2017 Acura RLX

2017 Acura RLX Review

The RLX comes packed with technology but can't quite match the performance and luxury of European rivals.
3.0 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Jonathan Elfalan
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Compared to the most other sedans in this segment, the RLX offers a shade less performance and luxury at roughly the same price. However, its smooth 3.5-liter V6 produces sufficient power for daily needs, rear passenger space is generous, and the standard technology features are outstanding.


What's new for 2017

The base Navigation trim is no longer offered, but otherwise the Acura RLX remains unchanged for 2017.

We recommend

For 2017, the RLX Technology package supplants the Navigation trim as the entry-level model and is the model we recommend buying. There are a ton of standard features, including a complete suite of active safety technologies such as blind-spot monitoring and lane keeping assist. Though the Advance package contains attractive options such as heated and ventilated seats and a surround-view camera, the cost of the package at $6,000 would be better spent upgrading to the Sport Hybrid model.



Trim levels & features

The 2017 Acura RLX comes powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine (310 horsepower, 272 pound-feet of torque) that drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Two trim levels are available: the Technology package and the Advance package. The 2017 Sport Hybrid, which has a combined output of 377 hp and 341 lb-ft from its 3.5-liter V6 and three electric motors, is also available in both trims/packages above. The Sport Hybrid features a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive with torque-vectoring technology.

The RLX with Technology (the lowest trim level) comes well-equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, automatic wipers, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), heated front seats with driver-seat memory settings and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The list of standard features includes dual displays, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a 14-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD and satellite radio, a USB-iPod interface, smartphone app integration (with Pandora and Aha internet radio integration) and an auxiliary audio jack.

The RLX comes standard with a full suite of driver assistance aids known as AcuraWatch. AcuraWatch bundles forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, lane departure intervention, road departure intervention (similar to lane departure intervention, but it can help prevent the car from leaving a paved surface), blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Advance package adds a power rear sunshade, manual rear passenger window shades, remote start, auto-dimming outside mirrors, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a 360-degree parking camera system and a premium sound system, also with 14 speakers.

The Sport Hybrid equipment mirrors that of the non-hybrid RLX, with the exception of a head-up display that comes standard with all trims. The display projects information such as turn-by-turn navigation directions, power distribution, and potential collision warnings within the driver’s line of sight.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full tests of the 2014 Acura RLX Advance (3.5L V6; 6-speed automatic) and the 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Advance (3.5L V6; hybrid; AWD; 7-speed dual-clutch automatic).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.0 / 5

Driving

3.0 / 5

Acceleration3.5 / 5
Braking2.5 / 5
Steering3.0 / 5
Handling3.5 / 5
Drivability4.0 / 5

Comfort

3.5 / 5

Seat comfort3.0 / 5
Ride comfort3.5 / 5
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5

Interior

3.5 / 5

Ease of use3.0 / 5
Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5
Driving position4.5 / 5
Roominess4.0 / 5
Visibility4.0 / 5
Quality3.5 / 5

Utility

2.5 / 5

Small-item storage3.0 / 5
Cargo space2.5 / 5

Driving3.0

The RLX is relatively nimble and wields enough horsepower to handle everyday tasks with ease. Although it's dynamically competent, others in the segment offer a more engaging driving experience and a wider selection of powertrains.

Acceleration3.5

The 310-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 is a strong, refined engine and even better when paired with three electric motors (377 hp combined). Both RLX models pull hard to redline and are always smooth, though acceleration times aren't any quicker than those of most competitors.

Braking2.5

Brake performance is slightly below average for the segment. The RLX required 120 feet, and the Sport Hybrid 124 feet, to reach a stop from 60 mph. Pedal feel is linear and predictable.

Steering3.0

The steering is accurate but numb and artificial, so you can't feel what's going on with the front tires, hurting driver confidence in low-grip situations (e.g., winter driving).

Handling3.5

Acura Precision All-Wheel Steering (P-AWS) delivers predictable, confident and competent handling, but it's not a class leader. The same goes for the Sport Hybrid whose Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system helps mask some inherent handling deficiencies.

Drivability4.0

The RLX combines luxury and performance in a way that makes it an excellent everyday commuter. The powertrains are smooth and tranquil, the transmissions deliver seamless shifts, and sufficient thrust is there when you call.

Comfort3.5

RLX ride comfort varies between models, while seat comfort falls below our expectations at this price. Noise and vibration, however, is kept at bay, which helps preserve some cabin serenity.

Seat comfort3.0

The seats lack sufficient lateral support for aggressive driving, and the flat bottom cushions need more plushness to be road trip-worthy. On the positive side, the Advanced Package adds ventilated seats, a huge luxury for long drives or in hot weather.

Ride comfort3.5

Ride quality is on the firm side in the standard RLX and somewhat softer and more forgiving in the Sport Hybrid, though it will wallow occasionally over some roads. We consider it average for the segment.

Noise & vibration4.0

A low-level hum of tire noise finds its way into the cabin, but it's mainly noticeable because of the lack of wind and engine noise. The transition from electric to gas power in the Sport Hybrid is pleasantly seamless.

Interior3.5

The RLX interior is best described as functionally pleasant; there isn't much of a wow factor. The top infotainment display has a lower resolution than the bottom touchscreen, and the controls look dated and lack an intuitive flow. You'll find better interiors at this price.

Ease of use3.0

The dual-screen setup takes practice: one is a touchscreen; the other uses a push-knob rotary selector. The menus aren't overly intuitive, and the lack of a hard switch for fan speed is a poor choice. More thought needs to go into organization.

Getting in/getting out3.5

All doors open wide with big entryways, especially the rear. The easy-entry electric steering wheel aids driver entry (a common feature in this class), but the dash extends low at the knee area, limiting space. On the other hand, it's cushioned in case of contact.

Driving position4.5

A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, highly adjustable seats and minimal side bolstering nearly ensure that all body types will fit.

Roominess4.0

The RLX is the largest Acura sedan to date. Elbow and shoulder room and rear legroom are generous and among the best in class. Passengers with tall torsos may be affected by the slope of the rear roofline, though a relief in the ceiling opens up some lost head space.

Visibility4.0

Speakers in the windshield pillars make for slightly larger blind spots out front, and a high trunklid partially obscures rearward visibility. The Advance Package, however, includes multiple cameras and selectable viewing angles that greatly enhance overall awareness.

Quality3.5

Leather surface stitching is tight and clean, and all materials feel of good quality with soft-touch surfaces in all the right places. Some minor inconsistencies, such as interior door gaps, only become apparent when you look for them. The design may be a little dated, but it doesn't feel cheap.

Utility2.5

The RLX offers generous amounts of passenger space but fails to impress with its trunk accommodations and in-cabin storage for personal effects.

Small-item storage3.0

The RLX's glovebox and door pockets are modestly sized, which leaves the three-way-access armrest compartment as the most usable space. The rear center armrest has slide-out cupholders.

Cargo space2.5

Trunk space is average, though the lack of a spare tire allows for underfloor storage. There's a ski pass-through instead of fold-down rear seats in the standard RLX, and the Sport Hybrid sacrifices the pass-through due to its batteries, dropping cargo room from 14.9 cubic feet to 11.6 cubic feet.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.