The RLX has been around for a while. But to be honest not too many people have paid attention to it. Consider they only sold 59 of them across Canada you probably haven’t seen too many around either. For 2018 Acura has gone ahead and spiced it up a little by giving it a new outlook.
The new face with Acura’s corporate grill looks perfect on the RLX. Being a bigger vehicle it’s actually is a fitting size for it. The overall look is a lot more distinctive than the bland look of the previous generation. But on its own, some may mistake it for a TLX as it’s missing it’s own character.
From the back they really cleaned out the rear section, incorporating sporty touches like chrome exhaust tips. And check out those taillights, they actually put effort into this and made the rear lights interesting with depth.
Set of 19″ wheels beef up the side profile. With a decent wheel to tire ratio the cabin still nice and plush even on broken or uneven surfaces.
Inside the RLX is a beautiful place to be, everywhere you can touch is lined with scrumptious leather or dark wood grain. The feel is very upscale even though some of the equipment is a bit dated. For those who are looking for something that’s a bit different the interior can be optioned with one of 4 different colour choices to suit everyone’s needs.
Above the cluster, the RLX has a colour heads-up display that’s able to be configured to show the vehicle’s Speed, RPM, navigation information as well as information on the hybrid drive-train.
The centre stack for example. Acura is insistent on using this dual screen layout to show navigation options as well as car’s vitals above. And the lower screen is a touchscreen with a haptic feedback. It works well but as mentioned it’s dated in terms of how it responds and looks.
The lower screen is also where the car’s HVAC controls are. Utilizing the bottom edge of the display for main HVAC functions it does disrupt some audio menus as it’s a bit squished.
As for controlling the top screen, the rotary knob found here is the main control. And as expected a rotary knob to control the full display can be a bit cumbersome. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto cannot be found but it still has USB connectivity as well as Bluetooth for more basic functions.
Seats wise the RLX front buckets are supple and soft. Unlike other luxury vehicles, these seats still provide ample bolstering to hug to the driver in corners. Being heated and cooled on the Elite trim it’s a nice touch. Sadly the base trim is only available with heated functionality.
For back seat passengers, they also get a generous amount of room with nicely sculpted seat backs for maximum comfort. Heated for the winter months the passengers can also be warm while travelling. For those who are looking for extra privacy, the curtains on the side can be raised manually and the power rear curtain can extended as well.
A very nice addition is the excellent Krell Audio system found on the Elite trim. It fills the vehicle with a high quality, clear and crisp sound that’s just right for this type of vehicle.
Behind the wheel of the RLX is surprising. For 2018 all models of the RLX is now powered by a 3.5L v6 and assisted by a hybrid system similar to the one found in the new NSX. With three independent motors, the total output power is 377hp and 341lb-ft of torque. What’s unique is the three motors are positioned with the front motor attached to the engine and the two rear motors on each rear wheel. This gives the RLX torque vectoring and allows power to be sent and retracted from each of the two rear wheels. Unlike the SH-AWD of the past, there’s no physical connection from the engine to the rear wheels. When speeding up or slowing down in a turn it can be seen on the hybrid information system that the outside wheel is able to work harder to push the vehicle around the corner. The effect of this gives the car a more agile feel. Almost shortening up the wheelbase in a way.
But even with all that power and torque, the RLX is able to deliver some impressive fuel economy numbers. On the week it averaged slightly under 9L/100km. Rated for 8.4 in the city and 8.2 on the highway, it’s not far off.
Overall the RLX is a well-sorted vehicle. But the things is, it doesn’t really stand out in any market. It’s not athletic enough to be a sports sedan like the 5-series. It’s not big enough to be a true shuffler vehicle like Genesis G90. It’s the closest competitor would be the Lexus GS450h. While undercutting the Lexus by a whopping $7000 that maybe the way it’s able to reach the top. The RLX is a great luxury hybrid, there’s no doubt about that. However, it seems that it’s still hard for it to surpass its competitors it still needs a bit more. But comparing it to the previous, it’s already night and day.
Big thanks to Acura Canada for the chance to drive your flagship.