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Acura sets new luxury standard for itself with 2014 RLX (pictures)

Acura's new top luxury sedan remains in a midlevel class, yet launches with impressive technology, such as LED headlights, four-wheel steering, and a superb Krell audio system.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg
Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Acura's new luxury sedan, the RLX, replaces the RL as its top model. It's not a mere name change; the RLX is a completely new vehicle, with a unique body, suspension, and engine, and new cabin technology features.
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The RLX carries Acura's newly subtle shield grille, and the LED headlights to either side come standard.
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A new 3.5-liter direct-injection V-6 engine produces more horsepower with smaller displacement than Acura's current V-6, and is likely to be used in other Acura models.
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The RLX is a five-passenger sedan with front-wheel drive.
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A fixed suspension treads a line between sport and luxury ride quality, not really excelling at either. A unique four-wheel steering system helps the car's handling.
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As with other recent Acura models, the RLX's exhaust pipes are hidden.
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Befitting its luxury sedan class, the RLX's trunk space is huge. Acura says it fits four golf bags.
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The big front seats are very cushy, and feature heating, cooling, and pneumatic lumbar support.
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The rear-seat legroom appears very long, yet the lack of toe space under the front seats limits it somewhat.
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The cabin tech interface is clumsy, using a color LCD, a monochrome touch screen, and a dial controller. It seems like Acura could have done a better job of consolidating these controls.
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Blind-spot monitoring, which lights up an icon in the A pillar, is just one of many driver assistance features available in the RLX.
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The AcuraLink telematics service includes a smartphone app that can show your car's fuel level.
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The RLX uses an electric power-steering system, which feels precise and lets you turn the wheel very easily at any speed.
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The instrument cluster includes a small color LCD showing navigation, phone calls, and audio information.
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The top LCD shows this helpful guide when you push the voice command button.
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Acura added surface-street traffic data to the existing freeway and highway traffic data shown in the navigation system.
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This destination entry screen is familiar from existing Acura models.
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The touch screen shows some navigation functions, such as a list of favorite destinations.
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You can choose the audio source on this touch screen or on the top LCD.
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The touch screen shows audio information, but gives very limited control over choosing music.
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The top LCD offers full music library search.
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The Krell audio system in the RLX delivers crisp sound with an excellent dynamic range.

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