30/30/30 fuel economy for the hybrid? Really?
Why was the old Acura RL so firmly nailed to dealership floors, with just 379 sold last year? That’s easy: It was too small. Its back seat was so tight that rear riders could practically adjust the stereo, could possibly even drink from the front cup holders with a long-enough straw. Too in thrall to Honda’s minor-key virtues of frugality and modesty, the RL couldn’t compete with the chest-thumping, lane-filling champions of the mid-size luxury-car segment.
Repeat: It was because it was almost Civic-sized in back, and not because it had a six-cylinder engine or was based on a front-drive chassis. In fact, you could argue that the rest of the luxury-car fleet has finally caught up with the Acura flagship. Amid rising fuel-economy standards, a six-cylinder luxury sedan no longer seems like a tin Rolex. Furthermore, all-wheel drive is now the de rigueur luxury-car format, and Audi has even sold front-drive A6s and A8s with a straight face. All this might not get the new RLX the respect it deserves, but what Acura has produced here, for better or worse, is a car fully in sync with these comfort-, mpg-, and tech-obsessed times.
The RLX overcompensates for the old car’s biggest failing. It’s full-figured, with a 2.0-inch-longer wheelbase and 1.7-inch-wider body than the outgoing RL’s. The cabin is far airier and roomier than before, with lots of clearance for occupants’ extremities. It’s also beautifully finished in muted tones, but its two-screen radio and nav interface is confusing; you never quite remember which of the screens and knobs will deliver the function you want. Also, the seat bottoms are too short for even the moderately lanky.