2020 Acura RLX

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
June 10, 2020

Buying tip

Consider spending a few thousand more to get the impressive RLX Sport Hybrid and its all-wheel-drive, triple-motor powertrain.

features & specs

Sedan Sport Hybrid w/Advance Pkg
Sedan w/Technology Pkg
MPG
28 city / 29 hwy
MPG
20 city / 29 hwy
MSRP
$61,900
MSRP
$54,900

The 2020 Acura RLX’s familiar shape hides a forward-thinking powertrain.

The 2020 Acura RLX is often overlooked by luxury sedan shoppers, but its merits shine through for those who do some digging. For its potent hybrid option, great safety record, and relative value, we give it 6.3 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, the RLX is unchanged from 2018's updated looks. With its diamond-shaped grille, LED headlights, and big LED taillights, the 2020 RLX wears all the current Acura styling cues, but it still comes off as conventional and somewhat anonymous. The interior is a similar story, with a familiar design that’s at least fitted and trimmed out well.

A front-wheel-drive, V-6 model is the volume seller with 310 horsepower, but the RLX Sport Hybrid feels truly unique among luxury sedans, thanks to its all-wheel-drive, triple-motor setup and 377 hp. While the tech is borrowed from the NSX supercar to an extent, don’t expect the RLX to win any drag races against the Germans. This sedan is geared for comfort, as evidenced by its smooth ride and controlled handling.

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The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and there’s plenty of space for small item storage, but the rear seat and trunk could be more spacious, as they are on many other mid-size sedans. Material quality is good enough to warrant a luxury badge, but some smaller details and trim pieces are definitely showing their relative age.

Safety scores are strong, and Acura makes active features standard, including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and traffic-jam assist. A surround-view camera system, cooled front seats, and a Krell audio system all come with the hybrid model, but we’d give up a handful of features to have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, something the RLX’s infotainment system conspicuously lacks.

Fuel economy is decent for a sedan of this size, but could be better on even the hybrid model, which manages 28 mpg combined. The base V-6 model earns EPA ratings of just 23 mpg combined.

5

2020 Acura RLX

Styling

The 2020 Acura RLX has a pleasant style, but it’s been around a while.

From any angle, the 2020 Acura RLX is handsome but very familiar, with some new styling touches blended into its nose and tail. It’s average looking while its main rivals have amped up the glam. We give it 5 out of 10 here.

In 2018, Acura refreshed the RLX and added a diamond-shaped grille, LED headlights, and big taillights that are characteristic of other Acuras these days, but you can still see the original sedan underneath.

The interior didn’t benefit from a big refresh however, as its dual-screen infotainment system and other details look dated compared to rivals, especially the Germans. 

Still, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to like about looking at the RLX. We like the front and rear end treatments, and though the shape is relatively anonymous, big alloy wheels and high-quality interior materials go a long way towards dressing things up.

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7

2020 Acura RLX

Performance

The 2020 Acura RLX is a comfortable cruiser with a unique hybrid powertrain that ups its appeal.

The 2020 Acura RLX makes good use of its front-drive roots and adds some impressive all-wheel-drive hybrid flair as an option. We give it 7 out of 10 for its comfort-oriented approach.

The base RLX gets a 3.5-liter V-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission, good for 310 horsepower to the front wheels only. The rear wheels can contribute some steering for a bit more confidence in the corners, but this big Acura is better suited to comfortable cruising than corner carving, as its supple suspension and sound deadening would indicate.

A Sport Hybrid model is available for a few thousand dollars more, and it’s one of our favorite electrified powertrains, a real hidden gem considering the RLX’s puny sales figures. Three electric motors—two at the rear wheels and one aiding the V-6—bring the total power output to 377 hp and add all-wheel drive, this time with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It’s a similar system to the NSX supercar but geared for much more practical everyday use.

The steering rack is light but precise, and while the RLX is not as dynamic as other luxury sedans, it’s certainly as comfortable.

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7

2020 Acura RLX

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Acura RLX is high-quality and comfortable up front, but its small rear seat and trunk let it down.

The 2020 Acura RLX delivers on quality but falls short in the areas that matter most to many mid-size sedan buyers: rear seat and trunk space. For that, we give it 7 out of 10. 

Material quality is good for a car that’s nearly 8 years old underneath, featuring supple leather, nice soft-touch plastics, and other luxury-quality details. Front seat passengers are treated to comfortable and supportive seats with standard heat and available cooling, but those relegated to the rear won’t fare as well.

Leg and head room are short compared to rivals, and the trunk is just 14.9 cubic feet inside, dropping to 12 cubic feet for hybrid models. That’s less than some compact sedans, a feature that’s not likely to win over the relatively few buyers that are cross-shopping RLXs with other options.

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7

2020 Acura RLX

Safety

The 2020 Acura RLX boasts impressive safety scores and standard active technology.

The 2020 Acura RLX performs incredibly well in the safety category for an 8-year-old sedan and features active safety tech as standard. We give it 7 out of 10 here as a result. 

The federal government gives the RLX five stars in every possible category, an impressive feat for a vehicle that’s older than most of its contemporaries. The IIHS agrees, awarding “Good” ratings in every category it tests for minus the headlights and ease-of-use for the child seat anchors, for which it receives “Acceptable” ratings.

Acura also makes active safety features standard on the RLX, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, and active lane control. The hybrid model also gets a surround-view camera system to make parking maneuvers easier.

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7

2020 Acura RLX

Features

The 2020 Acura RLX is well-equipped in either of its two forms, but offers no options whatsoever.

The 2020 Acura RLX is loaded with features between the base and hybrid model. A good thing, considering there are no options available whatsoever. We give it 7 out of 10 here. 

With front-wheel drive and a V-6, the base RLX is a conventional mid-size Japanese luxury sedan, and includes plenty of standard features. For $55,895 including destination charge, you get active safety tech, 12-way power front seats, leather upholstery with contrast piping and stitching, LED headlights and taillights, and 14-speaker audio. Unfortunately, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available, and neither are any a la carte options from the factory.

The Sport Hybrid model adds the triple electric-motor setup, as well as adaptive dampers, a head-up display, Krell premium audio, a surround-view camera system, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, remote start, and LED fog lights for $62,895. It’s several thousand more than the base model, but for its all-wheel drive, improved performance and fuel economy, and extra features, it’s the one we’d put our money on.

Review continues below
5

2020 Acura RLX

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Acura RLX is reasonably efficient for a mid-size luxury sedan at 23 to 28 mpg combined.

While the hybrid model improves things, the 2020 Acura RLX manages mediocre fuel economy overall. We give it 5 out of 10.

The base RLX gets 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined while the hybrid model improves things to 28/29/28 mpg. That’s not as good as we’d like from a hybrid powertrain, but certainly better than its non-hybrid counterpart. Both models require premium fuel, however.

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$54,900
MSRP based on Sedan w/Technology Pkg
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6.3
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 7
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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