The Acura RLX was introduced in 2013 for the 2014 model year and served as a follow-up to the second-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.

Click past the jump to read more about the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD.

  • 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD
  • Year:
    2014
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    377
  • MPG(Cty):
    28
  • MPG(Hwy):
    32
  • Torque @ RPM:
    314
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    59950
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • car fuel:
  • body style:

Exterior

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD High Resolution Exterior
- image 570305
2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD High Resolution Exterior
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Acura’s cool “Jewel Eye” LED headlamps are easily the RLX’s most unique and eye-catching exterior feature.

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 three years. Acura’s cool “Jewel Eye” LED headlamps are easily the RLX’s most 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-Benz E-Class, and Lexus GS. At 196.1 inches in length it’s about 3 inches longer than the 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 one another and are both suitably large. Bluetooth, hands free phone, blind spot detection, phonebook, acoustic glass, and music app compatibility are also standard.

Drivetrain

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Drivetrain
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2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Drivetrain
- image 570318
2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Drivetrain
- image 570317
Between the internal combustion engine and the three electric motors, the RLX Sport Hybrid produces a formidable 377 horsepower and 341 pound-feet of torque.

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 three electric motors: one up front mounted inside in the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and two 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 two 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 one 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 three 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 five seconds flat, all while returning 32 mpg on the highway and 28 in the city.

Drivetrain/Specifications

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

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD High Resolution Exterior
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The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD starts at $59,950 and comes in two 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.

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

2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Acura out-muscles the similarly priced BMW ActiveHybrid 5 by some margin, but it can’t match the BMW in 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 six, 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 eight-speed transmission to the Acura’s seven, but at that point, who’s counting?

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

Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid

2014 Mercedes E-Class High Resolution Exterior
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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 one-piece LED headlamps and horizontal taillights give it a thoroughly modern appearance, but it’s also instantly recognizable as a Mercedes.

Lexus GS 450h

2013 Lexus GS 450h High Resolution Exterior
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Lexus offers two 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 two.

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

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD High Resolution Exterior
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It will be interesting to see if the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD drivetrain gets applied to other platforms in Acura’s, or even 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 two is like playing a really, really hard version of one 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.

  • Leave it
    • * Not the most interesting thing to look at.
    • * Chunky, but able to hide its weight well.
    • * Limited interior color and trim options.

Press Release

Acura has unleashed its most advanced vehicle to date with the 377 horsepower1 RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD now on sale. This all-new Acura flagship sedan brings to market a unique blend of exhilarating all-weather, any-road dynamic performance, V8-class acceleration and 4-cylinder fuel efficiency in a luxury performance sedan, the first vehicle of its kind with electrically powered torque vectoring all-wheel drive.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD High Resolution Exterior
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"The RLX Sport Hybrid is the most technologically advanced vehicle in Acura history and we are excited it is now in the hands of our dealers who have been eagerly awaiting its release." said Michael Accavitti, senior vice president and general manager, Acura division. "We know customers will appreciate the technological sophistication the RLX Sport Hybrid offers and the effort it took to perfect this cutting edge system."

Producing a combined 377 horsepower and 341 lb-ft of torque1, the RLX Sport Hybrid is powered by a direct injected 3.5-liter V6 engine and new three-motor hybrid system with the latest incarnation of Acura’s signature Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. This unique and highly effective combination delivers powerful and efficient performance, with a 32 mpg EPA highway fuel economy rating2. RLX Sport Hybrid delivers all of this in a luxurious and comprehensively-equipped package with class-leading rear seat legroom.

Priced at $59,9503 for the smartly equipped Technology Package, and $65,9503 for the Advance Package, both trim levels come equipped with luxurious, leather-trimmed interiors and state-of-the-art technology. Standard features include the Acura Head-Up display, a 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) with electronic gear selector, Jewel Eye™ LED headlights and advanced, driver-assistive technologies such as Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), Lane Keeping Assist, and Blind Spot Information system. Customers can view, build and price the car at acura.com/RLX.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD
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Powertrain and Drivetrain
The RLX Sport Hybrid’s 3.5-liter, 310-horsepower4, i-VTEC® V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management™ (VCM™) includes an idle-stop feature to help maximize fuel efficiency. The engine is mated to an all-new, 7-speed dual clutch transmission with built-in electric motor. In automatic mode, the transmission provides highly responsive and intuitive gear selection, including matching engine revs during downshifts; in manual mode, the Sequential SportShift paddle shifters give the driver gear selection control to make virtually seamless ratio changes.

The electric SH-AWD system on the RLX Sport Hybrid eliminates the conventional drive shaft and rear differential, replacing them with two high-output 27-kilowatt electric motors. The rear motors dynamically distribute both positive (drive) and negative (regenerative braking) electric-motor torque, depending on driving conditions, and which torque vectoring assists in cornering. The system is further aided by the 35-kilowatt front electric motor that supplements engine torque to the front wheels and provides regenerative brake torque to charge the vehicle’s 260-volt lithium-ion battery pack.

Body and Chassis
With a longer wheelbase and wider greenhouse than competing mid-luxury sedans, the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD delivers full-size interior space in a nimbler, mid-size luxury sedan package. The RLX boasts the longest rear-seat legroom (38.8 inches), and best front (59.6 inches) and rear (57.0 inches) shoulder room in the mid-luxury class. The RLX advanced body design makes extensive use of high-strength steel and aluminum, further aiding its outstanding fuel efficiency, straight-line performance and superior handling agility.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD High Resolution Exterior
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In front, the RLX’s double-wishbone, lower double-joint front suspension with Amplitude Reactive Dampers significantly improves handling agility, driver confidence and security, and ride sophistication. In back, the RLX’s multi-link rear suspension is optimized for a flat ride during cornering, confident turning capability, and a smooth ride in a variety of urban, highway and open road scenarios.

Technology
Acura advanced technology features on the Sport Hybrid include the Acura electronic gear selector and Acura Head-Up Display System. The Acura electronic gear selector replaces the conventional, center console-mounted shift lever with an efficiently packaged push-button array that allows the driver to easily select the desired drive mode—Park, Drive and Reverse, as well as Sport and Normal driving modes. The Acura Head-Up Display System provides the driver with at-a-glance access to key driving information projected on the windshield. Display modes include Sport Hybrid system operation, turn-by-turn navigation, speedometer and compass, as well as alerts from various driver-assistive systems.

The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD features Acura’s signature Jewel Eye™ LED headlights, which offer outstanding light distribution and excellent down-the-road illumination performance and light characteristics. The RLX taillights utilize periphery LED illumination that is both effective and highly distinctive.

With the expanded range of standard and available technology features built into the RLX, substantial engineering effort was put into making each feature intuitive and easy-to-use. The focal point of the new instrument panel is a large, 8-inch color screen that combines audio/information and navigation functions and provides access to an array of customizable features. An additional 7-inch color On Demand Multi-Use Display™ (ODMD) touchscreen is positioned within easy reach and controls the audio system and many other features.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD High Resolution Exterior
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Audio and Connectivity
Exceptional audio performance has long been an Acura hallmark, and in the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, two audio systems are offered. The Technology package includes the Acura/ELS Studio® Premium Audio System with an advanced 14-speaker array. In the Advance package, the 14-speaker Krell system — with speakers and amplifiers engineered by Krell, one of the most respected audio companies in world — sets a new benchmark in automotive audio performance.

The RLX is equipped with the next-generation AcuraLink® cloud-based connected car system, delivering a comprehensive array of media, convenience, and security services via embedded two-way communications and web-enabled devices. AcuraLink® leverages Pandora® interface for streaming audio and the Aha™ by Harman cloud-based interface to provide users with thousands of customizable cloud-based news, information and media feeds. The next-generation AcuraLink® also delivers an array of available, subscription-based, security and convenience features, such as AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic™ featuring freeway traffic and, for the first time, surface street traffic information.

Safety
The new RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD offers an extensive array of advanced safety, visibility and driver-assistive technologies that put the RLX on the leading edge of collision avoidance and assisted driving capability. Standard and available features include a Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW), along with Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Blind Spot Information (BSI) system.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD High Resolution Exterior
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Utilizing Acura’s next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, along with seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD is anticipated to earn top-level safety ratings, including a 5-Star NCAP Overall Vehicle Score and an IIHS "TOP SAFETY PICK+" rating, plus a GOOD rating in the IIHS small overlap front collision test.

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