white, sedan, honda, gasoline-electricAutomotive News Test Drive Reviews 

2016 Acura RLX Test Drive

Reasons to love the 2016 Acura RLX…

The 2016 Acura RLX is both roomy and comfortable. Slightly shorter than a Porsche Panamera, the RLX manages to offer rear passenger’s an additional 5.5-inches of rear legroom compared to the more expensive Porsche. With the quick and efficient gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain of the 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid, the RLX truly shines as a 21st century luxury sedan.

Pros: Comfortable ride, giant backseat, reasonably priced, incredibly efficient in gasoline-electric hybrid form

Cons: Not as much of a driver’s car as some competitors

Competes with: Lexus GS, Cadillac XTS, Infiniti Q70, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series

Casually cruising at lofty highway speeds comes easy in the 2016 Acura RLX. Thanks to the big Acura sedan’s quiet cabin and comfortable ride, the RLX is as calm and collected at near triple-digit speeds as it is at 60 mph. Fortunately, we’re behind the wheel of a 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid, which, along with an innovative gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain, comes standard with a heads-up display unit that allows us to easily keep tabs on the speed we were travelling.

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Exterior

Conservative but handsome, the 2016 Acura RLX incorporates hallmark Acura styling cues like Jewel Eye LED headlights and the company’s beaked grille. At 196.1-inches long, the 2016 Acura RLX is approximately 4-inches longer than the mid-size 2016 Lexus GS.

Like the Lexus, the 2016 Acura RLX is available with a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain. Choosing this model adds a slightly revised front clip with LED fog lights, smoked chrome on the front grille, hybrid badging and a unique 19-inch alloy wheel design (the standard RLX also comes with 19-inch alloy wheels of a different design).

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Interior

Akin to other Acura vehicles, the 2016 Acura RLX’s center console is dominated by two screens. A smaller touchscreen unit that controls audio and climate settings, and a larger screen mounted high on the dash that gives the driver and passenger access to most everything else. The bigger screen is controlled by a large knob located just below the smaller touchscreen display. Like BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI, smaller buttons surround the knob, allowing users to easily access common features or find the display’s home menu.

Every 2016 Acura RLX comes standard with heated leather seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, a keyless entry and push-button start system, steering wheel mounted controls, a power steering column, navigation and Bluetooth. Two additional packages are available: the Technology Package and Advance Package.

The former package adds items like adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a collision mitigation braking system, lane keeping assist system and blind-spot information system, while the latter package includes such features as a Krell premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, power rear sunshade and manual rear door sunshades, a surround view camera system, remote engine start, power folding side mirrors, and front and rear parking sensors.

Acura RLX Sport Hybrid’s add features like an electronic gear selector, head-up display unit and a reactive force accelerator pedal, which can increase pedal resistance as a means of encouraging more efficient driving. The 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid is only available with either the Technology or Advance Package.

Regardless of the 2016 Acura RLX model you choose, every RLX sports a comfortable rear seat with 38.8-inches of legroom. This bests the sportier 2016 Lexus GS’s rear legroom by 2-inches, but falls short of the Cadillac XTS’s rear legroom by 1.2-inches. Like the RLX, the XTS is a front-wheel drive-based mid-size luxury sedan that forgoes the sporting intentions of many similarly priced competitors and instead favors outright comfort.

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Performance

With 310 horsepower produced from a potent 3.5-liter V6 engine, the 2016 Acura RLX offers enough power to satisfy most buyers. Putting its power to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission, the RLX manages EPA-estimated fuel economy figures of 20 MPG city and 31 MPG highway.

Buyers looking for more power and/or the grip of all-wheel drive, will want to be sure to look at the 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. Thanks to the addition of three electric motors – one in the car’s 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and one powering each rear wheel – the 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid possesses a total of 377 horsepower as a result of this unique powertrain. It also earns EPA-estimated fuel economy figures of 28 MPG city and 32 MPG highway.

While the Sport Hybrid’s gasoline-electric powertrain adds more than 300 pounds to the RLX’s curb weight, the electric motors’ instant torque, as well as the 7-speed transmission’s quick shifts, makes the 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid feel like a rocket when launching from a stop. Of course, ‘Sport’ mode must be engaged to truly feel the RLX Sport Hybrid’s power delivery. In the default setting, the RLX Sport Hybrid will hesitate to take off quickly, even with the accelerator pedal pinned to the floor.

Despite its name, the RLX Sport Hybrid’s handling characteristics are rather tepid. Although Acura’s SH-AWD system does a good job of appropriating the flow of power, the big sedan’s soft suspension and modest all-season tires affect handling confidence. Fortunately, the 2016 RLX more than makes up for this by being downright comfortable. The supple suspension floats over road imperfections, while the tires transmit little-to-no road noise into the cabin.

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Safety

Every 2016 Acura RLX is now available with Acura’s AcuraWatch suite of safety features. AcuraWatch includes: a forward collision warning system, a lane departure warning system, a road departure mitigation system, and a rearview camera system. Adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation braking system, a lane keeping assist system and a blind-spot information system are available on RLX’s with the Technology and Advanced Packages. Meanwhile Advanced Package equipped RLX’s also add a surround-view camera system, and front and rear parking sensors.

In crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2016 Acura RLX earned the NHTSA’s highest safety rating of ‘5 Stars’ in all categories. While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has yet to test a 2016 Acura RLX, the IIHS did test the almost identical 2015 Acura RLX, which earned its highest rating of ‘Good’ in all categories and was awarded the IIHS’s ‘Top Safety Pick+’ award.

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Price

Starting at $50,950 (MSRP), the 2016 Acura RLX includes such luxuries as leather interior trim, a power driver and front passenger seat, a navigation system, tri-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, a keyless push-button start system and Acura’s four-wheel steering system (P-AWS, or Precision All-Wheel Steer).

Moving up to the $54,450 (MSRP) 2016 Acura RLX with Technology Package adds items like adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a collision mitigation braking system, lane keeping assist system and blind-spot information system.

Opting for the $60,450 (MSRP) 2016 Acura RLX with Advance Package adds such features as a Krell premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, power rear sunshade and manual rear door sunshades, a surround view camera system, remote engine start, power folding side mirrors, and front and rear parking sensors.

Choosing the all-wheel drive Acura RLX Sport Hybrid requires buyers drop $59,950 (MSRP) for the Technology Package-equipped model. Splurging for the top-of-the-line Advance Package brings the price up to $65,950 (MSRP).

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Overall

Big and powerful, our Bellanova White Pearl 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid test vehicle was both comfortable and serene. In South Florida, where stop-and-go traffic and flat roads dominate, this proved terrific; however, consumers in areas with less traffic and/or more dynamic roads may yearn for a vehicle with more sporting intentions.

Regardless of your driving environment, the 2016 Acura RLX is a vehicle that deserves strong consideration, especially if comfort and efficiency are two of your highest priorities in your mid-size luxury sedan purchase.

Photos by Gregory Fink and Dave Pankew

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