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2015 Acura RLX Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Acura RLX was new.


Performance: 5.3

According to auto journalists, the 2015 Acura RLX is a comfort-oriented car that has ample engine power and sharp steering, thanks to its standard all-wheel steering system. Still, some think it rides uncomfortably over rough roads and, while it handles better than its front-wheel drive counterparts, isn't as quick or engaging to drive as a number of rivals.

  • "Performance and handling from the base model are uninspiring, and the ride quality isn't as compliant and smooth as we expect for this class." -- Edmunds
  • "Many executive cars tout an edgy, performance-oriented side that can vanquish freeway onramps and speed past slower traffic with delight. Truth is, most will serve as cushy commuters for busy professionals concerned more about numbers on a spreadsheet than those reflecting 0-60-mph times. Put in this perspective, the 2015 Acura RLX performs brilliantly." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The big problem that Acura faces here is that even with its fancy P-AWS technology, the RLX is still a front-wheel-drive offering in a segment of rear- and all-wheel-drive players." -- Autoblog (2014)
  • "In short, the RLX is more focused on cush than performance; both it and its passengers will be happiest long before the car's tires start to howl." -- Road and Track (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The Acura RLX is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 310 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. At an EPA-estimated 20/31 mpg city/highway, the 2015 RLX gets good fuel economy for the class.

Most test drivers agree that the RLX has ample power and that the engine and transmission operate smoothly. They note that putting the RLX in Sport mode increases engine and throttle response, making the RLX feel faster. Still, a few critics comment that some rivals are faster and more engaging to drive.

  • "The 2015 Acura RLX's V6 engine is quiet and smooth and pairs well with the six-speed automatic. It's sufficiently powerful and should suit most buyers just fine, though rival sedans with turbocharged or supercharged six-cylinders feel noticeably quicker." -- Edmunds
  • "For trips across the state or jaunts to the market, the RLX is quiet and solid. Its suspension quells road imperfections and its 3.5-liter V6 is strong and smooth. That's not to say the RLX can't be quick on its feet. Throw it in Sport mode and Acura's luxury sedan raises its pulse noticeably, shifting gears at a higher rpm for quicker acceleration." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The six-speed automatic, a gear or two down on its German rivals, is tuned for comfort, not engagement." -- Road and Track (2014)
  • "Though the RLX is no lightweight at an eyelash under 4,000 pounds, this V-6 remains composed when pushed hard (though drivers must engage the car's Sport mode for best results). The only problem is that this is a segment in which impressive engines are as common as seat belts." -- The Los Angeles Times (2014)

Handling and Braking

The 2015 RLX has front-wheel drive and comes with Acura's Precision All-wheel Steer System (P-AWS), which enables the rear wheels to turn slightly to improve handling at high speeds and maneuverability at low speeds. Some test drivers think that you can cover miles easily and effortlessly in the RLX. However, others comment that the ride feels uncomfortable on rough roads, especially on models that have 19-inch wheels. Reviewers like the RLX's sharp steering and say it feels more agile than some of its front-wheel drive competitors. Still, they write that rear- or all-wheel drive rivals like the BMW 5-Series or Audi A6 are more nimble.

  • "The RLX doesn't ride with the same composure as other sedans in this class. Especially when fitted with the 19-inch wheels, it feels harsh when driving over rough patches at low speeds, while the ride on the highway can be bouncy. Only on truly smooth pavement does the RLX ride like a luxury sedan. Take it around a few turns, and the big Acura will be steady but not particularly athletic or communicative through its steering feel." -- Edmunds
  • "Over long stretches of paved roadway, the RLX cruises effortlessly, almost serenely, as it absorbs bumps and blemishes and delivers a first-class luxury car ride. The trick up its sleeve, however, comes when the road begins to twist and wind. Where other luxury cars might wallow with tires squealing at every turn, the RLX carves through S-shaped asphalt like a scalpel-wielding surgeon late for his tee-off time. The RLX model's electrically assisted power steering feels direct and precise. …" -- AutoTrader
  • "In terms of a FWD large car, the Acura is easily best of the bunch, but you just can't match the rear-drive dynamics and precise steering of the 5er. And while one wasn't available to test, we're willing to bet that the Audi A6 with Quattro would stomp all over the whole group. We put the RLX somewhere in the middle of the pack." -- Autoblog (2014)
  • "And whenever the road got rough, the ride quality became abysmal." -- CNET (2014)
  • "This is the front-wheel-drive car that doesn't feel like one, thanks to the extra agility provided by PAWS. Steering is accurate, if lacking in feedback in the way we've come to expect from electric-power-assisted systems such as this." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)

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