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2014 ACURA RLX: Lots to win you over

Eye-catching headlights just the start for solid Acura RLX

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2014 Acura RLX.

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Acoustic glass and other sound-deadening materials make the cabin of the new Acura RLX noticeably quiet.

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The Jewel Eye LED headlights on the all-new 2014 Acura RLX certainly have a beguiling effect on some.

They quickly won over my mother-in-law, and it didn't take long for her to proclaim that she wanted an RLX after only a short ride -- even though she was confined to the back seat.

Mind you, that's not the worst place to be, since the rear occupants of the RLX are offered generous legroom, comfortable seating and, in the case of the RLX Elite tester, heated rear seats.

You wouldn't expect anything less from the new flagship of Acura's lineup, a mid-size sedan that replaces the RL as the brand's top offering.

What that includes is an appealing design, from those headlights on back. The Acura signature grille is front and centre, the top corners of which blend seamlessly into a crease in the hood that brings the eyes up to the steeply raked windshield.

The silhouette of the RLX is shapely, highlighted by accent lines over the front wheel arch and another two that run the length of the body.

The back end features LED tail lights and a chrome bar across the trunk lid, which opens up to 417 litres of cargo space in the Elite trim (there's 423 litres in the base RLX).

Turning to the inside, the back seat my mother-in-law loved so much isn't the only good seat in the house. The front seats are a cosy place to be and leave you surrounded by a stylish interior that is a mix of traditional features and modern amenities.

One of those modern features -- the push-button start -- had me searching for it at first. The button, which is red and should have been easy to spot, was a little low for my liking. And I probably would have opted for something other than faux-wood accents, but the overall look is rather nice.

Another pleasant amenity -- the ventilated front seats on the RLX Elite -- were put to use during one of Montreal's last hurrahs of summer heat.

There's a lot going on in the centre stack of the RLX, with three separate divisions of displays and controls. From the top, you have a large display screen that serves several functions, from navigation to rear-view camera display and more.

The midsection gets yet another screen -- of the touch variety -- that controls the radio, ventilation and more. And below that is a more traditional knob-and-button setup that allows the driver to toggle through the various systems.

On the RLX Elite, the top-level trim that retails at $62,190 (plus a destination charge of $1,945), there are lots of bells and whistles. The entry-level RLX has a starting price of $49,990, and there's an intermediate RLX Technology available as well.

Among them are driving aids such as adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, a collision mitigation braking system and lane-keep assist system.

For the audiophiles among you, there's a Krell ultra-premium audio system, which has 14 speakers that are music to your ears.

That's all on top of standard features that include precision all-wheel steering (P-AWS), blind-spot monitoring, 12-way power adjustable and heated driver and passenger seats, power moon roof, keyless access and much more.

The P-AWS, Acura says, monitors and calculates the correct amount of independent rear-wheel steering (toe angle) necessary to help the RLX meet driving conditions.

And for the iPhone users out there, Acura has a handy app that allows you to see the status of your vehicle from anywhere in North America.

Like I said, lots of bells and whistles.

The RLX isn't all style and no substance, though. With a 3.5-litre direct injection SOHC, i-VTEC V6 engine, it's no slouch.

Offering up 310 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift, the set-up is appealing and power is not lacking. But if you need some extra gusto, the RLX has a Sport mode button behind the shifter that enhances the steering, cornering and stability.

Fuel efficiency is estimated at 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 6.4 L/100 km on the highway. My average, however, was 12.2 L/100 km.

Thanks to the acoustic glass and other sound-deadening materials, the RLX's cabin is noticeably quiet, with only the slightest noise intrusion under hard acceleration. That made it easy to have conversations, even with the passengers relegated to the rear seats, which can accommodate three in comfort.

The headlights may draw people toward the RLX, but a quick ride in the sedan will do more to convince potential consumers that this is a vehicle worth having on their shopping list.

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013

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