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- Highs Comfortable and upscale cabin, loads of standard features, available NSX-based hybrid model.
- Lows Ride is more cushy than sporty, interior lacks luxury feel, curious lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
- Verdict The RLX is a solid choice in a capable, reliable, luxury sedan, although it trails some competitors in a few areas.
The RLX is Acura’s flagship sedan. It started as a 2014 replacement for the RL, which in turn replaced the Legend back in the 1990s. The front-wheel-drive car has faded from the premium buyer's consciousness, especially since the luxury market has turned its attention to sport-utility vehicles, like the Honda premium brand’s own Acura MDX. The RLX is available for 2018 in two model variants: the base FWD Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) model, with equipment from the ’17 model’s Technology package; and the RLX Sport Hybrid, with Super-Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and equipment from the former Advance package. The RLX has sold in small numbers since its introduction, even for a luxury sedan, so you won’t see yourself coming and going.
What's New for 2018?
The 2018 RLX gets a facelift inspired by the 2016 Acura Precision Concept, including a more sculpted hood, new wheel designs, redesigned LED taillamps, dual exhaust finishers, and a gloss-black rear diffuser. A new diamond pentagon grille replaces the controversial brushed chrome “beak” from last year’s RLX, and the Sport Hybrid’s sticker price has been cut by $4,050, while the FWD model is up by $450. Mechanically, the RLX’s suspension has been slightly softened from previous models, and the FWD model has a new 10-speed automatic replacing last year’s six-speed automatic transmission. In the Sport Hybrid, minor tweaks to the transmission and electric motors were made to tighten up the handling slightly when the car is in the Sport mode. Acura’s new Traffic Jam Assist equips the RLX with adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping assist.
- Base: $55,895
- Sport Hybrid: $62,895
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The FWD Acura RLX is powered by a conventional 310-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 coupled to a 10-speed automatic, while the Sport Hybrid adds a 47-hp electric motor built into its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, plus one 36-hp electric motor powering each rear wheel—a system based on the mid-engine NSX supercar’s setup—for a net of 377 horsepower. That’s good for a respectably quick 5.5-second 0-60 mph time, though despite its NSX-inspired SH-AWD, the RLX could stand for “relaxed”—it’s no enthusiast's car. The softened non-adjustable shocks are tuned for ride rather than handling, and while it corners with purpose and has good steering feel, softness defines its character.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside the RLX's nicely trimmed cabin, occupants will find plenty of space in both the front and back seats, although the level of pure luxury falls a bit behind some rivals. Milano leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated seats, three-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, and a power sunroof come on all models. Changes for 2018 include new seats with contrasting piping and stitching, and a new espresso upholstery color option. In the Sport Hybrid model, a smaller, lighter battery pack adds about a cubic foot of volume to the trunk space.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Both the base RLX and the Sport Hybrid model come well-equipped with lots of technology and standard navigation, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are both missing from the spec sheet. Sport Hybrid upgrades include a premium 14-speaker Krell hi-fidelity audio system, head-up display, surround-view cameras, and remote start.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.