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Rodney Dangerfield enjoyed prefacing many of his jokes with this line: “Tough crowd, I tell ya, tough crowd.”

It ‘s a line that could also be used for the 2014 Acura RLX, which debuts among a very impressive group of midsize luxury sedans. The RLX has plenty of upside, but does it have enough to hang with this crowd?

The RLX finds itself among some elite vehicles with a history of success. Those industry leaders include the BMW 5 Series, the Lexus GS 350, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E350, plus some other notables like the Hyundai Genesis and Cadillac XTS.

Historically, Acura doesn’t have tremendous success in the midsize luxury sedan class. Its previous effort was the now discontinued RL, which had a run from 1996 to 2012. The RL followed the Legend as the flagship sedan in the Acura lineup.

2014 Acura RLX

  • Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 310 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 20-31 mpg
  • Price: $48,450 to $61,245
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance 4 years/50,000

Acura’s new flagship vehicle doesn’t provide any “wow” factor from an appearance aspect. Frankly, it’s a little plain, much like the RL. The RLX does possess eye-appealing headlights, 10 LED lighting elements to increase visibility, and is two inches wider than the RL, and therefore offers a little more interior room.

It may not be a real fetching sedan, but the RLX is very cool when it comes to technology to aid driving. In the safety category, it has blind spot warning and lane departure systems, which are nice reminders that serve very necessary purposes.

The RLX also features a new all-speed adaptive cruise control that slows the vehicle down automatically in heavy traffic.

Performance is another plus for the RLX, which comes in five trims. The front-wheel drive sedan is a 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 310 horsepower, 272 pounds-feet of torque, and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The RLX, which goes 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds, has both paddle shifters and sport mode.

Yet to be unveiled is the RLX Hybrid, which features a powerful gas-electric engine that has a combined 370 horsepower and utilizes a seven-speed automated manual transmission. For a hybrid, the estimated 30 mpg is hardly impressive.

The all-wheel drive system is called the P-AWS (precision all-wheel drive), which some industry experts consider superior to the SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) system that it replaced.

The RLX engine is refined in two areas: it’s smooth and quiet. However, the ride can be a little harsh when the vehicle has 19-inch tires. Steering is refined and overall the RLX offers a sporty ride.

There’s considerable space for all who step inside the RLX. A 6-footer will feel comfortable in either the front or backseat, which offers both comfort and support. The trunk space is fairly typical for the class with 15.3 cubic feet.

Although the RLX has some impressive qualities, it remains to be seen whether it can do any better than its predecessor, the RL.

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