It was much larger than expected when it arrived. It was a new 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid four-door sedan. Attractive to look at, both inside and out, the initial concern was this might be more of a gas-hog than anything else. It was simply loaded down with luxury features, and maybe that was the purpose.
The ‘regular’ RLX, not the hybrid, has been around for a few years, but not many consumers are really aware of it. The RLX exists in a world of high-priced luxury sedans. Surprisingly, luxury autos are highly competitive in today’s market. So, the Honda-Acura engineers and managers got their heads together on how they could sell more of these vehicles and have more buyers aware of them. That is how the hybrid version was born, which is referred to as the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid All-Wheel-Drive.
The RLX models are considered the flagship sedans of the Acura line-up and all that luxury does show. In the test-drive model delivered for a week-long experience, the pampering while driving was enjoyed. The exterior color was called Crystal Black and the interior was called Seacoast. The sedan came with a lengthy listing of all the standard items which were many more than were used during the week. Although it was not listed as an ‘extra option’, the test-drive vehicle came with the Advance Package, and for that I was most appreciative. The Advance Package included a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, surround view camera system, parking sensors, a powered rear sunshade, and rear door sunshades. It also included a high-end Krell Premium Audio system, although I did not notice much difference in it and the Mark Levinson sound systems that are in Lexus vehicles.
The driving is smooth and quiet. This sedan is the type you would want to take on an extended road trip. The interior is huge, with plenty of space in both front and rear seating areas. The driver’s seat was extremely comfortable, almost like sitting in a plush executive office chair. A little bit of trunk space is given up for those electric batteries, so the rear cargo area will not hold an abundance of suitcases and packages.
All the expected safety features are present such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, blind spot camera, anti-lock braking, and even a driver’s knee airbag. An unusual feature on the inside was the dual-screen technology, which was fairly confusing to use as well as somewhat of a safety issue.
The RLX Sport Hybrid is actually powered by a V6 gasoline engine combined with three, count them – three, electric motors. The traditional hybrid system is used in the front end with an electric motor paired in the drive-line with the gas engine and these are mated with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The rear wheels each have an electric motor driving them, which allows a variety of computer-generated options, such as front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel-drive, as might be needed. All combined, the motor system can deliver 377 horsepower.
When most drivers are running down the highway in a large sedan, all they are thinking about is ‘how fast can I go’ or ‘there is a lot of power when I press the pedal to the metal.’ The 2016 Acura RLX Sport hybrid delivers on those thoughts. Generally during the week-long test drive, I would often forget that this car was a hybrid model. I was comfortable with all the handling and driving as well as the creature comforts on the inside. That appears to be the major premise of this vehicle, that the technology and luxury are mixed in a refined state-of-the-art vehicle.
The 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid starts slightly above the $60,000 mark. With that Advance Package added on, the base MSRP of the test-drive model was $65,950. With destination and handling added on, the bottom sticker price was $66,870. Most consumers would consider this a little on the ‘pricey’ side and perhaps that is why you do not see many of these sedans on the road. Others could easily say, “You get what you pay for.” It is EPA rated at 32 mpg highway and 30 mpg overall average. It has received 5-star ratings from the National Highway Safety Administration for Rollover and Side Crash.
Bottom line: The 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid AWD Advance is a wonderful vehicle, dripping with premium features, easy-to-drive, comfortable, and great gas mileage for a large vehicle. However, the high price might scare off some potential buyers. Check it out yourself at an Acura-Honda dealership.