The redesigned 2018 Acura RLX is here, and it’s the fastest and most capable sedan the company has ever built. While not all new, there’s a host of changes both inside and out, through the two powertrains carry over unchanged. The RLX Sport Hybrid packs a bit of NSX DNA to go along with the new family face. The car will make its full reveal next week at Pebble Beach before it hits showrooms later this year.
The first Acura RLX debuted in 2013 as a replacement for the range-topping RL sedan. Sales have been slow, though a slimmed down lineup may help that. Powertrains remain the same, but refreshed styling and the removal of the controversial “beak” grille may help bring in some new blood to Acura dealers.
The car comes in two variants, the 310 horsepower RLX with Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) and the 377 horsepower RLX Sport Hybrid with Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). That’s a lot of acronyms, but there’s a lot of tech behind those names. Both models use a 3.5-liter direct-injected V6, though the Sport Hybrid backs that up with three electric motors. It’s a similar setup to the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid that we drove in the spring. The RLX P-AWS now sends power to the front wheels through a new 10-speed automatic.
Both models get new styling, following on the heels of the updated Acura TLX. The beak is gone, replaced by what Acura dubs the “diamond pentagon” grille. It’s handsome and sure to be less divisive than before. In addition to the grille, the RLX gets a new hood, new wheels, and new lighting, with a sea of LEDs lighting up the face. The 2018 model gets three new paint colors to go along with the new bodywork.
The RLX Sport Hybrid sits atop the Acura sedan range. As such, standard features include a Krell Audio System, surround view cameras, parking sensors, LED fog lights, remote engine start, ventilated and heated front seats, and heated rear seats and steering wheel.
The RLX is available with the AcuraWatch suite of active safety technology. Similar to HondaSense, AcuraWatch comes with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warnings, forward collision warnings, adaptive cruise control, and low-speed follow. Unique to AcuraWatch is traffic jam assist. This system works with the adaptive cruise and low speed follow to keep the vehicle moving and following at a set distance in heavy traffic.
Look for more photos and pricing later this year.