HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 ACURA RLX REVIEW
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE ACURA RLX VEHICLE
Using the call of endless technology and luxury, this all-new large-size sedan boasts tailor-made proportions from every angle – whether you are talking rear legroom or driver’s seat visibility. A hybrid version with all-wheel drive will additionally peak interests when available in late 2013.
I drove a 2014 Acura RLX with the 310-horsepower direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift. Available in one trim distinguished by various packages, base level gives you the following standard features: power front seats, leatherette upholstery; tri-zone climate control; multi-view rearview camera; Bluetooth; touchscreen display; steering wheel mounted controls; voice-recognition; SMS text and email reading function; premium audio system; moonroof, eighteen-inch wheels. Price as described begins at $48,450.
The Acura RLX replaces the RL, with its main differentiating quality being more interior space. A suitable competitor based on powertrain and of-the-moment flare would be the redesigned Lexus IS 350 which I was also recently able to test drive. This segment also includes some bigger contenders like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E350.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: Plush and roomy describe the RLX’s interior, with all the usual Acura accoutrements such as wood trim inlays, brushed-chrome accents and vivid digital displays. Crucial extras for the tech-minded include navigation and AcuraLink for smartphone integration (must-have for access to apps). Overall, there are really no glaring differences in what a base Lexus IS 350 offers in terms of standard features, with both infotainment systems being intuitive and easy to maneuver in a safe manner when driving. Second-row passengers are encouraged to stretch out, but headspace does poise some limitations with the RLX; the Lexus IS 350 has less space.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The Acura RLX does boast all the popular safety technology – at an extra – such as Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Blind Sport Monitoring. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2014 Acura RLX ratings of “Good” in moderate overlap front and side impact. It is not yet rated with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Cost Issues: For a quick cost comparison, a base 2014 Lexus IS 350 starts at $39,465 – that’s quite a spread from the Acura RLX’s base of $48,450. Packages can send the total price of the Acura RLX to $60,450 with the IS 350 topping out at just under $50k with the unique FSPORT performance package, extra luxuries and tons of connectivity technology.
Activity & Performance Ability: The RLX benefits from Acura’s new suspension system that does deliver better composure at the corners and absorbs road imperfections without a hitch. Overall improvements to stability and control on all models continue to persuade consumers to see the wisdom in choosing a sedan like the RLX instead of opting for the usual luxury nameplates. But it does remain a few beats below truly athletic and feels like the mid-size sedan it is. For powertrain comparison, the Lexus IS 350 features a 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift automatic transmission with paddle shifters and rear-wheel drive
The Green Concern: The RLX hits fuel economy number expected for a performance sedan at 20-city/31-highway for an overall combined 24 miles-per-gallon. The Lexus IS 350 is not as efficient at 19-city/28-highway for a combined 22 miles-per-gallon.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
Although a little pricey, the 2014 Acura RLX does engulf passengers with the best in safety and connectivity technology along with luxury. Commanding and composed on the road, a performance-oriented edition could really differential this large-size sedan from more illustrious competitors.
©2013 Katrina Ramser