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2014 RLX Driving Impressions

Although I've been to my fair share of these events, it's always exciting to make a trip to the mainland for a new car introduction. Due to the place this car sits in our vehicle lineup, we understand that many might not think this is a significant new launch especially if they're not in the market for a car at this price point. In my opinion, the RLX is important even if you're not in the market for a vehicle in this price range because many of the features should "trickle down" into our other cars in the future.

Dynamic Performance

The RLX is powered by a new 3.5 liter VTEC engine with Direct Injection, mated to a revised 6-speed automatic transmission. Output is listed as 310 HP at 6500 RPM and 272 lb-ft of torque at 5800 RPM. These numbers are good, but don't tell the whole story. I wouldn't be surprised if 90% of the torque is available from 2500 RPM up to 6000, this engine feels very powerful.

On the dragstrip, I hit the throttle and there was a little weight transfer but very little squat. On this flat surface, there was no torque steer that I could detect and except for some controlled wheelspin and a throaty engine note, it was off to a quick but uneventful jaunt to 80 MPH.

As I applied the brakes, the Precision All Wheel Steer (PAWS) toed-in the rear wheels to aid stability. While this feature was difficult to feel in actual operation, but suffice to say, it's totally transparent and stops were short, predictable and devoid of any drama.

PAWS was very noticeable in the handling section of our drive. In the slow sections, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction of the front wheels to sharpen the turn-in response. At higher speeds, they steer in phase to enhance stability and this was immediately apparent. In sweeping mid-speed corners, I felt that I could apex a little earlier each time. In my opinion, the addition of this system has allowed Acura engineers to go with a slightly more compliant suspension setup for increased ride comfort while maintaining excellent handling and transient response.

Another factor in the handling equation is the addition of Agile Handling Assist. This system can brake the inside wheel in a corner (as long as the driver is not on the throttle) to help rotate the car and reduce understeer. Combined with the Amplitude Reactive Dampers, these systems allow for a little more initial body roll than I expected, but the car still tracked true.

I'd also like to mention that after the ILX and RDX, I was surprised to feel a little extra 'heft' in the steering. I was expecting this to feel heavily boosted but it was just the opposite. I found it nicely weighted and very predictable.

Driver Assist Technology

We had the opportunity to test out two new features. Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow and Lane Keeping Assist. Adaptive Cruise Control is not a new feature, however, the addition of Low Speed Follow is. Essentially, this system allows the car (once initiated) to maintain a preset distance to the car in front of you, even if the car comes to a complete stop. The RLX will apply the brakes and bring itself to a stop and when it's time to go, all the driver needs to do is hit "resume" on the steering wheel. Acura allows you to select from four different "follow distances" to the car ahead.

Lane Keeping Assist is new technology for Acura. Using cameras, the system "locks in" on the lane markers and A) warns you if you are drifting out of the lane and B) will actively steer you back into your lane as long as your hands are on the wheel. Once we became acclimated to the system, it was remarkable how well it worked.

As you can see from the preceding paragraphs, the RLX is filled with new technology that is designed to assist the driver. I feel that each owner will find the best way to incorporate these into their driving lives.


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