2014 Acura RLX Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Abundant standard features
  • spacious cabin
  • fuel-efficient standard V6
  • sharp handling and strong fuel economy from Sport Hybrid.
  • 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.
Other years
List Price
$16,389

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

2014 Acura RLX models

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.

2014 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2014 Acura RLX.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Really Good Car
billg8,07/24/2014
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
RLX-- love this car
angela2014,08/28/2014
Advance Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
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. Update 8/28/2016 It will be 3 Yrs by this October. My RLX still serves me well for my daily 80+ miles commute between Orange and LA county as well as long distance road trips. The odometer is more than 48K miles as today. My only regret is I did not wait a little longer to buy the hybrid version. Maybe in couple years. Update 2/28/2017 Still own the car and enjoy every ride. Got close to 60K miles now. Update 9/8/2017 Sitll serves me well for my daily commute on 405. Have driven more than 70K miles now. Always feel safe and smoth drive every time. Quite certainly my next car will still be an ACURA. Update Marc 12, 2018 have more than 82K miles in my RLX. Still run like new. Quiet cabin, great Krell audio system and smooth ride make daily commute on 405 highway enjoyable. I love this car. Update Sept. 13, 2018 It will be five years this October since I have my RLX. Still this car is my loyal companion on my daily commute at 405. I have put more than 92K miles on my RLX, still runs like new. I am so happy with my car, this January I bought a 2019 TLX Advance PKG for my husband. He loves his TLX. Now we have three ACURA in my household. My daughter has a RDX. From our experiences, it is very likely we will be ACURA owners for life as long as Acura continues to make reliable, safe and fun to drive cars. Update 9/15/2019 Got more than 113K miles on my RLX by now. Still my loyal companion for my daily commute on 405 highway. My plan is to drive the car for another couple years, then get a new RLX because I just love driving this car and I trust Acura’s quality. Update 3/16/2020 Still have this car and still driving daily commute at 405. Almost 130K miles by now. Never fails me and the drive is always comfortable which makes the 405 traffic jam bearable. Definitely my next car will be another RLX.
Better Than It Looks
texastom2,08/08/2013
Coming out of my first Acura a '12 TL AWD, I looked at everything else in its class. My wife got the '13 Lexus GS 350, which is very nice, but I needed more testosterone. I was very surprised when I test drove the RLX as most of the reviews by the 'experts' were average at best.. It is a perfect fit for me. Bigger inside than my TL and the Lexus 350. Lots of room in the back seat. The control panel is much more intuitive than my TL. The ride is plenty smooth, the transmission feels great shifting in all gears, A/C is perfect. I really enjoy driving it. I leased it and did not know until I was handed the keys it comes with a great Roadside Assistance Pkg. basically covers everything.
Almost Perfect
Ed Koval,02/22/2016
4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
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.

Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
310 hp @ 6500 rpm
MPG
20 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
310 hp @ 6500 rpm
MPG
20 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
310 hp @ 6500 rpm
MPG
28 city / 32 hwy
Seats 5
7-speed automated manual
Hybrid
377 hp @ 6500 rpm
See all Used 2014 Acura RLX features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2014 Acura RLX
More About This Model

It's not the blind crests, lack of shoulders or even our own unfamiliarity with California State Route 121, also known as Monticello Road here in Napa Valley, that's curtailing our fun. In fact, those things actually enhance the experience. Rather, it's the occasional frost-covered shady patch and the fact that the 2014 Acura RLX's thermometer hovers between 32 and 34 degrees that's got us nervous.

There is no room for error.

Underneath us there's a new all-wheel steering system and a new suspension design. Power is sourced from a direct-injected version of the Accord's 3.5-liter V6 driving a paddle-shifted, rev-matching six-speed transmission.

We settle into a quick but prudent pace that keeps both our confidence and the RLX on solid footing. Push too hard and the big Acura's dampers can't keep up. It's not slow exactly, but we can't avoid the notion that our confidence isn't peaked. Driving the RLX harder than seven-tenths rapidly exceeds its comfort zone. And ours.

What the Acura RLX Isn't
It's possible that Acura's 2014 RLX sedan will be more widely remembered for what it doesn't offer than for what it does. With a transverse power plant driving the front wheels, the RLX (as it's being introduced) flies in the face of conventional midsize luxury layouts, where a longitudinal engine driving either the rear or all four wheels is the status quo.

Later this year, the flagship RLX (a hybrid all-wheel-drive version with electric motors powering the rear wheels) will be available. For now, though, this big Acura is all about the front wheels, and in more ways than one.

But according to Acura representatives and simple reasoning, most buyers aren't purchasing these sedans for the dynamic benefits offered by a rear-drive platform. These sedans aren't, after all, sports cars.

"We learned with the [all-wheel-drive] RL, which was among the best handling cars in the class, that having the best handling car doesn't mean you have the best-selling car," one Honda executive told us.

True. But maybe rear-drive, or at least a rear-drive philosophy, does.

Whether sales are a product of philosophy or function is irrelevant because Acura desperately needs a winner in this class. Last year it sold fewer than 400 RLs, while Lexus and BMW both sent more than 12,000 rear-drive GS 350s and 535is to new homes.

Though Acura isn't keen to predict sales, it's clear that it intends for the 2014 Acura RLX to fix that problem.

But Will the RLX Succeed Where the RL Failed?
Power won't be an issue. Certainly the RLX can't pump iron with the V8-powered competitors in the segment, but this Acura is not underpowered. Though its engine is downsized relative to the outgoing RL's 3.7-liter power plant, the new mill is both more powerful and more efficient. Cranking out 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque, the engine adds 10 hp and 1 lb-ft of torque to the sedan's résumé.

Variable Cylinder Management (VCM in Honda-speak), in conjunction with direct injection, yields a big bump in efficiency to 20 city/31 highway/24 combined mpg, up from the RL's 17 city/24 highway/20 combined mpg ratings. Contrary to most fuel-saving strategies, Acura lowered the ratios of all six gears and the final drive in the RLX, which should improve acceleration.

There's a Sport mode that increases throttle and transmission response and increases gain on the rear-wheel steering system, though the transmission still won't hold gears at redline.

More puzzling is a lack of optional adjustable or adaptive suspension, which is available on the RLX's biggest competitors. We're big fans of a single suspension calibration, but aren't convinced that the RLX delivers the driving experience luxury buyers want in this segment.

What's Holding the RLX Back?
Three words: Front-wheel drive. Despite being a capable front-drive sedan, there's no escaping front-drive dynamics.

Acura made a 2013 BMW 535i and 2013 Mercedes-Benz E350 available to drive back to back with the RLX on a small handling course where body control, transitional stability and the ability to power out of low-speed corners were priorities. But thanks to the 535i's adjustable damping, this was not the demonstration Acura had hoped for. We preferred the BMW and would put money on it being quicker through the course. The Benz, however, was clearly not as controlled.

It's fair to say that most luxury sedan owners won't subject their cars to such a test. Still, it illustrates the confidence Acura has in its new sedan: confidence which is largely a product of the RLX's Precision All-Wheel Steering (P-AWS). The system is capable of independently controlling the rear wheels so it can execute stability-increasing moves like adding toe-in under heavy braking. Otherwise, its behavior is not unlike previous systems, which steer the rear wheels in phase or out of phase with the fronts depending on a number of factors.

In practice, the effects of rear steering are subtle enough that you'll likely never notice. Certainly it enhances the RLX's handling, but you won't find yourself aware of crabbing across lanes during a freeway lane change. Chassis engineers also use the individual brake application to introduce yaw in certain conditions, which they call Active Handling Assist.

Given its size, the 2014 Acura RLX is a respectable-handling front-driver, but its dynamic abilities aren't game-changing.

Its Looks Are Not Deceiving
Let's face it. The RLX isn't the most striking sedan to ever come out of Japan. Or from anywhere. It's been pegging our forgettable meter since its quiet debut last November at the L.A. auto show, which is ironic given that Acura names "elegant and exclusive style" as the No. 1 priority of luxury sedan customers.

But it is big, inside at least.

It's here that the RLX can make some real claims, like best-in-class interior space. Specifically, and maybe most importantly, that means more rear legroom than its rivals from Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. At 112.2 inches the RLX's wheelbase is 2 inches longer than the RL's and is identical to the Lexus GS 350.

There's also less narrowing of the greenhouse above the beltline than these competitors, which results in more shoulder room and head space. Indeed, sit anywhere in the RLX and there's no sense of confinement and visibility is good.

Inspired Interior
Despite its interior dimensions, the 2014 Acura RLX encapsulates its driver and front passenger in a warmly personal space. Its 12-way adjustable seats will suit for long stints and its steering wheel is both small in diameter and thick-rimmed, giving the sense that you're controlling a smaller machine. Materials and assembly quality are befitting a car in this segment.

Instrument panel space is split evenly between a large tachometer on the left and a large speedometer on the right, both of which are typically clear in presentation. Otherwise, Acura's strategy for secondary controls is to allow multiple means to access features, which pays off in keeping the button count reasonable.

The RLX's cabin is among the most serene we've experienced thanks to a set of active engine mounts and active noise cancellation through the audio system. And if you're into that sort of thing, there's an available 14-speaker Krell audio system that even makes Paul Simon sound tolerable. Combined, these amenities make the RLX a solid long-haul choice, as good as or better than its competition.

Genuinely Useful Tech
Perhaps the RLX's most impressive feature is its ability to steer itself. Acura calls this feature the Lane Keeping Assist System, and it does just that. Truth is, the car steers itself for about 10 seconds. Then it wants you to steer again, which seems fair.

A forward-looking camera monitors lane position and keeps lane wanderers from wandering too far. On mildly curving roads it's so subtle and effective that we hope every driver in Los Angeles gets one. In longer corners we noticed the system making small corrections against our input. Still, it's worth it most of the time and easily switched off.

Besides being extremely well-calibrated for the inevitable space-cushion thief, the RLX's Adaptive Cruise Control will now comfortably stop the car and requires only a tap of the throttle or "Resume" button to once again begin tracking back to its preset speed.

The Cost/Benefit Ratio
The 2014 Acura RLX will be available with five packages (Base, Navigation, Technology package, Krell Audio package, Advance package) starting at $49,345 including destination when it hits dealers next month. The car we drove here, outfitted with the Advance Package, will cost $61,345, which will get you a BMW 535i with the Technology and Dynamic Handling packages or a loaded rear-wheel-drive Lexus GS 350.

The full verdict on the RLX won't be in until the all-wheel-drive hybrid version shows up. But even then, the ultimate question facing the RLX isn't whether it can be competitive on features and price, but rather if it can be desirable.

All-wheel drive will help, and the RLX needs all the help it can get.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

Used 2014 Acura RLX Overview

The Used 2014 Acura RLX is offered in the following submodels: RLX Sedan, RLX Hybrid. Available styles include Technology Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A), Advance Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A), Navigation 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A), Sport Hybrid SH-AWD w/Advance Package 4dr Sedan AWD (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid 7AM), Krell Audio Package 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A), Sport Hybrid SH-AWD w/Technology Package 4dr Sedan AWD (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid 7AM), and 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2014 Acura RLX?

Price comparisons for Used 2014 Acura RLX trim styles:

  • The Used 2014 Acura RLX Technology Package is priced between $16,389 and$16,389 with odometer readings between 70313 and70313 miles.

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Which used 2014 Acura RLXES are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2014 Acura RLX for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2014 RLXES listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $16,389 and mileage as low as 70313 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2014 Acura RLX.

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Should I lease or buy a 2014 Acura RLX?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Acura lease specials
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