As you read this, I'll be heading up to northern California to test drive the all-new 2014 Acura RLX. Acura reviews have been a bit of a sore spot these past couple of years -- while I was quite fond of the TSX Sport Wagon and I think the new RDX is spot on, the TL continues to miss the mark and the new ILX is, in my opinion, perfectly dreadful (and overpriced). The problem isn't so much the cars themselves as the fact that Acura seems to have lost any sense of direction.
But what of the old RL? I thought it was a pretty decent car -- an old-school Acura in the sense that it's basically a glorified Honda, but I've always been okay with that. A lot of people derided the RL for its lack of a V8, but that didn't bother me either -- I liked the comfort and the value.
So now we have the 2014 RLX, which is the RL's replacement. No, there still isn't a V8, nor is there even a turbocharger; power comes from a 310 horsepower V6, although the RLX's sub-two-ton curb weight should make up for the modest power output. Acura is claiming more back-seat space than its rivals thanks to an enlarged wheelbase, plus a lot of high-handed handling hardware: Four-wheel steering, SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive -- gawd, do I love that name), and a new dynamic braking system called Agile Handling Assist (they do have a way with monikers). And while several Honda models have gone to McPherson strut suspensions, the RLX is hanging on to its double-wishbone setup. Our press drive is going to include a bit of track time, so I assume Acura is really looking to drive home the handling issue.
So on paper, it sounds decent -- but then again, so does the TL, which performs wonderfully but doesn't feel all that luxurious. I'm anxious to see if Acura will hit the mark. Our driving impressions are to be embargoed until mid-February, so I won't be able to tell you right off the bat -- but I'm curious to hear what you want out of the new RLX. If it handles as well as Acura promises, will that be enough? Is a no-nonsense interior okay, or does the RLX need to be brimming with leather and wood? Click the "comments" button and tell me what you think. -- Aaron Gold
Photo © Acura