The 2018 Acura RLX is not only quiet and comfortable but also offers an impressive mix of power and fuel economy from the Sport Hybrid version. But this year’s update is not enough to solve the problems that make the RLX hard to recommend over luxury competitors with the same price.
There are positive aspects of this Acura luxury sedan, the Sport Hybrid for example. It’s all-wheel-drive, with each rear wheel independently driven by an electric motor and an electric motor in the transmission helping the V6 engine drive the front wheels and return an estimated EPA-estimated 28 mpg combined. The Sport Hybrid is very smooth and quiet in city driving, but it also providing competent handling when you drive on a winding road.
The rest of RLX is a mixed bag. Yes, Acura packs many features as standard, but the overall interior design is out date. The biggest drawback is the dual-screen infotainment system. Very difficult to use, lacks many features that other luxury brands offer, and covers all the other impressive technologies available on the RLX.
Overall, the 2018 Acura RLX is good enough, but most rivals are generally more desirable.
The 2018 Acura RLX comes with a variety of updates including new front-end styling, new 10-speed transmission for the front-wheel-drive trim (called P-AWS), a retuned suspension, new front seats, an upgraded suite of driver safety aids and a slightly smaller battery for the Sport Hybrid.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Acura RLX is a full-size luxury sedan available in two version: front-wheel-drive (called as P-AWS) and Sport Hybrid.
Standard features for the RLX P-AWS includes 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic windshield wipers, a power sunroof, LED headlights and taillights, keyless entry with push-button start and a rearview camera. Inside you’ll get three-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated and power-adjustable front seats, navigation, a dual-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth, a 14-speaker sound system with smartphone app integration, a USB-iPod interface, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, HD and satellite radio.
The RLX Sport Hybrid adds front and rear parking sensors, LED foglights, a surround-view camera system, remote start, auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors. Inside, there is a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade and manual rear-door sunshades, and a premium 14-speaker stereo system.
Every 2018 Acura RLX come standard with a full suite of active safety features, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assists, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The 2018 Acura RLX is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a new ten-speed automatic transmission are standard. EPA fuel economy rating at 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway), which is also average for a six-cylinder luxury sedan.
The RLX Sport Hybrid combines the V6 engine with a three-motor hybrid system, a seven-speed automated manual transmission and Acura Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The V6 motor drives the front wheels through a built-in electric motor automatic transmission, and each rear wheel has an independent electric motor. Together this combination produces a total output 377 hp and 341 lb-ft of torque.
The Sport Hybrid delivers superior acceleration and fuel economy. In performance testing, it went from zero to 60 mph in a quick 4.9 seconds. EPA fuel economy rating at 28 mpg combined (28 city/29 highway).
Inside, Acura updated the cabin design with new colors, new seat and enhanced materials. The refreshing and comfortable seats are easy to adjust. But it’s not quite accommodating as the optional seats are offered by some German brands, but they are supportive, all-day comfortable and wrapped in high-quality leather. As a bonus, both front seats in the 2018 Acura RLX are ventilated and heated.
Almost everything in the 2018 Acura RLX cabin feels premium, and even the plastic is well-finished. However, the overall design is not enough to match the latest 5 Series or E-Class, which both benefit from a full redesign.
The second row is spacious, with plenty of legroom and headroom as we expect from the class. The rear seats are comfortable, and they are also heated on the Hybrid Sport. Retractable window shades all around make it feel that much more comfortable.
The 2018 Acura RLX offers 15.3 cubic feet of trunk space. As the rear-seat back does not fold down, the center seat pass-through is the only way to carry longer objects. The Sport Hybrids have a noticeably smaller 12 cubic-foot trunk.
Release Dates and Price
Pricing for the base 2018 Acura RLX starts at $55,865 (include $965 destination charge). The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD model bumps the starting price up to $62,865.