2019 Acura RLX Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Quiet, comfortable interior
  • Spacious cabin and seating, especially for rear passengers
  • Long list of standard safety and convenience features
  • Dual-screen infotainment system is outdated and unintuitive
  • Interior design looks dated
  • Subpar ride and handling for the class
  • Hybrid fails to offer stand-out efficiency
Other years
List Price Estimate
$31,450 - $36,184

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Which RLX does Edmunds recommend?

Unless you do a lot of city driving, you won't see much in the way of fuel savings from the Sport Hybrid. We'd recommend skipping the added cost and complexity and opting for the RLX P-AWS. You'll get a comfortable, well-built luxury sedan (that doesn't benefit from being saddled with the expectation of "sport") for a reasonable price.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

The Acura RLX is a car in need of a redesign. Acura's large luxury sedan boasts some unique features. But beyond some minor tweaks, it hasn't changed much since it launched in 2013, and even then it didn't feel cutting-edge. The RLX is roomy and comfortable, and the interior materials and craftsmanship have a distinctly luxury feel. The design and technology, however, feel generations behind what you'll find in a new Audi or Mercedes-Benz.

The Acura's real party tricks are its novel drivetrains. The base model is front-wheel drive with a rear-wheel steering system to help it feel more nimble. At the top of the range sits the Sport Hybrid, which drives the front wheels with a punchy V6 and the rear wheels with an electric motor. Sadly, the Sport Hybrid doesn't live up to its sporty promises on the road. And it is no more frugal than other luxury hybrids that are better to drive and come in more modern packages or offer significantly better mpg.

2019 Acura RLX models

The 2019 Acura RLX comes in just two trims. The base front-wheel-drive version (referred to as P-AWS) comes with a features list that's more comprehensive than what you'll get on many competitive base models. The Sport Hybrid comes with an all-wheel-drive hybrid drivetrain and even more premium features.

The base RLX P-AWS is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine making 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. It sends power to the front wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Standard equipment on the P-AWS trim includes 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, a power sunroof, automatic windshield wipers, a rearview camera, and keyless entry with push-button start. Inside, you'll find three-zone automatic climate controls, heated and power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a dual-screen infotainment system, navigation, Bluetooth, and a 14-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD and satellite radio, a USB-iPod interface, smartphone app integration (Pandora and Aha internet radio integration), and an auxiliary audio jack.

Both the P-AWS and the Sport Hybrid come with a full suite of active safety features and driver aids, including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

The Sport Hybrid also adds LED foglights, auto-dimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, remote start, and a surround-view camera system. Inside, the Sport Hybrid gets ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a power rear sunshade and manual rear-door sunshades, a head-up display, and a premium 14-speaker stereo system.

Obviously, the biggest upgrade is the hybrid drivetrain. The V6 motor drives the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with a built-in electric motor, and each rear wheel has an independent electric motor. Total system power is 377 horsepower and 341 lb-ft of torque.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (3.5L V6 hybrid | 7-speed dual-clutch automatic | AWD).

Driving

The RLX is quick in a straight line, but other facets of its dynamic repertoire leave the driver disconnected. The frustrating brake feel and bump-sensitive handling undo any sporting pretensions suggested by the power delivery. But the hybrid system is smooth, and the transmission feels natural.

Acceleration

The electric-augmented torque off the line is seamless, blending smoothly with the robust V6 power. Although it's quick from a launch, the engine's responses at freeway speeds are less impressive. Its 5.6-second sprint to 60 mph is quick, but in the company of similar-priced competitors this does not stand out.

Braking

The brake pedal feels normal at light pressure but is awkward in moderate-to-hard use, like stepping on a spring connected to nothing else. The RLX's blending of regenerative and traditional brakes reminds us of earlier, cruder efforts. A lengthy stopping distance of 126 feet from 60 mph is below average for the class.

Steering

The steering feels well-weighted but numb and slightly artificial. It's geared well, neither too quick nor too slow. The car is easy to keep pointed straight.

Handling

Turn-in is good, but any elegance evaporates on roads with bumps where it is easily unsettled. An unorthodox technique is demanded to extract the most speed through a corner — SH-AWD requires you apply more throttle to erase this car's understeer. Grip is good but not great, and body roll is moderate.

Drivability

The RLX responds briskly off the line, and its stepped transmission provides a more natural experience than a CVT automatic. Manual mode is so unresponsive that it's nearly useless. It lacks any meaningful regen or engine braking upon throttle lift, forcing a "gas-brake-gas-brake" pedal dance in freeway slogs. Sport mode favors higher revs.

Comfort

A poorly sorted ride stands out among otherwise competent luxury appointments. The cabin is hushed, and the engine imperceptibly turns on and off (because it's a hybrid, remember). Its seats are quite comfortable for long trips, and their meek side bolsters are fine since the car's no joy to hustle around corners anyway.

Seat comfort

The seats are very comfortable. They're plush and wide, with modest bolsters. The lack of lateral support coupled with slippery leather means a lot of sliding around.

Ride comfort

Rubbery, constantly busy ride motions make roads seem bumpier than you ever knew. The car is coping (poorly) with too much weight — underdamped and easily unsettled by midcorner bumps. Body motions are excessive on textured roads. The powertrain jiggles around when the accelerator is pushed or released quickly.

Noise & vibration

The integration of the engine and electric motor is seamless. At low speeds you hear rather than feel the engine turn on. Beyond 40 mph, the engine is largely silent, and it sounds good at full whack. Road noise is what you hear the most. Engine vibration is noticeable during idle-stop restarts and low-speed driving.

Climate control

The climate controls are split between hard keys (temp, power, auto, defrost, defog) and the touchscreen (mode, recirc, fan speed). Heated and cooled front seats are tepid — maximum cooling is merely adequate. The back seat gets sunshades on all three rear windows, heated seats and temperature control for vents.

Interior

The RLX nails the fundamentals of cabin layout and accommodation. Interior space is a strong suit, particularly in backseat legroom. It's easy to climb into and out of. And once seated, the driver will immediately feel at home. However, the dual-screen setup is clunky.

Ease of use

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

Getting in/getting out

This Acura is easy to live with. The front door swings wide open, and the sill is on the broad side but not high. The modest seat bolsters and a fairly trim dash aid entry. Bonus: The steering wheel and seat move aside to ease your exit. The rear doors open wide, though the roofline drops a bit and the sill is a touch wide.

Driving position

The natural driving position is thanks in part to a wide pedal box and a right-size steering wheel. There's enough range of travel in the seats and steering wheel to accommodate a variety of body proportions. The scalloped door panel accentuates the sense of width in the cabin.

Roominess

The ample headroom for tall drivers is helped by the lack of a panoramic sunroof (there's a conventional one). Elbow room is generous, too. The back seat has a good sense of width and a higher seating position than the front. There's plenty of rear kneeroom but lackluster headroom — that's the one demerit. Otherwise, this sedan offers a lot of space.

Visibility

The RLX presents a mix of panoramic and average sightlines. There's a broad view over the cowl and beltline. But the windshield pillar base plus the tweeter and mirror mechanism create a sizable blockage. The tall rear deck and wide pillars compromise the rear view. Camera views — front, mirrors, back — provide a bird's-eye view, but the display offers mediocre resolution.

Quality

The cabin is well-built with premium materials (supple leather, flawless stitching) and consistent panel gaps. That its design looks and feels old is unfortunate because it's clearly assembled with care.

Utility

The RLX isn't a standout in cargo management. The hybrid battery impinges on trunk space, and the Sport Hybrid's back seat neither folds nor has a pass-through. Front-seat occupants enjoy quite a large and clever console bin, although there's next to no storage options in the back seat.

Small-item storage

The center console bin is spacious and clever — the top flips up in either direction and slides back, and it has a removable tray. The two cupholders have some accommodation for various sizes. A little pocket resides near the 12-volt outlet, and door pockets will hold a small bottle and little else. There's no backseat storage other than map pockets on the back of the front seats. The armrest has dual cupholders.

Cargo space

Although the Sport Hybrid's trunk is small at 12 cubic feet, it's easy to use. It has a wide opening and an average liftover height. But the hybrid battery limits its depth and precludes a pass-through or a folding seat. The trunklid isn't power-operated.

Child safety seat accommodation

The spacious back seat offers enough room for all but the biggest rear-facing seats. But the center portion is higher, and it's not practical to fit three seats at once. The LATCH anchors are fairly easy to find and reach.

Technology

The RLX really disappoints with the dated infotainment and too-conservative driver assistance features. While the audio system's sound quality is quite enjoyable, the RLX lacks modern smartphone integration, and the infotainment system's slow responses and crummy graphics are a letdown.

Audio & navigation

The RLX's infotainment system looks and feels old, and in fact, it is at least one generation behind the current Acura system. The graphics on the top map display are old-school. Screen flow between top and bottom is terrible. The screen is slow to respond to touches.

Smartphone integration

We needed two attempts in our test vehicle to connect to Bluetooth, and the process wasn't particularly quick. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay aren't supported. You can use the AcuraLink app on your phone, but it's a poor substitute.

Driver aids

While it has a slate of driver aids, most of them are far too conservative and frustrating. One aid pushes your foot off the accelerator too eagerly. Adaptive cruise is a mess — it overshoots and undershoots the target set speed, leading to an odd surge/relent/surge trait, and the minimum following distance is quite far.

Voice control

Voice controls require the user to follow a rigid menu of choices, and the system is not especially good at discerning commands. Skip the voice controls. They're not useful.

Consumer reviews

There are no consumer reviews for the Used 2019 Acura RLX.


Safety

Our experts like the RLX models:

Adaptive Cruise Control
Lets you set a desired speed and maintain distance between you and the vehicle ahead, even bringing you to a complete stop.
Collision Mitigation Braking System
Alerts you of obstacles detected ahead. Provides visual alerts first and will automatically brake for you if you don't react.
Lane Keeping Assist System
Detects lane markings and will guide the car back to the middle if you begin to drift out of your lane.

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover9.7%
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 2019 Acura RLX

Used 2019 Acura RLX Overview

The Used 2019 Acura RLX is offered in the following submodels: RLX Sedan, RLX Hybrid. Available styles include Sport Hybrid SH-AWD 4dr Sedan AWD (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid 7AM), and P-AWS 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 10A).

What's a good price on a Used 2019 Acura RLX?

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Which used 2019 Acura RLXES are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2019 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.

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