Archive for the RLX Category

Barn Finds & Egg Hunts: Easter Holiday Weekend in Utah

Posted in Car Show, Misc Travel, RLX, Utah on April 24, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (RLX):  23,456

Trip Distance:  $80 Round-Trip Flight (Gasp)

With all the fancy paint jobs and gleaming chrome at the 34th annual Easter Car Show in Hurricane, Utah last Saturday, the car that most stood out to me was in fact the dirtiest.  It was a 1963 Chevrolet Impala that had literally been pulled from a 20-year-slumber in a barn in Milford, Utah the day prior.  The only things touched prior to its entry in the car show were the tires, which needed replacement in order to facilitate transport.

A registration renewal sticker on the back license plate confirmed – this car was last on the road around September 1999.  I was a senior in high school at that time.  It seems like eons ago.

Even the interior remained filled with dust and had a crusty paperback book sitting on the backseat.  There is something so fascinating about a “barn find” vehicle – a certain mystique, like the feeling of encountering buried treasure.  I’m sure it took a lot of restraint for the owner, Brent Pearce, to resist wiping off the dashboard or at least running a vacuum through the carpet.

I neglected to take a look at the odometer (I know, of all things) but given this car’s condition, it looked to be a low-miler.  I’m sure it will take some time, effort, and money to get its V8 engine to awaken from a deep 20-year-slumber.

My second favorite thing about the car show was this $6 sloppy joe.

I had an enjoyable weekend in southern Utah with family and friends, especially since mom (pictured below) let me borrow her “new” Crystal Black 2016 RLX as my rental car for a few days.

I enjoyed tooling around my old digs and doing it in style.  The seat belts make a satisfying “tug” at you when you buckle them, and when you take a corner at a moderately high speed.  Fit & finish are top notch, and the audio system rocks.

The other noteworthy vehicle at the show was my brother’s 1954 Ford F-100 pickup.  It’s powered by an engine from General Motors, which is a little odd.  The supercharged “LT4” V8 was tuned to 650 horsepower by Blake Foster from Speed Tech Performance.

Body work is perfect, and that “Snapper Rocks” paint color is one of BMW’s offerings.

Here’s a short walkaround along with Q&A with Blake who was there representing his business.

We got the family together on Sunday morning for a 500-egg (!) Easter hunt.

Luckily some of the eggs were bigger than my 4-month-old niece Ava, so they were easy to spot.

Thanks to my friends David and Matt for their recent visit!

Have a great one!

Surfin’ USA: The Wave Cave Hike in Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, Legend, RLX on March 11, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  73,210

Trip Distance:  100 Miles

Mom was a victim of her first cactus attack this weekend.  The cholla, or “jumping,” cactus is famous for its ability to seemingly jump out and cling to passersby.  Worse, it’s tough to pull out and only wants to latch on to anything (or anyone) that attempts to remove it.  The solution?  Just ask Chris, the seasoned hiker who joined us for this excursion.  He whipped out a hair comb which was able to extract the needles safely without putting anyone at risk.  Clever survival tips for the desert southwest.

All of this came about from our decision to hike to one of the Superstition mountain range’s most unique geologic features:  A sandstone rock in the shape of a large wave.  See me surfing up there?  The cave’s remoteness and difficulty have kept some hikers away, but we tackled the 4-miler with confidence and enjoyed basking in some of Arizona’s prime spring weather for a few hours on Saturday morning.

Reaching the Peralta Trailhead took us about an hour from Central Phoenix and while I would have been perfectly fine subjecting my ILX, or the SLX, to a few miles dirt, we decided to takes Chris’ Jeep Cherokee.  Our first stop was the drive-thru at Starbucks.  You can’t go out into the wilderness unprepared, after all.  Frappaccinos in hand, we were ready to conquer nature.

The trail itself seemed to intensify in difficulty as we worked our way up the 800 or so feet in elevation.  Though the cave itself was visible from the trailhead, it required scrambling up a few stretches of jagged rocks flanked by prickly cacti – definitely the type of environment where adequate and stable footing is a necessity.  I took a spill just once and scraped up my right hand thanks to loose gravel.

The view was worth it.  From the interior of the cave itself, we were able to gaze across the landscape for many miles in the distance.  With temperatures in the high 60s and a light breeze, conditions were optimal to hang out and enjoy the scenery before beginning our descent.  Round-trip travel time was about 3 hours, and we rewarded ourselves for a job well done by having lunch at Costa Vida.

Here are a few more pics before I get into this week’s round of automotive news & updates here in Acura Land.

We pulled my low-miler out of the garage for commute duty during mom’s visit.

I also received a drop-in from my friend Mike from San Diego, who was riding in style in his friend’s Challenger.

My buddy Mirel scored a new car:  Check out his white 1994 LS 6-speed coupe.

On Saturday, we were ‘seeing red’ with all these reds (called Milano, Formula, and Torino) while my friend Sunny was in town from Salt Lake City in his TSX Special Edition.

Another fun Acura-sition took place over the weekend, and I was able to help make it happen.  My friend Jason “re” purchased a 1991 LS sedan that he owned a couple of years ago.  It only has 48,000 miles on the odometer thanks to spending its first 10 years tucked away in hiding.  You see, this car was stolen when it was brand new on the dealership floor and recovered much, much later.

I helped out by having a couple of maintenance items done before Jason & his dad flew down to pick it up.

My friend Jimmy stopped by the dealership while I was there.

Jason & his dad were happy campers when they arrived to take delivery.

Jason sent these pics while passing through my mom’s city where she met up with the new RLX.

It’s interesting to see how these vehicles, 25 model years apart, are different in some ways and similar in others.

Speaking of throwbacks, mom lined up the RLX in the same place as her old 2000 3.5 RL which she owned 14 years prior.

Picturesque Snow Canyon, Utah

The last bit of news here relates to a fun project I was able to collaborate on with Acura.  A small film crew flew out last week to spend a day with me doing a sort of documentary on my car collection and some favorite road trip stories.  After shuttling all 8 cars to a nearby parking lot, we took 3 of them out on an 80-mile scenic loop through the Bush Highway past Saguaro Lake.

I’ll post a blog entry once the film debuts in the coming months, but it will be a short 5-8 minute YouTube feature on Honda’s YouTube channel.  Brand Culture Champion Charles Schnieber posted a few photos of our day on Instagram under his handle @kokoro_honda.

Getting interviewed in the hot seat… in my garage.

The production was facilitated by 3 gracious volunteers who assisted with driving – thanks to Chris, A.D., and Woody!

Closing out the night with a fantastic sunset in the Superstition Mountains.

Thanks for reading!  And have a great week!

Mom’s New Ride: Crystal Black Pearl 2016 Acura RLX Technology P-AWS

Posted in RLX on February 21, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  212,846

Odometer (RLX):  21,554

Things have gone full-circle – it was 4 cars and 9 years ago when my mom last drove an Acura, and she came back to the family in fashionable style earlier this week.  After a Lexus, a Volkswagen, and an Infiniti:  Please welcome mom and this black beauty to the fleet:  a 21,500 mile RLX with the Technology package.

Originally sold at 137 miles on March 28, 2016 at Cardinale Way Acura in Las Vegas, Nevada, this RLX ended up at the local Honda dealer in St. George, Utah where my mom first test-drove it on February 18.  It was love at first drive.  Just look at her text message.

Without even knowing it, she’d just discovered P-AWS:  Precision all-wheel steering – one of the car’s most innovative features.  By the next day, she’d brought all the financials and logistics together, and drove away a happy new owner.  The car had been listed at $28,810 for a President’s Day sale price, which was a deep discount considering it had sold new for $54,450 just a couple of years prior.  Depreciation hits these cars pretty hard – but in this case, someone else has already taken the initial hit.  Nice how that worked out.

I’ve shared some of the RLX chronology in the past – I’ve watched the model throughout its evolution, from the November 2012 debut for the 2014 model year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, to the debut of the 2018 mid-cycle refresh in August 2017 in Monterey.

I also had a 2014 on test for 7 days and put it through its paces on a drive up Mount Lemmon in the Tucson area.

While Acura’s flagship is certainly at the top of its game from a packaging and performance perspective (310 or 377 horsepower from its 3.5-liter V6), the competitive marketplace has given it a hard time from the get-go.  As of the January 2019 sales figures, since the RLX went on sale in March 2013, it has sold only 15,080 units, and most were at the front end of its model launch.

To get even more granular:  Mom’s car is one of 1,620 cars sold during all of 2016.  And to put that in perspective:  Acura sold 4,172 MDX models in the month of January 2019 alone.  And Honda sold 21,553 Civics.  That month!  Now you start to realize why you never see an RLX on the road.  And we are perfectly fine with that kind of exclusivity.

This is, in fact, the second time we’ve had a black RL(X) in the family – it was May 2, 2005 (pictured above), when I flew to San Francisco to pick up a 2000 model year 3.5 RL with only 22,000 miles on it and drive it back to southern Utah.

We’ll be having some fun with this new one for sure.  I’ve already ordered an OEM rear trunk spoiler and splash guards for it, both pre-painted to match.  It’s amazing to have parts readily available when I’m used to dumpster diving at the local pick & pull junkyard.

Congrats, mom!

Original listing

Photos from the listing

Speaking of new cars and key handoffs, my 1990 Accord EX met its new owner on Monday night.  “Sid” flew out from Dallas and drove the car home the next day.  The car made the 1,000 mile trip without breaking a sweat.  This was the last pic of it in the garage.

Monterey, California: ARX-05 Racecar & 2018 Acura RLX Debuts at The Quail Motorsports Gathering

Posted in California, Car Show, RLX on August 20, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,418

Odometer (Sonata Rental):  12,000

“Car Week” in Monterey, California is kind of a big deal.  A lot of automotive enthusiasts have heard of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  Don’t you dare call it just a “car show,” because its organizers are that confident it’s much, much more than that.  The event, which started in 1950, draws some 15,000 spectators annually who come to see some of the finest collector vehicles in the world.  When you consider that ticket prices are $375 a pop, it comes out to a $5.6 million event.  “Big smoke,” in the words of my grandpa.  This ain’t your everyday cars & coffee. And it’s for a good cause, too.  The proceeds from the event benefit United Way and other charitable organizations.

What many don’t know is that there are dozens of other automotive events in the Monterey Bay area of the Central California coastline the same week as Pebble.  My friend Rob and I flew out to attend two very special activities.  One of those was “The Quail” Motorsports Gathering, held at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club with its lush green lawns and clubhouse facilities.  Acura is a major sponsor at The Quail and I first attended this event in 2016, wide-eyed and awestruck at the quality and class that it exudes.

Once again I was given the opportunity to attend The Quail, but this time with an added extra bonus.  True to Acura’s “Precision Crafted Performance” slogan, the company has become increasingly active in racing and motorsports.  On Thursday morning bright and early, my friend Rob and I flew from Phoenix to San Jose, then hit up the beach in Santa Cruz since we had a little bit of time to kill.

We checked into our ‘tiny house’ AirBNB rental in nearby Soquel up a scenic, windy canyon road.  The house was far out of reach from any cell phone signal, which was actually kind of nice!  After a wardrobe change, we made our way to the Carmel Valley Lodge in Carmel for an exclusive debut.

Announced in early July, in partnership with Penske, a new “Daytona Prototype International” (DPi) racecar will make its first race at the Rolex 24 in Daytona, Florida in January.  Named the ARX-05, the racecar is powered by a 3.5 liter, twin-turbo V6 engine (fundamentally similar to that which powers other Acura models today).  Acura pulled the sheets off the car to a group of enthusiasts (including me) on Thursday night.

In attendance were stakeholders from both Acura and Penske, as well as a few celebrities sprinkled in:  While everyone else was in sport coats and neckties, Jay Leno came down the entryway stairs in his typical head-to-toe denim fashion.  Comedian Adam Carolla, actor Jesse Metcalfe, and Motor Trend’s Johnny Lieberman were also making their rounds through the crowd.  I enjoyed the chance to reconnect with friends who were there from the NSX Club of America and other Acura enthusiast communities.  And the ARX-05?  Absolutely stunning!

Acura’s head of PR, Matt Sloustcher, at right here in the blue.

On Friday, we made our way to The Quail.  The 50-mile drive down Highway 1 from our tiny house in Soquel to Quail Lodge took us over two hours, thanks to traffic from Friday commuters + car show people like us.  At least the instructions were clearly laid out:  We needed to stash our Hyundai Sonata rental car in “sponsor city” car lot, check in for our credentials, and then ride a shuttle bus to the entrance.

We made it to the Acura booth just in the nick of time for the press conference at 11:20 a.m.  First on the stage was Matt of Acura Public Relations, pictured above.  Then Art St Cyr, President of Honda Performance Development, introduced the ARX-05 to the crowd and turned the time over to Roger Penske for a few closing remarks.

Rob, Ira, and I made the rounds to experience some of the cuisine and beverages at the 5 food pavilions.  Each one was regionally themed (Beverly Hills, Carmel Valley, China, Italy, and France).  My favorite was the fried rice at the China booth.  We got ice cream for dessert at Infiniti’s display.  There was no shortage of buffet-style dining at this event!  That’s probably one of the reasons why each of the 3,000 tickets go for $600 a piece.  Champagne and caviar?  Right this way, please!  Notice, too, the restrooms are called “water closets.”

There was a ride-and-drive station set up on the outskirts of the grounds where people would sign up in advance to drive the NSX and other Acura models.  Acura’s RLX, debuting for the 2014 model year, was the successor to the RL, which was the successor to the Legend, so naturally it holds a special place in my heart.  Sales success has not been great historically, but with some enhancements for the 2018 mid-cycle refresh, it might just gain some relevance in the marketplace.  The RLX puts a total of 377 horses to the ground via all-wheel drive in the upgraded trim level.  From a design perspective, it now more closely resembles its smaller TLX sibling.  My favorite view is the rear.

In the evening, Rob and I met up with my friends Scott & Sandy for dining at a Mexican place in Carmel:  A fun, walkable town along the coastline.  Saturday’s flight back to Phoenix came around midday and I was delighted that our travels toward the San Jose airport took us through some very scenic and curvy backroads.  Now, if only I’d had a car better than a Sonata rental to experience them in!  Many thanks to Acura for the invitation to participate in this weekend’s activities!   More photos and a short video follow.

Airport bound in the 1994 Vigor GS!

Beachfront view while we ate lunch at Picnic Basket in Santa Cruz

Headed up the canyon road to our place in Soquel

Kicking back!

Evening arrival at Carmel Valley Lodge

By this time we had met up with my Oregonian friend, Ira (at right)

Sharing some remarks on the newly-redesigned 2018 RLX

Friends from the NSX Club of America – with a great photo bomb by Acura President, Jon Ikeda

Chris, Ira, May, Tyson – NSXCA Members

Jhae Pfenning and Peter Cunningham – a couple heroes of mine!

And the one and only Jesse Metcalfe, as seen in Desperate Housewives

Rob and I looked like a couple of church missionaries in our dress attire and bland midsize sedan

The Quail entrance.  That grass is real!  Totally immaculate.

Having ice cream from Infiniti

One of the only Hondas I saw there:  An S800 roadster

NSXCA group again

Come right on in!

More scenery

Dinner friends Scott & Sandy in Carmel

Saying goodbye to the tiny house in Soquel before flying back to Arizona

2013 Los Angeles Auto Show with 2theRedline

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

Odometer (Legend):  527,902


Odometer (ILX):  60,130


Trip Distance:  767 Miles


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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 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!


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


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.


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


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




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


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.


The ILX there was a 6-speed manual.


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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


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


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


Beautiful Audi R8 in matte blue – I enjoyed!


Just hanging out inside a $400k Lexus LFA!


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


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.


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


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.


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!


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!


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


Odometer (ILX):  59,099


Odometer (Legend):  527,807


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:


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


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).


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?


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.


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.


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.




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.


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.





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.


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.



  • 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


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


The guys, chatting it up before leaving the Phoenix area


Kelvin checks out the interior of the 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.


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


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


What was Kurt pointing at here?


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


Soaking up the scenery:  Kurt, Paul, Nick


The guys admiring some of those RLX lines


Two sport coupes with completely different missions


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


Will gets cozy in the RLX driver seat


Kelvin takes a peek at its 3.5-liter engine


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


A look at the RLX dual-screen interface


Rolling back home


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


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


Odometer (ILX):  35,228


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.


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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


That double-paned glass I was mentioning earlier.


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


Here dual screen layout of the 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!


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.


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.


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:


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


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


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.