Rich with features, but priced significantly higher than some of the vehicles we consider competitive with it, the 2014 RLX caps the Acura lineup with some versions costing more than $60,000 before all options are added. That vies with the 2013 Cadillac XTS as the most expensive front-wheel-drive car on the market.
The $49,345 RLX has a price and features more in line with the cars we'd cross-shop. Its standard features include power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; automatic climate control; 18-inch wheels and 45-series Michelin tires; Bluetooth; a rearview camera; forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems; an 8-inch upper LCD and a 7-inch lower LCD touchscreen that display output for the AM/FM/CD/XM audio system, which also includes 10 speakers, HD radio, a USB port and an aux jack; a power sunroof; pushbutton start; leather upholstery; 12-way power heated front seats; power tilt/telescoping steering; and automatic headlights.
The $51,845 RLX with Navigation adds the GPS with voice commands; AcuraLink, a suite of services discussed below; and a color LCD display between the primary gauges. The $55,345 RLX with Technology Package upgrades the wheels to 19-inchers and refines the leather choice to "Milano" hides; adds blind-spot monitors, acoustic glass, and four more speakers; and caps it with retractable side mirrors and rain-sensing wipers.For $57,845, the RLX comes with a 14-speaker Krell audio system with reference-quality sound, one of the near-overkill systems usually found on ultra-premium brands, and power sunshades. At the top of the lineup, the $61,345 RLX with Advance includes adaptive cruise control with follow ability; lane-keeping assist; front and rear parking sensors; ventilated front seats; and heated rear seats.
The 2014 RLX carries Acura's standard warranty of four years or 50,000 miles.
Of all the new features integrated into the new RLX, the AcuraLink system and the dual-screen output of the infotainment system will take the most time to learn and to use. The logic behind both sounds reasonable. AcuraLink's basic setup uses a smartphone app, Aha, to be the gatekeeper for dozens of other apps like Facebook. With one link they're all accessible through the head unit, and new information like points of interest can be accessed without massive, regular updates. Still, it's an additional interface between the driver and safe driving--something the best and simplest systems like a simple smartphone mirroring setup will do best. AcuraLink also offers paid services to connect to live operators, a service we've never been sold on in the smartphone era, in any case.
The dual-screen setup? It's an interesting spin on the complexity of systems like MyLincoln Touch and Cadillac CUE. By splitting functions, Acura hopes to keep the non-touch-displays on the larger, more visible screen, while controls like audio toggles are placed closer to the driver on the smaller touch-sensitive screen. On some models, the third screen in between the gauges offers still more information.
The result, though, is a duplicative, sometimes confusing interface that feels like a compromise around an existing dash architecture. It gives us pause about the coming dual-screen setup in the Infiniti Q50--never mind the agita we already get when we climb into single-screen systems like those in the Cadillac XTS or the Lincoln MKS.
Apple, Google, Samsung--someone, please save us?