- Many?standard features
- Efficient and quick Sport Hybrid model
- Improved styling
- Some may not like the dual-screen infotainment layout
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
Acura RLX Expert Review
New for 2018
The RLX has been refreshed for 2018 with Acura's new diamond pentagon grille, as well as a redesigned hood, wheels, LED taillights, dual exhaust finishers, and a gloss black rear diffuser. Inside, the RLX receives upgraded materials, redesigned seats featuring contrast piping and stitching, and a new Espresso interior color option. A new 10-speed automatic transmission backs the standard 3.5-liter V-6 (non-hybrid) and Brilliant Red Metallic and Majestic Black Pearl are new paint offerings.
The RLX is Acura's flagship sedan, positioned above the ILX and TLX sedans. With the exception of the NSX hybrid supercar, the RLX is the automaker's most expensive model, topping the three-row MDX crossover.
The 2018 Acura RLX's standard 3.5-liter V-6 produces 310 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque and comes paired to the automaker's new 10-speed automatic that routes power to an all-wheel-drive system. The 2017 model (with the outgoing six-speed automatic) delivered an EPA-rated 20/30 mpg city/highway; we expect the new 10-speed to deliver slightly better fuel economy. The range-topping Sport Hybrid model with Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive utilizes a hybrid system similar to the NSX's that includes the above 3.5-liter V-6 paired to an electric motor (47 hp) and backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Two additional rear electric motors (each 36 hp) power the rear wheels for a total system output of 377 hp and 341 lb-ft of torque. The 2017 model uses the same hybrid powertrain and returned 29/30 mpg; expect a similar figure for 2018.
Standard equipment on the base model will likely stay the same and include LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, a Milano leather-trimmed interior, 12-way power front seats, a 7.0-inch multi-use display, an 8.0-inch multi-information display with navigation, and a 14-speaker ELS audio system. Standard equipment on the Sport Hybrid will include a surround view camera system, parking sensors, a Krell audio system, LED fog lights, remote engine start, ventilated and heated front seats, and heated rear seats and steering wheel.
The 2018 RLX comes standard with a host of AcuraWatch driver assist safety features. New to AcuraWatch is Traffic Jam Assistant, a feature that works in conjunction with adaptive cruise control with Low-Speed Follow and works by keeping the sedan in its lane and will keep a set distance to the vehicle in front. AcuraWatch also includes the Collision Mitigation Braking system with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and Road Departure Mitigation. The 2018 model has yet to be crash tested, but the 2017 model received the highest five-star rating from the NHTSA and was considered a 2017 Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.
What We Think
In a First Test review?of a 2014 model (before the 2018 restyle), we said: "Though the?2014 Acura RLX?offers an impressive set of features, buyers of $50,000-$60,000 cars often seek something more emotionally satisfying than a spacious interior and innocuous styling. That's where the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD — if it's well-received — might help."
In a First Drive review of the 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, we enjoyed the way the sedan drove: "This RLX dances like a much smaller sporty car. Driven in Sport mode, the DCT is willing to downshift and hold gear without driver prompting. The rack-assist electric power steering is accurate but we'd welcome more feedback. An Electric Servo Brake system yields a very stiff brake pedal that simultaneously helps mask the handover from initial regenerative to more powerful hydraulic braking."
Overall, we liked the premium hybrid and said: "Super-conservative styling aside, a car with Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, an estimated 30 combined mpg with 377 hp, a nicely trimmed cabin with gaggles of technology, and brand firsts such as the DCT, electronic gear selector, head-up display, and variable accelerator-pedal effort is a natural fit."
The non-hybrid RLX handles better thanks to the standard Precision All-Wheel Steer (rear-wheel steering) system.