It's no secret that Acura is having a hard time positioning itself between parent company Honda and pure luxury carmakers, but the Japanese brand is once again trying to gain a foothold in the executive sedan category with the new 2014 RLX that was unwrapped today in Los Angeles.
Acura had previewed the new RLX with a thinly disguised concept model at this year's New York Auto Show. Not much has changed since then, with the production version of the RL's replacement simply gaining different trims for the bumpers and smaller wheels than the concept study.
For the first time, we see the interior of the RLX. Despite the use of the usual upscale leather materials and wood trims, the overall design brings to mind that of the latest Accord, which isn't something you want to see in a model of this category and price.
Among other interior comfort and convenience features that can be found in the new RLX are dual screens (just like the Accord…) including an 8-inch Navigation screen and a 7-inch On-Demand Multi-Use Display touch screen, plus push-button start, power tilt and telescoping steering, power sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink.
At 196.1 inches long, the RLX is similar in length to the outgoing RL, but it rides on a two-inch longer wheelbase and is nearly two inches wider. According to Acura, the RLX offers "three inches more rear legroom than competing models, including the BMW 535i, Lexus GS350 and Audi A6".
Under the sheetmetal, the RLX is the brand's first model to utilize the Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) that works together with the Vehicle Stability Assist that incorporates the Traction Control and Agile Handling Assist dynamic braking systems to provide what Acura describes in its press bit as "enhanced vehicle stability, maneuverability, and control".
When the RLX goes on sale in United States next Spring, it will be offered with Acura's all-new direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management, rated at 310 horsepower and 272 lb.-ft. of torque.
While other automakers have moved on to 7, 8 and in the near future, 9-speed automatic transmissions, Acura chose to re-engineer its previous Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission.
Later in 2013, Acura will enhance the RLX's range with a more intriguing hybrid model featuring the firm's new Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD) technology, which links the 3.5-liter direct-injected V6 to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission and three electric motors for a combined output of 370hp. Acura said it expects this model to return fuel economy ratings of 30 city/30 highway/30 combined.