2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Review

today we’re out here taking a look at the brand new for 2014 Acura RLX hybrid this is Acuras second hybrid after the brand new Isle X hybrid introduced last year and this vehicle uses an all-new hybrid drivetrain from Acura this is a pre-production model that we’re taking a look at here so we don’t have final pricing but be sure to check back with us in about two months or so when we
expect Acura to release that information

the 2014 RL X uses a completely
different hybrid drivetrain system from Honda and Acura this is not related at all to the integrated Motor Assist system that’s been found under the hood of the old generation Honda Accord as well as the Acura ILX and the Honda Civic and it’s not related to the brand new system being found in the brand new Honda Accord either instead this is a brand new all-wheel-drive 3 motor generator system when Acura shocked the world with their new design language on that old TL with its very aggressive and very large beak I wasn’t really that big
of a fan of it but I think that the

design overall has aged fairly well and
the latest iterations of this Acura design language have gotten a lot softer the beak assist a little bit better integrated into the overall design of the vehicle and I find the Acura RLX fairly attractive in this segment I do think that since this is competing with the likes of the BMW 5 Series and the Cadillac CTS I do need to include them in my opinions and I think that the Cadillac CTS is probably one of the best-looking entries in this segment I also think that the recently refreshed 2014 mercedes-benz e-class is very attractive as well I would probably put this third possibly tying with the BMW 5 series I do think the 5 Series is incredibly attractive but I think it’s also just a little bit sedate and not
quite as exciting as some of those other

designs and I really appreciate the
angular design language in the Cadillac as well as the Mercedes be sure and comment in the comment section down below and tell me if I’m crazy or not the RLX has an attractive sign profile but there’s no denying that this is a front-wheel drive based platform and you can really tell that up here because the front overhang is fairly long when you compare it to something like a Lexus GS or a 5 Series or an eClass or even a Cadillac CTS and the distance between this wheel and the beginning of the driver’s door is fairly short so in terms of profile this is very different from the other main line luxury competitors in this class there are a few benefits however even though the wheelbase is roughly the same as a mercedes-benz e-class and a BM bill

five series we have an awful lot more

interior room we also have a slightly longer body overall out back here we have a slightly longer rear overhang meaning that this Acura RLX is just a hair bigger than that standard eClass five series platform it’s not quite as big as something like an s-class or a7 series so it’s kind of a tweener model out back the RLX continues its restrained and elegant styling with hidden exhaust tips and the only real clue to the fact that this is a hybrid model is right here with a super handling all-wheel drive badge under the hood of the RLX you will still find a 3.5 liter v6 engine this is very closely related to the v6 engine found in – the hood of the regular gasoline only RL X as well as the gasoline only MDX this produces 310 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque it still retains the three cylinder deactivation mode of the regular RL X which allows it to shut

off half the cylinders to improve fuel

economy on the highway again it’s good for 310 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque alone just just the engine by itself what’s new is after the engine instead of using the integrated Motor Assist system from Honda this uses a brand new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with an integrated pancake motor you’ll find that first motor over there on the other side aft of the transmission it produces 47 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque Acura’s implementation of their hybrid drivetrain is quite interesting because it uses a six-speed dual-clutch transmission as well as a two-speed planetary gearset to give you seven overall ratios and that’s why they call a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission basically fifth gear inside that dual clutch transmission portion is used also
for first gear so it uses the two-speed

planetary gearset to change the

affective ratio of fifth gear to act as first gear making fifth year really sixth gear in essence and sixth gear inside the transmission of the seventh gear if that doesn’t make sense to you then you really don’t need to worry about that all you need to know is that this is the smoothest dual clutch transmission available on the market and that’s because of the hybrid drivetrain we have that forty seven horsepower 109 pound-feet of torque motor up front here and that combined with the 236 horsepower 54 pound-feet of torque motors in the back smooth out the dual clutch motions if you’ve driven Volkswagen or Audi or other people’s dual clutch gearboxes then you notice there is kind of a funkiness in the engagement of the clutch pack it’s kind of like a manual transmission driver driving there’s always going to be a slight moment where there’s a little bit of an engagement
feel in the transmission and you don’t

have that in the hybrid vehicle the
reason for that is we have those motors that help out this system and basically when the engine is then coupling with the transmission the motors are driving the car forward so that that engagement doesn’t have a whole lot of power behind it at the instant that it’s engaging and therefore it just feels an awful lot smoother so the motors really get you off the line then the engine can engage gently with the clutch pack and then take you off from there the whole thing ends up being an awful lot smoother than other hybrid implementations the rest of the drivetrain is back here in the rear there are those 236 horsepower 54 pound-feet of torque motors one for each wheel but it’s more than just one for
each wheel because they’re together in a

single unit centrally mounted in the
vehicle and that allows them to have a cleft pack to combine them together so that way when you’re straight-line accelerating it combines the clutch packs that way both wheels are getting an absolutely even amount of power for good straight line performance but it can then d couple them for the super handling all-wheel drive trick known as torque vectoring this is something that you’ll find is something like a BMW x5m or x6 M as well as a number of performance cars basically it allows the vehicle to overdrive a wheel to give you a better turn feel it helps relieve some of that front wheel drive feel that you’d get in an RL X or other front-wheel drive vehicles where it feels like the front of the vehicle is just unwilling to turn by powering that outside rear wheel it causes the car to pivot around the corner in a kind of a unique fashion but what’s big about the Acura RLX is super handling all-wheel drive system in this hybrid version is that it can also drag the wheel regular torque vectoring systems only work when the power is being applied and that was really obvious in the old Acura RL because when the power was on it felt really nimble on winding mountain roads it really felt like it was really carving that corner very effortlessly but when the power was off it felt like
it was trying to head for the bushes

like a regular old front-wheel drive car
that’s solved by this hybrid system because in neutral handling situations where there’s no power being applied the car will actually drag the inside rear wheel it’s kind of like when you’re in a boat and you just sort of plant your oar in the water and you tend to pivot around that or same things going on with this hybrid system and it can then use that energy being generated by dragging the wheel to either recharge the battery pack or to power the outside rear wheel to help you again around that corner front seat comfort and the RLX is excellent we have a multi-way power driver seat with a four-way adjustable lumbar support which I really find very helpful this passenger seat has the same range of motion as the driver seat which is also something that is unusual for Acura as most of their vehicles tend to have a more limited range of motion for the front passenger seat we have a 4-way tilt telescoping steering wheel also with a decent range of motion and a very soft leather rim the front wheel drive platform of the RLX really helps out rear space because all of this has relatively similar proportions to its

competitors we have over two inches more

rear legroom this front seat is adjusted for me comfortably at 6 feet tall so you can see I have about 6 inches of legroom left there if I move over to the right side this front seat is all the way back in its track and I still have several inches of legroom left there an awful lot more legroom than you’d find in your typical eClass 5 Series vehicle we have a very comfortable center armrest back here with drink holders however if I move to the middle seat you won’t find much more room here than you would in a 5 Series or eClass my head is touching the ceiling actually to stand or sit upright I do have to my head to one side and that’s because these rear bench seats are very bucket shaped in reality it’s fairly high bump right here in this middle seat we also have a fairly intrusive center console in the vehicle and that’s because the electronic control unit for the hybrid drive system is right here in the middle where a drive shaft would normally be in a typical vehicle let’s take a quick spin around the interior we have height adjustable seat belts there with these
very comfortable heated and cooled seats

in our r LX hybrid tester then moving
across to the dashboard we are in a two-tone model so you can get this in a single tone where it’s black here as well as black there or you can get it black upper and the ivory lower or in our particular vehicle we have this sort of taupe colored top with the ivory colored leather dashboard very attractive look beautiful stitching there this is fake wood trim all around the RLX real wood trim is not offered at this time in the United States at least we’re not sure if it will be offered in Canada because the current generation Acura MDX does have a real wood trim package but only in Canada moving across to the dashboard we have this dual screen infotainment system which you’ve seen in other Acura models we have this 8-inch screen right here and a 7-inch haptic feedback touchscreen right here that means it vibrates when you touch it go ahead and click down below for our infotainment review of the 2014 our LX we don’t want to clutter up this video with that below that we have our controls for the climate control system right here now these are all the controls for this large 8-inch screen up
here so you’d think that the seven-inch

screen would control that screen but it
kind of sorted us you end up having used both this screen as well as these physical buttons in order to control that main screen again more in the infotainment video down here we have our heated and cooled seats little storage cubby there to large drink holders these easily can accommodate the largest drinks you can throw at them and right here we have Acuras new shifter assembly I’m not sure why they went to this versus a standard shifter I think that they’re just kind of trying to do what’s current and trendy in the market and everybody in the luxury field seems to be cooking up their own new shifter I’m not sure about this in terms of long-term livability but let’s go over how you work it here we have a button for Park for reverse we press this button that way neutral is this button right here and drive is this button right here we also have a sport button that changes transmission settings as well as a certain other few settings on the car as well as the active throttle pedal etc parking brake and then our brake hold here this keeps the brake
pressure on so you don’t have to hold on

to your brake pedal when you’re at
stoplights we have a large center armrest that moves back so you can access it in that fashion and it also has buttons on the side so you can open this armrest from either side decent amount of storage in there and that’s also where you’ll find your USB port your auxilary input as well as another 12-volt power port we have an attractive four dial arrangement over here for the instrument cluster this is the hybrid battery charge level and we have our tachometer over here since we’re in the engine stop mode but the vehicle is on we get a little ready indicator right there if we look up we now have a heads-up display which is all new for Acura this is the first time they’ve ever had heads-up display we can zoom in on it so you can see right there there is a hybrid status indicator right there and there’s also a miles per hour it’s actually in focus you can see that zoomed out we have a few more buttons on the steering wheel these are our radio control buttons and these are our cruise control buttons over here these are for our lane keep assist system and this is for our radar cruise control the heads-up display is controlled via buttons right over here on the dashboard as you’d expect from a luxury vehicle materials do not decline as you go rearward we have a lot of soft touch materials here excellent stitching everything here is nice soft touch
material and then we have the nice soft

touch armrests as well like the front

this is not real wood that’s fake wood in this vehicle we do have a manual sunshade for the rear passengers on the side windows and an electric moving shade on the rear window the our Alexa’s lithium-ion battery pack is fairly small compared to nickel metal hydride battery packs and other hybrids but it still occupies a decent amount of trunk space and it causes our trunk comfort index to drop to six out of ten for the hybrid version of the RLX that’s compared to seven out of ten for the Lexus GS hybrid because that GS Hybrid has a nicer finished trunk and it’s just a little bit larger than this RLX hybrid in a more usable way as you’d expect with most luxury cars we do have a nice assist handle to help you close this trunk lid with all the motors and the engine working together we get 377 total system horsepower and 377 pound-feet of torque which means that this engine combo is one of the more powerful hybrid vehicles in this particular class out on the road the regular r LX went from 0 to 60 in just over five and a half seconds we haven’t had a chance to test the zero to sixty time on this rlx hybrid but if i do i’ll post the time right down there at the bottom of your screen it definitely feels peppier than the regular are lux even though it is just a little bit heavier out on the road this drivetrain isn’t quite as smooth as the Lexus GS because it doesn’t use that planetary gearset power slitting device that Lexus uses which acts kind of as a CVT
although people don’t like the CVT feel

it does result in a very smooth driving

nature however this vehicle does feel like a sporty car with a dual clutch gearbox so very much like a Volkswagen or a Porsche or an Audi that uses a dual clutch gearbox very similar feel going on in this Acura RLX we get fast gear changes we now have shift paddles on the steering wheel that really do what you want them to do in the regular RLX the shifting manual mode doesn’t feel that great that feels kind of mushy they’re slow it seems like the car decides whether it wants to do your bidding or not and this vehicle isn’t like that those gearshift changes happen very smooth as well as very quickly and on-demand from those paddles out on winding mountain roads like this you can really feel that super handling all-wheel drive system do its work out in the rear because it helps correct that neutral handling feel in this vehicle out on these winding mountain roads the regular RLX still feels front-heavy even though it has that four-wheel steering system very much like an Audi a6 which tends to be very front heavy as well I wouldn’t call this quite as well-balanced as something like a BMW 528i but even a BMW 535i can feel a little bit nose heavy at times this vehicle feels very neutral it also feels just a touch artificial mind you said it’s kind of like a video game in a way the car tracks the line that you
want it to track absolutely perfectly

but there’s not a whole lot of feel

going on through the steering wheel when you’re in the corner but there’s also no plowing and none of that typical front-wheel drive feel that you tend to get in something like a Lincoln or a Volvo or another all-wheel drive traditional engine setup rather than something like this all-wheel drive hybrid Acura is saying that we should expect about 30 miles per gallon in the RLX hybrid and we’ve been averaging between 20 and 28 miles per gallon during our day driving this car so far which i think is fairly respectable for how we’ve been driving it they’re also telling us that this interior is quieter than the regular RLX and I definitely believe that it’s been something that Acura has been accused of falling down a little bit on in the past is having quiet cabins and they’ve really fixed that with this RLX the rlx kind of rides the suspension mid point in this segment between something firm like a Cadillac CTS and something soft like a lexus GS I think it’s overall a very good highway cruising feel in terms of suspension feel as I said earlier the steering there’s not a whole lot of feedback it is fairly boosted but do keep in mind that pretty much everybody in this segment is using electric power steering this is really not that much difference anymore between one vehicle and the other there are Lex employs a brake by wire system and this is one of the best I’ve ever felt so far it has a very good

balance between regenerative braking as

well as friction braking it feels very
natural in a way that some other hybrid systems most notably Honda’s earlier hybrid systems just felt very artificial I applauded the way the old RL drove out on the and that’s definitely true of this our Alexis super handling all-wheel drive system does exactly as its advertising power on situations you can definitely feel that outside rear wheel powering you through the corner but what’s new about the system is that in power off situations where you’re just gliding down the road it can drag that inside of your wheel to help you turn around the corner and it does exactly what they say it does it really helps keep this car from plowing like a front heavy front-wheel drive car would in situations like this which is exactly what things like a Lincoln MKS or a Volvo s80 do just a little bit there are all the drive systems definitely help them out but you still have that front heavy nature in that kind of vehicle and amazingly enough this Acura RLX definitely solves that problem because there’s no mechanical connection between the engine and the rear wheels the amount of power that can be sent to the rear is somewhat limited when you compare it to most other mechanical all-wheel drive systems out on the market most of those other systems will split the power up to about 50/50 front and rear that are currently out of the market there are some additional vectoring systems that will put more power to the rear than the front wheels but the vast majority of them on the whole are about 50/50 that’s not happening in the RLX hybrid it’s more like 70/30 maximum in this particular system just because of the way it’s

designed and the horsepower output of

those electric motors out in the rear that means that when you floor the vehicle especially around corners you still get a little bit of front heavy feel and you still get just a tiny bit of torque steer and that’s because you’re putting 310 horsepower to the front wheels and you know about 30 or so horsepower to the rear wheels each the result is something that is better than a typical front-wheel drive car infield but not quite as good as those mechanical all-wheel drive systems when it comes to cornering however the difference is night and day like this so it’s really just in those full throttle type situations where that difference is still very obvious I tend to like all the drive vehicles but because the system doesn’t completely eliminate the front wheel drive feel of the RLX I’m not exactly sure if I would buy this over a rear-wheel drive Lexus GS or an Infiniti M 35 it is a very close call however if I lived in something like a snow built area then this would definitely be my choice over those other vehicles because you get the sure-footed grip of the all-wheel drive system and even though it can’t send all that much power to the rear compared to those other systems you still get the sure-footed nature of a front-wheel drive vehicle with that additional benefit of having the rear wheels provide some power to you one thing is for sure however the Acura RLX is definitely fun out here on highway 1 as I said earlier Acura has yet to release pricing for the 2014 rx hybrid but I expected to slot in between sixty and sixty six thousand dollars if you recall from our review of the front wheel drive our LX my biggest complaint about it was that it was overpriced strangely enough this slightly more expensive hybrid
version of the RL X should fix that

problem because when you compare this to
something like an Infiniti M 35 H or the Lexus gs450h or the BMW ActiveHybrid etc then the r LX ends up being a better value that brings us to the all-important question of would I buy one without final pricing information it’s very difficult for me to have a firm opinion on that one but I will say that I do find the interior more appealing than the Lexus GS I also find the infotainment system easier to use it also is more powerful than the Lexus GS and it’s all-wheel drive something that the Lexus GS right now isn’t in the hybrid form however when you compare it to something like the infiniti hybrid I think the infiniti hybrid has better sporting pretensions it feels better out on the road it’s more connected to the road it’s rear-wheel drive just like the Lexus GS but it feels a lot sporty-er to drive out on the road then something like this R LX or the Lexus gs450h hybrid without also talking about the Acura brand and that is something to keep in mind Acura as a brand is not quite as premium as Lexus Infiniti BMW and Mercedes although the r LX hybrid is priced not that far apart from those competitors my bottom line.

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