Acura’s RLX moves company in right direction

2014 Acura RLX
2014 Acura RLX

Acura used to strike fear in the hearts of luxury car makers. This upstart Japanese firm offered two cars which were done so well that others were trying to catch up.

Yes, the entry-level Integra and the “near luxury” Legend were the talk. I mean the talk. Many people wanted them, especially the Legend, a car which was good as anything produced in Germany or England.

Acura lost some of its mojo in 1996 when the Legend was replaced by the RL, a good car but nothing that shook the automotive industry. The company has toyed with the idea of bigger sedan with a V8 but has yet to produce the car and the RL remains the flagship.

Acura may one day do a V8 sedan but for now a third generation RL – the best one yet – is doing the company proud as the flagship.

The exterior is a mix of European and Japanese flavor. There’s some BMW five series in the rear quarters which leads to a very tailored trunk area. The front is a more stylized version of last year’s grille. The LED ringed headlamps add a great deal of flair.

The RLX isn’t a radical departure from the RL in size but there seems to be more interior space. Five will fit comfortably in the somewhat lavishly appointed cabin that features much wood and metal. RL owners could tell the change immediately.

The dash has been reworked to be more functional and visually appealing. My car was equipped with the Advance package which gives you everything. There are four other packages but not one stand alone option.

Dual screens share info
Dual screens share info

The dash has an 7-inch screen when displays the navigation while an 8-inch screen directly under it works with the climate and entertainment info. Speaking of entertainment, Krell replaces the already suburb ELS stereo system. I didn’t think that could get any better but I was wrong. This ol’ school company has found new life in the RLX. It ranks with the best original equipment systems offered.

The Advance Package also gives you features such as lane departure warning, collision avoidance, front and rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control.

The RLX is powered by a familiar V6 that makes 310 horsepower. It delivers very good gas milage (31 on highway and 20 in the city) which now seems to be the big selling point of every car. For those who like to get aggressive, the V6 does offer good acceleration but not top of class. The rear wheel steering allows you to corner with confidence and the rest of the steering is really spot on.

For those who’ve waited, an all wheel drive version with a 370 horsepower hybrid engine is close to release. That may prove to be a very competent sports sedan. No word on cost or other specs.

Driving the RLX is fairly pleasurable. You will notice bumps and thumps from time to time with the 19-inch wheel package but for me it wasn’t that intrusive. I appreciated the firm ride and I could not have asked for a more quite car. The seats were comfortable and the handling was what I expected, good but not stellar.

2014 Acura RLX
2014 Acura RLX

I’m still waiting for Acura to wow me again, to knock me off my feet with something that reminds me of when the company got into the game. This isn’t it, but you will not hear loud complaints. I like the RLX just fine and so far it seems that Acura buyers like it as well. There’s a great deal of competition in the $55,000 range. Looks like the RLX has the goods to hold its own.

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