As Acura's new flagship sedan, the 2014 RLX replaces the RL model. Acura uses the RLX to bring out significant new technologies in both performance and cabin electronics. The RLX is available in a base model, or with a succession of packages called Navigation, Technology, Krell Audio, and Advance. The model shown here is an example of the Advance trim.

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One remarkable standard feature on the RLX is these LED headlights, called Jewel Eye by Acura. The array throws a bright, well-defined pattern, and should last much longer than a typical HID lamp.

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The engine uses a new direct-injection fuel delivery system, providing greater efficiency than the old port-injection engine. Not only does the engine deliver 310 horsepower, but it achieves fuel economy in the mid-20s.

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The fixed suspension on the RLX delivers an acceptable ride on smooth roads, but when the asphalt becomes less than perfect the ride turns ugly.

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The PAWS label stands for Precision All-Wheel Steering, a technology that adds minor rear-wheel steering to improve handling.

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As expected for a big sedan, the trunk provides plenty of room and easy access through its wide opening.

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Quality materials -- leather and thick wood trim -- line the cabin, while the seats can be heated and cooled, and have two-position memory.

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Rear-seat room is particularly spacious in the RLX, making it a very comfortable car for four adults.

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Acura tunes its electric power steering for serious boost, so the wheel is very easy to turn.

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Drivers can easily turn off the Lane Departure Warning system, which can become annoying, especially on twisty roads.

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The rearview camera includes trajectory lines, which help drivers see where the car will go based on the steering angle.

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The biggest failure in the RLX is this two-screen interface for the cabin electronics. A touch screen sits about midway up the center dashboard, showing stereo and phone controls. Above it sits an LCD controlled by a jog dial and buttons below it. The LCD shows navigation, stereo, and phone controls, some of which are duplicated on the touch screen.

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As an alternative to using the complicated interface, voice command is fairly comprehensive, and activates screens showing the driver what commands are available at each step.

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The hard-drive-based navigation system includes plan, or flat, maps and perspective-view maps, the latter being a new feature for Acura.

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This rotary menu paradigm carries over from past Acura models to the RLX's navigation system.

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Also carried over from previous Acura models are destination options that include a Scenic Route database, listing nice drives for almost every state.

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The touch screen shows audio sources, which include iOS devices, USB, Bluetooth streaming, and the car's own hard drive.

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A further screen shows more audio sources, with Pandora and Aha, the latter accessing the AcuraLink Streams app on the driver's smartphone.

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The touch screen shows this Cover Flow-like album method of choosing music from an iOS device.

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Bluetooth streaming shows track information, and controls for Pause, Play, and Skip.

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Pandora integration shows song information, thumbs-up and thumbs-down controls, and a button for the station list.

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HD Radio comes standard on the RLX.

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One especially worthy upgrade is the Krell audio system, which has incredible dynamic range.

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The phone system access on the touch screen shows speed dial numbers and a keypad dialer, also replicated on the upper LCD. However, the upper LCD also shows a paired phone's contact list.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET
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