2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid | Test Drive | Edmunds


SPEAKER 1: The Acura NSX
is a high tech super car
that uses hybrid technology to
create an exhilarating driving
experience.
But have you ever wondered
what it would be like
if it had four doors and the
drivetrain was backwards?
Well, wonder no more, because
this is the 2018 Acura RLX
Sport Hybrid.

Up front, the RLX
receives a new hood.
It receives a new
front end and new grill
that inherits
Acura’s new styling
language, the thing that you’re
seeing on the MDX and NSX.
It retains the Jewel
Eye headlights,
but it gets new
head light pods that
include some LED turn signals
and LED daytime running lights.
You also get this
new chin spoiler
that ties into the side skirt.
You have new 19-inch wheels.
Got a hybrid badge, in case
you forget you bought a hybrid.
And around back you
have all-LED tail lights
that are a new design
with a new rear end look.
Now, mechanically this
car is related to the NSX,
because it takes the
electric motors that
drive the NSX’s front wheels and
sticks them in the back to help
guide the car through turns.
It takes the V6 that the
NSX had in its middle,
replaces it with seats,
and sticks the V6
under the hood
where it’s assisted
by another electric motor
and drives the front wheel.
The whole thing makes 377
horsepower and returns
28 miles per gallon,
which isn’t bad.

If you are a Japanese
car nerd or an ’80s
and ’90s luxury car nerd, you
remember the Acura Legend.
In the mid ’80s, when Acura was
still a very new car company,
Honda brought the
Legend Sedan over.
And it was an
important car for them,
because it both helped define
what Acura could be in terms
of a luxury car company.
It was also the first V6
in a production Honda car.
The Legend eventually
became the Acura RL,
and the Acura RL eventually
became this, the Acura RLX,
which is actually going
to be the Legend in Japan.
Over the life of
the RL and the RLX,
the criticisms levied
against this car
have remained pretty consistent.
It doesn’t have a V8.
It’s not a rear-wheel drive.
It’s not quite as
luxurious feeling
or as sporty or as
exciting to look at as some
of its German competitors.
With this refresh,
Acura is hoping
to address some
of those concerns
and make this a
car that stands up
a little better against
its European competition.
For 2018, Acura
updated the interior,
making some tweaks to
the design and improving
some of the material quality.
So all the touch points
feel pretty premium.
It’s a quiet interior.
These new seats are comfortable.
In the Sport Hybrid
they’re heated and cooled.
You get a full suite of
driver aids and active safety
features.
There’s a lot of
content in this car.
The overall design doesn’t
have quite the same wow
factor as the more recently
redesigned E-Class or 5 Series.
This infotainment system really
lags behind the competition.
The two-screen setup makes
sense in some situations.
It’s nice to be able to
look at your GPS directions
and be able to change radio
stations or adjust the music
or whatever else.
But the interface isn’t
very user friendly.
The voice controls
don’t work super well.
And it’s just not
as fully featured
as the offerings from
some competitors.
So the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
works a little differently
from other luxury hybrid cars.
You get a V6 engine
up front that’s
coupled with a seven-speed
automatic transmission that
has an electric motor
attached to it to help
boost the power from the V6.
Where the Super Handling
All-Wheel Drive comes in
is this car takes the electric
motors that in the NSX
drive the front wheels,
and moves them to the back.
So each of the rear
wheels in this car
has an electric motor that
can provide power to it.
And that means that when
you’re going through turns,
it really helps
push the car around.
And for as big and
heavy a car as this is,
that means that it corners
really competently.
And I mean it just goes
on these twisty roads.
So in the Acura RLX Sport
Hybrid, in normal mode,
at low speed, it will
actually crawl along
just using the electric motors.
And in this car,
when the gas engine
kicks in during normal driving,
it’s actually pretty smooth.
It’s pretty unobtrusive.
The one place where
it’s noticeable
is if you’re at a stop
and the car decides
that it needs to kick the engine
on to charge the batteries.
And that’s when you sort
of feel the engine start up
and you hear it running so that
the batteries can get juice.
The RLX suspension is
actually really nice.
It absorbs small imperfections
in the road really well,
and it provides a
pretty comfortable ride
that I like a lot.
It does– On some road features
you get bounce out of it,
and that makes it feel
a little unsettled.
But that doesn’t actually affect
the performance that much.
As much as some
of the competitors
have more controlled
body roll and a ride that
feels a little more
buttoned down and connected,
the RLX, thanks to this
Sport Hybrid system,
is surprisingly capable.
It’s really its own sort of fun.
I think it’s a different
fun from the German sedans.
It’s that feeling of a big
comfy sedan that just somehow
magically will push
itself around a corner
faster than you would expect.

The RLX’s back seat
is pretty spacious.
There’s a lot of leg
room here, and I’d
say headroom is
average for the class.
It’s what I’d expect.
The seat itself is comfortable,
and it’s heated as well.
You get this power rear
sunshade and this tricky side–
Yeah, look at that.
That’s almost as fun
as driving the car.
Not.
The other thing
they did for 2018
was they reduced the size
of the battery, which
means that the trunk has
gotten slightly larger.
It’s still not as practical
as a non-hybrid car.
The rear seats don’t fall down
and there’s no pass through,
so you’re definitely giving up
a little bit of practicality
here.
Unlike some of my
coworkers, I’m not
terribly concerned with the
outward appearance of a car.
I figure once you’re
inside driving,
you don’t have to look at it.
So I’ll leave that up to you.
On the inside, it’s comfortable.
It’s quiet.
It’s quick.
And it’s surprisingly capable.
It doesn’t have quite
the wow factor in here
that you get from the newest
generation of something
like an E-Class or 5 Series.
And this infotainment
system is definitely just
behind what’s
available in the class.
The other thing they’ve
done that’s smart
is they’ve reduced the cost
of the Sport Hybrid trim
by $4,000 for 2018.
This car comes basically
fully equipped,
and it undercuts the
cost of its competitors
pretty significantly.
I think that’s a
smart move for them,
and It will make this
car a little more
competitive on the market.

I like this car.
It’s a kind of fun
that I appreciate,
and I like the comfort
that you get here.
The drivetrain is an
impressive piece of technology,
and it works really
well in the real world.
But there’s no denying that
the impression from the inside
is that this car is just
a little behind the curve
when you look at the
competitive class.
We’re looking forward to getting
this car back to the office
so we can do a full test on
it and tell you all about it.

For more information,
check out edmunds.com
to find our full rating and
review of the 2018 Acura RLX
Sport Hybrid.

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