Neither of the well-known safety agencies has checked in yet on the 2014 Acura RLX, but with its new safety technologies and Honda's recent advances in crash mitigation and prevention, we're giving the RLX a high preliminary rating, which we'll adjust as the scores come in.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't tested the RLX as of this writing. But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given it some of the highest ratings in the industry, with its Top Safety Pick+ rating.
All RLX sedans come with the usual airbags and stability control. A driver-side knee airbag is standard as well, and so are a rearview camera and Bluetooth, two features we consider almost essential in everyday driving due to driver inattention. The RLX's rearview camera actually displays a 180-degree view of its surroundings, for even better visibility. It helps too that the RLX doesn't have the very thick roof pillars or very small rear glass of, say, the Lincoln MKS.
Among the options offered to RLX buyers are blind-spot monitors, a feature we like for the added information it gives drivers who fail to check their rearview mirrors. There's also adaptive cruise control and a lane-departure and lane-keeping system; together with a collision-avoidance system, the chorus of sensors and alerts can actually prevent lower-speed accidents--and even can grant a degree of autonomous driving. When the adaptive cruise control is set, the RLX will stop itself at lower speeds--and all the driver has to do to re-engage is to hit "resume" on the steering wheel, or tap the gas. The RLX will even steer along with the vehicle ahead at very low speeds. It's clever, it's creepy, it's a step too far toward divorcing the car and the driver--you pick. To us, it's mostly an expensive, unnecessary frill.
And finally, for safety's sake, the RLX loses one of the features we've long appreciated in Honda and Acura vehicles. Acura now blocks out any user from entering touchscreen information when the vehicle is moving. The logic's unassailable if the driver's the only passenger--but what about other passengers? In this case the "feature" becomes an annoyance.