Signaling a return to its roots as a brand backed by cutting-edge technologies, Honda’s lux division will offer the 2014 Acura RLX flagship sedan with an MSRP that starts at $48,500 and includes the kind of tech and engineering goodies usually not found at the entry point to the true luxury sedan segments.
Now, we’ll do the comparo thing below, after presenting some of the highlights of the 2014 Acura RLX, but let’s first note that it comes at an excellent time for the brand. Last year, looking at brands that sold more than 100,000 units, Acura was the fourth-fastest-growing name on the list—with a 26.7 percent sales improvement—behind only Chrysler, Volkswagen and Toyota. Yes, the sales of the 2013 Acura ILX premium compact sedan remain at fairly low levels, but the car is attracting new buyers, and the redesigned 2013 Acura RDX crossover became a modest hit in 2012, bolstered by a string of monthly sales records.
Further, the brand this year already has shown off both the latest prototype of its forthcoming Acura NSX supercar and the completely redesigned 2014 Acura MDX crossover, kicking off 2013 with some very positive press. And that should continue with the introduction of the 2014 Acura RLX, offering not only innovations like the brand’s Jewel Eye LED headlamps and Precision All-Wheel Steer system as standard equipment right out of the gate, but also best-in-class fuel-efficiency ratings as well.
2014 Acura RLX: The Basics
The 2014 Acura RLX doesn’t really have trim levels per se; instead, Acura provides a very well-contented foundation, and builds on it with four different option packages. Thus, for your $48,500, you get a new 3.5-liter V6 with “Earth Dreams Technology” and the i-VTEC valve-management system, mated to a Sequential SportShift six-speed paddle-shifting automatic transmission. The tale of the tape: 310 hp , 272 lb.-ft. of torque and expected EPA grades of 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway/24 mpg combined.
Then, even on the entry model, the 2014 Acura RLX showcases two new signature technologies from the brand: Jewel Eye headlamps, which rely on a dual-level array of 10 individual LED lighting elements for striking style and enhanced illumination, and the Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) system. The latter, standard on all front-wheel-drive RLX models, provides a significant upgrade in handling by controlling the individual steering angles of the car’s rear wheels. (The 2014 Acura RLX will be available with a new hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive setup at a later date.)
Also standard on the car are lux features like the Bluetooth Handsfree Link, 12-way power-adjustable and heated front seats, both an eight-inch audio/info screen and a seven-inch multi-use display for keeping tabs on key vehicle systems, 18-inch alloy wheels specifically designed for a quiet ride, a power moonroof, an Acura/ELS 10-speaker sound system, and keyless entry and pushbutton start. Many driver-assistance measures are standard as well, including lane-departure and forward-collision warnings, along with a multi-angle rearview camera.
2014 Acura RLX: Moving on Up
For drivers who want even more in the way of premium amenities, the 2014 Acura RLX will be offered with four comfort-enhancing option packages:
- RLX with Navigation—With an MSRP that opens at $50,950, the 2014 Acura RLX with Navigation adds, of course, a voice-controllable nav system, as well as the next-gen iteration of the AcuraLink connectivity services technology and a color multi-information display.
- RLX with Technology—In addition to larger, 19-inch wheels and seats covered in premium Milano leather, the Tech package introduces a blind-spot information system, a 14-speaker Acura/ELS audio setup, rain-sensing windshield wipers, acoustic glass and power-retractable side mirrors. Pricing for this model begins at $54,450.
- RLX with Krell Audio—As impressive as the Acura/ELS audio system sounds, you can upgrade even further with an audiophile-level system, with 14 speakers, from Krell Audio; also including a power-operated rear-window shade and expanded rear-door sunshades, this RLX brings a sticker price of $56,950.
- RLX with Advance—The range-topper, coming in at $60,450, provides the finishing touches in the form of adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation, and lane-keeping systems for safety, six parking sensors, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, and a rear-seat foot light.
Pricing and more details about the all-wheel-drive 2014 Acura RLX will be released closer to that model’s on-sale date.
2014 Acura RLX: Quick Comparison
To help provide some perspective on what the 2014 Acura RLX brings to the table, here’s how the vehicle stacks up against the two other Japanese luxury sedans in its class: The 2013 Lexus GS and 2013 Infiniti M.
Remembering that the price of admission to the 2014 Acura RLX is $48,500 and nets owners 310 hp, an EPA line of 20/31/24, and loads of premium goodies, we find the Lexus GS family at a slightly lower price point—$47,250—with a slightly lower amount of power (306 horses), lower EPA marks of 19/28/23, and without features like LED headlamps, heated seats, a rear-wheel-steering system, lane-departure warning or forward-collision warning; to be clear, some of that stuff is optional in the Lexus, but it’s all standard in the 2014 Acura RLX. The Acura also happens to be nearly six inches longer than the Lexus, with a correspondingly roomier cabin.
Coming to the 2013 Infiniti M, this challenger is somewhat more expensive and more powerful, as indicated by its $48,700 MSRP (+$200 compared to the RLX) and 330 hp (+20 hp versus the Acura), but it’s a bit smaller, too, and with an even lower EPA line of 18/26/21. And again, when contrasting the M’s list of standard features with that of the 2014 Acura RLX, the former comes up short in most of the same categories as the Lexus did; sure, the Infiniti does come standard with heated front seats, like the RLX, but its six-speaker entry-level sound system is down four speakers as compared to the entry audio choice in the Acura.
Which means the 2014 Acura RLX itself should be a strong choice in the premium sedan segment this year.