I’ll be dogged, Acura RLX delivers power, elegance and PAWS
Fairly handsome outside, elegant inside it’s smooth on the road, handles well and offers oodles of power. Even the gas mileage is good for a powerful V6.
Mechanically the silver RLX Advance was as close to automotive perfection as one can get for roughly $60 grand. Sadly that’s the price one has to pay for such stout performance and elegant interior appointments, plus what is becoming the usual assortment of electronic gizmos, from a blind-spot warning system to rearview camera.
Ah, but the Acura adds in yet another, PAWS. That’s short for Precision All-Wheel Steering, which obviously is a step up from simply standard All-Wheel Steering. What this goodie does is mildly improve your car’s handling and agility by tilting your car’s rear wheels 1.8 degrees in the direction you’re steering the front wheels. This shortens your turning radius and makes the car feel a bit more responsive. PAWS helps in cornering and braking too. As you apply the brakes it slightly angles your rear wheels to increase tire braking pressure.
Certainly if you were driving on a race course this would become much more evident and useful. In daily driving I must admit it was hard to notice, but then most Acura sedans have fairly responsive steering and corner well. So the best way to test it would be to have the exact same car without the system installed and run it side by side with the tester.
Suffice it to say the RLX corners well.
Yet the impressive thing to me is the power RLX brings with a silky smooth and quiet 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing. It’ll crank 310 horsepower and really get this sedan, which weighs in at just less than 4,000 lbs., rolling from a stop. Some German makes might be racier on a track, but this one performs flawlessly on the highway and city streets.
Its 6-speed automatic with SportShift is smooth too. This includes paddle shifters behind the steering wheel so you can manually select shift points as you want. There’s also a Sport mode button on the console to give the car more oomph by automatically adjusting shift points.
RLX’s long 112.2-inch wheelbase also spreads out road bumps to cushion ride along with its double wishbone front and independent rear suspension. This gives the car a well controlled ride that can seem a bit firm at times, but normally provides a smoothness befitting the car’s price. A base RLX with six-speed automatic goes for $48,450, while this tester with its Advance package, edged just over $61,000.
Some goodies that are standard in the Advance model include a collision mitigation braking system (bet a lawyer named that!) that helps brake the car when it senses an impending collision. The system also includes a flashing red light above the dash to visually warn you. There also are heated and cooled front seats along with heated rear seats, an adaptive cruise control system, power folding side mirrors, a Krell (one assumes high-end) stereo system with a whopping 450 watts and 14 speakers, and simulated wood trim. Seems real wood could be used at this price, considering the small bits of trim on the dash and doors.
All models come with 19-inch tires, traction and stability control and ventilated front disc brakes, with standard discs in back.
Inside, the car is lathered in black leather with gray stitching plus there’s a black leather covered steering wheel and shift knob. The fake wood trim is itself trimmed with a matte silver finish that gives the interior a sophisticated appearance. That leather also sucks up sound so the car is incredibly quiet inside.
Front and rear seats are both heated, with the fronts also being cooled, and all the seats are well contoured and comfortable. Leg and headroom is good front and rear, so you could pack five adults in the sedan, plus all their luggage in its big 15-cubic-foot trunk.There’s a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, two-memory seats, a big navigation screen that also displays the rearview camera, plus front and rear parking sensors so you don’t ding up your fancy ride. Manual sunshades are available for the rear side windows and a power sunshade for the rear window. That was helpful on the hot steamy July days during my drive.
Standard are power mirrors, but these also will fold flat to the body when you press a button on the driver’s door. That’s good for use in parking lots or other tight quarters.
A lane departure system to warn you when you wander from your lane is standard in this model, but fortunately can be turned off as it quickly becomes an annoying warning system.
I like the little rollers on the steering wheel hub for radio volume and moving to various trip computer screens. The radio system here is not simple to use while driving, but can be figured out eventually. Changing channels is more complex than its needs be and I’m no fan of the center dash mouse for using the nav screen and other functions either.
Overhead is a power moon roof and the visors slide to block side sun.One other benefit, the 3.5-liter V6 gets good gas mileage, with an EPA rating of 20 mpg city and 31 highway. I managed an impressive 25.3 mpg in about 60% highway driving.With everything so well tuned and the car so pleasant to drive it’s a shame that Honda won’t push the styling envelope on its Acura sedans, settling for mildly handsome when a bit of flair could make them stand out from the crowd. And for $61 grand, I would want my car to look a bit special.
Cadillac has figured that out again, finally!
FAST Stats: 2014 Acura RLX Advance
Hits: Quiet, handsome sedan with elegant and roomy interior, comfy seats and big trunk. Powerful with good handling and smooth shifts, plus power tilt/telescope steering wheel, rearview camera, blind-spot warning, side and rear sunshades and heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats.
Misses: Cost and styling could use more flair.
Made in: Sayama, Japan
Engine: 3.5-liter, VTEC V6, 310 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/SportShift
Weight: 3,997 lbs.
Wheelbase: 112.2 in.
Cargo: 15.0 cu.ft.
Base Price: $60,450
Dealer’s Price: $55,183
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $61,345
Sources: Acura, www.autos.yahoo.com
Photos: Courtesy of Acura