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The RLX flies under the radar compared with ostentatious rivals and goes down the road with its supercar-derived hybrid powertrain. Acura’s low-volume luxury sedan has the basic tenants of its species—upscale features and spacious accommodations—but lacks the wow factor that we expect. Its obsolete infotainment system and generic cabin design are easy to overlook, but its solid build quality and notable fuel economy will satisfy buyers. Along with a standard V-6 engine, there’s a unique hybrid model that operates smoothly and accelerates rapidly. Still, the 2020 RLX is too unassuming to challenge its snazziest classmates.
For 2020, Acura chose not to make any meaningful changes to the RLX lineup. The last major update was back in 2018, when the company mercifully redesigned its beaklike grille and added more desirable features.
There aren’t many reasons to choose the RLX over similarly priced luxury alternatives, but its powerful hybrid system is certainly one. Although the Sport Hybrid model costs an extra $7000, it makes the Acura one of the quickest and most fuel-efficient sedans in the segment. The upgrade also brings all the best content such as a 360-degree camera system, front and rear parking sensors, head-up display, heated and ventilated front seats, remote start, and more. Other than a handful of accessories, that rounds out the available options on the 2020 RLX Sport Hybrid.
A 310-hp V-6 is standard and comes linked to a 10-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The regular RLX also has rear-wheel steering that helps improve cornering. The Sport Hybrid model pairs a 3.5-liter V-6 with three electric motors that generate a combined 377 horsepower. In fact, the hybrid powertrain is derived from the one used in the Acura NSX supercar. The Sport Hybrid’s blistering acceleration and seamless operation made it enjoyable to navigate through city streets or blast down highway straights. Unfortunately, the RLX felt less athletic in turns because most of its mass sits up front. Although Acura’s all-wheel-drive system (called SH-AWD) is designed to aid handling, it isn’t as pleasing on twisty roads as alternatives such as the Genesis G80 and the Jaguar XF.
The 2020 RLX boasts two different powertrains with two different sets of EPA fuel-economy ratings. The standard V-6 setup is expected to earn 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. While the latter number doesn’t change on the hybrid RLX, its city rating significantly increases. The Sport Hybrid model is EPA-rated at 28 mpg city, which is 4 mpg more than luxury alternatives such as the Mercedes-Benz E-class and the Audi A6. However, we haven’t had a chance to test the Acura sedan on our 200-mile real-world fuel-economy test route.
Inside the RLX’s nicely trimmed cabin, occupants will find plenty of space in both the front and the back. Comfortable seating and a long list of standard amenities are sure to please. Leather upholstery, power-adjustable seats with heat, three-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, and a power sunroof come on all models. While the regular RLX offers up to 15 cubic feet of cargo space in its trunk, the Sport Hybrid model’s battery pack shrinks it down to 12 cubes.
Every 2020 RLX is outfitted with an outdated infotainment system that is displayed through dual screens. Despite a useful rotary controller and physical buttons, the experience is hampered by generic graphics and a lack of contemporary features. A 14-speaker ELS Studio audio system and built-in navigation are standard, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is missing.
The 2019 RLX earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the 2020 RLX wasn’t named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Still, both models have a comprehensive suite of standard driver-assistance technology. Key safety features include:
While the 2020 RLX has a competitive limited and powertrain warranty, Acura doesn’t offer any complimentary scheduled maintenance. Meanwhile, rivals such as BMW and Jaguar offer impressive complimentary periods.
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