2014 Acura RLX Elite
3.5L V6 SOHC 24-valve
310 @ 6500
272 @ 4500
10.5 / 6.4
Acura’s comeback in the full-sized sedan segment appends the letter ‘X’ to the former RL and with it also comes the following statement from Acura: “the goal was to simply bring the relationship between vehicle and driver to a higher level. The result is the 2014 Acura RLX. It represents a great deal more than unrivaled achievements in engineering, craftsmanship, technology and interior comfort. This is a flagship, not simply for Acura, but for the future of automotive luxury”.
Let’s for a second believe those well written marketing lines. Also, let’s identify the percentage of truth behind them. First things first; prices start at $49,990, adding the Tech Package brings it up to $55,990 and the top of the range Elite tops out at $62,190.
The first impressions are typical for an Acura. Value for money is the obvious advantage over the competition as the list of features offered in the Elite is simply overwhelming. You get heated everything, the amazing ELS sound system with navigation, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, sunroof and the list goes on forever. Safety features are all there also and the RLX protected its occupants well even in the tricky small overlap IIHS crash test. Note that the seatbelts tighten when you corner or brake fast. Somehow, it feels like its own “holly shit” reaction and that is cool.
The exterior design is classy yet conservative, a non-radical attempt to impress while retaining all the Acura family characteristics recently introduced. The beak grille looks sharp and is complimented by the new jewel style LED headlights and intense lines across the sides and hood. The raised rear and oversized taillights give the car a very luxurious stance as the large dimensions are emphasized.
Inside the cabin, Acura has tried hard to build an impressive interior. The materials used, fit and finish are all superb. There is a mixture of soft and hard plastic, leather and wood that tones the theme and the result is really good. Ergonomically, most controls are nicely placed and the number of buttons is kept reasonable so using everything is rather straightforward. The driver’s seat and steering are adjustable in enough ways to ensure you will find the optimal driving position that suits your needs. There is lots of space up front and the same goes for the back in which three adults can get comfortable as legroom and headroom are both generous. All seats are plush and capable of keeping occupants happy even after travelling for many ours. The trunk, at 423lt (Elite 417 litres) is nothing truly impressive and not being able to fold the rear seats costs practicality points.
Visibility is good and driving the RLX smoothly is a pleasant experience. The steering wheel’s thick grip and soft leather feels nice while the grunt from the V6 adds an exciting soundtrack to the journey. The suspension is tuned towards comfort but does not forget that its primary job is to keep the body under control. It all works very well on the highway where the RLX feels mostly at home. Over rough surfaces, the RLX absorbs bumps much better than what it sounds like, as the suspension can sometimes be a little noisy. Ride comfort is overall good but yet again, not impressive. The soft setup doesn’t have a negative effect on the handling as the chassis feels rigid, but the front-wheel-drive layout feels out of place in this category. The power for the engine is often too much for the front wheels to handle and that makes the RLX feel not as exciting. The addition of the SH-AWD will improve this by a mile.
The PAWS literally adjusts the rear suspension geometry to provide a counter steering effect making the RLX agile and precise. This is quite noticeable and at first, it feels like the car is oversteering. Through our cone slalom test, the handling was predictable, progressive and safe. Exceeding its rather high limits brings lots of stress to the front wheels that struggle to keep the turning tight, despite the help from the rear wheels going wide. Steering feedback and weight is good but the whole experience just lacks excitement.
The 310 BHP produced from the 3.5 V6 V-Tech engine are good enough to propel it to 100km/h in just 7.6 seconds while the 272 lb-ft of torque make passing a blast. It is very refined and smooth, the active cylinder management cuts-off half of them under light loads and our measurement of 9.6lt /100km combined was a pleasant surprise. The six speed automatic transmission with the paddle shifters fits the car like a glove. Smooth, decisive and with well-distanced gears, it keeps movement jerk free and helps achieve good fuel efficiency.
The brake pedal feels precise, not too spongy and the brakes are very effective. From 100km/h, the RLX came to a complete stop in 43m and showed no real signs of brake fade under slightly heavy use.
The relationship between vehicle and driver might have not reached a higher level but a better value for sure. “Craftsmanship”, “technology” and “interior comfort” are very well addressed but Acura deprived its flagship model from its SH-AWD system and that shows.
Traction Control works overtime
P-AWS feels weird
Trunk could be bigger