If Acura’s RLX flagship was an actual navy boat, it would be fitted with advanced radar cloaking technology: that’s how easily this car escapes the notice of Canadian luxury car shoppers. It may be positioned atop the Acura sedan range in terms of price and powertrains, but it’s too close in size to the next-step-down TLX to attract attention from drivers looking for a car to cross-shop against the likes of a 7 Series, S-Class or Lexus’s LS.
Still, Acura is committed to this car, which gets refreshed styling for 2018 and some new upscale finishes.
To the RLX’s nose, Acura has fitted the diamond pentagon grille that defines the brand’s current styling direction, along with larger LED headlights and sleeker taillights. Inside, there are new front seats that can be finished in saddle brown leather. Tech upgrades include the addition of a traffic jam assist function to the AcuraWatch suite of active safety features.
Traffic jam assist joins the AcuraWatch suite as an assistive technology that aims to reduce driver stress on congested highways. It takes the RLX a notch closer to autonomous driving by helping keep the car centred in its lane and a set distance behind the car in front while stopping and starting on its own as traffic creeps forward. That new system joins active safety items carried over from 2017, including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with forward collision warning, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation.
Like last year, the RLX is powered by a hybrid powertrain that bundles a 3.5L V6 with a trio of electric motors to produce 377 hp and 341 lb-ft of torque. Those electric motors are responsible for providing all-wheel drive traction, too: each rear wheel gets its own motor to which the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD) can vary torque distribution to improve high-speed handling. The RLX’s purest point of pride is that its AWD setup is similar to that in the NSX sports car.
The hybrid setup also pays off in terms of economy: the RLX’s fuel consumption estimates are 8.4/8.2 L/100 km (city/highway), making it more efficient in city driving than Acura’s four-cylinder ILX compact sedan.
The RLX’s standard features include a head-up display, 14-speaker stereo, remote engine starting, LED fog lights, power-folding side mirrors, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. Upgrade to the Elite trim to add an even better sound system, power rear sunshade, 360-degree exterior camera system and ventilated front seats, among other upscale items.
The RLX is a strong performer thanks to its high-tech powertrain, and while it’s a nicely-finished car, it really doesn’t feel like a top-end model; it isn’t priced like one either, with a starting tag of $65,400. Acura would have a hit if it plugged this powertrain into a full-size body that offered the kind of space you get in the biggest European sedans.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed