Why the 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Matters:
If you’re thinking that what’s special about the 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD is that its name contains nearly as many letters as the entire English alphabet, you’re wrong. What’s important here is that Acura’s new flagship luxury model has the same powertrain that is going to go into the revived NSX sports car, though in that model it will likely generate more oomph than it does in the comparatively genteel RLX.
What’s New for the 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD:
- Idle-stop technology for the hybrid drivetrain’s V-6 engine
- Three electric motors, plus one in the transmission
- Push-button automated manual gearbox
- 260-volt lithium-ion battery pack
- Regenerative braking system
- Acura Head-Up Display System
New 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD: Styling and Design
If you’re looking for visual distinctions between the standard RLX and the new RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, you’re going to need to examine the car quite closely. The lighting and trim details in the lower section of the front bumper are different, the wheels have flat rather than twisted spokes, and the Sport Hybrid version gets new badges on the fenders and trunk lid.
Personally, I like a stealthy approach to green performance. In this case, however, because the RLX is somewhat lacking in personality to start with, the new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD definitely deserves something more to distinguish itself not only from the regular RLX, but in order to stand out better in the expected $60,000 to $70,000 price class where it will compete.
New 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD: What’s Under the Hood
The new 3-motor hybrid powertrain that’s installed in the RLX Sport Hybrid includes the same direct-injected, 3.5-liter V-6 engine from the standard RLX, complete with that model’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system that allows the engine to run on three of its six cylinders under certain driving conditions in order to conserve fuel. Additionally, the RLX Sport Hybrid has an idle-stop system that shuts the V-6 off when the car is idling in traffic or at an intersection.
To this V-6, Acura adds a new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) automated manual gearbox with a built-in electric motor, paddle shifters, and downshift rev matching. Additionally, this transmission is operated using a strip of buttons located on the car’s center console, rather than with a traditional selector. The driver can choose between Normal and Sport driving modes.
Torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is achieved through the use of dual electric motors at the rear wheels. That means the RLX Sport Hybrid has no driveshaft, and no rear differential. A single front electric motor assists the gasoline engine in powering the car’s front wheels, while a 260-volt Lithium-ion battery pack feeds juice to the electric motors. Regenerative brakes recharge the battery as the car is driven.
Together, these components produce 377 horsepower, 67 more than a standard RLX. Thanks to “instantaneous torque” and “precise, sure-footed handling,” Acura promises an “exhilarating driving experience.” Remember, though, that the RLX Sport Hybrid is heavier than the standard RLX.
Nevertheless, the automaker claims that the RLX Sport Hybrid will match competing models with V-8 engines in terms of acceleration to 60 mph, while at the same time returning the fuel economy of a 4-cylinder model. Fuel economy projections are 28 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg in combined driving.
New 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD: Features and Technology
Acura will announce detailed specifications and pricing closer to the RLX Sport Hybrid’s arrival at dealerships. For now, the company confirms that it will be equipped with the same dual-screen control panel setup as the standard RLX, and will include AcuraLink technology with Aha Internet media access and more.
Options will include a choice between a 14-speaker Acura/ELS premium audio system and high-end Krell Audio components. Safety-related upgrades will include numerous features designed to keep the car in its lane, warn drivers of vehicles in the blind spots, and avert collisions.
New 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD: What Autobytel Thinks
Acura calls its new flagship luxury performance sedan the most powerful and technologically advanced vehicle in its history. That is absolutely true. The question is whether or not it will deliver enough power and enough advancement to drive the RLX out of the shadows and into American driveways. We’ll need to reserve judgment until we’ve driven it. One is for sure, though. The RLX Sport Hybrid’s powertrain is an impressive piece of engineering.