Anyone who’s driven Acura’s RLX Sport Hybrid knows it’s an especially impressive sport-luxury sedan, especially in top-line Elite trim. It’s just suffering from forgetful styling, which is nothing…

Dramatic new 2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid revealed

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
Acura has given its RLX a dramatic mid-cycle makeover for 2018, with its sharply chiseled diamond pentagon grille front and centre. (Photo: Acura)

Anyone who’s driven Acura’s RLX Sport Hybrid knows it’s an especially impressive sport-luxury sedan, especially in top-line Elite trim. It’s just suffering from forgetful styling, which is nothing a mid-cycle makeover can’t fix.

That’s what Acura has planned for the 2018 RLX, following the same Precision Crafted Performance design language theme as the recently rejuvenated 2018 TLX, and the MDX that underwent extensive cosmetic surgery for the 2017 model year.

Acura plans to show the new 2018 RLX in the metal at the upcoming Monterey Automotive Week that runs from August 15 through 19 in Monterey, California, where it hopes to find favour with its ideal target market.

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
The new RLX now looks as fast as it actually is. (Photo: Acura)

The most noticeable change to the new RLX is the adaption of Acura’s new signature diamond pentagon grille and more pronounced Acura badge at centre, which transforms its front end while giving a new sense of purpose to the entire car.

“This redesign of the 2018 Acura RLX is transformational, creating road presence and styling that better reflect underlying performance capabilities of the vehicle,” said Gary Gill, Acura Senior Manager, Acura Sales and Marketing.

After decades of searching for a trademark brand identity that’s both unquestionably unique and undeniably attractive, Acura created the new diamond pentagon grille first seen on the dramatic 2016 Acura Precision Concept that debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 2016, a car we’d love to see brought to production as soon as possible.

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
Rear changes are less obvious, but new LED taillights, a revised bumper and reshaped dual exhaust tips complete the refresh. (Photo: Acura)

Additional exterior enhancements with the new RLX include reworked five-element LED headlamps featuring new LED character strips around their outside edges, a totally revised more aggressively styled lower front fascia, a more sharply sculpted hood, more detail along the extended rocker panels including unique chrome mouldings that visually extend from those on the front and rear fascias, redesigned LED taillights, a new rear bumper with an integrated gloss black diffuser, new dual exhaust finishers, and new alloy wheels.

The 2018 RLX is Acura’s third production model to receive the new diamond pentagon grille design, the fabulous NSX Sport Hybrid ironically using a modernized version of the outgoing grille’s general shape, although it might be challenging to graft the bold new look onto the sleek mid-engine supercar’s narrow front fascia.

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
The new LED taillights are quite complex close up. (Photo: Acura)

The NSX marked the second hybrid in Acura’s lineup when it arrived late last year as a 2017 model, the first being the RLX since model year 2015, while the Japanese luxury brand added the new MDX Sport Hybrid earlier this year.

The RLX Sport Hybrid powertrain bridges the gap between the blisteringly quick NSX Sport Hybrid and the more family-oriented MDX Sport Hybrid. The former utilizes a similar tri-motor electrified setup as the more conventional models, albeit completely reversed due to its mid-engine sports car layout. The NSX puts out a sensational 573 net horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque, which makes it an honest challenger to the Audi R8 e-tron, BMW’s i8, and other hybrid supercars, whereas the MDX Sport Hybrid produces a more modest 321 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque due to a smaller 3.0-litre V6. This makes the 3.5-litre V6-powered RLX Sport Hybrid’s 377 horsepower and 341 lb-ft of torque the mediator, an apropos position to be in for an executive sedan.

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
Acura has reportedly improved interior materials quality, although the outgoing RLX was already nicely put together. (Photo: Acura)

Of note, the 310 horsepower conventionally powered front-wheel drive model sold in the U.S., featuring a new 10-speed automatic transmission as well as Acura’s Precision All-Wheel Steering (P-AWS) won’t be offered in Canada.

Like the other Sport Hybrid models, the RLX Sport Hybrid uses Acura’s three-motor powertrain with electric torque vectoring, featuring an internal combustion engine (ICE) powering the front wheels in concert with an electric assist motor. The RDX defaults to this most fuel-efficient mode in the dry or under light loads, but if increased throttle input, hard cornering, or driving on slippery surfaces causes the need for rear-wheel propulsion an electrified version of Acura’s torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) provides traction from all four tires via two rear wheel-mounted electric motors.

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
There won’t be a fully configurable TFT gauge cluster for this refresh, but the multi-info display is nice and large. (Photo: Acura)

Acura dubs this system Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD), resulting in a long enough name to make the German’s proud, and while it’s a particularly advanced hybrid powertrain, its sophistication only scrapes the surface of all the technology aboard the RLX.

Like the 2017 RLX Sport Hybrid we reviewed earlier this year, the new 2018 RLX Sport Hybrid will carry forward with the AcuraWatch suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) including forward collision warning with autonomous collision mitigation braking, blindspot monitoring and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation, and rear cross-traffic alert, which was enough to earn the 2017 RLX an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating, while new for 2018 is Traffic Jam Assist, a first for Acura.

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
Acura’s dual-screen infotainment system will soldier on for 2018, complete with standard navigation and more. (Photo: Acura)

Traffic Jam Assist works together with another AcuraWatch feature, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, helping reduce driver fatigue and stress amid congested traffic by keeping the RLX within its lane at a set interval behind the car ahead. Consider it low-speed autopilot, which is certainly a safer way to implement fully autonomous driving than some premium carmakers.

AcuraWatch combines millimeter wave radar together with monocular camera sensing technology in order to detect lane markings and surrounding vehicles, which not only keeps the car within its lane, but can also intervene in order to prevent a collision or mitigate the severity of impact.

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
The old model’s seats were superb and still appear plenty comfortable and supportive. (Photo: Acura)

Additional standard 2018 RLX Sport Hybrid features include LED fog lamps, remote start, colour head-up display, navigation, voice recognition, a heated steering wheel, heatable front and rear seats, and more, while the sensational Krell audio system will continue forward in the new model.

Acura will offer three new exterior colour choices to 2018 RLX customers, including Brilliant Red Metallic (shown) and Majestic Black Pearl that fall under the premium paint category.

Premium in mind, Acura promises some interior enhancements including improved materials on key touch points, such as redesigned seats featuring high-contrast stitching and piping, plus a new Espresso interior option.

2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid
The RLX was the first of Acura’s Sport Hybrid models, with three now available. (Photo: Acura)

A more detailed list of features, prices and fuel economy information will be released ahead of the car’s November 2017 on-sale date.

Rarely does a mid-cycle refresh make such a dramatic difference, and no doubt Acura is hoping the new design direction helps raise the RLX Sport Hybrid’s currently slow sales volume, which resulted in just 37 Canadian sales over the first six months of 2017 and a mere 107 during all of last year. This meant that at the close of 2017 the RLX was the sixth slowest selling car in Canada, right behind the seventh slowest selling Infiniti Q70 that’s arguably its closest competitor. At least Acura can take some solace in selling more flagship luxury sedans than Lexus and Kia sold full-size LS and K900 models, the latter Canada’s least popular car of all, whereas Audi, Porsche, Maserati and Jaguar won’t be feeling too smug in ninth, 12th, 13th and 14th slowest for their A8, Panamera, Ghibli and XJ respectively—Lexus’ GS sedan’s 17th placement making it the top-selling direct rival on the bottom 20 list.

Expect the 2018 Acura RLX to climb up through the ranks after November, but don’t count on it catching up to the ultra-popular RDX and MDX crossover SUVs anytime soon.

In today’s SUV-crazed world it’s getting harder and harder to hawk sedans, even by premium brands. The compact D-segment, which appeared impenetrable just a couple of years ago, saw every single model…

New 2018 Acura TLX revs up premium D-segment with stylish new look

2018 Acura TLX
The dramatically refreshed 2018 TLX, seen here in V6 SH-AWD Elite trim, should help Acura hold its best-of-the-rest D-segment status. (Photo: Acura)

In today’s SUV-crazed world it’s getting harder and harder to hawk sedans, even by premium brands. The compact D-segment, which appeared impenetrable just a couple of years ago, saw every single model less Audi’s A4 lose market share from the 2015 calendar year through 2016. That list includes BMW’s mighty 3 Series and Mercedes’ equally strong C-Class, plus Acura’s TLX that outsells all non-German contenders.

While far behind BMW and Mercedes on the D-segment sales chart, Acura came close to matching Audi at the close of 2015, the TLX’ first full year, with 5,075 sales compared to 5,461 for the A4, and the four-ringed German brand was able to boost its numbers by including A4 Allroad crossover wagon deliveries. More importantly, the TLX blew away its Japanese rivals with Lexus only selling 3,401 IS sedans and Infiniti just 3,295 Q50s.

2018 Acura TLX
The A-Spec package offers a much sportier take on the TLX look, and should prove very popular. (Photo: Acura)

Still, as calendar year 2016 ended the entire D-segment had slowed considerably, with the TLX accounting for just 4,137 sales (compared to 3,033 IS sedans and 2,969 Q50s), while by the close of Q2 2017 its numbers had fallen further to 1,818 units compared to 2,082 after the first six months of 2016 (although still ahead of the IS at 1,607 and Q50 at 1,131), which means the dramatically refreshed 2018 model couldn’t come soon enough.

TLX sales are looking more positive since the new model went on sale June 1, with a monthly total of 391 units compared to 348 during the same 30 days last year. What’s more, this new high resulted in the TLX’ best June ever. Of course, judging the full impact of the updated model will take more time, but it has certainly started off on the right track.

2018 Acura TLX
A-Spec models get unique blacked out details including an aggressive rear diffuser. (Photo: Acura)

In the TLX’ corner is a dramatic mid-cycle refresh that gives the car a fresh new look, its Acura Precision Concept-inspired “diamond pentagon grille” making the biggest visual statement. Its sharply chiseled appearance should look familiar, as the ultra-popular 2017 MDX crossover SUV received its version first.

The bold new grille is underscored by a complementary lower front fascia, which either comes to a body-colour point at centre or gets filled with a wide engine vent featuring a sporty honeycomb mesh insert. The 2018 TLX’ hood gets more sharply sculpted creases, whereas the front fenders have been reshaped to meld cleanly into the new front styling. Milder changes down each side and in the rear finish off the look, while all models now sport dual exhaust ports.

2018 Acura TLX
Grey-painted twinned five-spoke 19-inch alloys are exclusive to the A-Spec. (Photo: Acura)

The sportier lower fascia just mentioned is exclusive to the new A-Spec variant that adds yet more visual drama due to a unique matte-black grille insert, a dark appearance for Acura’s signature five-lamp Jewel Eye LED headlights, unique black honeycomb mesh bezels for the circular LED fog lamps, body-colour rocker extensions down each side, “smoked” LED taillights, and an aggressive black diffuser below the rear bumper, housing bigger four-inch dual exhaust finishers.

The A-Spec also replaces the regular model’s chrome trim with matte black side window surrounds and dark chrome around the front grille, making the latter look larger in the process, while bright chrome trim is deleted from the front fascia and the usual body-colour rear deck lid spoiler gets a glossy black treatment. Acura rounds out the A-Spec design with a set of menacing looking twinned five-spoke Shark Grey 19-inch alloy wheels on Michelin Primacy 245/40R19 tires, in place of the more luxury-oriented model’s bright machine-finished multi-spoke 17-, 18- and 19-inch rims mounted on more modest rubber. As a finishing touch, A-Spec badges are added to the front fenders and rear deck lid.

2018 Acura TLX
The A-Spec interior features unique red and metal highlights. (Photo: Acura)

“We’re enhancing the already outstanding dynamic performance of the Acura TLX by carrying our Precision Crafted Performance direction through to the exterior design,” said Gary Gill, Senior Manager Acura Sales and Marketing. “The addition of the new A-Spec further advances the TLX to a more distinctive position in the segment and enhances its appeal to a more performance oriented buyer.”

Acura retuned the A-Spec chassis to match the uprated wheel and tire package, with a focus on electric power steering and damper settings, whereas SH-AWD-equipped cars also incorporate a quicker, more responsive steering ratio, stiffer spring rates, and a thicker rear stabilizer bar.

2018 Acura TLX
A wide variety of interior colour themes and materials will help owners customize the look and feel of their TLX. (Photo: Acura)

Additionally, the A-Spec model gets a sportier interior that includes an exclusive leather-wrapped steering wheel with a thicker rim and an A-Spec badge, bright red needles and indices for the primary gauge cluster, brushed aluminum-look trim for the instrument panel and lower console edges, red ambient LED light piping under the inlays, along the edges of the lower console, and within the cupholders, a black headliner and roof pillars, plus heavily bolstered front seats featuring contrast stitching and piping.

All 2018 TLX models will benefit from Acura’s completely redesigned ODMD 2.0 dual-screen infotainment interface, which is claimed to include “more intuitive menus and command structures.” The old resistive touchscreen has been replaced by a new 7.0-inch capacitive version, with 30-percent quicker response times plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

What’s more, every new 2018 TLX receives a standard suite of AcuraWatch advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) including Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Departure Warning with steering wheel haptic feedback, Lane Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation, while blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is optional.

2018 Acura TLX
Acura has revised the infotainment system for faster operation and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (Photo: Acura)

Two engines are available, including a base 16-valve, DOHC, direct-injection i-VTEC 2.4-litre four-cylinder that makes 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque and drives the front wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automated transmission with Sequential SportShift manual mode and paddles on the steering wheel, the latter component benefiting from standard Precision All-Wheel Steering or P-AWS, while an optional 3.5-litre V6 puts 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque through all four wheels via a conventional nine-speed automatic with manual-mode and paddles.

As per usual in the luxury class, pricier premium unleaded is recommended for both engines in order to achieve best possible performance and fuel economy, but they’re reasonably efficient with five-cycle ratings ranging from 10.0 to 10.2 L/100km in the city, 7.1 to 7.4 on the highway, and 8.7 to 8.9 combined for the four-cylinder FWD model, or 11.4 to 12.0 L/100km city, 7.7 to 8.2 highway, and 9.8 to 10.3 combined for the V6-powered SH-AWD model.

The 2018 TLX undercuts most of its competitors with a starting price of $35,990 plus freight and fees, while SH-AWD models start at $40,990. The new A-Spec package can be had for just $42,190 when fitted to four-cylinder FWD trims, whereas the TLX A-Spec SH-AWD models start at $47,390.

Acura has smartly added its advanced 3-motor hybrid system to its popular MDX for 2017, and the result is a quicker and more efficient 7-occupant luxury SUV that doesn’t cost much more than the conventionally…

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Road Test

Here's a no brainer. Acura finally figured out a way to make its highly advanced "Sport Hybrid" drivetrain relevant by incorporating it within a vehicle people will actually buy in quantities large enough that it might even make a profit.

I know such a volume-oriented business model seems logical at first thought, but considering how many electrified cars lose money, some sense can be made of minimizing production-as of Q2 2017 Acura had sold just 37 RLX Sport Hybrid sedans in Canada and 555 in the U.S. (actually the U.S. number was a mix of top-line Sport Hybrids and front-drive base RLX models that we don't get here anymore, so the Japanese luxury brand is minimizing hybrid losses even better than the numbers suggest).

The new 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid will likely be a winner, however, especially considering Acura Canada sold 5,425 normally aspirated versions last year and the brand's U.S. division purveyed 55,495. Even better, as of Q2 2017 the Canadian numbers were showing Read Full Story
The ultimate sleeper? Acura’s RLX Sport Hybrid might just fill the bill if you’re looking for a conservatively styled luxury sedan that flies under the radar like an executive jet. It’s light on…

2017 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Elite Road Test

You can be forgiven for not knowing much about Acura's flagship RLX luxury sedan. It's been around for a while, but its numbers haven't reached the critical mass necessary to put it on most luxury buyers' radar. Either that, or they've seen it and opted to shop elsewhere. Likely it's a bit of both, but I've personally met a number of RLX owners who chose it over everything else on the market. Before delving into why, here's a little background info about this little known Acura.

The car grew out of fertile Acura Legend roots, which was a four-door sedan created off the back of the Honda Accord for Acura's initial offering in 1986. It sold very well, reaching a peak of 70,770 units in the U.S. in 1988 (sorry I don't have Canadian sales info going that far back, but as a rule it's generally about 10 percent), and helped the brand earn early respect in the luxury sector.

The Legend was replaced by the larger and more upscale RL in 1995, but in an attempt to appeal to more Read Full Story
Say hi to the Acura RLX. It’s actually been around since 2013, but slow sales make it a rare sight on Canadian roads so you may not have seen many. The RLX is Acura’s flagship sedan, but it’s no…

2017 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Elite

17 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Elite
Conservative yes, but the RLX wears its Acura shield well, and was the first to sport the brand’s Jewel-eye LED headlamps. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Say hi to the Acura RLX. It’s actually been around since 2013, but slow sales make it a rare sight on Canadian roads so you may not have seen many. The RLX is Acura’s flagship sedan, but it’s no larger than Mercedes-Benz’ E-Class sedan, which is the most popular luxury model in the mid-size premium segment. By comparison Merc sells about 28 Es to every single RLX, but Acura isn’t the only brand that gets beaten up by the three-pointed star in this category.
2017 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Elite
The RLX’ tall roofline provides excellent interior headroom. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Mercedes sells almost a third more Es than BMW purveys 5s, while it outpaces Audi’s A6 by approximately 3.5 to 1, Jaguar’s XF by about 5.5 to 1, Lexus’ GS by more than 7 to 1, Infiniti’s Q70 by 19 to 1, and so on. The only car in the segment to outsell it is Chrysler’s 300 that ironically is based on a much older E-Class architecture, and to be fair the near premium 300 is priced much lower and therefore isn’t really targeting the same luxury audience.
2017 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Elite
A well-built cabin with Acura’s latest features makes the RLX one comfortable ride. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
So it’s an uphill battle for the RLX and many of its peers, but that didn’t stop Acura from investing thousands of Bordens (my Canadian twist on Benjamins, although I probably should have called them Fukuzawas being that we’re talking yen) into this innovative car.
2017 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Elite
Go ahead and get comfortable with powered, heatable and cooled front seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I say innovative because it’s the only car in its class available solely as a hybrid, and a performance-oriented hybrid at that. Acura claims net output of 377 horsepower and 341 lb-ft of torque via a 3.5-litre V6 and a rear-wheel mounted dual electric motor/lithium-ion battery combination, with the internal combustion engine (ICE) powering the front wheels until rear-wheel traction is needed, which prompts intervention of the electrified AWD. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission provides quick shifting duties enhanced by steering wheel paddles no less, heightening the RLX’ sporty nature, but I best leave it there or you’ll have no reason to return for the full review.
2017 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Elite
Rear seat room is very generous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
We’ll be covering the top-line Elite model, so everything Acura has to offer is included. Whether you’re seriously interested in purchasing or simply curious, I recommend coming back to take a look as the RLX has long been the mule used for developing much of the sophisticated powertrain technology now harnessed by the fabulous new NSX supercar. For the time being, enjoy a small assortment of gallery photos that we’ll expand upon when the review arrives…