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Home > 2018 Vehicles > Everyman Driver: 2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Review (Videos Included)

Everyman Driver: 2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Review (Videos Included)

With a striking redesign for the 2018 model year, the Acura RLX reflects the brand’s new Precision Crafted Performance design direction, creating a more substantial and aspirational presence for Acura’s top-of-the-line luxury sports sedan. In addition, the 2018 RLX benefits from significant upgrades to its interior design, materials and technology, including the addition of Traffic Jam Assist to the AcuraWatch™ suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies, offered as standard equipment on all models.

The 2018 RLX, Acura’s most powerful vehicle after the NSX supercar, also offers improved performance and response. Models equipped with Acura’s proprietary three-motor Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® system benefit from a lighter hybrid battery pack (Intelligent Power Unit) and from improved control logic derived from the company’s experience in development of the NSX. The 2018 Acura RLX with Precision All-Wheel Steer™ (P-AWS®) receives a new, more refined and responsive 10-speed automatic transmission.

As the most sophisticated and powerful Acura sedan ever, the 2018 Acura RLX with Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH- AWD™) shares technology with the NSX supercar, creating a powerful and precise driving experience unmatched in the segment. For 2018, Acura has simplified the RLX trim structure to make the brand’s innovative Sport Hybrid technology more desirable and accessible by streamlining the offering to two well-equipped variants.

The 377- total system horsepower 2018 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid seamlessly integrates a direct-injected V6 with three electric motors and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ for instant acceleration, precise handling, outstanding all-weather performance and excellent fuel economy. Based on developments from the NSX supercar, the RLX Sport Hybrid powertrain and dynamic handling has been further optimized.

The 310-horsepower Acura RLX with Precision All-Wheel Steer™ is now mated to a new 10-speed Automatic Transmission (10AT) delivering a more responsive and refined driving experience, with improved acceleration and passing times. Engineered for high efficiency, low weight and low inertia, and an exceptionally wide ratio range, the 10-speed automatic maximizes the RLX’s performance and fuel efficiency.

Body and Exterior
Inspired by the Acura Precision Concept, the dramatically restyled 2018 RLX and RLX Sport Hybrid exteriors are defined by new front and rear bodywork, side sills, wheels, lighting and trim. The innovations begin with Acura’s signature diamond pentagon grille with chrome surround, which is integrated together with a powerfully sculpted hood, front fascia and bold chrome-trimmed lower air openings.

This design incorporates restyled LED daytime running lights (DRL), LED fog lights (RLX Sport Hybrid) and Jewel-Eye™ LED high- and low-beam headlights. The RLX lighting provides efficient, powerful down-the-road-illumination, with a windswept appearance that extends rearward to the new front fenders with their sculpted, muscular wheel arches.

The 2018 Acura RLX is complimented by six new exterior colors (seven total) including Fathom Blue Pearl and two premium paint offerings – Brilliant Red Metallic and Majestic Black Pearl.

As a further development of the RLX, the 2018 RLX’s handling and ride comfort have been further optimized for 2018. Developed to be true “driver’s cars,” the new RLX P-AWS and RLX Sport Hybrid both deliver improved linearity of yaw response. With a smooth and quiet ride, all-wheel steering on the RLX P-AWS and electric motor-powered torque vectoring on the RLX Sport Hybrid, the 2018 RLX lineup offers technology and performance unmatched by other vehicles in the competitive luxury segment.

Proven technologies that help define the RLX P-AWS and RLX Sport Hybrid as comfortable, confident and capable luxury sport sedans continue for 2018, including high-output Electric Power Steering (EPS), double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, Amplitude Reactive Dampers, and a selectable Sport mode. Together, these advanced technologies allow the updated RLX and RLX Sport Hybrid to master driving conditions as disparate as city traffic and freeways, winding roads and wide-open rural Interstates, inclement weather conditions, and sudden emergency situations. Accurate, confident and fun-to-drive, the 2018 RLX and RLX Sport Hybrid represent the finest interpretation yet of Acura’s top-of-the-line sport luxury sedan.

Key traits of the RLX chassis dynamics include:

  • Agile and accurate cornering with linear response
  • Smooth and connected, naturally fluid handling
  • Outstanding high-speed stability
  • Comfortable, flat and smooth ride
  • Confident braking performance
  • Outstanding steering feel
  • Outstanding cabin quietnessInterior and Key Features
    The RLX’s interior is designed and engineered to provide a high degree of luxury, refinement, and technological sophistication, while supporting an engaging driving experience. With accommodating seating for five, highlighted by an unusually roomy rear seating area, the RLX combines versatility with welcoming passenger comfort. High-end premium elements include a soft-touch interior features, new alloy and woodgrain finishes and new standard upgraded Milano leather seating.For 2018, the Acura RLX receives redesigned seats featuring high-contrast piping and stitching, as well as a new Espresso interior color option, which adds sophistication to an interior with class- leading space and comfort.Standard features on the 2018 RLX Sport Hybrid include premium Krell Audio System with 14 speakers, Surround View Camera, front and rear parking sensors, LED fog lights, remote engine start, ventilated and heated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, heated steering wheel and more.

    Key Interior Features

  • Upgraded seat design with Milano leather
  • Milano leather-wrapped steering wheel with Euro-style stitching
  • Sophisticated interior styling with high-quality fit and finish
  • Driver-oriented control layout
  • Advanced and intuitive instrumentation and controls
  • Shift-by-wire gear selector (now on both RLX models)
  • Large trunk: 14.9 cu-ft. in RLX P-AWS; 12.0 cu-ft. in RLX Sport Hybrid
  • Roomy 5-person interior with 102.1 cu-ft. of passenger volume
  • Driver’s and front passenger’s 12-way power seats, including 4-way power lumbar
  • Ventilated front seats (RLX Sport Hybrid)
  • Head-Up Instrument Display (RLX Sport Hybrid)Key Comfort and Convenience Features
  • Smart Entry and Push Button Start/Stop
  • Remote engine start (RLX Sport Hybrid)
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Electric Parking Brake with Brake HoldKey Audio and Connectivity Features
  • Acura/ELS® Studio Premium 14-speaker audio system (RLX P-AWS)
  • Krell ultra-premium 14-speaker audio system (RLX Sport Hybrid)
  • Pandora® and Aha™ integration
  • SMS text messaging function with compatible cell phones and e-mail function with compatible cell phones
  • USB port connectivity (for iPod®, iPhone®, or “memory stick” storage devices)
  • Auxiliary jack interface (for external MP3 music players)
  • Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® wireless telephone interface with auto-pairing
  • Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™ and 8-inch screen
  • Surface street and highway traffic
  • Traffic rerouting
  • GPS-linked climate control
  • Next-generation AcuraLink™ with Standard, Connect or Premium Package

Safety and Driver Assistance

Utilizing a host of advanced active and passive safety features, including AcuraWatch, the redesigned 2018 RLX further elevates occupant safety performance and convenience in Acura’s top-of-the-line sport luxury sedan. The RLX P-AWS achieved a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score safety rating from the NHTSA.  Its impressive suite of safety technologies includes the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, which utilizes a series of interconnected front frame members to absorb and redirect collision energy around the passenger cabin in a frontal collision.

The RLX makes strategic use of high-strength steel to enhance collision protection in frontal, side, rear impact and rollover incidents. The RLX has seven, smart-deploying airbags – driver and front-seat passenger front and side airbags, side-curtain airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag. In the RLX Sport Hybrid, the driver and front passenger seats also feature e-pretension seat belts that maintain a low-level of tension (for improved comfort) in normal driving and pre-tension in the event of a collision.

Summary of Safety Technologies

  • ACE™ body structure
  • Driver and front passenger front and side airbags
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Driver’s Side Knee Airbag
  • Adjustable head restraints
  • Driver and front seat passenger seat belt e-pretensioners (RLX Sport Hybrid)
  • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and head-up warning

Crash Safety Ratings
The 2018 RLX P-AWS received 5-Star ratings in all NHTSA tests, while also achieving a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score.

Test Results Include:

NHTSA Ratings
NHTSA Overall Rating 5-Stars
NHTSA Frontal Crash 5-Stars
NHTSA Side Crash 5-Stars
NHTSA Rollover 5-Stars

Structural Safety Features
Meeting the RLX’s top crash-safety rating targets required numerous structural engineering advancements. Details include:

  • Frontal – The next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure helped the 2017 RLX P-AWS pass the stringent IIHS Small Overlap Frontal Crash Test with the highest possible “Good” result.
  • Side – The use of sophisticated advances in collision load pathways and the use of hot-stamped high-strength steel helps improve occupant protection in side impact scenarios and should lead to top NHTSA and IIHS side-impact ratings.
  • Rear – Rear-impact performance meeting the federal FMVSS301 fuel-system integrity standard is achieved by sophisticated engineering specifications and the use of lightweight high-strength steel.
  • Rollover/Roof Strength – The RLX achieves the federal FMVSS216a roof crush resistance standard by adopting hot-stamped high-strength steel and optimized engineering specifications.

Next-Generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™)
The 2018 RLX utilizes Acura’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body-structure technology to enhance occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal collisions. This design maximizes energy absorption around the engine compartment and minimizes it in the passenger compartment.

The ACE™ body structure utilizes a network of connected structural elements – and utilizing 55-percent hot-stamp and high-strength steel – to distribute and direct crash energy away from the passenger compartment. This sophisticated frontal crash energy management helps to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment and can help to more evenly disperse the forces transferred to other vehicles in a crash. Additionally, ACE™ helps minimize the potential for under-ride or over-ride situations that can happen during frontal impacts with a larger or smaller vehicle.

Unlike most conventional designs that direct frontal crash energy only to the lower load-bearing structures in the front end, ACE™ actively channels frontal crash energy to both upper and lower structural elements, including the floor frame rails, side sills and A-pillars. By creating specifically engineered “pathways” that help distribute these frontal impact forces through a greater percentage of the vehicle’s total structure, ACE™ can more effectively route them around and away from the passenger compartment to help limit cabin deformation and further improve occupant protection. Integral to the next- ACE™ concept is its unique front polygonal main design structure. (See the Body and Exterior section for more information.)

A total of seven airbags, including advanced front airbags, front side airbags, side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors, and a driver’s side knee airbag, are standard on the 2018 RLX.

Advanced Front Airbags (SRS) 
The RLX is equipped with advanced front airbags (SRS). One or both of these airbags will be deployed only in the event of a sufficient frontal impact. If deployed, the airbags are capable of being inflated at different rates depending on crash severity, seat-belt usage and other factors. Front airbags are designed to supplement the seat belts to help reduce the likelihood of head and upper body injuries in frontal crashes.

Driver’s Side Knee Airbag (SRS)
A driver’s side knee airbag is designed to increase driver protection in the event of a frontal collision. The knee airbag is contained beneath a panel on the underside of the instrument panel, which is contoured away from the knees to provide as much clearance as possible for comfort.

Front Passenger Airbag-Off Indicator
An indicator light marked “PASS AIRBAG,” located on the right of the upper display illuminates to indicate that the passenger’s front airbag is off and will not deploy during a frontal impact. This happens when the weight of the front-seat passenger, or an object on the seat, is 63.8 pounds or less.

Driver and Front Passenger Side Airbags
Driver’s and front passenger’s side airbags mounted in the outboard area of each front seatback are designed to help provide pelvis and thorax protection in the event of a severe side impact. The advanced design allows the side airbags to inflate with a low risk of injuring the seat occupant while deploying.

Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor
All outboard seating positions include a side curtain airbag system. The side curtain airbags deploy from modules in the roof in the event of a sufficient side impact or rollover, providing a significant level of head protection in the window area. The side curtain airbags have a rollover sensor, a wide deployment profile, and remain fully deployed for an extended time to enhance passenger ejection mitigation.

Adjustable Head Restraints for All Seating Positions
All front and rear seating positions feature individually adjustable head restraints. Featuring Acura’s latest generation of neck protection performance, the front head restraints offer a wide area of support, and are also contoured to allow the head-to head restraint clearance needed for peak driving comfort. The rear head restraints likewise comply with the latest Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that specify the size, position and operation of the rear-seat head restraints.

Front Seatbelt E-Pretensioners
The RLX features seatbelt e-pretensioner for both of the front seats that detects yaw rate. During aggressive driving or in the event of sudden steering inputs, such as a skid or a light collision, the e-pretensioner system uses electronic controls to tighten the seatbelts. During normal driving conditions, the e-pretensioner provides a “tensionless” seatbelt experience, enhancing driving comfort. The e-pretensioner system is fully automatic and requires no intervention from the driver or front passenger, aside from the initial extension and fastening of the seatbelt.

Child Safety Features
Two Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) child seat-mounting positions are built into the outboard rear seats. The LATCH system utilizes both an upper child-seat tether anchor and dedicated lower-anchor points that are built into the body of the vehicle, which help ensure correct mounting of a compatible child seat. A third upper tether is located in the rear center position. The RLX also features childproof rear door locks. When engaged, they permit the rear doors to be opened only from the outside, thereby helping to prevent accidental opening by a child.

Included as standard equipment on both the 2018 RLX P-AWS and RLX Sport Hybrid, AcuraWatch™ is a suite of advanced safety and driver-assist technologies. AcuraWatch™ technologies include Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF) that now incorporates Traffic Jam Assist.

Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and New Traffic Jam Assist (TJA)
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow allows the driver to set a desired speed and following interval behind the vehicle ahead, allowing the use of cruise control in light traffic. This system is combined with a Low-Speed Follow capability, which extends the automatic following capability to stop and go traffic situations (down to 0 mph).

The 2018 RLX is the first Acura model to offer Traffic Jam Assist (TJA). With an expanded speed range Lane Keeping Assist system, TJA uses millimeter wave radar and a camera to identify lane markings and detect a vehicle that is preceding the RLX in its lane.

When activated with a switch located on the right side of the steering wheel, at speeds between 0 and 45 mph, TJA will automatically scan for a preceding vehicle and lane markings. The system can help the driver maintain lane position with light steering assist while maintaining a set cruising speed, and respond to slowing traffic ahead to bring the RLX to a complete stop if needed. The benefit of Traffic Jam Assist is a reduction in both driver input and stress in heavy traffic on multi-lane roads such as freeways, tollways and expressways.

Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) with Head-Up Warning with Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
The 2018 Acura RLX’s standard Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) is one of the most sophisticated safety technologies available. A millimeter wave radar unit, located behind the front grille, and monocular camera, located between the rearview mirror and windshield, scans traffic conditions ahead of the vehicle.

When the system determines a collision is possible with a detected vehicle, the integrated Forward Collision Warning FCW system’s visual and audible alerts prompt the driver to take corrective actions. The visual alert appears on the Multi-Information Display (MID), as well as on the Head-Up Warning system RLX Hybrid only). If the situation is not resolved, CMBS can apply different levels of automatic braking action to help reduce vehicle speed and eventual collision forces, and therefore to help reduce the severity of a collision if the driver doesn’t take corrective action.

Due to the effectiveness of its monocular camera, CMBS can recognize shapes and differentiate between a vehicle and a pedestrian, warning the driver in each case.

It is important to note that CMBS cannot detect all objects ahead, nor is it intended to replace the driver’s assessment of traffic conditions and control of the vehicle. The driver must intervene in certain situations, and must always be attentive when using the system. Although in many cases CMBS will stop the vehicle, it is not intended to apply enough braking force to prevent all collisions. Based on the conditions, the system also may not perform all visual- and audible-alert stages, and may instead automatically engage the brakes if the system deems it necessary. CMBS may be turned off by pressing the CMBS button on the left side of the instrument panel.

Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Included in both RLX models for 2018, Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) uses a Monocular Camera (mounted on the upper portion of the windshield) to identify solid or dashed painted lane lines, Botts’ dots and cats eye markers. RDM uses both steering force, via EPS, and braking force, via VSA, to help the TLX stay in its lane.

The Monocular Camera recognizes lane features and identifies the lane. If the RDM system detects that the RLX is about to leave the detected lane, it will provide steering assist (primary) and in rare occasions when steering is not sufficient, braking assist, to help the driver stay on the road. Only lane departure is activated if the driver is passing over a dashed line, Botts’ dots or cats eye, while deceleration support is disabled. In this case, RLX uses active steering force to return to the lane. RDM is integrated with the Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) system to provide moderate braking, and with the Electric Power Steering (EPS) system to provide steering input.

Multiple visual and audible warnings alert the driver when the RDM system is taking corrective action. These include a Lane Departure Warning (LDW) on the driver’s Multi Information Display (MID) along with an audible warning.

RDM also has a customizable initial warning of either a steering wheel shake/vibration, or an audible alert. This can be customized in the vehicle settings.

Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
Both 2018 RLX models feature Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) to provide a premium driving experience by reducing steering correction movements and driving effort on the highway. LKAS uses a camera to read lane markings to assist the driver in driving in the middle of the lane.

Designed for the U.S. road structure, the system uses a camera mounted on the upper portion of the windshield to identify Botts’ Dots and Cat Eye markers. New for 2018, the Lane Keeping Assist System now operates at speeds between 0 mph and 90 mph, as part of the Traffic Jam Assist System. When LKAS senses that the driver is drifting from the middle of a detected lane, the system generates counteracting steering torque to assist the driver in maintaining lane position, while also displaying a visual warning in the MID within the instrument panel to alert the driver about a potential lane departure.

Blind Spot Information (BSI)
The standard blind spot information (BSI) system uses two radar sensors to continually monitor conditions behind the RLX and alert the driver if another vehicle is detected in close proximity – especially in the blind spot of the driver. The BSI system uses the LED indicators (mounted on each A-pillar escutcheon) and an audible warning to alert the driver.

There are two warning levels: 1) If a vehicle is in the driver’s blind spot then the LED indicator on the appropriate side illuminates; and 2) If a vehicle is detected and the RLX turn signal is activated, the LED indicator on the appropriate side blinks and a buzzer sounds three times. To prevent false alarms while maneuvering at low speed, the BSI system is disabled below approximately 20 mph.

Rear Cross Traffic Monitor
The Rear Cross Traffic Monitor works in conjunction with the RLX’s blind spot information radar sensors to enhance driver confidence and safety when backing up. The system is especially useful when reversing in congested parking lots with an obstructed view from driver’s seat.

The system utilizes a pair of blind-spot radar units located in the rear bumper corners. When Reverse is selected and an approaching vehicle is detected, arrows indicating the approaching vehicles direction are shown on the 8-inch upper display’s rear camera image. Simultaneously, an audible warning is emitted if cross-traffic is approaching from either side.

Parking Sensors
To assist in maneuvering in tight spaces, such as entering or exiting a parking space, the 2018 RLX Sport Hybrid features a set of six parking sensors. A sensor is located at each corner of the vehicle with an additional two at the center rear. When a sensor(s) detects an object close to the vehicle, the system provides an audible warning plus a visual alert on the upper central display screen.

Pedestrian Injury Mitigation
The RLX has an impact-absorbing front body design to help absorb energy in the event of a frontal collision with a pedestrian. Research shows that the following features can dramatically improve a pedestrian’s chance of survival if struck by a moving vehicle:

  • Impact-energy absorbing hood
    Space is provided between the underside of the hood and key powertrain components, allowing the hood to bend and deform if contact is made with either an adult or a child pedestrian.
  • Energy-absorbing fender mounts and supports
    Front fender mounts and brackets are designed to deform easily to help absorb impact energy.

Safety and Driver Assist Features

Active Safety Features 2018 RLX P-AWS 2018 RLX Sport Hybrid
Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) with Head-Up Warning    
Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with Traction Control  
Advanced 4-Channel ABS
Electronic Brake Distribution (EDB)
Brake Assist
Multi-Angle Rear View Camera System with Dynamic Guidelines
Surround-View Camera System with Dynamic Guidelines
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
Daytime Running Lights (DRL) LED LED


Passive Safety Features 2018 RLX P-AWS 2018 RLX Sport Hybrid
Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure
Advanced Front Airbags (SRS)
Driver’s Side Knee Airbag (SRS)
Driver and Front Passenger Side Airbags
Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor
3-Point Seat Belts at all Seating Positions
Front Seatbelt E-Pretensioners
Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH): Passenger side 2nd-row
Driver’s and Front Passenger’s Seat-Belt Reminder
Child-Proof Rear Door Locks


Driver Assistive Features 2018 RLX P-AWS 2018 RLX Sport Hybrid
Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)  
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow and Traffic Jam Assist    
Parking Sensors (two front and four rear)
Blind Spot Information (BSI)

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