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2019 Acura RLX Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.5

The 2019 Acura RLX comes with either a gas-only or hybrid powertrain. Of the two, the RLX Sport Hybrid earns the lion's share of praise. This is partly due to its brisk, robust powertrain and enhanced agility from its all-wheel-drive system. In any iteration, the RLX is composed, smooth, and more fuel-efficient than the average luxury large car. 

  • "The range-topping 2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid has what the company calls 'super handling all-wheel drive' or SH-AWD. For once, this is not mere marketing. The handling really is super. Power comes in strong even at low engine speeds, thanks to the three electric motors, and apportioned to whatever wheels have the most traction."  -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On a snaking road, the front end doesn't give up and wash wide into dull-and-predictable understeer like lesser vehicles. Instead, it holds a cornering line with a tenacity bordering on heroic. Then when the driver steers into another curve, the RLX does the whole thing again, time after time."  -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "The RLX combines luxury and performance in a way that makes it an excellent everyday commuter." -- Edmunds (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The RLX comes as either a V6-powered sedan or as a hybrid. Both models are smooth and responsive, but the hybrid tends to earn more applause than the base powertrain. The RLX Sport Hybrid has better fuel economy estimates, a higher horsepower rating, and other performance benefits from its electric motors.

Powering the gas-only RLX is a 3.5-liter V6 engine paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. This 310-horsepower setup is a good companion for most of your errands, but don’t expect it to knock your socks off when the light turns green. It gets 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, which is a little above average for a large luxury car.

The RLX Sport Hybrid comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, three electric motors, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and a lithium-ion battery. This powertrain has a combined output of 377 horsepower. It gets the same gas mileage on the highway as the nonhybrid RLX. Its city rating of 28 mpg is the highest in the class.

  • "Very refined with plenty of power, the standard V6 powertrain is one of the car's best points … We measured a quick 6.5-second 0-60 mph acceleration time -- just a tick behind most competitors. Steering wheel mounted paddle shifters allow 'manual' gear selections."  -- Consumer Reports (2018)
  •  +"The new 10-speed automatic transmission is responsive and quick to pick the right gear when extra throttle is administered." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • Our preference is the all-wheel-drive RLX Sport Hybrid, which pairs the 3.5-liter V6 engine with three electric motors … In addition to providing power, they can also apply negative torque vectoring through regenerative braking. All this happens behind the scenes, but the effect is smooth and can be engaging when pushed."  -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Handling and Braking

The RLX is mostly comfortable and stable, though a few critics say its ride and handling fall short of the typical benchmarks for a luxury car. Standard features include front-wheel drive and Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS), a system that independently controls the rear wheels to improve stability and handling. The RLX Sport Hybrid comes with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. It uses the electric motors to adjust wheel speed for better grip and stability in turns.

  • "This [Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system] allows the driver to take corners at sports-car speeds and not have the front tires gradually lose grip while squealing in complaint. The RLX Sport Hybrid goes where it's pointed and feels like it would take an earthquake to shake it off line … Luckily, the ride quality can also be supple. And all-wheel steering endows the lower-powered RLX with impressive agility."  -- Kelley Blue Book
  • 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 … Where other luxury cars might wallow, with tires squealing at every turn, the RLX carves through S-shaped asphalt like a scalpel-wielding surgeon who's late for his tee-off time. The RLX model's electrically assisted power steering feels direct and precise … But it's the RLX model's Precision All-Wheel Steer coupled with Acura's Agile Handling Assist, which uses active braking to help keep the RLX traveling on the intended path, that really gives this big sedan its moves."  -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "This is an area where the RLX falls short, with a ride nowhere near as comfortable and refined as the competition. While the suspension absorbs bumps with some isolation, on smooth pavement the RLX feels too jumpy and agitated with short, quick pitches. That kind of jitter is annoying and fatiguing in any car, let alone a luxury car costing this much. Suspension noise is also quite pronounced, further detracting from comfort."  -- Consumer Reports (2018)
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