The 2018 Acura RLX brandishes some exotic hardware, and wraps it in anonymity.
The 2018 Acura RLX steps into some freshly tailored threads in the new model year, as Honda’s luxury brand tries to season its lineup with some of the NSX’s spice.
It’s still an anonymous-looking sedan, though one that positively bristles with tech credentials.
We give it a 6.3 overall. It loses points for style, but gains big in safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Review continues below
Refreshed lightly for the new model year, the 2018 RLX adopts a new front-end look that finally resolves some rough spots. The new look has a pretty, patterned grille and LED lighting like the one on the handsome MDX utility vehicle. In back, LED taillights trail ribbons around the rear corners for a dramatic effect. That’s where the drama ends. The conservative shape of the RLX looks too much like its mass-market cousins.
Two models split the RLX family tree. The standard front-wheel-drive car has a new 10-speed automatic, but the 310-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 carries over. We’ve spent more time in the RLX Sport Hybrid, which pairs the engine with a dual-clutch transmission, shift paddles, and three electric motors to generate 377 hp and nifty through-the-road all-wheel drive. The RLX still doesn’t rip off 0-60 mph runs like the conceptually similar NSX. The RLX is complex and muted, a Ryan Adams in a Bryan Adams luxuryverse where watches are the size of sundials and computers are carved from solid chunks of elitism. Anyone who can get past its banal shape will love the RLX’s absorbent ride and fuss-free handling, even if they haven’t the faintest idea about the hoops it jumps to get there.
The RLX coddles front-seat passengers in cozy heated seats, and surrounds them with space and storage. Back-seat head room isn’t as generous, and trunk space is disappointing. Fuel economy is very good compared to rivals, but falls slightly this year.
Safety scores are spectacular, and the RLX piles on all the luxury features it offers in the Sport Hybrid model. All versions have adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and traffic-jam assist; hybrids add surround-view cameras, cooled front seats, and Krell audio with sublime, crystal-clear sound. Absent from both: Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which would offer a balm for the RLX’s outdated infotainment.