2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid


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Exterior & Styling
The big tipoff distinguishing hybrid from standard Acura RLXs is the "Hybrid" badging on the RLX Sport Hybrid and its smoked grille, as opposed to a brighter finish on conventional RLX models. The smoked grille looked so good to my eyes I think Acura should adopt it for all its models (though that could just be because I've never been a fan of Acura's signature shiny grille).
Overall, the Sport Hybrid version of the Acura RLX is a good-looking, conventional sedan. It's got chiseled features but doesn't do anything to break the mold. It's handsome in a conventional way.

It's a big car, too. For comparison's sake, the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid is 5 inches longer and only 1.4 inches narrower than the midsize Toyota Highlander SUV. Compared with a traditional full-size car, like the Chevrolet Impala, the RLX Sport Hybrid is about 5 inches shorter and 1.4 inches wider.

How It Drives
This is the first area in which the RLX Sport Hybrid's technology really shines, and it does so by not calling attention to itself.
The Sport Hybrid version of the Acura RLX uses a conventional gas engine — a 310-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 — plus three motors (electric), one driving each rear wheel and the third up between the front wheels, in the transmission housing. The setup provides a maximum combined horsepower rating of 377, which is more than the conventional RLX's 310 horsepower. When accelerating from a stop in the hybrid, the electric motors generally power you until the gas engine is needed.

Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is designed to help when cornering by applying power or braking at whatever wheel or wheels at which they're needed. Going around a turn, the inside rear wheel is braked slightly and the outside rear motor speeds up to help the car around. (When the rear wheel is braked, it uses the drag of the electric motor to help charge the hybrid system's battery.)

The standout aspect of all this is that you don't notice it on the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD. There's no sensation that the wheels are being braked, the car just feels planted and turns quickly. You begin driving under electric power, and when the gas engine kicks in it does so quietly, smoothly and unobtrusively. Were it not for a slight noise from the engine, I wouldn't even be aware it was happening. In my book, that's a fantastic thing.

The drive system is a big difference between the all-wheel RLX Sport Hybrid and the competing Lexus GS 450h. The Lexus is rear-wheel drive, so its gas engine and electric motors drive only the rear axle. When the gas engine is off but the car needs more power, there's a weird, inconsistent response in the Lexus that's common to hybrids; it just doesn't get up and go the way the RLX Sport Hybrid — with immediately responding electric motors that only drive the rear wheels — does.

On the highway, the RLX Sport Hybrid's gas engine powers down consistently, allowing the electric motors to propel the car as much as possible. This helps with mileage, but what's really great is that unless I was looking at the tachometer, I didn't notice the gas engine had shut down or powered back up. It's that smooth.

Braking, too, is good … for a hybrid. Which is another way of saying it lacks the consistent, firm feel of traditional brakes, but it's also not horrible. You can feel through your foot that the car isn't braking as a "normal" car would, as it's both harvesting energy for the battery and in some cases also applying traditional brakes. Still, it provided enough consistency to encourage me to drive the car with a bit more aggression than I would other hybrids.

image source www.cars.com
article source https://www.cars.com/reviews/our-view-2016-acura-rlx-sport-hybrid-1420689359029/

Published 10 months ago

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