2014 Acura RLX P-AWS HD Video Review
Acura’s RL flagship sedan never caught fire in the marketplace. I figure it’s due in part to tepid styling and their own TL, an impressive car that costs a lot less.. The successor to RL is a bit bigger and gains the letter “X” (and yes, RLX is what Ralph Lauren calls his outdoor clothing line).
There are more new letters. It would be easy to believe that P-AWS stands for some sort of fancy all-wheel drive system but it doesn’t. That cute little acronym stands for Precision All-Wheel Steer. If you’re missing the SH-AWD badge, know that there is an all-wheel drive system coming, in the form of a hybrid.
Honda has always been fascinated by 4WS, they first used it on the much missed Prelude beginning in the late 80s. At high speeds, Acura claims P-AWS improves stability by turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the front. During low speeds and U-turns they move in opposite directions.
P-AWS cannot be turned off so it’s tough to gauge what difference it makes. Steering effort is light. RLX handles well… for a front-drive car. Discerning pilots know that they can get rear or all-wheel drive with every other premium brand. Front wheel drive is so… Honda.
Those other luxury marks also offer engine choices including, diesel, V8, turbocharging and hybrids. Always pragmatic, Acura sticks with a V6 for now. Direct injected, the velvety 3.6-liter makes 310 horsepower and can shut down half the cylinders for improved fuel efficiency. There are six-speeds in the gearbox. Most others in class offer seven or eight.
RLX moves out briskly enough, hitting 60 miles-an-hour in just over six seconds. Technology includes collision warning, intelligent cruise control that matches speed in stop and go traffic, and lane keeping assist that reads road stripes to keep RLX centered. It’s very subtle, just like the all-wheel steering.
The ride quality is firm but comfortable, a pretty popular setting these days. A little surprising, sharp bumps can really be felt. Blame it on the low profile tires. The cabin is quiet and fuel economy is decent. I’ saw 28 miles-per-gallon during a short road trip. The official E.P.A. rating is 20 city, 31 highway.
Sober and handsome, the interior is well crafted with the kind of materials expected in a car that starts at 51 grand. This fully optioned Advance model that goes for $61,300 has seats that warm and chill. You might buy RLX just get the Krell audio system, it’s that good. Acura’s touch screen interface is reminiscent of the ones in Civic and Accord, it’s not always elegant to use. The center armrest is also quite possibly the best-engineered console lid I’ve seen in years, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Passengers should be able to get comfortable in the back. The seat cushions are nicely sculpted and there’s a good amount of room. For the most part. Like a lot of luxury cars there days, the center position is raised up so there’s the potential of a crick in your neck or your hair restyled against your will. There’s no power port. Fortunately, the structural tunnel isn’t overly intrusive. The back gets heated seats and rear passengers can control the rear sunshade. The operation of the side shades just may be the most elaborate found on any car at any price.
Moving to the trunk, there’s room to store stuff under the load floor since there’s no spare. The seat backs don’t split and fold to expand the cargo capacity, skis can be loaded through a narrow passage but snowboards are denied. Luggage is protected from crushing hinge arms. The cargo hold is average in size. RLX scores a six in the T.P. Trunk Test.
Brilliant LED lighting and a navi system that gives traffic conditions on surface streets is compelling. Styling is not. The sheetmetal doesn’t offer much for the eye to remember, Acura seems fiercely determined to redefine subtlety. Their cool logical approach to luxury keeps RLX from becoming a car to lust after. I’d P-AWS and wait for the more powerful all-wheel drive hybrid to see if Acura steers RLX in a more distinctive direction.