the outside and tug on the inside wheel in corners. But there is also some pretty clever suspension tuning that simultaneously provides a very supple ride, one worthy of a luxury car.

Most manufactures offering hybrids and/or turbocharged drivetrains claim they offer the fuel economy of a smaller engine with the power of a larger one. Rarely do these claims hold up in real world conditions. You get economy or power — but not both. The same is true here.


Under full throttle conditions the RLX is a very powerful and responsive automobile, feeling every bit like it has 377 horsepower. Driven with an extremely light throttle on flat roads with no acceleration it shows impressive fuel mileage. But my week-long, 750 km mix of city and mostly highway driving averaged 9.1 litres/100 km.

That borders on impressive for a big and heavy (4,400-lb) luxury car offering this level of refinement and amenities, but nothing too special in this sense. The numbers would be higher in warmer weather when the battery and electric power would come into play more often and remain in the equation longer.


While the Acura Legend was once the most popular Japanese luxury car, its replacement, the Acura RL, has fallen to near the bottom of the charts, selling at the rate of about 10 per month across the land while the class leader moves more than 300 during the same period.

Until the new NSX arrives to generate additional attention for the brand and showroom traffic, technically-oriented luxury car buyers may seek out and test drive the new RLX. If they do, the numbers should grow.

The specs

2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD

Price: $55,590 base; $55,590 as tested plus freight
Engine 3.5L DOHC V6
Power: 377 horsepower; 341 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): 8.0 city, 7.5 highway​


 
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