Archive for the RLX Category

2013 Los Angeles Auto Show with 2theRedline

Posted in Car Show, ILX, RLX on November 22, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  527,902

527902

Odometer (ILX):  60,130

60130

Trip Distance:  767 Miles

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The City of Angels welcomed me this Wednesday & Thursday for a feast of automotive eye candy.  It’s hard to believe that it was already a year ago when my friend Branson and I took my Acura ILX to the 2012 LA Auto Show.  It was time once again to head westward and see the latest reveals from Acura as well as other automakers.

I attended the show as media colleague of the “2theRedline” team.  2theRedline is a YouTube auto review channel with over 30,000 subscribers.  Featured there are hundreds of videos highlighting many late-model vehicles.  Sofyan Bey, host of the channel, takes viewers beyond a simple “specs & walkaround” of the vehicles and instead takes us inside each one and allows us to experience a digital driving experience with his candid & thorough feedback.

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The big debut from Acura was the flagship 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid, Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive.  This sedan is the most powerful in the company’s 28-year history and delivers an impressive 377 horsepower.  On top of all that, it sips fuel, achieving 30 miles per gallon with combined city/highway driving.  The powertrain specs are a tongue-twister:  We’re talking about a V6 engine, but the fine print takes some time to digest:

  • 3.5 Liters
  • Single Overhead Cam
  • Direct Injection
  • i-VTEC (Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control)
  • 7-Speed Dual Clutch Transmission
  • 3 High-Output Electric Motors

That makes for some fun science & engineering, but the bottom line is most important:  This thing scoots.  A first for Acura is the head-up display which can show Sport Hybrid system operation, turn-by-turn navigation, speedometer and compass, as well as alerts from various driver-assistance systems.  Also new to the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD are a push-button transmission gear selector.  Pricing for this model is yet unannounced.  I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and take the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD for a spin.

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Sofyan allowed me to “host” 2theRedline for a 2-minute segment discussing some of the features of this newest iteration of the RLX.

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Check out the video here:

On the Honda side, the star of the show was a car called the “FCEV Concept.”  At Honda’s press conference on Wednesday afternoon, my colleagues and I sat transfixed by the lights, music, and water show that was performed before us — just before a white sheet was pulled off the FCEV for dramatic effect.   The FCEV is Honda’s latest creation in fuel cell powered driving.  Here’s more info on this unique ride:

The curious contraption is powered by a fuel cell that uses a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen to create electrcity, which powers the wheels and the car’s electronics. The result is emission-free motoring, with water and heat the only byproducts. Clean, it most certainly is.  Fuel cell technology has the added benefit of more range (and therefore less worrying about running out before you reach your destination) and faster charging than a standard electric battery.

Range for the FCEV is 300 miles, and it can refuel in just 3 minutes.

fcev_conference

Also, here’s a 10-minute video from my iPhone capturing the complete unveil.

My ILX made the trip to California and back effortlessly.  Even faced with heavy rain in the Riverside area as I made my return trip eastbound on Thursday night, the car was confident and controllable.  I ended up turning over 60,000 miles on the odometer near Quartzsite, Arizona before approaching the Phoenix metro area.

60000

For the rest of the nitty-gritty on this trip as well as the people & cars that made it memorable, enjoy the photo gallery below.  It was a great Auto Show and I’m already looking forward to next year’s.

A lot of people hate the long, sparsely populated stretch of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and the California state line.  I love it.  It’s the type of road where you can set your cruise control and just relax.

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My Garmin Nuvi GPS unit led the way for the drive.

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As I got closer to that CA state line, the sun had started to descend beneath the horizon.

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This, my friends, is my favorite time of day to drive.

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For once, traffic in LA was a breeze.  Within about 6 hours of my departure time from Phoenix, I was arriving in downtown at the Westin Bonaventure hotel.  I met up with my friends there, including Sofyan pictured here.

sofyan_with_ilx

Sofyan and I took my ILX for a spin.  He drives a Fathom Blue ILX 6-speed back at his home in Washington D.C. so he felt right at home!

sofyan_tyson_with_ilx

Redline Productions provided me the Media credential that would allow me into the show.

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Weather in Los Angeles was overcast and a bit wet for my two-day visit, but our view from the 20th floor of the hotel was still pretty nice to look at.

view_from_hotel

Arriving at day 1 of the auto show: Sofyan and I were ready to geek out on all the shiny new rides.

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I made a beeline for the Acura exhibit, of course.  Here was the new RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD in all its glory.

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rlx_rear

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Notice that push-button transmission selector on the center console.

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The entire Acura booth is new & improved this year with a fresh redesign.  The RLX and MDX were featured on turntables, with the rest of the Acura models (black in color) surrounding the center stage.  There was no NSX on display this time.

acura_booth

The ILX there was a 6-speed manual.

ilx_at_show

I met up with a good friend from Atlanta named Davis who runs Rockland Media.

davis_adams_with_tyson

On the automaker side, I met up with Chuck Schifsky, Manager of Acura Public Relations.  Chuck asked how the ILX was doing and I happily gave him a full report.

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Here’s John Watts, Sr. Manager of Digital Marketing.  John played a key role in my Drive to Five celebration as well as my entry into the ILX ownership world.  He and I have continued to keep in touch over the years.

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Finally, I met up with Alicia Jones (National Manager, Honda & Acura Social Marketing) and Lauren Ebner (Assistant Manager of Social Media at Honda).  These ladies are fun to visit with and I always look forward to reconnecting with them at events like these.  Social media is a lot more difficult to manage than it looks!

alicia_tyson_lauren

The new Civic coupe sports a fresh front end for 2014, as well as some new technology including push-button start for certain trim levels.

civic_coupe_front

Honda Accord Hybrid was named as 2014 Green Car of the Year, thanks to its remarkable 50 mpg rating.

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A few non-Honda/Acura cars also caught my eye.  One was the Cadillac Elmiraj concept.

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The new Subaru WRX was unveiled before a huge spectator crowd.

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Beautiful Audi R8 in matte blue – I enjoyed!

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Just hanging out inside a $400k Lexus LFA!

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Jackson, Sofyan, Rob, and Tyson – finishing out day 1 at the auto show.

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I had considered attending an after-party in West Hollywood sponsored by one of the automakers, but I took one glance at the map and decided against that idea.  Look at all that red!  LA traffic at its finest.

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Day 2 of the show was a little more laid-back.  Each automaker had brought out its entire fleet for display.

sofyan_at_honda_booth

I had the opportunity to meet a celebrity!  Brian Cooley, host of “CNET on Cars” auto reviews, was filming a piece on a Ford Fusion Plug-In, and I approached him to get a picture.

tyson_with_brian_cooley

I was star-struck!  What a great time at the LA Auto Show.

In closing, what you can’t see in my hand in the below picture is a license plate.  An ARIZONA license plate.  Yes, my friends, I have now taken full custody of the ILX and made it my own!

tyson_with_ilx_license_plate

This means the ILX and I are in it for the long haul, and you can expect to see a whole lot more in the future as I continue to explore the country in my Acura.  Thanks to all of you for reading!

ilx_plate

Drive to Five Review: 2014 Acura RLX Advance

Posted in Arizona, RLX, Road Trip, Vehicle Reviews on November 13, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (RLX):  7,339

7339

Odometer (ILX):  59,099

59099

Odometer (Legend):  527,807

527807

The Acura RLX greeted me with “Come on in, Tyson,” by illuminating its exterior door handle as I approached the driver’s side.  I stepped carefully over the stainless steel door sill and settled into the ivory-skinned bucket seat.  My index finger instinctively went for the start button and awakened 310 well-trained horses from their slumber.  The subtle sound of Jazz music drifted through the airwaves via 14 high-end speakers, and the car’s automatic climate control immediately customized the cabin environment to my liking.  This, my friends, was not just a car.  It was a full-blown, Acura-fied luxury travel experience and I had just scored a front-row seat.

RLX Heritage

In its day, the Acura Legend was the biggest and the best that the Honda lineup of automobiles had to offer.  When my Legend LS coupe was new in 1994, it sold for a whopping $41,885.   For comparison, a top-line Honda Accord EX at the time was $19,950.  The Legend flagship had features that were far ahead of its time.  Twenty years later, the Acura RLX carries on that same mission:  It delivers unsurpassed tech features, the most advanced safety systems in the industry, and performance levels that only sports cars could dream of in the 1990’s.

Here’s the RLX ancestry summarized in simple list form:

  • 1986 – 1995:  Acura Legend
  • 1996 – 2013:  Acura RL
  • 2014+:  Acura RLX

Generations 1, 2, and 5:

legends

Generation 3:  This was my mom’s 2000 3.5 RL that we loved dearly.

rl1

A year ago, I traveled to the Los Angeles Auto Show for the debut of the all-new RLX Concept.  The world was mesmerized by its Jewel Eye headlamps and its innovative Precision All-Wheel Steering (P-AWS).

rlx_under_cover

It’s time to now put that design to a real-world Drive to Five evaluation.  The latest iteration of Acura’s flagship sedan brings more to the table than ever before;  I shared the extensive list of features of this car in my post linked above, so I won’t go into those details again.  Let’s cut to the chase:  How’s it perform?

rlx_88

Where To This Time, Tyson?

The engineers of the RLX have gone to great lengths to give it optimal handling and balance.  I thought it fitting that I would put that P-AWS to test in a drive with several friends on one of Arizona’s curviest roads:  the Catalina Highway.

road_to_summerhaven

Constructed in 1933 as a way to reach the resort town of Summerhaven from Tucson, Arizona, the Catalina Highway climbs over 6,000 feet in a distance of 27 miles.  And these aren’t leisurely miles.  This is the type of highway where “both-hands-on-the-wheel” attention is critical.  Catalina is loaded with hairpin curves, narrow shoulders, and blind corners — all great elements for a thrill ride.  I took the ILX there last year.

catalina_highway

My tester RLX was dressed in the color that every luxury sedan looks best in:  Black.  The Crystal Black Pearl RLX that I drove this week was equipped with both the Tech package and the Advance package.

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ilx_rlx

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After logging over 300 miles in the RLX on Saturday, I felt like I could hop back in the driver’s seat and easily do it all over again.  To that end, I have discovered perhaps the RLX’s best attribute: It’s a car that makes every drive seem effortless.  Its quiet, composed, and predictable behavior makes it comfortable for any distance.  I would, without hesitation, drive the RLX to Fairbanks, Alaska and back.  Twice.

My friend Ryan, who drives a 2006 Acura TL, stated, “The ergonomics are very Honda.”  It takes just a few minutes to get comfortable and to become acquainted with the key controls.  The interior design is masterfully executed in both form and function.  Two-tone door panels add visual interest and the sweeping instrument panel gives a feeling of cavernous interior dimensions.  I’m quite certain the rear seat leg room is better than any first class airline.  Oh, and those back seats are heated, too.

tyson_driving_rlx

Canyon Carving

Now here’s where I wanted to lure out the RLX’s alter-ego.  Inside that chiseled body and vault-like interior, does this car have a heartbeat?  Can it evoke any kind of performance driving excitement?  I assure you, after absolutely mashing the RLX accelerator to the floor and flying up the Catalina Highway, the answer is a resounding YES.

Most people wouldn’t take a luxury car in hot pursuit of a more powerful 2-seater sportscar, but that’s exactly what I did.  When Matt set an aggressive pace up Mount Lemmon in his Nissan 370Z 6-speed, the RLX was right there on his tail.  Sport Mode, I discovered, changes the entire personality of the RLX.  Shift points are modifed.  Engine response is notably different.  And when pushed, the RLX chassis is composed and firm.  When others in our 8-car caravan were having to cut corners in the twisties, I was able to keep the car within my lane and retain absolute control over its direction.  Dare I say it?  This car was fun to toss around.  And “toss” isn’t a word that you usually associate with a vehicle that weighs 4,000 pounds and has features like a power rear window sunshade.

With the stereo blasting Sirius XM channel 51 (BPM), all 4 windows down and the moonroof wide open, I was in my element, calling those 310 willing horses into action.  On one leg of the trip, I had a passenger, Jack, comment, “This thing has some growl when you get on it!”  He wasn’t kidding.  The engine note from the direct-injected 3.5 liter V6 is addicting; one listen and you’ll want to hold the car in gear with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and let it sing all the way to the redline.  That’s what I did.

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rlx_370z

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Return to Phoenix

After having my faith in Acura’s “Precision Crafted Performance” heritage reinforced, my friends and I headed back to Phoenix with our hodge-podge of vehicles.  The RLX feels right at home at 80 mph on the interstate.  In fact, the cabin was so quiet that Jack was asleep in the passenger seat for a good chunk of the drive.

The RLX is just about as close as you can get to an autonomous car:  With the lane-keeping assist system (LKAS) activated, the car will retain its position in a lane.  If the driver removes his or her hands from the wheel long enough, it will prompt with a message “Steering Required” to make sure he or she is awake.  The adaptive cruise control made my trip a breeze – even with notoriously heavy traffic on the Tucson-to-Phoenix I-10 corridor.  The car maintained a preset distance from the vehicle ahead of us.  These types of features would make a long drive amazing.

picacho_gas_station

Real-World Insights – Pros:

  • The ultimate cross-country ride.  Very refined, quiet and smooth on the highway.  Zero wind noise.  The doors close solidly.  The car has “substance” and feels quality throughout.  Grant Road in Tucson is in horrible shape, but the RLX made it bearable.
  • Comfort is top-notch.  Ventilated seats work almost immediately – a feature that would be used frequently here in Phoenix.
  • Safety and driver-assistance features are great helps, especially the adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist systems.
  • Competent canyon carver.  Despite its size, the RLX suspension is confidence-inspiring.  P-AWS is subtle yet important for helping this big car feel nimble in tight cornering situations.
  • Luxury is cutting edge.  Love the little touches like power folding sideview mirrors.  Jack said, “Now this is luxury” when he was playing with the rear window sunshades.

group1

Cons:

  • Front-wheel-drive platform does exhibit some tire spin from hard acceleration.  AWD will help this car launch with more authority.
  • Dual-screen instrument panel interface is often duplicative in nature.  When I changed the music volume via the steering wheel control, it showed the audio level in 3 separate places!  Also, the album art is teeny and there appears to be plenty of space to make it bigger.
  • For a $61k car, it should have foglights.

Final Take

The Acura RLX gets more than its share of criticism.  I heard, “Looks like an Impala,” a couple of times this week while showing it off.  And some people will never get over the front end styling no matter how much Acura refines it.  But I honestly feel like if everyone who judged this car would take a few moments in the driver’s seat before declaring it a failure, their ballots would swing completely in the other direction.

The RLX brought just a huge grin to my face as I threw it around the corners at Mount Lemmon, and it pampered me in the process.  The travel experience in the RLX can be as engaging OR as effortless as the driver wishes to make it.  That’s the beauty of this car.  Want to rocket up the mountain and hug those curves?  Great.  Feeling drained after a hectic workday?  I can think of no better vehicle to commute in.  The RLX can play many roles, and I can say with certainty that it’s a vehicle I would be proud to own.  Thanks to Acura for the loan!

Here are the rest of the pictures & a video from Saturday’s adventure.

Kelvin, Jim, Brad pre-departure

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Staging for the trip:  NSX, 370Z, RS5, TL SH-AWD

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The guys, chatting it up before leaving the Phoenix area

pre_departure

Kelvin checks out the interior of the RLX

kelvin_inside_rlx

I guess the Acuras didn’t get the “let’s back in” parking memo.  Nick’s Aztec Red Nissan Z was by far the lowest vehicle of the bunch.

parking

How’s that synchro-rev tranny treating you, Matt?

matt_in_370z

Taking a breather at Windy Point lookout, about halfway to the summit.  Will, Matt, Alan, Paul, Kurt, Nick

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What was Kurt pointing at here?

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Little hike to a scenic overlook:  Allen, Paul, Brad, Tyson

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Soaking up the scenery:  Kurt, Paul, Nick

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The guys admiring some of those RLX lines

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Two sport coupes with completely different missions

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Lunch at Fortunato’s Italian Deli on Tanque Verde Rd in Tucson

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Will gets cozy in the RLX driver seat

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Kelvin takes a peek at its 3.5-liter engine

kelvin_rlx_engine

And Kurt… well, I don’t know what Kurt was doing here

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A look at the RLX dual-screen interface

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Rolling back home

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And a sunset pic with the Acura brothers, Tyson and Paul

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Thanks as always to my friends for joining for the drive, whether in person or via the blog.

Acura RLX Close-Up & a 1,000-Horsepower Pickup

Posted in RLX on April 25, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  521,877

521877

Odometer (ILX):  35,228

35228

Is anyone else out there as addicted to craigslist as I am?  Sometimes it’s just entertaining to browse and see what’s out there.  My friend Jason taught me an interesting trick:  Click into the “Free” section of your town’s craigslist page, then hit the button for “Map View.”  You’ve just given yourself a birds-eye look at anything within range that might be worth getting up off the couch or office chair to go pick up!  Around these parts, it’s usually just free dirt, but you never know!

Anyway, here are some nice finds from the Automotive section.  First, a sweet low-mileage Legend sedan for any Dto5 followers who might be interested!  It’s not every day you see a 1995 model year with only 28,000 miles on it.  Check it out here on craigs in Syracuse, NY.

syracuse_legend

Have you ever seen a nice interior?  This one is Type-E (Taupe) – the same interior color as my Legend.

syracuse_legend_interior

The only thing that struck me as odd on this one is how the owner has “double-badged” the car.  Notice how the trunk lid has L E G E N D spelled out in the center (proper 1994-1995 badging), but then also the smaller LEGEND at top right.

syracuse_exterior

And here’s another super nice coupe in New Jersey, for those who prefer 2 doors instead of 4.  This is a 1991 Legend LS coupe.  It’s got 45,000 miles and available for $9,000.  The pricetag is a bit of a shocker, but to a collector, it could be a bargain!

1991_Legend_coupe

Random Legend-related video:  Remember Cash for Clunkers in 2009?  I know of a few people who “cashed out” by sending Acura Legends to scrap.  Here’s one Legend’s death caught on camera.  Looks like a Cashmere Silver Metallic L or LS sedan with 206,000 miles on the odometer.  It probably could’ve gone much farther.  This video gives me nightmares!

On Wednesday, my 2013 ILX received its 7th oil change, and still at the same dealership where I picked up the car new last June.

While I was waiting for the ILX to be serviced,  Acura of Tempe salesman “Josh” took the time to give me the complete tour of the all-new 2014 Acura RLX.  The Bellanova White Pearl RLX on display had over 600 miles on it; it’s been the demo car for the last several weeks.  It’s equipped with the Technology (Navigation) package but not the top-line “Advance” package.  Still, the car definitely impresses. It’s a $54k ride in this trim.

tyson_with_acura_rlx

Here are a few of my observations from my short walk-around and test drive:

  • P-AWS (“Precision All Wheel Steering”) does feel a lot like my old 1989 Prelude Si 4WS.  The back end “kicks out” a bit under very tight cornering at low speeds.  It can take some getting used to but the response is great!
  • Acura has gone to great lengths to make this a quiet ride!  The side windows are double-paned – you can actually see both layers of glass pressed together when you roll them down.  The cabin is whisper quiet.
  • This car has a ton of room.  Even with a 6′ tall driver positioned with more than ample leg room up front, I had tons of extra space behind him in the back seat.
  • The trunk pops open ALL the way with the remote key fob, instead of just springing ajar lightly like most do.
  • Power folding sideview mirrors are a nice touch.
  • The center console / armrest opens MULTIPLE different ways (from the left, the right, and front).  There’s cavernous storage both there and in the trunk.
  • I really love the high gloss trim on the interior.
  • RLX has two different screens – one larger 8″ screen mounted high in the instrument panel (map) and another lower near where a radio would be.  The climate control functions are unique:  You can pull up a screen that shows a range of temperatures and just touch the “number” of the desired degree, instead of scrolling up/down.
  • Radio volume on the steering wheel is a rolling wheel instead of a toggling switch.  I like that – it seems much more intuitive.
  • Power on tap is more than ample.  This 3.5 liter V6 is Acura’s first direct injection motor.
  • Capless fueling is innovative.
  • The doors sound with a resounding “thunk” solidly.  This is the kind of thing we expect from a flagship model from a luxury automaker.  I like it.

Here’s a look at that capless fueling system.

rlx_capless_fueling

The interior trim that I enjoy.  Notice that the RLX also has a push-button parking brake and a feature called “Brake Hold.”  The Brake Hold keeps the car at a standstill without having having a foot on the brake, whereas other cars would idle forward.  The feature can be deactivated.  It’d take some getting used to.

rlx_console_and_e_brake

That double-paned glass I was mentioning earlier.

RLX_double_pane_glass

Logical gauge layout – something I’m already used to seeing.

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Here dual screen layout of the instrument panel.

RLX_instrument_panel

And that spacious rear passenger area.  All it needs is a footrest and it’ll be as accommodating as that Amtrak ride I took a couple months ago!

RLX_interior_rear

Overall, this car looks like a winner.  And even Motor Trend agrees.  Check out this article where the RLX was pronounced a winner versus the Cadillac XTS4.

rlx_right_rear

The new RLX is nicely executed!  Well done, Acura.

Breaking News about “Breaking Point”!  

While I strive for maximum engine durability on my Acura from a mileage perspective, my brothers strive for maximum durability from a POWER perspective.

The gearhead in me has always wanted to see an engine blow up.  My brothers, Bentley and Payton, pushed a GMC diesel pickup to its limits today and had that very thing happen.  H&S Performance is a Utah-based company that specializes in diesel pickup performance.  The level of power that can be unleashed from today’s Ford, Diesel, and Chevy diesel engines is pretty unreal. Bentley is co-founder of the business and Payton drives the truck and operates the dyno.

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Today, they achieved a whopping 1,086 horsepower and 1,911 lb-feet of torque from an “LML” motor in a Duramax truck that has stock internal components (injectors and the like).  These guys kept throwing more power at it by way of nitrous oxide (NOS) to see just how much it could possibly take.  In the end, this truck blew past the 1,000 horsepower mark and spewed oil all over the floor when a rod punched a hole through the engine block while the truck was running 3 shots of nitrous on a dyno run in 6th gear.  That’s some serious power!

This is the victim truck:

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Bentley and Casey, H&S founders, pictured here:

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The end result?  Carnage.  Oil and engine parts all over the shop floor.

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The final video is still pending, but in the meantime, the entire 3-hour live feed from Breaking Point 2 available online.  The truck’s 1,086-horsepower run starts at about 3 hours 46 minutes, and the catastrophic blow-up dyno run starts around 3 hours 56 minutes.  Tune in.  It’s worth a watch.  Here’s the site link:  Breaking Point 2.  And the video, here.

Can’t wait to see what they destroy next.  And you can bet I won’t be handing them the keys to my ILX anytime soon.

NALM 2013 Announcement & Acura RLX Reviews

Posted in NALM, RLX on February 15, 2013 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  519,715

519715

Odometer (ILX):  27,319

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I’ve always loved being on the go.  Check out the scowl on my face while I rolled around on this Big Wheel in the early 1980’s in northern Utah.  Road rage?

tyson_riding_big_wheel

Later I graduated to a “big kid’s” bike.  However, those mismatched tires weren’t very stylish.

tyson_riding_bike

I guess I’ve come a long way!  Here’s the ILX on a chilly (for Phoenix!) morning.  Only twice have I had to activate the defrosters on the mirrors and the rear window.  This was one of those days.

frozen_acura_ilx

But once the Arizona sunshine comes out, it’s a gorgeous time of year for us.  I took the Legend to work just one day this week.  Here’s a picture at a church building on Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale, Arizona:

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Saguaro Cactus off Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard:

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And northbound on Highway 87 for a quick afternoon run up the mountain:

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Sunset time:

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Hwy_87_acura_legend

Fueling up in Payson, Arizona.  This sign surprised me — not the speed limit, but the fact that they use radar in a 25 mph zone!  Can you picture a cop alongside the road with his radar gun nabbing people for going 35 in a 25?  I guess it could happen!

Mazatzal_Payson_Arizona_Acura_Legend

Now in its 9th year, the National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) brings together Acura owners and enthusiasts from around the country for an annual gathering.  Last July, NALM was hosted by a team of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I drove my (then month-old) 2013 Acura ILX the nearly 4,000 miles round-trip to attend.  It was the first year that my 1994 Legend wasn’t present at a NALM since the event’s first year in 2005 in Dallas, Texas.

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wisconsin

Today, it was announced that the 2013 event will be held in Asheville, North Carolina from August 22-26, 2013.  If I’m able to pull this off, it’ll be a 3,990-mile round-trip long-haul.  And I think I’ll bring the Legend back since it was absent last year.  Is the old car (and am I!) up to a 4,000 mile trip?  We shall see.

scottsdale_to_asheville

The Legend went in for its 160th oil change at Acura of Tempe this week at 519,701 miles.  The technician was extremely thorough in his inspection and made a list of quite a few maintenance recommendations:

  • Front differential seal
  • Driver’s side steering rack boot
  • Passenger side inner CV boot
  • Passenger side lower ball joint bushing

He indicated that these leaks (at this point, anyway) are minor and do not affect driveability.  I’ll hold tight on having any repairs done at this point.  The car still runs & drives just as smooth as can be.

While I waited for my car’s service, I enjoyed the amenities of the Customer Lounge.

Laptop_Acura_of_Tempe

I peeked into the service bay (looking to see if my car was on the lift, of course) and I spotted the all-new 2014 Acura RLX in there.  Two of them, actually.

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That sure is a light colored interior!  This is the inside of a black RLX.  The instrument panel has two touch-screens.

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The RLX will be priced between $48,500 and $60,000 depending on how it’s equipped:  Base, Navigation, Technology, and Advance.

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This car boasts 6 world technology firsts and 13 Acura technology firsts in a press release that was distributed today.  In addition to the innovative P-AWS (Precision All Wheel Steering), it’ll also offer the following which I thought were pretty cool:

  • LKAS (Lane Keeping Assist System):  Detects lane markings on the road and actively assists the driver in keeping the car in a detected lane.
  • Automatic Brake Hold:  Maintains the vehicle’s position without the driver having to maintain pressure on the brake pedal.  This one I’d have to experience to see if I like it or not!  I’d be afraid not to “hover” my foot over the brake pedal just in case the car started rolling again.

Autoblog posted a review of the RLX and said that it handled ‘light on its feet’ for being a nearly 4,000 pound car.  A video posted to YouTube today by the Temple of VTEC shows some of the all-wheel-steering action.  That 3.5-liter, 310-horsepower powerplant sounds great under wide-open throttle.

This car technically has sixteen (16!) headlights.  These are a patented design called “Jewel Eyes” – a first for Acura AND for the industry.

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Simon, the technician who installed the accessories on my ILX last June, was working on putting some bodyside moldings on the white RLX.  He said that the car handles amazingly.  Can’t wait to try one out!

I’m off to southern California in the Acura ILX tomorrow morning with two friends so stay tuned for a write-up in the near future!  Check out the picture that new owner “tech332” (Danny) from Texas put together for his Silver Moon ILX. The top image is of his car, and the bottom is a photoshop rendering of the look he’s going for.  Pretty cool!  Thanks, Danny, for sharing.

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Acura RL: 472,000 Miles in 10 Years

Posted in Milestones, RLX on January 10, 2013 by tysonhugie

The Acura RL (so-named for its “refined luxury”) was born in 1996 as the Acura brand’s top-line replacement for the Legend which ran from model years 1986 to 1995.

Since then, the RL has undergone a number of refinements and performance enhancements to showcase the brand’s capabilities.  A sophisticated all-wheel-drive system called Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) debuted on the 2005 model.  Navigation capability, active (swiveling) headlights, power folding mirrors, and an innovative wheel noise-quieting technology called a “Helmholtz resonator” were also adds to the long list of notable features over the years.

Despite its perceived value and reputation, the RL was never a high selling model, topping the list of worst-selling vehicles in 2011 at only about 1,000 units.  It didn’t do any better in 2012 but was excluded from the contest since it was set to be discontinued after the 2012 model year.  Few have appreciated what the RL has to offer.

Last month in Los Angeles, the RL’s successor, RLX was unveiled, set to go on sale as a 2014 model.  My write-up about the experience at the auto show is found here in a prior Drive to Five post.

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One of the many Acuras my family has owned was this 2000 3.5 RL, finished in beautiful Nighthawk Black Pearl with black leather interior and the Premium package.  This picture was taken on May 2, 2005 when I picked up the car at just 22,000 miles on the odometer from its original owner named Terry in Concord, California.

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That trip will forever live on as one of my favorite car memories.  A delayed bank funds transfer for the purchase price of the car meant I needed to stay one night at the seller’s home.  He was gracious enough to allow me.  The 680-mile drive home to Utah was a rewarding experience – the first time I’d been in a vehicle so plush and refined.  My mom went on to drive that RL to about the 50,000 mile mark, at which time it was sold to my uncle who’s still driving it today.

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Elsewhere in the family, this beautiful Heather Mist Metallic 1997 3.5 RL resides in the garage of my grandma.  She’s driven it since 2004 and it only has about 118,000 miles on the odometer.  Mechanically it’s been a great ride, though one mishap does stand out in my memory.  We were coming home from Beaver, Utah via I-15 southbound and the right rear window rolled down part-way but wouldn’t roll back up.  It was raining, too.  I’ll never forget my aunt Jodi’s flustered face as she shoved a pillow into the window’s gap in a vain attempt to keep the water out.

Keen Acura eyes will note that this car is equipped with 7-spoke OEM wheels from the 2002 model year instead of the 1997-issued ones which to me always shared a resemblance to a pie plate.

Why all the talk about RL’s today?  I came across a contender on Autotrader this afternoon for the next Drive to Five celebration.  This nice looking 2003 model in Ohio has racked up a whopping 472,000 miles.  That means that whoever drove this thing has been putting more miles on it (per year) than even I drive.  At 472,000 miles over 10 years, that’s 129 miles per day, 365 days a year, for 10 years.  Has this car ever been parked longer than a few minutes?

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Somebody needs to buy this thing and drive it another 27,648 miles so it, too, can achieve Legendary status.

Any takers at $5,495?

LA Show Day 2 & Return Trip to AZ

Posted in California, Car Show, ILX, RLX on November 29, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  21,174

Los Angeles is notorious for its love of cars.  Perhaps that’s why the city is home to the worst traffic in the country.  But along with that congestion, the city’s residents also embrace automotive technology and there is no place where “car culture” thrives more than in southern California.  Day 2 at the press days of the LA Auto Show was every bit as exciting as the first.  Here’s how it played out.

After a drizzly 18-mile commute to the Los Angeles Convention Center in the ILX, we paid our $15 and stashed the car away in a parking deck.

First stop was the Honda booth, as big things were to be announced there.  Staked out in our second-row seats for the 10:05 a.m. press conference, we waited.

The big news?  This car.  Honda’s Civic has been around since 1973.  By 2012, the car had been through 8 different generations.  But just one year after the new 2012 bodystyle, the Civic was redone yet again.  Meet the 2013 Civic Si Sedan.  New front and rear fascia, revised interior finishes, additional technology and safety features are among the changes that were made.

As Honda Senior Vice President John Mendel announced during the press conference, this new Civic is appropriate as 2013 marks the 40th year of its existence.  Jeff Conrad, Acura VP, stopped by and we visited for a few minutes.

I also reconnected with John Watts.  John’s the Sr. Manager of Digital Marketing at Acura who presented me with the key to to my new 2013 Acura ILX back in June.  John and I talked about his recent travels to the Grand Canyon in his new Crystal Black Pearl RDX.  John also told me that he’d visited the Skywalk.  I’m jealous – I’ll be heading out that way soon, too, I hope.  Any excuse for a road trip!

Here’s a shot of the 2013 Civic EX Sedan.

A few other sights from around the Honda booth and beyond.  This fun little roadster is called the EV-Ster.  It’s all electric.

And this was a nicely modified Honda Accord coupe put together by Honda Racing Development.

The Accord Hybrid will have industry-leading fuel economy.  We learned during the Honda press conference that this car is capable of 49 mpg city and 47 mpg combined.  Impressive!

A spy encounter.  This is none other than Brenda Priddy, of Brenda Priddy & Co, specializing in automotive spy photography.  She gave me a BP&Co wristband which I wore proudly!

I’m really digging this new Lincoln MK-Z.  But would you believe that a car this large is only powered by a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder?

Here’s a new innovation that’s going to make its way to Acura as well.  Capless fueling!

I’m not a Ford guy but I have to admit, there’s something hot about the latest iteration of the Fusion.

What’s not to love about a Porsche 911 Carrera S?  Yum.

Finally, the Acura booth.  Since Acura held its press conference yesterday, there was no longer a reason to keep several rows’ worth of plastic chairs in the space any longer.  The full model line-up was brought in.

The beloved TSX Special Edition.  This car is powered by the same 2.4 liter, 201-horsepower 4 cylinder that my ILX 6-speed is.

RDX, ILX, TSX

ILX and RLX:  Entry level and flagship sedan.  Two different sedans, same Acura philosophy — luxury at any price.

I love that Acura chose to present its models in a uniform color — elegant black.  Nothing says “luxury car” like a spotless, gleaming black paint job.

These are some handsome looking back ends.

This ILX 2.0 with Technology package had only 4 miles on the odometer.  I played around for a bit with the navigation interface.

Finally, it was time to make our way eastward and return to Phoenix.  This was taken as we ramped up to Interstate 10 which would be our only freeway from that point forward.  The LA-to-Phoenix drive is a piece of cake if you’re directionally challenged.

$3.99 / gal for some 91 octane at the Chevron in Palm Desert again.

Yeah, I relinquished the driver’s seat for a couple of hours!  I don’t mind zoning out and reclining once in awhile.

This was a pretty clever way to communicate a safety message.  Check out the yellow signs on the back doors of this 18-wheeler.

The California desert, after rising in elevation from the Indio area.

Once I got back into the driver’s seat, we realized just how handy the ILX’s dual climate zones are.  I like it chilly, Branson likes it hot.  We were both happy.

I can never resist a nice sunset photoshoot.  These were taken just west of Blythe, California on a deserted offramp.

It’s good to be home!  Back to work I go tomorrow.  It was awesome to see the latest & greatest from Acura and from other vehicle manufacturers at this year’s LA Auto Show.  I’m excited about automotive trends and more than anything else, I loved the chance to meet & greet some of the great folks BEHIND the cars that I so love.  For some of us, cars (and Acuras specifically) are a huge part of our lives.  My good friend John Bazay is an example of that.

John has already photoshopped his ideal Acura RLX.  Check out this beauty sitting on Vossen wheels.  The car’s not even on sale and yet people like John are already planning what they’ll do with it.  That, my friends, is how to recognize a true enthusiast!

G’nite!

ILX in LAX! Los Angeles Int’l Auto Show

Posted in California, Car Show, ILX, RLX, Road Trip on November 28, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  20,775

“Flagship.”  It’s a term referring to a vehicle that embodies the ultimate expression of an automaker’s capability.  In Acura’s case, it was a position that was held by the Legend for 10 years, from 1986 to 1995.  Then came the RL in 1996, running 17 years and retiring as a 2012 model.  The successor is now here, and it’s dressed to impress.  The 2014 Acura RLX was unveiled today, and I was there when the sheet was pulled off the production model.  I’ve been to lots of auto shows this year!  It all started with Detroit in January.  I also saw SEMA and Phoenix.  The latest destination was to Los Angeles, California for this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Just two days after having returned from my Thanksgiving trip to Utah, I saddled up once again in the ILX for a long road trip.  This time, though, I had a copilot.  My Acura Legend-owning friend Branson joined for the ride.  Branson’s 1995 Legend LS coupe 6-speed is Cayman White Pearl and has only 143,000 miles it:

The drive from Phoenix to LA was around 400 miles.  Piece of cake for the ILX.  Branson’s a fun road-trip partner.  Though his OCD tendencies make things interesting sometimes (he absolutely refuses to let me set the volume at level 13 or the temperature at 73!), we have a great time laughing our way to our destinations.

Fueling up in Tonopah, Arizona just west of the Phoenix area on Interstate 10.  Branson also picked up some Powerball tickets here.  With $500M up for grabs, who wouldn’t want a shot at that?

Typical gorgeous Arizona sunset.  For a change of pace, I took the passenger seat and had Branson pilot us westward.

Too much sugar in my system.  Thanks Twizzlers Nibs.

And some rockin’ tunes to provide a soundtrack for our drive.

Fuel stop in Indio, California at Chevron.

Finally arriving in the LA area around 9:00 p.m. local time, we crossed underneath the LAX airport runway on Sepulveda Rd and got to our hotel called “Custom Hotel” on Lincoln Boulevard.  The ILX got valet parked for its first time since I’ve had it!  This is a valet-only hotel (and parking is $20 a night!  Ouch!).

The rooms are cool, though – some 1960’s decor in here including a multi-colored strobe light in the windows.  Flashy.

This morning – first things first!  After a 30 minute drive to the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown LA on Figueroa Street, Branson and I got our media credentials.

The Acura booth was the first destination – of course.  We were greeted with some impressive design in the booth itself, and the new tagline for the RLX flagship which we’d soon see unveiled:  “Synergy of Man and Machine.”

Someone left the headlights on when they installed that car cover!

Some may recognize this car.  The Acura NSX concept vehicle.  I’ll take it!

Branson and I are soaking in all the shiny scenery.

Soon it was time for the big reveal.  Here’s a video of the first few minutes of the (total 20-minute) presentation after the cover was pulled off the RLX and it spun around before our eyes on the giant turntable.

Having owned a Honda Prelude 4WS (Four-Wheel-Steering) in the past, one of the features I was most interested in learning about on the RLX is called PAWS (Precision All Wheel Steering).

Here’s a little excerpt from today’s press release discussing the innovative technology:

Precision All-Wheel Steer™ (P-AWS) is the world’s first technology to feature independent and continuous control of the left and right rear-wheel steering (toe) angles to achieve new levels of handling agility, high- and low-speed maneuverability, and confident handling control for a two-wheel-drive luxury sedan.

Sounds pretty sweet to me!  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Check out this long list of features!

  • Jewel-Eye LED headlights (an Acura first) LED lamps enhance the RLX’s modern and distinctive appearance while providing outstanding light distribution and improved down-the-road illumination.
  • Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™ offers a wide range of search options including local search functionality and AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic™ for both highways and surface streets.
  • Agile Handling Assist (an Acura first) uses active braking to help the driver smoothly and easily trace the desired line through a curve with smaller steering inputs.
  • Electric Parking Brake (an Acura first) provides one-touch parking brake activation.
  • Automatic Brake Hold (an Acura first) maintains the vehicle’s position when the driving or parking brake are released until the throttle is depressed.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (an Acura first), allows the RLX to independently maintain a set following distance in low-speed traffic situations, including stop and go traffic, and to initiate vehicle braking when necessary.
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW) uses a camera mounted in the upper portion of the windshield to detect vehicles ahead of the RLX and audibly and visually alert the driver when it determines a frontal collision with a detected vehicle is possible.
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) uses the same windshield-mounted camera to detect lane markings on the road and alerts the driver if the vehicle is wandering from a detected lane.
  • Front seatbelt e-pretensioners use electronic control to reduce belt tension under normal driving conditions, while also enabling automatic belt tensioning in hard cornering maneuvers or in the event of a collision.
  • Multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines uses guidelines that reflect steering wheel inputs on the display to aid in backup maneuvers.
  • Capless fueling (an Acura first) eliminates the fuel cap and improves ease of fueling.

Some more pictures below captured the crowd’s excitement after Jeff Conrad’s remarks.  He invited the press to come forward and join him in getting a closer look at the car.

The first of several (to me) “celebrity” encounters.  This is Scott who is an integral part of Acura’s social media program.

Acura Vice President Jeff Conrad  – someone who’s diligently followed my Legend / ILX adventures since we first met at the Drive to Five event a year ago.

And Sage Marie – Acura Sr. Manager of Public Relations – AND the lucky individual who will get to drive the race-tuned 2013 Acura ILXs at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance race event soon.  This guy’s got some driving skills!

Finally this guy – a true Acura pioneer.  Kurt Antonius retired not long ago, but his history with the brand dates back to before it even existed.  Kurt is one of the key individuals who built Acura into what it is today from its early beginnings in 1986.  He told me about how Acura was originally code named “Channel 2” before it even had a real name.  It was great to visit with him again.

Checking out the technology in the RLX interior.  Even the glove compartment is electronic push-button activated!

Lunch at Rivera just a couple blocks away with some of my friends from the Social Media team.

And walking back to the Los Angeles Convention Center in overcast but comfortable weather.

As much as I would’ve loved to spend all day in the Acura booth (in fact, given the option I would’ve loved to put up a camping tent and live there), I did wander around the show.  Here are a couple of other cars that caught my eye.  This was the Infiniti “LE” concept vehicle.  It’s 100% zero emissions.

This gorgeous ride is the Lexus LF-LC.  That color is just stunning – the photo does it no justice!

This was the Audi booth.  The big news there is that Audi is rolling out 3 “TDI” (diesel) models – including the A6, the A7, the A8 and the Q5.   Clean diesel is becoming a huge piece of the market for Audi.  The president of the company reported during the press conference that 33% of the A3’s sold currently are diesel powertrains.

Exhausted and ready to roll out for the night!

It was fitting that this song – “California Love” – by Tupac, came on the XM 90’s on 9 station.  Love rocking out to this!  By the way, I also figured out how to change the color of my display screen on the dash of the ILX.  The “default” color was blue, but I felt like red fit better with the red gauges and sporty demeanor.

Acura was ranked #1 by ALG, an industry benchmark for vehicle values, in a study recently.  Acuras are known for holding their value long-term.  Great to see the brand getting the recognition it deserves!  Makes me proud to drive an Acura.

Tomorrow we’ll see a bunch of booths in the show that we didn’t get a chance to see today — including the Honda press conference at around 10:00 a.m.  I’m hoping to score a front row seat for that one like I did today for the Acura presentation.  Plus, they’ll be clearing out the chairs in the Acura booth and bringing in some of the company’s other models for us to get up close and personal with.  More pics to come — thanks for checking in!