2017 RLX New Car Test Drive
The Acura RLX midsize luxury sedan offers excellent engineering in an invisible car. Built on a high-tech chassis, the RLX Sport Hybrid offers the latest in sports hybrid powerplants. But it looks like a Honda Accord.
RLX is built on a front-wheel-drive platform, but from a price standpoint competes with the rear-wheel-drive Mercedes E300 and Volvo S90. Luxury cars are traditionally built on rear-wheel-drive chassis. RLX Sport Hybrid comes with all-wheel drive.
A good daily commuter car, RLX is smooth, quiet, comfortable. It glides along until quick response is needed, which it provides. Get in and enjoy the music.
RLX offers a choice of two drivetrains, each with its own character. Standard is a 310-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. It's more powerful than the turbocharged four-cylinder engines in the rear-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz E300 and front-wheel-drive Volvo S90 T5.
More powerful is the RLX Sport Hybrid, which uses a V6 and three electric motors to generate 377 horsepower with 377 pound-feet of torque. It uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic manual transmission. The front wheels are driven by the 3.5-liter V6 and a 35-kilowatt motor. Two more 27-kilowatt motors send all their power through a smart rear differential to the rear wheels, making the Sport Hybrid among the more advanced all-wheel-drive cars anywhere.
The front-wheel-drive RLX gets an EPA-rated 20 miles per gallon City, 30 Highway and 23 Combined mpg, on Premium gasoline. The RLX Sport Hybrid gets 29/30/29 mpg.
Its safety test results are impressive. In NHTSA testing it scored five stars in every test. The IIHS gave the RLX top Good ratings in all five of its crash categories, including the difficult new small overlap front test, although just a Marginal score for its headlights, which keeps it at Top Safety Pick instead of Top Safety Pick+.
The RLX is unchanged for 2017. The previous base model with leatherette upholstery has been dropped.
Acura RLX comes in Technology ($54,450) and Advance ($60,450) models with V6 and front-wheel drive. The Sport Hybrid ($5500) gets the hybrid powertrain with all-wheel drive and comes in Technology and Advance versions.
Technology (standard) features include upgraded leather upholstery Bluetooth, rearview camera, LED headlamps, an ELS sound system, navigation, and an active safety system called AcuraWatch with forward collision and lane departure warnings. Lane control is optional.
Advance adds Krell sound system, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, surround-view camera, and remote engine start.