Often there is elegance in simplicity, especially when it comes to the luxury car market.
Revealed at last fall’s Los Angeles Auto Show, the RLX succeeds the RL, but is much more than a mere update of the Japanese automaker’s former flagship sedan, which never really became much of a hit with buyers.
Its understated exterior and technology-packed, classy interior as well as its smooth, comfortable ride more than overcome the shortcomings of its predecessor.
The question will be if that is enough to help Acura -- Honda’s luxury division -- get a leg up on entries from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Cadillac and even Hyundai and now Kia in what is a very competitive getting to be crowded segment.
The RLX currently is offered only in front-wheel drive configuration, which sort of bucks the trend in the class to RWD vehicles, though an AWD hybrid version is in the works and, at last check, is due out late this year.
Currently, the only engine offered is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at a maximum 310-horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Acura’s Sequential Shift paddle shifters. It drinks the recommended premium fuel at a rate of 20 miles-per-gallon in the city and 31 on the highway.
When it comes to performance, the RLX won’t overwhelm you, but it’s no slouch and it delivers the acceleration with smoothly and quietly.
One thing that does distinguish the RLX has an all-wheel steering system which the company dubbed Precision All-Wheel Steer (PAWS). The rear wheels turn only a couple of degrees as determined by a computer based on input from the steering wheel, brake and gas pedal.
It shuts off when the car is in reverse, which would seem to go against one of the benefits of an all-wheel-steer system, which can be an aid to parking in tight spots.
Frankly, it may be a bit of an overkill in a vehicle this size, but nevertheless, it’s there, so make of it what you will.
The RLX’s exterior features nice clean lines with the “shield” grille the company introduced a few years ago flanked by LED headlamps. Somehow, it doesn’t seem in-your-face as it first did. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to it.
Inside, the RLX features high-grade materials, and the seats are comfortable enough and the back seat accommodating enough unless you happen to be hauling NBA power forwards and centers to the arena.
The base RLX ($49,435) comes with a pretty long list of standard equipment, including eight-way power adjustable seats with four-way power lumbar support, power title and telescoping steering wheel, LED backlit gauges, USB port, Bluetooth, three-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a 10-speaker audio system.
Moving up the line are the RLX with navigation; an available technology package that upgrades the wheels from 18 to 19 inches and includes a blind-spot warning system, 14-speaker sound system, and ebony wood-grain interior accents; and a Krell Package that includes all the technological features plus an ultra-premium audio system, expanded rear door sunshade, and a power-operated rear window sunshade.
The top-of-the-line RLX Advance model has all the good stuff. It includes all the features from the other packages plus adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation breaking, lane-keeping assist, parking sensors, ventilated and front seats and heated rear seats, rear-seat foot light, and auto-dimming side mirror.
With only a handful of dealer-installed accessories and no stand-alone options available to run up the cost, the RLX Advance model checks in with an MSRP of $61,345 for just about everything you might want.
Except for bling, of course. But, as has been said, just because you can afford luxury doesn’t mean you have to flaunt it.