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Changing the Lineup: Acura RLX-15

06 September 2014  
Acura's Flagship Luxury Sedan Challenges Competitors

2015 Acura RLX

Personality: Honors calculus student who runs track and wins best-dressed.

Best Gizmo: P-AWS. Precision all wheel steering. Stability and maneuverability at its finest.

Most Annoying Feature: The two-screen dashboard had me confused.

MPG (as tested): 20 city / 31 highway

Performance: Spirited.

Cars we smoked at stoplights: A Dodge Caravan and a new Lexus ES

0-60: 5.8 seconds

How Fast Is That? Fast enough to be considered a worthy competitor.

How Much? Base of $49,345. Well-loaded for about $60k

What option should I splurge on? Krell Audio Package.

Serious Contenders? Cadillac XTS, Lincoln MKS, Audi A6, Hyundai Equus, Volvo S80. Infiniti M, BMW 5 series, Lexus GS

Would you like the comforts and technology of a $90,000 luxury sedan—for $60,000? If so, be sure to schedule a drive in Acura's new flagship luxury sedan, the RLX.

You're likely aware of Acura—Honda's luxury badge (just as Lexus is Toyota's luxury badge). While Acura sells loads of its smaller luxury cars, its large flagship is an overlooked and unique treasure in a crowded field of look-alike sedans.

One of the great complaints about European luxury sedans (Mercedes, BMW, Audi) is their high maintenance cost. Since the gorgeous new Acura RLX is engineered and built by Honda, you need not worry about maintenance or reliability with it. And it costs considerably less than many competitors. For this reason, we'd like to highlight the RLX as worthy of your consideration.

The new RLX is a refined and well-balanced luxury sedan. It is still more "Honda" than any of its competitors—in ways both good and bad. It remains one of the only V-6 front drive platforms in this class. But different isn't always bad. Industry-wide efforts to improve gas mileage have brought most competing cars closer to the Acura formula. In all, the Acura accelerates, handles and brakes on par for this segment.

Equipped with the hybrid package, this high-performance, high-luxury sedan gets more than 30 miles for every gallon of fuel.

As its Honda heritage suggests, the RLX is a great vehicle and a great value. The latter may not serve it so well in this segment. Luxury sedans are cars with serious egos. In this segment you either play big or go home. And that's one reason why Acura's last attempt in this segment, the RL, never took off. It just had too much Honda in its DNA. What Honda does best—big value in a little package—does not work in the luxury segment. To be either small or a great value is to be ignored or ridiculed among luxury auto buyers. Most want their vehicle to communicate status, excitement and wealth—not value and economy.

Acura designers took note of that, and have responded with a more sensual and stunning design. The RLX—unlike its predecessor—is an eye-catching shape. One that will steal glances at the valet park and in the neighborhood. A longer wheelbase and improved interior, also speak nonverbal luxury, wealth and comfort.

Under the hood, Honda's decades old formula (small but peppy engines) is finally in vogue for this segment. At 310 horsepower, the RLX remains slightly underpowered compared to some competitors, but it's sufficient to propel the car to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. That's fast for a car of this size. Acura's all-new Sport Hybrid system adds all-wheel-drive and a triple electric motor system, while delivering 30 mpg combined.

In this crowded segment, many luxury sedans are shouldering their way to be noticed. If you're looking for true value, reliability, comfort, and gas mileage in your luxury sedan, you will do well to give the Acura RLX a test drive. We highly recommend this new star athlete.

© 2014 John Dickerson and John Kehlenbeck

 

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