2016_Acura_RLX_Hybrid_Advance
Parks McCants's picture

2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid presents electrifying performance

Electrifying! To impress greatly; thrill. "an electrifying performance" Synonyms: excite, thrill, stimulate, arouse, rouse, inspire, stir (up), exhilarate, intoxicate, galvanize, move, fire (with enthusiasm), fire someone's imagination, invigorate, animate. When weighing RLX Sport Hybrid against the competition, forget everything you think you know when it comes to hybrid performance.
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This ultimate split personality Acura takes hybrid technology in a serious performance direction. We’ve never driven anything quite like it, but it does come with a lofty price tag. Is 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid worth the price of admission?

After taking a model bi-year, RLX Sport Hybrid returns in 2015 as a 2016 model with an advancement or two

The last built in Japan Acura happens to be this mostly "Made in America" brand’s flagship. It also just happens to be Acura’s most expensive, highest tech offering, and comes with a mind bending combination of hybrid driven performance, camera activated active safety features, and arguably Acura’s best constructed and most comfortable seat in the house.

2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD features 5-Star cabin accommodations

Easing into Acuras flagship cabin for the first time is much like fitting an exquisite Italian loafer to one's bare foot. Unlike most Acura and Honda leather covered seating surfaces, this one feels well broken in on first sit.

While perhaps not visually stunning by luxury car standards, Acura takes balance, functionality, and personal-auto connectivity to a higher level; while cloaking this tech-controlled compilation in quality leathers, burnished metals and wood-grain-like smooth and textured surfaces.

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While exploring Acura's latest and greatest RLX offering, we discovered the 10 way adjustable heated and cooled drivers seat, heated power adjustable steering wheel, exceptional individual side climate control, power moon roof, and expansive rear seating area, also featuring separate climate controls, to be exquisitely crafted.

Perusing the passenger cabin one discovers aviation-style reading lights and an integrated cup-holder center armrest, punctuating surprisingly plush accommodations, accented by very effective pull-up side window sun shades.

Passenger visibility from rear to front is supported through a slight rise in the elevation of the rear seat, while ensuring ease of ingress and exit for passengers of all ages. Note: Rear headroom is exceptional.

2016 Acura RLX presents the most comfortable long-legged rear seating area in the class, truly limo-like. We further enjoyed the night-visual-experience that is RLX, with convenience, accent and safety lighting evident and most appreciated throughout. RLX Fit and finish is found to be without compromise as to craftsmanship, composition and material quality.

The 2016 RLX driving environment becomes intuitive in nature within minutes, as one eases into the tech driven world of Acura active safety features, 4 way external camera, static touch screen infotainment, climate control, and top-of-stack integrated navigational screen with split hybrid-systems display.

Driver’s will discover an exceptionally smart-steering wheel, and in the case of RLX Advance, a “Heads-Up” windshield display.

Heads-up display, yes

The RLX Sports Hybrid driving environment is reminiscent of your neighbor’s Honda Jet; multiple screen glass dash, center cluster i-MID, navigation, seamless voice activated settings, timed - traveled distance calculator and more.

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And then there’s that 377 horsepower 3-motor sports hybrid system, dual drive mode double clutched electric-motor integrated 7 speed automated transmission with paddle shifting, and torque vectoring smart handling all-wheel-drive.

341 ft-lb monster torque

By combining Acura’s mechanically bullet proof direct injected i-VTEC V6 gasoline engine with a 3 electric motor regenerative and torque vectoring rear-drive, Acura has all but eliminated the negative handling aspects of primary front wheel drive, while producing copious amounts of on demand torque.

The loud peddle in RLX Sport Hybrid is understated impressive! Actually, we discovered a seamless transition between electric only and hybrid power, producing an astonishing performance launch off of the light, and uphill progression rivaling the highest powered import V8s on the road today.

Zero torque drop noted

Acura-Torque News noted zero torque drop while piloting RLX Sport Hybrid over steep freeway grades. Acceleration experienced behind the wheel of RLX is chiropractic-calling-lightening fast, and yet, RLX Sport Hybrid can be as stealth quiet as a purring kitten while traversing city streets and parking lots in electric-only mode.

The entire RLX drive and ride experience is a bit mind-bending at times. Seriously, the uphill trajectory of 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid bends the mind and the body. No other mainstream gasoline-electric hybrid make or model on the road today can approach Acura RLX Sport Hybrid performance at this price point, while preserving real-world-livable fuel economy.

370 combined horsepower, 341 ft-lb torque, 30 MPG highway, $ 65,950+

As is said, performance and technology does come at a price. And, in the case of 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid, the ticket price for a fully loaded RLX Sports Hybrid smart handling all wheel drive(SH-AWD) Advance is $65,950 +.

Still, a relative performance bargain when compared apples for apples to Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and Lexus GS 350, all fantastic import performance cars. However, none of them present the over-the-top combined meld of active safety and creature comfort features meets gasoline/electric hybrid driven performance. And, in true Acura fashion, RLX comes in at $10,000 below BMW’s top trim offering.

Call me crazy, I love the occasional electric-only drive experience

Zero_RPM_Electric

There's nothing quite like silently creeping up to a ‘take out’ window in a 4400 lb premium sports sedan, or watching the RPM gauge drop to zero while driving down the freeway at 58 mpg. It’s a bit of a Tesla moment, something that we came to experience in the Honda Accord hybrid.

However, this EV-only moment doesn’t happen often in RLX, nor does it last very long. The hybrid system here is employed mostly for bolstering performance while preserving a reasonable MPG rating, and frankly can be a bit disconcerting at times. The first time one drives RLX Sport Hybrid, that initial launch in electric only mode, finds one fumbling for an engine-on button. It’s silent!

900 miles behind the wheel Of Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

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Acura-Torque News waited a year for an opportunity to review RLX Sport Hybrid. The last time we enjoyed any seat time in RLX was while attending Pirelli World Challenge a year past this week.

After driving 2014 RLX on the freeways of Marin County, California, we found the 310 horsepower 2014 RLX advance to be impressive, but lacking just a bit in true-straight-line acceleration. And, it was a bit heavy on the downhill swoop, diving into tight cornering. however, it’s suite of active safety components saved our collective behinds more than once in city traffic.

Drive and ride performance

From a luxury vantage point, Acura RLX Sport Hybrid while very-cabin-comfortable, is not Bently, nor even MDX-Pilot quiet under certain driving conditions.

This techno-wonder has many systems running simultaneously, with an evident (occasional) wirel of a driveline component, or regenerative transmission internal (regenerative braking) motor doing its job. And, once again we find Acura’s choice of “S” rated high performance low sidewall summer-treads to be very road surface sensitive, noisy, and less than effective in a high speed 2 lane transitional sweep.

Granted, one rarely finds super high performance and limousine-like quiet packaged in the same automobile, thus is the case with RLX Sport Hybrid; we believe it could be a bit quieter. We also found the wind noise at the driver’s side door to be bordering on intolerable at highway speeds; to the point that we questioned the effectiveness of the door seals, something we will take up with Acura.

Unfortunately, early on in our drive we encountered a high speed projectile resulting in a cracked windshield, other than that, all RLX Sport Hybrid systems performed as designed, including voice recognition, something we’d experienced a bit of difficulty with in the past. Note: The 16 speaker Krell stereo system in RLX produces a serious concert-like listening experience; we like that!

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A closing thought or two

Although 2016 RLX Sport Hybrid is measurably impressive on the tech and engine/motor performance side, at 4359 lbs, it’s the heavy weight of its class, and remains more than just a bit heavy in cornering. Hybrid technology due to battery modules, added electric motor components, and in this case SH-AWD. Ad a boat-load of technological wizardry, and RLX Hybrid is heavy, no getting around it.

The “Sport” in RLX Sport Hybrid is a mixed bag, when it comes to true-track-like performance handling. We don’t look to RLX for NSX road stickiness or record breaking track capabilities. But, for a relatively heavy 4 door sedan, 2016 RLX Sport Hybrid is arguably the best(priced under $100,000) all around drive and ride performer in the mid to full size premium/ luxury sedan class.

RLX is much like that 260 lb football linebacker that can sprint a 4.5 second 50 meter dash; while not possessing the ‘cut and turn’ capabilities of a pass receiver. However, RLX does move exceptionally well when asked to do so. For us the icing on the cake is the EV mode only feature; a glimpse into the future of automotive engineering, if you will; Acura style.


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Comments

Hey there Mr. Parks, hope things be well by you. Too be honest, a little disappointing. The RLX has always been Honda/Acura's, "Luxury" flagship and never meant to be a Porsche beater. Looking to where the upper end, "Luxury" market has gone in terms of performance and design, I think the RLX is coming up short. I don't think the advanced Tech. being offered is going to be enough to really compete with the other very competitive offerings in this class of car, or have much of an impact on that market. I expected much more dynamically. On this particular model, I think they have missed the Target, or more to the point, narrowed the Target too much. Have a nice weekend and as always, All Best.
Welcome JeffS. Right you are.... look for my drive review video next week. We'll touch on a performance point or two. Not an easy car to measure.
From a styling point of view, the previous RLX to my eye was much more pleasing and found it to be very handsome with just enough unique personality to separate it from the rest of the pack. This new designed looks just too conservative to be turning heads. As far as performance goes, there is so much potential here that what Acura ended up with seems to fall a mite short. It occurs to me there are some, "growing" pains going on, which is understandable seeing as how Acura/Honda is revamping their entire line. Regarding the RLX in particular it strikes me as it is a 1/2 step towards the final goal. Take away the tech involved and you end up with an also ran. It occurs to me that with all the major innovations and completely revamped models Honda/Acura is undertaking, they may have spread themselves too thin and have bit off a mite more that they can chew in one sitting as it were. I think they are on the right track, but in a little too much of a rush to market, much like the position they find themselves in with the NSX. Given time they will catch up. Engineering is not the problem, reliability is not the problem, the ability to provide some excitement isn't an issue. Where they are falling down a mite, with some of their models, lies in marketing and understanding that it will take more than solid reliability and innovation to move the peg. Performance and style needs to be added to the mix in order to really move the bar. If they added a bit more visual excitement to the design, (the RLX is just too conservative) and a mite more performance, (RLX needs about another 100 horse) they would have a winner on their hands. As it appears to sit now they have a little more tweaking to do before they end up with a homerun on their hands and become a major player in the upper end Luxury Sport market place. They are on the right track, just need to read the market a mite better. In that regard I think the new Civic, when it finally arrives, will be a good indication of whether they will be content to be just another choice, or the leader of the pack. The NSX when it finally hits the showroom will also be a good indication. What looks good on paper doesn't always equate to success in the marketplace and only time will tell how it will be received by the buying public. Will they tone down the new Civic too much? Will they deliver on the NSX or will it end up being a wallflower, a little to early to tell. Will they keep the streak alive, as they have done with the new Pilot, CR-V and HR-V, or will they find themselves yet playing catch up with the Accord, RLX and NSX? The Accord, Civic and NSX look to be a hit, (but the jury is still out, until they hit the showroom floor) not so sure about the RLX, but it seems to me they still have some work to do before success can be claimed on that one. A trip to the body shop and gym to bulk up a bit may be necessary to lure buyers away from some of the other players found in the RLX's niche. We'll just have to wait and see, there is no crystal ball that can answer those questions, the consumer will have to do so and the answer should be coming shortly.
The general consensus in the automotive review world is that Acura is without a halo or flagship offering. Acura RLX is branded Honda Legend in Japan and is almost exclusively utilized as an executive limousine in Asia. initially, the hybrid side of the RLX personality is two fold, fuel economy and combined performance, two things the car does very well. Where I find myself looking for more, is in aggressive road handling and body style. I further find the center stack design to be a bit antiquated. As you've stated, just a bit too conservative when weighed against the competition. RLX will not be positioned as a bulk-seller in the U.S. And frankly, I find the fully optioned TLX, RDX and MDX to be a far greater purchase, comfort and overall performance value. Once again Acura RLX is a design unique unto itself. We find no apple to apple comparisons in the full-size sedan segment. P.S. don't let the performance numbers mislead you. As delivered, the torque generated by the hybrid system will put you in session with your favorite bone cracker. It's damn torque driven.
I hear what you are saying Parks. I guess for me it comes down to, "What's in a name" and was expecting something a mite different. The "Luxury" I can see, it's the "Sport" part that eludes me. As we have discussed many a time, "Beauty" is in the eye of the beholder, to my eye the thing is over the top vanilla.I didn't expect a NSX sedan, but from a styling point of view, to me, it just has no, "personality" at all. I am not in a position to make a judgment call as far as performance goes, not ever driving it, but on paper it doesn't excite. I just think that it is going to end up as an opportunity missed and believe Acura could've taken more advantage of the technology they have available to make a stronger statement. Once the NSX finally hits the showroom floor, it will get people into the dealership, was kinda expecting the RLX to do the same, but I just don't see that happening. It's a car that many, including myself, will pass by on the road and not even take notice. Just doesn't seem to fit into Acura/Honda's grand scheme of things. Maybe I'm just missing something, wouldn't be the first time. Be well.