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RLX delivers sedan essentials and expected Acura reliability

The 2017 Acura RLX competes in the rarified air of the large luxury sedan segment, where the competition is fierce and the category’s players are constantly improving and impressing. Luckily for the RLX, it’s got a few tricks up its sleeve that set it apart.

Aside from being roomy and extremely reliable, the 2017 RLX delivers what I consider to be one of the better safety packages for the price of admission. With an impressive base price of $54,450, the RLX offers a suite of advanced safety technologies called AcuraWatch. This bundle features adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

While the RLX is available in just one trim, there is a hybrid version ($59,950) that offers a jump in horsepower from a gasoline engine-electric motor powertrain and the traction security of all-wheel drive.

The RLX may be best described as offering an understated exterior style. In the luxury sedan class, where every model is trying to separate itself from the others, differences are often achieved through very distinct styling cues and treatments.

The RLX stands pat with its Acura signature statement that speaks to confidence and reliability more than it does to attitude, sportiness or extreme elegance. The nose is certainly the best part of the RLX, featuring the recognizable Acura grille and lamp stack slanting to the center focal point. It is a statement of balance and confidence, but not the most elaborate treatment.

Inside the RLX cabin, you can seat five adults upon the exquisite leather upholstery. Sound-deadening materials create a wonderfully quiet space that is equaled in its serenity by the somewhat plain Acura interior treatment. You will never question the craftsmanship or quality, but there is a distinct middle ground that RLX takes in its style.

Front passengers have 12-way power adjustments, heated seat comfort, plenty of headroom and exceptional visibility for the driver. Rear-seat passengers get similar roominess as well as LATCH car-seat connections.

Operating the accessories in the RLX is easy with the convenient center stack arrangement that puts everything within arm’s reach. I found the RLX’s layout to be extremely fundamental and intuitive to use, with responsive touch screen and easy-to-grasp knobs and buttons. The gorgeous blue background makes everything easy to read.

Under the hood, RLX offers a dependable 3.5-liter V-6 engine (310 horsepower). I found plenty of oomph for getting the big sedan up to speed and merging into a crowded tollway field. Sure, there are more powerful luxury sedans, but most people don’t need the extra ponies, and the RLX is right where it probably needs to be.

A standard six-speed automatic transmission is mated to the engine, providing immediate acceleration and a smooth-shifting experience. RLX manages 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which is better than average for the class.

The 2017 RLX really is a competent large luxury sedan that provides exceptional family sedan driving manners and luxurious commuter comfort. Safety ratings and standard safety features, along with impressive reliability scores, make the relatively low entry price a real eye-opener.