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 first 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?
Click past the jump to read my full review on the 2014 RLX and see the results.
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 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)|
Gallery Acura RLX Advance - Driven
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 four 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)|
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 six-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|
|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|
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-six-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.
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.
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 "Four 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 eight speed — two more gears than the Acura — transmission that then shoots power to all four 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.
Gallery Audi A6
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 eight-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.
Gallery Lexus GS 350
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.
- Tons of features to keep you busy
- Huge navi screen
- Great audio system
- Peppy for its size
- Legroom galore
- 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