By pushing power to the same wheels that are steering, and with nearly 61% of the car's weight hanging over those front wheels, the RLX meets enthusiastic turns with poor grip and a sloppy line.
Acura claims to have mitigated this Achilles' heel of front-drive cars with what it calls Precision All-Wheel Steer, or P-AWS. This electronic system is standard on all models. It steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction from the front during turns for better agility. It can also move the rear wheels on the same path as the front for quicker lane changes.
Despite the hype, this system only marginally improves the RLX's tendency to plow through curves when pushed. It had an equally minor effect on making the car behave like a proper rear-wheel-drive sedan. There's just not enough electronic lipstick to mask a front-wheel-drive pig.
Eager driving was further discouraged by the transmission's manual mode. Start tapping the standard paddle shifters and the car rolls off upshifts so slowly you'd think they were relayed by carrier pigeon.
Yet other electronic wizardry that's optional on the RLX proved more useful. Our tester had the Advance package, which added a hefty $12,000 to the $49,345 base price. Included in this package is adaptive cruise control, the best lane-keeping assist system we've encountered, and forward collision warning and braking.
This package also added heated and cooled leather seats, a 14-speaker Krell audio system, blind spot monitoring, moon roof and a navigation system with real-time traffic updates. Items including a backup camera, Pandora radio, iPod integration, seven air bags and lane departure warning are standard on all models.
Also standard are what Acura calls Jewel Eye LED headlamps. Together with handsome (non-jeweled) LED taillights, they make up the only interesting element of the RLX exterior. The car certainly isn't ugly, and in the flesh it exudes a conservative yet stately air.
This is all fine until a Jaguar XF pulls up next to you and suddenly you feel as if you're driving the nicest Honda Accord in the world. It's all relative.
Inside the RLX, this feeling continues. To be clear, this Acura has the right amount of leather-covered surfaces, digital screens and dabs of brushed metal and faux-wood that let it lay claim to the luxury club.
The dual-screen setup in the dashboard is a particularly nice touch. One large display screen for the navigation system sits at the center of the console. Below it is a second, smaller touchscreen. Its functions vary between audio and climate, and this layout wisely conserves space. The rest of the cabin is quiet and comfortable.
Yet somehow the insides of the RLX lack the intangible gravitas of something like a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Passengers are further reminded about this by the cheap, hollow noise put out by the suspension when the wheels run over rough surfaces.
Viewed on a macro scale, know that if you find yourself at an Acura store with at least $50,000 to spend on a new car, there's no outright reason not to buy the 2014 RLX. Just don't look across the road at a rival lot that sells any of its peers. You'll quickly learn why Acura dealers always want you to shop there last.