What is it? Acura’s flagship sedan has been redesigned for 2014, changing its name from RL to RLX and becoming available with front- and all-wheel drive.
What’s new or notable? Front-drive models get a form of all-wheel steering, with the rear wheels able to make slight adjustments left and right to aid cornering control. Front-drive models are powered by a new 310-hp, 3.5-liter direct-injection V6—a bit smaller in displacement but more powerful than the outgoing 3.7-liter V6.
The all-wheel-drive RLX is a hybrid, with the rear wheels powered by individual electric motors, and a third electric motor housed in the seven-speed automatic transmission. The combined gas and electric power rating rises to 370 hp. Fuel economy is said to be an impressive 30 mpg on both city and highway drive cycles.
Among several new connectivity features is the cell-based AcuraLink, similar in concept to GM’s OnStar concierge system. Among other things, AcuraLink notifies emergency services if air bags deploy and it can remotely unlock the car if you lock your keys inside. The infotainment center also integrates AHA and Pandora Internet radio and has text and email capability. Like other upscale sedans, the RLX touts a broad array of electronic safety gear.
One notable exterior feature is that the headlights will use an LED array instead of conventional bulbs or high-intensity Xenon lamps.
CR’s take: The outgoing RL was a competent and refined, if rather bland performer, in our tests. The new one remains a conservatively styled effort, one that tries to offer the comfort and luxury of a large sedan in a mid-sized package. But with the new hybrid's electronics being able to control the torque of each rear wheel individually, at least the stage is set for superior handling—something we will confirm when we buy one.
When will it be available? Spring 2013 for front-drive, later for the AWD hybrid.