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2016 Acura RLX: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader July 2015

As its flagship sedan, the 2016 Acura RLX combines power and luxury with the full force of Acura's technological prowess. Of course, the real hook for the RLX is its impressive standard equipment list. Many of the RLX's competitors lure buyers in with a low base price only to leave them with sticker shock after popular options are added. But the RLX comes fairly well-equipped, with only a few options that move its price tag north of the base price. The RLX's roomy cabin and wide seats are also a welcome respite from other sedans that are seemingly built to accommodate only the svelte. Unfortunately, the RLX's styling is a bit generic, lacking the visual punch of cars like the Audi A7, Infiniti Q70 or Cadillac CTS.

What's New for 2016?

AcuraWatch, a suite of driver-assist technologies including collision mitigation and cross-traffic monitoring, is added the RLX's option list. New additions include a 360-degree surround view monitor and road-departure mitigation. All RLX models receive improved suspension settings and new 19-inch alloy wheels.

What We Like

Luxury-car ride with performance-car handling; huge interior; cutting-edge infotainment, safety and audio options; super comfy front seats

What We Don't

Pricing is a bit high; poor city fuel economy figures; subdued styling and interior color choices

How Much?

$49,370-$67,000

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Acura RLX is powered by a direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic with Sequential SportShift technology is standard, and fuel economy is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 20 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined.

The RLX Sport Hybrid uses the same gasoline engine but adds three separate motors/generators (one in the transmission and two at the rear wheels) for a net output of 377 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard. Fuel economy is vastly improved over the nonhybrid model, earning 28 mpg city, 32 mpg hwy and 30 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The Acura RLX comes in two trims: RLX and RLX Sport Hybrid. The RLX with Navigation comes as one well-equipped trim with two option packages, while the RLX Sport Hybrid offers just one package upgrade.

The RLX with Navigation ($51,870) includes a power moonroof, active sound control, which uses the audio system to quiet the cabin, Acura Navigation System with 3D view, AcuraLink, Real-Time Traffic and rerouting, and a color multi-information display. Also standard is a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, sport seats with leatherette trim, heated front seats, driver and passenger 12-way power seats with power lumbar support, keyless access with push-button start, trizone automatic climate control, 19-in alloy wheels, a rearview camera, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, 10-speaker ELS audio with a USB/iPod interface and HD radio, Aha and Pandora app compatibility, heated side mirrors with a reverse tilt-down feature and cruise control. Advanced safety features include forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and a full suite of airbags, including a driver's knee airbag.

The RLX with Technology package ($55,370) adds perforated Milano leather seating, a 14-speaker ELS Studio audio system with HDD music storage, rain-sensing wipers and a blind spot monitoring system.

The RLX with Advanced package ($61,370) adds heated and cooling front seats, heated rear seats (outboard positions only), a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, the high-end Krell audio system with 14 speakers, a power rear sunshade, manual rear-door side sunshades, auto-dimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, collision-mitigation braking with heads-up warning and lane-keep assist.

The AcuraWatch driver-assist suite is standard on both the Technology and Advanced packages. It includes adaptive cruise control, cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert, blind spot monitoring, collision-mitigation braking, a multiview rear camera, lane-keep assist and road-departure mitigation.

The RLX Sport Hybrid ($60,870) includes all the features found in the Technology package.

The RLX Sport Hybrid with Advanced package ($66,870) includes every available option from the nonhybrid RLX.

Safety

Acura has made sure that the RLX will sail through all its crash tests. It earned a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Good rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which also chose the RLX as a Top Safety Pick.

Standard safety equipment includes full airbag protection, such as a driver's-side front knee airbag. Additional equipment such as forward-collision warning, collision-mitigation braking and lane-departure warning and assist can help avoid accidents, and so can the advanced suspension and steering assistance.

Behind the Wheel

Over long stretches of paved roadway, the RLX cruises effortlessly, almost serenely, as it absorbs bumps and blemishes and delivers a first-class luxury-car ride. The trick up its sleeve, however, comes when the road begins to twist and wind. Where other luxury cars might wallow with tires squealing at every turn, the RLX carves through S-shaped asphalt like a scalpel-wielding surgeon who's late for his tee-off time. The RLX model's electrically assisted power steering feels direct and precise, and the 6-speed automatic transmission is responsive and quick to pick the right gear when extra throttle is administered. But it's the RLX model's Precision All-Wheel Steer coupled with Acura's Agile Handling Assist, which uses active braking to help keep the RLX traveling on the intended path, that really gives this big sedan its moves. A front double-wishbone suspension and multilink rear suspension setup fits this car perfectly, allowing us to tear around corners on an enclosed track with abilities previously known only to Acura's legendary sport coupe, the NSX.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 BMW 5 Series -- The 5 Series isn't as roomy inside as the RLX, and its ride tends be a bit on the stiff side. However, the rear-drive 5 Series still feels a bit more agile during curves, and it comes with a number of engine choices, including a diesel and V8.

2016 Audi A6 -- Although the A6 isn't as powerful as the RLX Sport Hybrid, its turbocharged V6 handily outguns the base RLX. There's also a diesel model. The A6 interior and exterior outshines the RLX, as does its overall ride and handling.

2015 Infiniti Q70 -- A nicely equipped Q70 costs about the same as the RLX with the Advanced package and offers more hp but worse fuel economy. The Q70's color palate is rather drab, and its rear seat is not as accommodating as in the RLX.

Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class -- A 2012-2014 E-Class offers plenty of features, power and prestige, but be sure to get a certified pre-owned model because repairs for a car out of warranty can be pricey.

Autotrader's Advice

If you're not all about performance driving and cutting-edge electronic assistance, we think the RLX with the Technology package will satisfy most luxury sedan buyers. The price remains reasonable, and the features are quite impressive.

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Used 2016 Acura RLX w/ Technology Package
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Acura RLX: New Car Review - Autotrader