The redesign begins with the exterior, which is far more sculpted than the previous generation RLX. The version of the RLX this new model replaces was often chided for its close affiliation to the Honda Accord sedan it's based upon, which was clearly apparent in the grille and rear quarter. The 2018 Acura RLX is much bolder, with a diamond-shaped grille beset with a subtle internal diamond pattern to its mesh. The Acura symbol is more prominent at center and new LED headlamps with a sharper edge flank the grille.
The new look gives the front fascia of the 2018 RLX a stronger persona, we think, with a better reflection of the RLX's status as a luxury sedan. The hood continues the statement-making grille's design with strong lines that create thicker fenders to either side. Body paneling is simple, with straight lines for the belt and running boards giving a classy look to the sedan.
At the rear, the quarter panel is similar to the previous-generation in its heavy pillar and fastback styling, but has a thicker fender bulge and more prominent rear lamps with the taillights being set off by a chrome strip that runs across the entire rear deck.
The new look for the 2018 Acura RLX is definitely a new statement for the Acura brand. They're calling it "Precision Crafted Performance." We're calling it "less like everybody else."
"This redesign of the 2018 Acura RLX is transformational, creating road presence and styling that better reflect underlying performance capabilities of the vehicle," says Jon Ikeda, Acura vice president & general manager.
Underneath the new bodywork is a hybrid system for the RLX Sport Hybrid that is based on an all-wheel drive chassis and Acura's Sport Hybrid SH-AWD propulsion technology. That comes from the NSX supercar, one of the coolest Acura models to debut in recent years. For the RLX Sport Hybrid, it's a 377-hp (281-kW) total system that comes from a direct-injected V6 engine and three electric motors (one in front, two in the rear). Acura says that developments from the NSX have meant better all-weather and dynamic handling in the 2018 RLX.
The other Acura RLX model is the 310-hp (231-kW) non-hybrid option. This is powered by a similar V6 engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission and Acura's Precision All-Wheel Steer, a steering system that turns the rear wheels slightly in cornering and parking to improve maneuverability.
Acura is also offering a suite of technology options for the 2018 RLX. These include adaptive cruise control, low speed following assistance, and a newly-added traffic jam assist. The latter keeps the vehicle in its lane and holds a distance from the car ahead during low-speed, heavy traffic situations. Although not meant to fully drive the car, Acura's Traffic Jam Assist is capable of doing much of the work in those congested situations.
Several other active safety systems using millimeter wave radar and other detection systems are also part of the available tech. These include forward collision mitigation and emergency braking, lane departure warning and keeping, road departure mitigation, and others.
Fuel economy numbers and performance metrics for the 2018 Acura RLX and RLX Sport Hybrid are not yet released. Acura says that the 2018 RLX models will become available in North America in November of 2017.