2014 Acura RLX
2014 Acura RLX
2014 Acura RLX. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Justin Pritchard

Driving is a largely simple task that consists mainly of keeping one’s vehicle between two lines, at a certain speed, and not hitting things like curbs and your fellow motorists. Despite this, new vehicles are more often being fitted with features designed to help drivers keep up with the goings-on in the world around them, possibly taking action to warn of hazards, or even taking control of the car to prevent being involved in a dangerous situation.

One of these cars is the new Acura RLX. Acura’s new flagship landed at dealer lots earlier this year, replacing the poorly selling RL in the automaker’s lineup with a fresh new model. And though the RLX might look largely discreet, quiet and unassuming, it’s the most powerful, high-tech and self-aware vehicle that Honda has ever built for the road.

A showcase of the latest in Acura efficiency, design and luxury, it’s packed with a laundry list of the auto industry’s latest active, semi-autonomous safety features, which will one day render your writer’s test-driving job irrelevant and relegate him to a career of restocking toiletries at the local Super 8.

Here’s the sticky: a network of sensors and radar transmitters and cameras is attached to the RLX’s windshield and body and grille. At any given moment, the RLX is blasting the world around it with more radar waves than a weather station, watching the road ahead via a camera system and analyzing and evaluating what it sees and ‘feels’. If it were any more intelligent and self-aware, they’d have to give it a birth certificate and a name. Hell, it’s a turbine engine and a set of wings away from being able to fly into a battle-zone.

Using information about its surroundings that it’s constantly gathering, the RLX can tell you if there’s a car hiding in your blind spot, if you’re about to plow into the back of the guy ahead of you, if you’re about to back over something, or if you’re drifting out of your lane.

2014 Acura RLX2014 Acura RLX2014 Acura RLX
2014 Acura RLX. Click image to enlarge

Then, without your help, it can even steer you back between the lines if you’re going off the road, or apply its brakes to prevent or minimize a collision. With the cruise control set, it’ll even slow down and speed up automatically based on traffic conditions. If I’ve ever felt like such a small part of the equation of operating a motor vehicle, I don’t know when it was. In the RLX, your writer was, largely, just the clumsy mass of organic tissue that started and stopped the vehicle as it moved around and evaluated and calculated the world around it hundreds of times per second.

But, for now anyways, machines like the RLX still require some human input to drive – so it’s my job to tell you about it.

Take the wheel and the RLX makes its intentions clear from the get-go: this is a car designed to relax your senses, rather than excite them. The cabin is unquestionably upscale – lined to the nines with leather and metallic trim and numerous interfaces and touch-pads and display screens. It’s formal and upscale and high-tech all at once. Virtually any feature that could be automatic, motorized or self-activating, is. It all supports the driver in ‘set it and forget it’ cruising.

Entry and exit is a cinch, most controls fall to easy reach, and there’s a truly generous feel of upscale space around the driver and his passengers.

But it’s all quiet.

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