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Used 2014 Acura RLX Review

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2014 Acura RLX

Edmunds Summary Review of the 2014 Acura RLX

  • B Edmunds Rating
  • The 2014 Acura RLX has all the technology you'd expect in a midsize luxury sedan, but it's eclipsed by similarly priced competitors that offer a more polished driving experience and more elegant design.

  • Pros

    Abundant standard features; spacious cabin; fuel-efficient standard V6; sharp handling and strong fuel economy from Sport Hybrid.

  • Cons

    Harsh ride with the 19-inch wheels and tires; disconnected steering feel; so-so display screen graphics with distracting interface; front seats get uncomfortable on longer drives.

  • What's New for 2014

    The 2014 Acura RLX is an all-new luxury sedan that replaces the RL at the top of the Acura lineup. The Sport Hybrid model introduces an impressive new hybrid powertrain concept that benefits fuel economy and handling.

Full Edmunds Expert Review: 2014 Acura RLX

What's New for 2014

The 2014 Acura RLX is an all-new luxury sedan that replaces the RL at the top of the Acura lineup. The Sport Hybrid model introduces an impressive new hybrid powertrain concept that benefits fuel economy and handling.

Introduction

Acura has struggled to find its identity in recent years, and nowhere has that been more apparent than at the top of the lineup. The 2014 Acura RLX is the brand's new flagship and the successor to the discontinued RL, a midsize luxury sedan that found few customers in spite of its solid credentials. Although not radically different in design or personality, the RLX is a more spacious car and it's packed with all the latest technology. Plus, the new Sport Hybrid version promises 370 horsepower and 30 mpg combined, with the added bonuses of all-wheel drive and sharper handling.

The RLX comes standard with front-wheel drive and a 3.5-liter V6 engine rated at 310 hp. Although you'll likely be content with the car's acceleration in traffic, you might be put off by the big Acura's often busy ride: An Edmunds pre-production test vehicle with the available 19-inch wheels and tires had difficulty filtering out bumps and ruts, both large and small. On the upside, the RLX feels sure-footed around turns thanks in part to its rear-wheel-steer system (P-AWS). The RLX Sport Hybrid is even sportier, as its AWD system can redirect power to individual wheels to enhance the car's stability and quickness. With either RLX, however, numb-feeling steering takes away some of the sporting cred.

By far, the best reason to consider the 2014 Acura RLX is its tech-laden interior. New driver aids include all-speed adaptive cruise control that provides set-it-and-forget-it capability in heavy traffic, along with a collision mitigation system, a blind spot warning system and a lane departure system that's able to both warn you and nudge you back into your lane via steering input.

There are now two grades of Acura's typically excellent ELS audio system, plus an elite 14-speaker system designed by Krell, a company that specializes in high-end home audio. Getting started with the navigation system couldn't be more straightforward, and on top of that, Acura is offering three cloud-based smartphone apps that provide additional music content, improved rerouting capability for the nav system and emergency services. If a user-friendly audio-navigation interface is really important to you, the RLX deserves a look, particularly if you plan to make extensive use of your phone in the car.

In other respects, though, the RLX fades into the midsize luxury sedan pack. The base model is an unremarkable car to drive, and apart from its arresting LED headlights, the styling is utterly forgettable. Even the high-tech interior is lacking in elegance, as the navigation screen is the same size and resolution as the one you'll find in a Honda Accord. Buyers have plenty of choices in this price range, of course: The 2014 Audi A6, 2014 BMW 5 Series and 2014 Lexus GS 350 are more entertaining to drive, while the new 2015 Hyundai Genesis offers many of the same tech features while undercutting the RLX on price.  

The RLX Sport Hybrid is far more appealing. We like its strong fuel economy compared to other hybrid luxury sedans, along with its improved performance and handling. If you're thinking of getting an RLX, the Sport Hybrid would be our pick.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2014 Acura RLX is a midsize luxury sedan available in two models: base and Sport Hybrid. There are also a series of packages, which Acura technically refers to as trim levels. There are no stand-alone options.

The base RLX starts you off with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated eight-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery and tri-zone automatic climate control. Also standard are a rearview camera, Bluetooth, SMS text-to-speech capability for MAP-enabled phones and a 10-speaker ELS sound system with a CD player, digital music storage, a USB/iPod interface, HD radio and satellite radio.

The Navigation package adds navigation capability for the 8-inch screen that's already at the top of the dash, plus access to the AcuraLink suite of smartphone apps. In addition, the climate control system uses the nav system's GPS to adjust cabin temperature according to the angle of the sun.

The RLX Sport Hybrid includes all of the above equipment, but also adds its unique gas-electric powertrain, special noise-reducing 19-inch wheels, a head-up display, an electronic gear selector and a special accelerator pedal that encourages economical driving.

The Technology package equips either RLX model with rain-sensing wipers, power-retractable mirrors, a blind spot monitoring system, noise-reducing acoustic glass, leather upholstery, wood interior accents and a 14-speaker ELS sound system. Also, the keyless system now works on all four doors, rather than just the front doors and trunk. The base version also gets 19-inch wheels.

The Advance package adds adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation system with automatic braking, a lane-keeping assist system, front and rear parking sensors, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.

The Krell Audio package is exclusive to the base RLX and adds a deluxe 14-speaker Krell sound system and full sunshade coverage for the backseat.

Powertrains and Performance

The base Acura RLX comes standard with a 310-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission with both a Sport mode and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters are standard. In Edmunds testing, a 2014 RLX with the Advance package went from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, which is average for a midsize luxury sedan. The EPA rates the RLX at 24 mpg combined (20 city/31 highway), which are above-average numbers for a six-cylinder luxury sedan.

The RLX Sport Hybrid comes with the same V6, but things get different from there with the addition of three electric motors. One is integrated within the Sport Hybrid's seven-speed automated manual transmission to assist the gasoline V6 in powering the front wheels, while the others power one rear wheel each. The result is a unique all-wheel-drive system and a total output of 377 hp. EPA-estimated fuel economy is an excellent 30 mpg combined (28/32).

Safety

The 2014 RLX comes with antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. A rearview camera is standard, but you have to move all the way up to the Advance package to get front and rear parking sensors. That package is also your ticket to collision mitigation and lane keeping assist. A blind spot monitoring system is included starting with the Technology package trim level.

In Edmunds testing, the 2014 RLX managed a 60-0-mph braking distance of 120 feet, an average number for this class.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has performed its battery of tests on the RLX, resulting in a top score of "Good" in all tests for moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset impact safety, side-impact safety, roof strength, and seatbelt and head restraint design for whiplash reduction.

Interior Design and Special Features

You'll immediately be struck by the sheer amount of space inside the Acura RLX. It feels noticeably roomier than the old RL or the TL. Legroom is plentiful in both the front and rear, but 6-footers will find the headroom tight in the backseat and clearance under the front chairs is low, so forget about sliding your feet under them. The front seats are broad and comfy, but we've found them lacking in support on longer drives. Trunk versatility is limited due to rear seats that do not fold (there is a ski pass-through), but its 15.3 cubic feet of space (15.1 with Krell audio) is certainly average for the segment. It does go down to 12 cubic feet with the Sport Hybrid, but that's actually pretty good for a hybrid sedan.

Using the navigation system is simple and intuitive, as Acura allows you to look up destinations by the central control dial, a new 7-inch touchscreen interface (mounted below the 8-inch nav screen) or an enhanced voice recognition system. Unfortunately, neither screen boasts the super-crisp graphics we've come to expect of this class, and some of the more basic functions (such as turning on the seat heaters) require multiple pushes of virtual touchscreen buttons, which can be distracting. A relative lack of radio presets is another disappointment.

The Sport Hybrid's cabin differs slightly. A standard head-up display (an Acura first) shows hybrid system power distribution along with the usual speed readout, while the traditional shifter has been replaced by an odd electronic selector. It has push buttons for Park, Neutral and Drive, but Reverse is engaged with a switch you pull up. It's ergonomically awkward and different for the sake of being different.

Driving Impressions

Most owners will be satisfied with the performance of the 2014 Acura RLX in normal driving. Its V6 doesn't feel as potent as the six-cylinders in the A6 and 5 Series, but this engine is quiet and smooth, with plenty of power for passing when you need it. The transmission provides quick, smooth shifts.

The RLX doesn't ride with the same composure as other sedans in this class. When fitted with the 19-inch wheels, it feels harsh when driving over rough patches at low speeds, while the ride on the highway can be bouncy. Only on truly smooth pavement does the RLX ride like a luxury sedan. Take it around a few turns, and the big Acura is steady but not particularly athletic. The numb steering is at least precise, though, and the car's standard rear-wheel-steering system subtly and effectively steers the rear wheels ever so slightly to help the RLX get around tight corners.

Things get better with the Sport Hybrid, as its trick electric all-wheel-drive system can accelerate an outside rear wheel while braking the inside one to whip you around corners with tenacity. The added power provided by those rear electric motors also provides an exciting burst of acceleration that you don't get from the base RLX or other all-wheel-drive sedans. Unfortunately, though, nothing changes in terms of that numb steering and despite its commendable abilities, the Sport Hybrid still falls short in terms of the engagement one expects from a proper sport sedan.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Average Consumer Rating (See all 12 reviews) Write a Review


Almost perfect

by on
Vehicle: 2014 Acura RLX

There is a lot to like about this car, and frankly little to not like. The only two gripes I have are (1) the low profile tires result in a ride that is busier than should be of a luxury car, and (2) at 6'1", my head just barely misses hitting the headliner.



7 of 7 people found this review helpful

Overall, great car but it does have some problems

by on
Vehicle: 2014 Acura RLX

I'm very happy with the performance, handling, ergonomics and fuel efficiency. The only major complaint I have is with the battery going dead when the car sits for more than 2 days. I suspect it's a parasitic draw, possibly from the HFL module. Taking it back to the dealer and plan to leave it with them until they fix it. Apparently this is a problem with Acuras and I will not recommend buying this model, or any of the other ones, until they address it.



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Drives great "if" you can get it to start!

by on
Vehicle: 2014 Acura RLX

Purchased my 2014 RLX in May 2014. Other than the fact that the engine was kind of loud, and the car did not come with a spare tire of any kind, I was in love with my RLX the first time I drove it. My favorite feature is the All Wheel Steering; I love the way the car handles. What I don't love is that something keeps draining the battery. The first time my car failed to start was in Jan 2015, eight months after I purchased it. This happened again in Sep 2015. The car was completely dead both times; wouldn't make a sound. I had to call Acura roadside assistance to jumpstart the car each time. The car was taken to the dealership after each incident and they could not find what was causing the battery to drain, or any other problem with the vehicle. I have also had problems with the touch screen going blank, Forward Collision Warning activating for no reason, the Bluetooth/phone screen not responding, and voice activation not working properly. The Navigation system doesn't work very well either, once you "finally" figure out how to use it. I have had several problems trying to get the system to find addresses. The search feature doesn't do a good job of keying in on your current area for requested searches, not to mention, maps are outdated. As much as I like the Acura RLX, It is unreliable, so I would not recommend it to a friend or anyone else for that matter.




Rlx-- love this car

by on
Vehicle: 2014 Acura RLX

I got the RLX with Advanced package in Oct. 2013. Have driven more than 15K miles, I can not be more happier. No matter it is 8 hrs drive from southern California to San Francisco or road trips to Vegas and Grand Canyon, or even daily commute on the highways, the car is so quite and comfortable, every time behind the wheel feels like a special treat to myself. My friends have A6 and E class, whenever they rode with me they can not stop praising how much they enjoy the ride and how well made the car was . Actually I got the feeling they sometimes find excuses to just take a ride with me because of they like this car. update 2/29/2016 Have been more than 2 yrs now, drove more than 38K miles, still love this car. Every friend/relatives rode with me always compliment how pretty and how comfortable this car is. I am pretty sure my next car/SUV will still be an Acura.



10 of 10 people found this review helpful

Really good car

by on
Vehicle: 2014 Acura RLX

This car is alot better than reviewed from my perspective. I think the issue is this: This DOES NOT compete with the BMW 5 series or MB E-Class (regardless of what Acura would like)...really more like Lexus, Infiitniti or Lincoln based on my experience. That said, based on actual purchase price-- strong discount to MSRP/Invoice so well below BWM/MB this is a high quality, nice driving (love teh AWS) vehicle. My personal feeling is, while not flashy, the car is also sophisticated looking. So far I'm very pleased with the overall package



8 of 13 people found this review helpful

Bad designn or bad quality?

by on
Vehicle: 2014 Acura RLX

I bought my RLX-ADV about 4 months ago and only put on about 1500 miles so far. I have already took it back three times for repair. There were iPhone 4S issue (automatic dial out and hang out), low battery and charging system warning sign(happened in less than first 50 miles), and camera too hot/LDW, LKAS shut down (90 degree outside) during driving. Dealer recharged the battery, but no action to other issues. Dealer and Acura insisted the shut down is the proper action by design. SF Bay Area is known for good climate. The LDW, LKAS shut-down happened multiple times in April. I really wonder what the car would do in Summer! Update on May 2016: Here are updates on the issues I reported. After two battery charging visits,, my dealer finally declared that it had a bad battery. I got a new battery in less than 12 months since owning the car. The charging issue was resolved. I do not have any phone issue now, either. It went away after I upgraded my phone to iPhone 6S. Honestly, this might be a problem of Apple, not Acura. However, the most important LDW & LKAS shut-down persists! It consistently shutting down these important safety features when outside temperature is around 90 degrees. I gave up fighting with Acura since they insisted this is a necessary precaution to protect the delicate electronic system. I am really disappointed. I spent extra money on this car since it was promised with these safety features. Acura sold me an ill-designed product that takes protection of car as priority over the driver!



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