Positioned at the top of its luxury lineup, the Acura RLX has a three-motor SH-AWD hybrid setup built for agility and efficiency, and beginning in January it will go on sale in Japan as the Honda Legend. With this simplified hybrid setup, has Honda finally struck hybrid gold?
With two electric motors driving the rear wheels and a third motor is integrated into the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. This third motor adds extra power and torque to the front wheels, assisting the 3.5 liter V6 engine in passing maneuvers or when going up hills. The RLX/Legend can operate in three distinct driving motors, with short-range all-electric, hybrid, and engine-only modes controlled automatically by the car itself. Honda claims this gives the luxury flagship fuel economy of about 40 MPG on the JC08 cycle, though the EPA rates the RLX at 28/32/30 MPG.
While it might not be too efficient (though the city MPG rivals my Chevy Sonic), the combination of three electric motors and a big V6 engine gives this full-size car 377 horsepower and 341 lb-ft of torque. That makes for a pretty solid luxury competitor, except for one sticking point; the price. Starting at $59,950 for the “smartly equipped” Technology package, or $65,950 for the Advance package which includes the Honda SENSING system, the Honda Legend/Acura RLX in the same price ballpark as the Tesla Model S.
Is this three-motor hybrid system compelling enough to sway buyers away from the hottest status symbol of the past two years? Or at that price, would you be better off saving up a few more pennies for an all-electric spaceship of light and wonder?