The 2020 Acura RLX competes in the same class as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS and Audi A6. But this car needs a redesign. Of course, as Acura’s largest luxury sedan, it offers a number of unique features. But beyond a few minor tweaks, it hasn’t changed much since it released in 2013, and even then it didn’t feel sophisticated. The 2020 Acura RLX is roomy and comfortable, the interior materials and workmanship have a distinct luxury feel. However, its design and technology are left behind from what you will find in a new Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
The 2020 Acura RLX real appeal is its unique drivetrains. The base model is front-wheel drive with a rear-wheel steering system to make it feel more agile. The top range Sport Hybrid offers a front-wheel with strong V6 and a rear wheel with an electric motor. Unfortunately, the Sport Hybrid does not fulfill its sporty promises. And it’s no more efficient than other luxury sedan hybrids that are better to drive and come in more modern packages or offer a much better mpg.
TRIM LEVELS & PRICING
The 2020 Acura RLX is a five-passenger luxury sedan that comes in just two trims. The base front-wheel-drive version (called P-AWS) offers a list of features that more than what you’ll get on many competitive base models. The Sport Hybrid comes with an all-wheel-drive hybrid drivetrain and more premium features.
Standard equipment for the P-AWS trim includes 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, a power sunroof, automatic windshield wipers, a rearview camera, keyless entry with push-button start, three-zone automatic climate controls, heated and power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a dual-screen infotainment system, navigation, Bluetooth, and a 14-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD and satellite radio, a USB-iPod interface, smartphone app integration (Pandora and Aha internet radio integration), and an auxiliary audio jack.
A full suite of active safety features and driver aids is also standard. It consists of adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
The RLX Sport Hybrid adds LED foglights, auto-dimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, remote start, a surround-view camera system, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a power rear sunshade and manual rear-door sunshades, a head-up display, and a premium 14-speaker stereo system.
- RLX P-AWS: $55,895
- RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD: $62,895
The 2020 Acura RLX interior is undeniable luxurious, with fine plastics and wood inlays all being of high quality allowing for no annoying rattles or squeaks to intrude. However, the dual-screen infotainment system is dated and isn’t the most user-friendly system around, considering the leaps taken by many competitors in recent years. Thankfully, the seats are plenty comfortable and accommodating of all frame sizes, while space, front and rear, is generally excellent. This makes the 2020 RLX easy to get into and pleasant once you’re there. Instruments lack the full digitization and customization of the top competition, but they’re also legible and neatly presented. The electronic gear selector features an unusual flat design, so as not to intrude when accessing the dash-mounted controls.
The 2020 Acura RLX comes standard with attractive sports seats trimmed in perforated Milano premium leather, while contrast stitching and piping are tasteful. The leather interior is available in three colors: Ebony, Espresso, and Seacoast. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, together with neat stitching on the dashboard and door panels, ensure that all major controls are pleasant to the touch, even if they cloak what is a conservative overall design.
The 2020 Acura RLX can seat five passengers in comfort thanks to the its generous dimensions and well-designed seats. In front, the majority of drivers won’t feel short on space. At the back, the RLX has more legroom than both the 5 Series and E-Class. But rear headroom lag behind most others in the class, the result of a fairly sharply sloping roofline, so taller passengers over six-feet won’t feel quite as taken care of. Getting inside the RLX is convenient, with doors that open wide aiding ingress appreciably. Overall, the RLX ticks most of the space and seating boxes required of the midsize luxury sedan class.
Interior storage is good in the front but poor at the rear, where only map pockets on the backs of the seats are provided. Up front, storage space is much more useful; the center console bin includes a removable tray, and its top will flip up in any direction for the convenience of both front seat passengers.
The 2020 Acura RLX trunk space measures 14.9 cubic feet, which is smaller than you’d reasonably expect in a car of this size. Unfortunately, the RLX also doesn’t offer folding rear seats, which severely limits overall cargo space and versatility. Most rivals offer a 60/40 or 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, which makes this all the more disappointing. The RLX does offer a locking pass-through to accommodate long and narrow items, but this doesn’t balance out its other shortcomings in terms of everyday practicality. Expect the trunk to hold no more than two large suitcases and three soft duffel bags, but thankfully loading is easy thanks to a broad opening.
The 2020 Acura RLX continues to offer two distinct high-performance powertrains. The front-wheel drive RLX P-AWS is powered by a responsive 3.5-liter Direct Injection SOHC i-VTEC V6 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 272 lb.-ft. of torque. It mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters. The RLX engine also incorporates a range of advanced friction-reducing technologies that help boost fuel efficiency and power output. A special intake manifold design, type intake ports, advanced piston crown shapes, an elevated 11.5:1 compression ratio and a variable-flow exhaust system are keys to the high power output. With i-VTEC (intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) for the intake valves combined with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that deactivates the rear bank of three cylinders for greater fuel efficiency, the RLX engine offers broad-spectrum power and fuel efficiency.
For even greater performance, the 2020 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD combines the same 3.5-liter V6 with Acura’s advanced three-motor Sport Hybrid all-wheel drive system to deliver a system total of 377 horsepower and 341 lb.-ft. of torque, making it the most powerful Acura sedan in history. In the Acura lineup, only the NSX supercar with its related hybrid powertrain is more powerful. It mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters, Sport Mode, Grade Logic and Shift Hold Control.
The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD uses three electric motors: one integrated with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that turns with the crankshaft, and a pair of rear motors (Twin Motor Unit) that power the rear wheels. The Twin Motor Unit distributes electric-motor torque between the left and right rear wheels, providing both positive and negative torque vectoring (negative, through regenerative braking) to aid performance and handling. A lighter Li-Ion battery pack and drive system operating logic enhancements derived from the NSX supercar.
310 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
272 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg
3.5-liter V6 with 3-motor hybrid
377 horsepower (combined)
341 lb-ft of torque (combined)
Zero to 60 mph: 4.9 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 13.1 sec
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 5.7 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 2.8 sec
Top gear, 50-70 mph: 3.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 13.6 sec @ 102 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 131 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 187 ft
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/29 mpg