Although it may not look it from the understated exterior, the 2015 Acura RLX is the most progressive flagship sedan created by Acura thus far! Showcasing the latest in hybrid and handling technology, the 2015 Acura RLX Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) goes above and beyond to provide an exhilarating driving experience while indulging its passengers in the expected luxury and convenience of a flagship sedan.
ENGINE & DRIVE
The top of the line 2015 Acura RLX is the SH-AWD version which brings together many unique components to create a sedan like no other. The hybrid engine system features a six cylinder gas engine powering the front wheels and two separate electric motors powering the rear wheels yielding 377 total horsepower. The resulting accelerations are fast, quiet and smooth thanks to the dual clutch seven speed automatic transmission. Where many other hybrids fail, the RLX’s dual clutch transmission does a great job at keeping gear changes and transitions between gas and electric motors smooth throughout the ramp up of speed.
The 2015 RLX’s Super Handling All Wheel Drive system makes for grippy turns and responsive handling but the steering could have better feedback for a sports sedan. Passengers can rest assured they are in the best of hands with the RLX’s ability to divert power to the wheels with the most traction in slippery conditions or exert positive or negative torque on each wheel for harder cornering.
Although the primary focus is performance, the 2015 RLX still gets a decent fuel savings benefit from the hybrid engine system. With posted mileages of 8.0 L/100km in the city and 7.5 L/100km on the highway, our 250km combined city/highway test drive yielded 10.4 L/100km which is quite outside of the expected consumption range. However, it must be noted that the full 377hp was in use quite a bit during our spirited test drive!
Everything about the driving feel of the 2015 Acura RLX was very enjoyable except for two main issues. Firstly, the hybrid engine system captures energy from braking and unfortunately, the touchy brakes are noticeable (like many other hybrids). I figure that with practice the jerky braking can be overcome. Secondly, the engine idle stop-start feature makes starting from a stopped position erratic as the engine kicks on as the brake is released and tries to catch up with the already depressed accelerator. While I’m not sure exactly how much fuel saving comes from this feature, at least there is the option of turning it off!
INTERIOR & EXTERIOR
For such a forward thinking performance inspired flagship sedan, the 2015 Acura RLX has quite an understated exterior design. With minimal use of chrome, accent lines and curves the exterior ends up being quite forgettable. The most unique exterior design feature has to be the horizontal five bulb headlights giving a slight futuristic look to the sedan. I did also like the hidden exhaust but thought the wheels could do with a bump up in size to really emphasize the flagship designation.
Luckily, the interior doesn’t suffer from a bland design and instead passengers are surrounded by elegance through high quality materials, plush leather seating and a well laid out dash and center console. The luxurious dash features a straightforward layout with minimal buttons, two large display screens and beautifully stitched leather combined with polished wood grain accent materials.
The 2015 Acura RLX is adorned with all the safety, technology and convenience features one would expect in a flagship sedan. There is also a heads up display projecting into the windshield and displaying all the pertinent information allowing drivers to keep their focus on the road. The whisper quiet cabin is noticeably quieter than comparable vehicles thanks to the sound insulating glass and noise cancelling resonators in the wheels.
One aspect of the interior I didn’t quite get used to was the electronic button shifting since I’m used to resting my hand on a shifting lever.
The 2015 Acura RLX SH-AWD is a shining example of thinking outside the box to create a unique hybrid system yielding high performance results and a pleasurable yet exhilarating driving experience. Although the exterior design leaves a bit to be desired, the internal systems are years ahead of the curve. The base model RLX starts at $49,990 while the top of the line SH-AWD Hybrid starts at $69,990. Perhaps on a future model update, the exterior design will be addressed to bring it up to the standards of the 2015 Kia K900 or the 2015 Infiniti Q70L.