The 2017 RLX -- a large and luxurious touring sedan -- caps the line of performance and luxury vehicles by Acura, the elite spin-up brand from Honda of Japan.
Following the 2014 RLX debut as Acura's re-imagined flagship sedan and 2016 suspension tuning refinements, the 2017 RLX pairs to two versions: RXL, a gasoline-powered front-wheel-drive sedan with PAWS (Precision All-Wheel Steer) 4-wheel electric steering system, and RLX Sport Hybrid, a 3-motor gas/electric sedan with all-wheel-drive through the spry wheel control of Acura's SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive) equipment with electric twin-clutch rear differential and dynamic torque vectoring.
Both models -- RLX PAWS and RLX Sport Hybrid -- split for two equipment bundles: Acura's Technology Package and the lavish Advance Package.
The Technology Package installs sophisticated electronic safety, visibility and drive-assist devices: Collision Mitigation Brake System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control, Expanded View Driver Mirror, Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, Blind Zone Mirror, Blind Spot Information System, LED headlamps and the Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio System with 14 speakers.
The Advance Package adds cushy deluxe features, Expanded rear door sunshade, power-operated rear window sunshade, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Lane Keeping Assist System, Parking Sensors (2 front/4 rear), perforated Milano premium leather upholstery, ventilated and heated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, front seatbelt electronic pretensioners, rear seat foot light, auto-dimming side mirror, rain-sensing windshield wipers and an ultra-premium Krell audio system with 14 speakers.
Core engine for RLX PAWS and RLX Sport Hybrid models is Acura's aluminum 3.5-liter V6 with a single overhead camshaft, direct injection, drive-by-wire throttle, cross-flow magnesium intake manifold and i-VTEC (intelligent variable valve timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain technology.
The V6 generates 310 hp at 6500 rpm and 272 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm (273 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm for the AWD Sport Hybrid).
RLX Sport Hybrid gains three electric motors, one as a hybrid assist to the V6 in channeling torque to turn the front wheels, the other two functioning as an all-electric rear differential turning the rear wheels.
Transmission for the front-wheel-drive RLX PAWS is an electronically controlled automatic 6-speed outfitted with Acura's sequential SportShift override for manual shifts via hand paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
Transmission for the AWD RLX Sport Hybrid is an advanced motor-integrated 7-speed dual-clutch automatic which uses the two electric motors in the rear differential to turn the rear wheels from a stop-light start.
The RLX earns good fuel-burn scores with EPA mileage estimates rising to 20/30 mpg (city/highway) for the RLX PAWS edition but 29/30 mpg (city/highway) with AWD traction of the RLX Sport Hybrid.
A monocoque structure composed of high-tensile steel and aluminum for RLX models combines chassis and body into a cohesive entity that's extremely rigid. Then add the independent suspension system tuned for comfort and noise control through the front double wishbone and rear multi-link arrangement with stabilizer bars and amplitude reactive dampers.
Steering is crisp and true from a rack-and-pinion arrangement with speed-sensing electric power boost, and braking seems keen and quick thanks to a disc at every wheel (ventilated front, solid rear) with an anti-lock brake system and electronic brake distribution.
Take a walk-around tour of the RLX, and you'll see a streamlined body posing in hunkered stance that makes it seem ready to romp. There's a low hood line to enhance forward visibility for the driver, with Jewel Eye LED lamps on front corners of a pointed prow crowned by Acura's pentagonal grille in silver paint.
In the luxurious cabin, there's room for five riders with supportive bucket seats in front of a bench for three. Fine leather seems to be the dominant material decorating the cabin, as it appears on seats, the steering wheel, and shifter knob, plus dashboard and doors.
Acura sets MSRP figures for the 2017 RLX series beginning at $54,450 for RLX PAWS Technology Package.