$21,902 - $28,672

2016 Acura RLX Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Acura RLX was new.


Performance: 7.0

The 2016 Acura RLX’s engine provides sufficient power for most drivers’ needs. Ride quality can be harsh over rough roads, underscoring the car’s focus on comfort. The RLX handles well for a front-wheel drive car, but it can't match the agility of rear- and all-wheel drive class rivals.

  • "The Acura RLX performance-luxury sedan straddles the line between being a comfortable daily driver during treks to work and a thrilling corner-carver when it comes to clock out." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 2016 RLX features a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 310 horsepower. The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The RLX gets an EPA-estimated 20/31 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class.

The RLX Sport Hybrid features the same V6 engine working with three electric motors that combine to produce 377 horsepower. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard for the Sport Hybrid. According to the EPA, the Sport Hybrid earns an estimated 28/32 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for the class but just average compared with the class’s other hybrid—the Infiniti Q70 Hybrid.

The RLX's engine runs quietly and provides good power. When placed in Sport mode the RLX can provide a more dynamic and quicker driving experience, but many class rivals are swifter. While the six-speed automatic delivers quick, reactive shifts, it doesn’t match up as well with some class rivals’ transmissions.

  • "The RLX model's … 6-speed automatic transmission is responsive and quick to pick the right gear when extra throttle is administered." -- AutoTrader
  • 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 (2015)
  • "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 (2015)
  • 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

Front-wheel drive is standard on the RLX. Acura's Precision All-Wheel Steer system (P-AWS), which allows the rear wheels to turn slightly to improve handling, is also standard. The RLX Sport Hybrid features all-wheel drive.

The RLX delivers a relaxing ride on smooth surfaces, but ride quality suffers over rough roads and pales in comparison to class rivals. Handling is better than many front-wheel drive sedans, but the RLX still lacks the athletic handling of several rear- and all-wheel drive vehicles in the class. The Sport Hybrid offers better handing and cornering ability than the base model. Some complain that the steering is not that responsive.

  • Where some performance-luxury sedans replicate the feel of driving a horse and buggy over a cobblestone street, the 2016 RLX from Acura feels serene yet confident. The front-drive RLX isn't going to be able to keep up with a BMW or Cadillac in the curves, but the SH-AWD on the hybrid model certainly can." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 (2015)
  • 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)

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