A showpiece that doesn’t show off


2014 Acura RLX
Warren Brown
Columnist April 12, 2013

It is a car beautiful in its simplicity and finish, crowned with jewel-like headlamps that practically sparkle.

Its elegantly done interior speaks to luxury without shouting it. It is in the rendering — premium materials, primarily leather, perfectly stitched.

Warren Brown is a columnist who writes about autos for The Washington Post. View Archive

The car’s technology is advanced but easily understandable. The idea is to provide maximum performance without sacrificing common sense. So there is an all-new 3.5-liter, gasoline-direct-injection V-6 engine (310 horsepower, 272 pound-feet of torque).

The engine comes with what the manufacturer calls Variable Cylinder Management and Intelligent Variable Timing and lift Control (i-VTEC). What it amounts to is this: The V-6 engine’s intake valves for air and fuel open longer and deeper to give you the increased power you need to boogie. But cylinder management applies a healthy dose of fuel-saving common sense, automatically, seamlessly changing the engine to run on six, four or three cylinders, depending on driving conditions.

It is not hyperbole to declare the car something of a technological and artistic marvel. And Acura, the luxury division of Honda Motor Co., is to be congratulated.

Welcome the 2014 Acura RLX Advance, the top of the line of the Acura division.

Honda and Acura have been trying to produce a car like this since 1986, when Acura began selling cars in the United States. Until now, that effort has been lackluster, yielding a number of worthy automobiles but nothing that could not be found, in one form or another, in the less-expensive Honda division.

Moreover, Acura lately has come under pressure from Hyundai and Kia, South Korean partners that are deliberately undermining the traditional concept of luxury, stripping it of the notion of exclusivity by making available at reasonable cost almost everything once considered unattainable in an affordable automobile.

Acura has answered back with the front-wheel-drive RLX Advance, which also is equipped with what the division’s engineers call “precision all-wheel-steer” — called P-AWS for purposes of constructing a catchy marketing moniker.

P-AWS does, in fact, allow you to paw the road, especially in curves. It does its work by permitting the rear wheels, independently of each other, to pivot as much as 1.8 degrees in the same direction of the front wheels.

The RLX Advance feels mated to the road — precisely, effortlessly following its turns and undulations.

I have read some criticism of the RLX Advance saying it “doesn’t ride with the same composure as other sedans” in its mid-level luxury class. That seems to me to be code for “it is not a BMW 5-Series.”

It is not. Nor is the RLX Advance supposed to be. It is what it is: an exceptionally well-executed midsize luxury family sedan that, considering its ample interior room and comfort, places as much emphasis on “family” as it does on “performance.” It defines “luxury” by impeccable craftsmanship and reliability, technological innovation that renders performance with common sense, and exterior and interior styling that is timeless in its appeal.

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