2018 Acura RLX

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MSRP: $54,900 - 61,900

2018 Acura RLX Review

Despite some positive attributes, the 2018 Acura RLX suffers in our rankings because of its lackluster performance, drab interior styling, and poor predicted reliability rating.

7.4

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.4
Performance: 7.3
Interior: 7.6
Safety: 10.0
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable, spacious seats
  • Refined, fuel-efficient powertrains
  • Lots of standard safety features

 

  • Small trunk and no folding rear seats
  • Unexciting handling and firm ride
  • Dull interior styling
  • Below-average predicted reliability rating

 

New for 2018

  • Refreshed interior and exterior styling
  • All-new 10-speed automatic transmission standard
  • Traffic Jam Assist now standard

 

Is the Acura RLX a Good Car?

The 2018 RLX has a number of positives, such as excellent crash test scores, solid gas mileage, and a long list of standard safety and infotainment features. The front seats earn a thumbs up for comfort, while the back seats provide relaxing accommodations for adults.

However, the RLX has the lowest predicted reliability rating in our luxury large car rankings. Its trunk is one of the smallest in this segment. Elsewhere in the cabin, the styling is somewhat dull, and a fair amount of road and wind noise seeps in. The RLX also doesn't feel particularly engaging behind the wheel – nor does it have the supple ride quality of other competitors.

Should I Buy the Acura RLX?

A big part of the RLX's appeal is its value. It has a lower starting price than most of its direct competitors, and you still get a bunch of standard features. For 2018, the RLX gains Traffic Jam Assist, an advanced driving system that blends adaptive cruise control with lane centering. The RLX's admirable fuel economy rating also saves you money compared to the competition.

However, it's smart to shop around and see what else is out there. Competitors like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class match or beat the RLX's price. They also boast modern interiors and dynamic performance.

Compare the RLX, 5 Series, and E-Class »

Should I Buy a New or Used Acura RLX?

The 2018 Acura RLX has a refreshed design inside and out, along with an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission for gas-only models. Acura's Traffic Jam Assist makes its debut as standard equipment in the 2018 RLX. This feature helps keep the vehicle centered in its lane and at a set distance from vehicles ahead.

If those improvements don't tickle your fancy, consider shopping for a used RLX. It could likely save you thousands of dollars over a new Acura RLX, especially given how quickly luxury vehicles tend to depreciate. Older models likely cost even less, but they may not have the driver assistance features that come standard in the 2018 RLX. For 2017, the AcuraWatch suite of features (adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking) became standard. Keep in mind that some 2016 models won't have those. The 2016 RLX debuts available driver assistance features like a 360-degree camera, road departure mitigation, and rear cross traffic alert.

To research some other models in this generation, check out our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Acura RLX. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Acura RLX »
We Did the Research for You: 38 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know in our comprehensive Acura RLX review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with research from 38 professional car reviews. This 2018 Acura RLX review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2014 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used cars. Additionally, we publish up-to-date car news and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our recommendations unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Acura RLX Cost?

For 2018, the base trim level (labeled as the RLX P-AWS with Technology package) starts at $54,900, and the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD with Advance package costs $61,900 without options.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Acura dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Acura deals page.

Acura RLX Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Acura RLX or BMW 5 Series?

The BMW 5 Series ranks among the best luxury midsize sedans. It's about 3 inches shorter than the RLX, which means slightly less legroom for passengers (though it's doubtful they'll complain). The BMW gives you almost 4 more cubic feet of cargo room, though. Additionally, the 5 Series has engaging handling, a comfortable ride, and the latest in high-tech infotainment features. For less than what the RLX starts at, the 5 Series is the clear choice.

Which Is Better: Acura RLX or Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is another luxury midsize sedan that vies for a top spot in its class. This well-rounded Mercedes superbly balances comfortable handling with athleticism, giving it broad appeal for families, commuters, and driving enthusiasts. There are tons of options, including wagon and convertible body styles, insane engine choices with over 600 horsepower, and opulent add-ons like massaging front seats.

Compare the RLX, 5 Series, and E-Class »

RLX Interior

How Many People Does the RLX Seat?

The RLX’s rear outboard seats have two full sets of LATCH child-seat connectors, which include a top tether anchor and a set of lower anchors. An extra tether anchor is located on the middle seat. The lower anchors are mounted deep in the seat cushions, but the RLX’s LATCH hardware is otherwise easy to find and use.

RLX and Car Seats

The RLX’s back seat has two full sets of LATCH child-seat hardware, which includes a top tether anchor and a set of lower anchors.

RLX Interior Quality

The craftsmanship and selection of materials inside the 2018 RLX feel top-notch, but the overall effect falls a little flat due to styling that some critics deem unremarkable. A fair amount of road noise also makes its way into the cabin.

RLX Cargo Space

The RLX has a 14.9-cubic-foot trunk, which is quite small for a luxury large car. In fact, more than half of the models in our luxury midsize car rankings have more cargo space. The battery of the RLX Sport Hybrid reduces trunk space to about 12 cubic feet.

RLX Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The RLX has two infotainment screens: an upper display dedicated mostly to navigation and a lower touch screen. The system takes a while to get comfortable with, and even after that, it doesn't feel very straightforward. Some smartphone integration is included – along with Pandora compatibility – but advanced systems like Apple CarPlay are not offered. 

Read more about interior »

RLX Performance

RLX Engine: Polished

Both the hybrid and the nonhybrid RLX feature a 3.5-liter V6 engine. For the gas-only model, Acura replaces the six-speed automatic transmission from the outgoing 2017 model with a responsive 10-speed transmission, while carrying over the same seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for the RLX Sport Hybrid. This edition also benefits from hybrid technology designed for the Acura NSX supercar, with three electric motors that boost its horsepower and fuel economy ratings. The powertrains in the RLX models are refined and economical, but with tuning focused more on comfort than sport, the RLX doesn't come across as a sporty sedan.

RLX Gas Mileage: One of the Thriftiest

The gas-only RLX gets an EPA-rated 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. That is similar to the fuel economy of the BMW 6 Series and Audi A7, and it's among the most economical vehicles in the class. You can save approximately $350 in annual fuel expenses with the RLX Hybrid, which has a fuel economy rating of 28 mpg city/29 mpg highway. 

RLX Ride and Handling: Composed but Bland

Similar to powertrain feedback, the RLX's handling is decently agile and responsive, but it doesn't feel very engaging. It doesn't feel as relaxing as some luxury sedans either, so expect some bumps and a firm ride. 

Read more about performance »

RLX Reliability

Is the Acura RLX Reliable?

Dependability is a black mark for the 2018 RLX. Its predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five is the lowest in our luxury large car rankings.

Acura RLX Warranty

The 2018 RLX comes with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. Coverage for the hybrid battery pack varies from state to state.

Read more about reliability »

RLX Safety

RLX Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2018 RLX top scores in five crash tests. For its frontal crash prevention equipment, the RLX earns the highest score of Superior. The RLX also received the second-highest score of Acceptable for headlight performance. As a result, the RLX is an IIHS 2018 Top Safety Pick. However, the RLX missed out on the highest Top Safety Pick+ designation because it didn't undergo the passenger-side small overlap test. The RLX receives perfect scores from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, earning the organization's five-star overall safety rating.

RLX Safety Features

The RLX comes standard with a multiview camera, adaptive cruise control, Traffic Jam Assist, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and blind spot monitoring. Front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display, and a surround-view camera are also available.

Read more about safety »

Which Acura RLX Model Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Acura RLX is available in two trims: the gas-only RLX and the RLX Sport Hybrid. Each comes with its own package already added on (the Technology package for the gas-only model and the Advance package for the Sport Hybrid). There are no other packages or options available, so deciding between the two models comes down mostly to price, performance, and a handful of comfort amenities. Unless you are after the handling and power gains offered by the Sport Hybrid and its Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (or SH-AWD, for short), go with the base RLX for a better value.

Acura RLX P-AWS w/ Technology Package

The official name of the RLX base trim is RLX P-AWS with Technology package ($54,900). The P-AWS acronym refers to the car's standard all-wheel-steering system, a handling enhancement. This trim comes with leather upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heat, a moonroof, and tri-zone automatic climate control. Its dual-screen infotainment system features navigation, smartphone integration, and voice recognition for a variety of commands. A full suite of advanced driver assistance systems – including adaptive cruise control, Traffic Jam Assist, a multiview camera, and automatic emergency braking – is standard. 

Acura RLX Sport Hybrid w/ Advance Package

More than just a hybrid powertrain separates the RLX Sport Hybrid from the gas-only iteration. A few interior treats are added, including ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a premium 14-speaker Krell audio system, front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display, and a surround-view camera. Performance-wise, the Sport Hybrid benefits from its three electric motors – which increase the combined horsepower rating to 377 – and Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive. The price increases by $7,000 over the base trim, to $61,900.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Acura dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Acura deals page.

See 2018 Acura RLX specs and trims »

The Final Call

If safety and value are key components in your definition of a good car, the Acura RLX is among the best in the luxury large car segment. The RLX feels solid for the most part, and it's packed with more standard features than typically seen at this price. However, if you want exuberant performance or an exceptional level of interior indulgence, you won't find it here. An array of competitors offer sportier handling, swankier cabins, easier-to-use infotainment systems, and higher predicted reliability ratings. Before you buy, we recommend shoppers sample similarly priced luxury sedans from brands like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and Cadillac.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • The 2018 Acura RLX is Acura's most sophisticated and expensive sedan, gaining new styling this year that helps it stand out a bit better. Loaded with the latest safety, technology and performance features, the RLX plays in a very crowded field filled with such familiar names as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Cadillac CT6 and Volvo S90. All of these competitors offer more dynamic styling and newer designs, making the RLX's job all the more difficult. With this reality in mind, Acura packs the 2018 RLX sedan with standard equipment that's often optional on other cars, then lowers its price in thousands below comparably equipped competitors." -- Autotrader
  • Not without virtues, the RLX has a very spacious and well finished interior with comfortable seats. A refined and powerful V6 powertrain provides good fuel economy and performance. But the same can be said of a Toyota Avalon or a Chevrolet Impala. The big Acura lacks the ride comfort and driving dynamics that are key elements of a luxury sedan. … If it was priced in Avalon territory, the RLX might be worth consideration. But with a sticker price over $55,000, it is simply out of its league, and makes a good case for a $30,000 Honda Accord V6." -- Consumer Reports
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