Why was the old Acura RL so decisively nailed to dealership floors, with just 379 vend last year? That’s simple: It was too little. Its back seat was so tight that rear condition could practically adjust the stereo, could perhaps even drink from the front cup owner with a long-enough straw. Too in thrall to Honda’s minor-key qualities of economy and modesty, the RL couldn’t struggle with the chest-thumping, lane-filling champions of the mid-size luxury-car section.
It was because it was approximately Civic-sized in reverse, and not because it had a six-cylinder engine or was bottom on a front-drive chassis. In fact, you could quarrel that the rest of the luxury-car fleet has lastly caught up with the Acura flagship. Amid increasing fuel-economy standards, six-cylinder luxury sedans no longer appear like a tin Rolex. Furthermore, all-wheel drive is at present the de rigueur luxury-car format, and Audi has still sold front-drive A6s and A8s with a straight face.
The RLX over recompense for the old car’s biggest failing. It’s full-figured, with a 2.0-inch-longer wheelbase and 1.7-inch-wide body than the friendly RL’s. The cabin is far airier and roomier than before, with lots of permission for occupants’ fringe. It’s also wonderfully finished in muted tones, but its two-screen radio and nav interface is puzzling; you never rather remember which of the screens and knobs will deliver the purpose you want. Also, the seat bottoms are too short for even the reasonably lanky.
Engine-downsizing feel the RLX, but only by 0.2 liter. The obviously aspirated, direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 feeds the front wheels 310 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque, up 10 and 1, correspondingly, from the old 3.7 liter. Fuel competence should be very aggressive in the class, at 20 city/31 highway, figures we’re likely to trust as they’re derivative from a obviously aspirated engine.
Interestingly, Acura’s fuel-sipping policy doesn’t rely on a tiny engine or listless gear ratios to attain its result. Its final drive is really 14 percent shorter than the RL’s preserve the high-revving, coltish nature of the power train chiefly via careful management of its variable-valve-timing and cylinder-deactivation systems. The car preserves the high-rpm urgency and natural linearity—abetted by a psychic transmission—that’s missing from the turbocharged set.