Acura RLX
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The RLX was a huge leap forward for Acura in terms style and content, but Sport Hybrid SH-AWD version now delivers the performance customers expect.

A 3.5-liter V6 makes 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque; six-speed automatic transmission directs power to the front wheels; new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD uses same V6, three electric motors and seven-speed transmission to deliver 377 total system horsepower to all four wheels.

While the RLX provides a choice for buyers who are fans of the Acura brand but want something a bit bigger, more luxurious and more technically proficient than the TL sedan, it wasn’t really intended to pry anyone from their status models displaying three-pointed stars, interconnected rings or airplane-propeller logos. The first thing you notice about the RLX is its handsome sheetmetal. The car’s Honda roots are definitely showing, but it easily beats the rest of Acura’s sedan fleet when it comes to appearance. Perhaps surprisingly, its overall dimensions differ only slightly from the RL model it replaces. However, a two-inch stretch between the front and rear wheels (in addition to an equal reduction in the length of the snout) contributes to a significant visual impact. The standard RLX uses a 310-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 backed by a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shift controls. The RLX also features Acura’s new Precision All-Wheel Steer system that reacts to steering and braking inputs for added control. When cornering, the rear wheels point slightly in the direction of the turn, thus reducing the front-wheel-drive’s tendency to continue in a straight line, even with the steering wheel turned (called understeer). During braking, however, both rear wheels are automatically angle toward the center of the car for maximum control. For those who itched for more performance, the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD should prove worthy of attention. It uses the same 310-horsepower V6 as the regular RLX, but uses a seven-speed transmission with an integrated electric motor/generator, and a standalone electric motor behind each of the rear wheels. The total output of 377 horsepower and 341 pound-feet of torque is more in line with rivals. Unlike previous systems, the SH-AWD only uses electricity to determine exactly how much power should go to each rear wheel. That means no heavy driveshaft or rear differential to worry about, but the lithium-ion batteries, motors and other bits balance things out in the end with a 330-pound increase over regular models. Befitting of the hybrid technology, the new halo model gets a big bump in fuel efficiency, most notably in the city (20 mpg regular vs. 28 for hybrid). The RLX arrives with an abundance of people-pampering content, but you will need to shell out more than the $50,000 base price to add the full suite of collision-mitigating features plus a navigation system, premium leather package and your choice of two high-end audio systems.