Highlights: A hybrid model will be joining the line up later this year. Acura no longer refers to the flaghship as the RL; its now known as the RLX.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $55,345 (Base RLX starts at $49,345)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: airbags (driver, front, side, knee and curtain); vehicle stability assist; ABS; electronic brake distribution; an electronic parking brake; traction control; and a rearview camera
Standard Equipment: 18-inch wheels; a 6-speed transmission; a push-button keyless starter; power moon-roof; automatic LED headlights; tilt-down heated outside mirrors when in reverse; heated 12-way power front seats; tri-zone automatic climate control system; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a 7-inch multi-use screen for the navigation/rearview camera; and an 8-inch audio/infotainment system
Standard Audio: a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/HDD with satellite radio
Suspension System: front independent double-wishbone and multi-link rear suspension
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles
Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes
Test Vehicle Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/310-horsepower
Recommended Fuel: Premium
Standard Fuel Mileage: 20-city/31-hwy
Base with Nav
Base with Tech package
Base with Audio package
Base with Advance package
What’s New: Since hitting the scene in 1996, this is only the third-time the brand’s flagship has been reworked both inside and out. Visually one can see that the RLX is the same league as it relates to size, as the first-generation RL.
Pros: Besides a new design, a roomier interior and the latest technology, the RL offers separate easy-to-read screens for both the nav and audio system. So, one can change the radio, while placing the vehicle in reverse. Most of today’s vehicles use a shared screen. Thus, only one command can occur at a time. This is innovative on Acura’s part. Furthermore, the instrument panel gauge cluster of the RLX we reviewed displayed an orange illuminated brake warning lights when following cars to closely. We are not quite sure if we liked ‘Big Brother’ closely monitoring our driving habits.
Moreover, our RLX was outfitted with a Tech package, which consisted of a voice-activated nav system, real-time traffic updates, perforated leather seats, an electronic blindspot system, automatic power folding side mirrors and rain-sensing wipers. The RLX we reviewed was also equipped with a forward collision alert system, a lane-departure warning system, an electronic blindspot system lane-changing system, Pandora interface and 19-inch wheels.
And stepping into higher trim packages, buyers can expect a 14-speaker audio system, a radar-controlled cruise controlled system, a collision mitigation braking system, an audio-activated parking sensors, a rear door sunshade, a power rear window sunshade, ventilated front seats and a rear seat foot light.
Cons: While the RLX is significantly improved from the two previous generations, the vehicle is in need of sportier wheels to compliment the exterior design. Like a suit or dress, the right shoes could set off the attire (or in this case the RLX). Added to that, Acura should consider adding a dual panoramic roof (or at least an oversized roof), a heated steering wheel and possibly an entertainment system built into the headrests. And it wouldn’t hurt to consider a non all-wheel drive configuration, which could lower the price of the vehicle, while at the same time improving the miles per gallon.
We were also taken that Acura’s luxury flagship lacked a feature that is exclusive to the Honda Accord, the industry-first LaneWatch Blind Spot display. Unlike the typical blind sport system, Honda provides an expanded rearview of the passenger side roadway utilizing the nav screen, when the right-turn signal is in use.
Finally, many of Acura’s competitors are offering a more fuel-efficient seven-speed and in some cases an eight-speed transmission. Acura is still behind the eight ball, offering a six-speed transmission.
Verdict: While this is Acura’s flagship vehicle, price wise its more in line with many of the luxury automakers midsize luxury sedans, as opposed to their fullsize luxury sedans. After a seven-year stint of wearing a smaller outdated design, we welcome Acura’s latest design, offering more room inside for passengers and cargo alike. The Acura RLX is now on-par with many of its competitors as far as size, design and tech features. However, we must note Acura never skimped on the tech features — even with the dated, but much smaller second-generation RL. While many midsize luxury car buyers will welcome the new RLX, the engineers should be working up a sportier wheel package to make the vehicle pop (or standout)!
Competition: Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, (2014) Cadillac XTS, Hyundai Genesis Sedan, Lexus GS, Lincoln MKZ and Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to jeffCars.com. Follow him @ twitter/JeffCars.