By on March 29, 2018

2018 Acura RLXOur last few entries in the Buy/Drive/Burn series have been stuck in the 1990s, and we’ve had a request recently to talk about something a bit newer, perhaps even… current. While you recover from your immediate shock, I can assure you we aren’t going completely mainstream. No talking about boring everyday things. No, these three will likely all qualify as Rare Rides subjects in the future, assuming I’m 70 years old and there’s still an Internet media (hopefully there isn’t).

Three untouchable large sedans, all of them trading on their luxury intentions. Remember, you only get to burn one, and one has to go home to your garage.

Acura RLX

2018 Acura RLXAcura’s replacement for the long-running RL nameplate has been with us since 2014, undergoing a significant facelift for the 2018 model year. Prices on the RLX start at $54,900. For that chunk of change you get standard leather and navigation, and power is generated by Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 engine, sending 310 horsepower through the 10-speed transmission to the front wheels. (Off limits is the hybrid all-wheel drive version, which costs $7,000 more.)

Infiniti Q70

2016 Infiniti Q70 Premium Select EditionThe oldest model of our trio, the Q70 actually dates back to when it was called the M37; a redesign gave it the metal it wears today. A minor visual update occurred in 2014, when Infiniti branding underwent the change from various letters to “Q.” The value-priced option of our trio, the base 3.7 LUXE trim sends all 330 horsepower to the rear wheels and comes with leather and navigation. It’s yours for $51,000.

Kia K900

Available in 2013 in the North American market, Kia’s largest sedan replaced the unfortunately styled Kia Amanti. While a new K900 has debuted, that one will be a 2019 model. Our contender is the one we’re used to seeing — or rather, not seeing very often. Kia had enough inventory of 2017 models to cover the 2018 model year; the newest K900 you can buy in the current year is the 2017 model. Today’s price bracket nets you a V6 Luxury trim, with a 3.8-liter sending 311 horsepower to the rear wheels. Upgraded Nappa leather is standard on the $54,900 Luxury, as well as the shift-by-wire transmission and a navigation system.

Three loaded-up large sedans, virtually untouchable per every possible sales metric. Which goes home with you, and which one burns away to molten lava?

[Images: Acura, Infiniti, Kia]

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81 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: Untouchable Large Luxury Sedans of 2018...”

  • avatar

    This is tough since I really don’t like any of these cars.

    Buy: Infiniti M37, I mean the Q70. I test drove a 2008 M35 and enjoyed the dynamics of the car; it had a bit of that old-fashioned big car feel and felt more powerful than I expected without a V8. I am, however, not crazy about the new exterior, not that the original was all that great.

    Drive: Acura – mmm – why not? It’s not a bad looking car, really. I saw one recently and had no idea what it was until I was close enough to see the grille.

    Burn: KIA – it’s hard to think luxury, no matter how good the K900 is, because the brand is associated with budget wheels. It’s like if Soundesign started making upscale audio gear.

  • avatar

    Buy the Acura …I like the resale value.

    Drive the Infiniti.. Probably be a blast to drive ? Though I have yet to drive one !

    Burn the Kia …Because its the cheapest, and the resale is a joke.

  • avatar

    Buy/Drive the Acura…..the rest can burn.

  • avatar

    Buy the Acura, it’ll probably be the most reliable and have the best residual value. Drive the Q, even though that bulbous front end is hideous. Burn the Kia because it’s a Kia. And because LeBron James pretends to drive one.

    • 0 avatar

      “Buy the Acura, it’ll probably be the most reliable”

      Y’all really, really need to do some research on Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) before you say silly things like that.

  • avatar

    Buy the Q70. It’s RWD, the engine revs the hardest, and I like the exterior the most.

    Drive the Kia. Not giving us the V8 option here kind of kills this one but it is still big and RWD. I’m sure I could find some use for it.

    Burn RLX. Ugliest. FWD. Honda internet fans are in the top 5 most annoying.

  • avatar

    Easy choice for me here in Denver – if I’m forking out this kind of money, I’m not going to fiddle-f**k around with winter tires, so anything that’s RWD is a no go.

    Buy the Acura – FWD will make it livable in the winter. Kinda like this car anyway.

    Drive the Infiniti.

    Burn the Kia.

    Or, as an alternate choice, burn ’em all, and pick up a lightly used CPO Mercedes S550, which is about the same money.

    • 0 avatar

      So you’ve never heard of, or experienced, the Nokian WR tire.

      I’ll take a WR-equipped RWD car against any other car, driving any number of wheels, with traditional all-seasons.

      • 0 avatar

        RWD cars are made for winter! This thing about FWD and AWD being for cold climates is just marketing hype. Plus, you cannot do burnouts in the others. If I live in Alaska or even around New England; I go with RWD since it is built for cold climate driving. Done believe me; look at the states highway patrol vehicles and semis rigs; all RWD! There is only one reason for AWD and that is to climb over rocks in off-road driving.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I don’t like any of them, really. But the Kia is the only one that can be called anything close to attractive, at least to my eyes. The Infiniti is probably the best driving of them all. The Honda would have the best resale value but I’m not sure we can assume anything from Honda will have the best reliability anymore. And if I can afford any of these, resale value wouldn’t be my highest priority. Also, I don’t care what my neighbors or co-workers think about my automotive choices. So, reluctantly, I would buy the Kia, drive the Infiniti and burn the Acura (a brand that has no idea what it’s doing and should probably go away).

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I think I buy the K9. My understanding of what it is is that it has more luxury than the others and more than its price indicates.

    I’ll drive the Infiniti since it would be the most fun – though as everyone coming here will probably also mention – I’ve never driven one (none of these, of course).

    Burn the Acura because I have to pick one. I’m sure it’s really nice but offers the least of what I’m looking for of the three.

  • avatar

    Buy: Infiniti. The best looking, inside and out.

    Drive: Kia. Looks like a nice comfy ride.

    Burn: Acura. Nothing about it befits its price.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Buy–Acura. Looks to be a solid long-term prospect, is the proverbial “nice car”, if a bit dull. That new front end is HIDEOUS. Just look at that dopey, derpy visage.

    Drive–Infiniti. Hoon the VQ!

    Burn–Kia. I feel absolutely nothing when I look at it. Wouldn’t want to own it long term, wouldn’t be any fun to borrow.

  • avatar

    Buy the Kia, based totally on the success our family has had with Kia products in the past decade.

    Drive the Infiniti. RWD, of course.

    Burn the Acura. Because something here has to be burned, and its by far the least worthy of the three.

  • avatar

    You know, I read TTAC faithfully every morning while having my first cup of coffee.

    Please never lead again with a full-frontal pic of an Acura again.

  • avatar

    BUY: The Acura, if only for the long term reliability and overall cost of ownership. My wife’s 2005 RSX-S has 220k miles on it, and runs like brand new with nothing but routine maintenance. But to be honest, that was one of the last cars Acura built that I’d actually buy. We’re on our 5th Honda/Acura (7th if you count a pair of BF225’s) and it saddens me that a brand that used to have an unbeatable combination of reliability and fun factor, is now only interested in selling CUV’s to upscale soccer moms. 

    DRIVE: Infiniti. A friend owns an M56, which is a deceptively fast car. It’s not fast in a CTS-V or E63 way, but it’s the kind of car you get out on the highway and wonder why everyone is going so slow, then you look down and see you’re doing 105. No idea if the V6 is that fast. Nice interior, especially considering how old the design is. His has the low gloss wood with the magic Samurai pixie dust sprinkled into it. Very pretty. The deal breaker for me is the way the tires seem to grab and track any sort of grooves in the pavement. Also there seems to be a lot of tire noise for a luxury car. Might be a sport package thing? It’s the only M/Q70 I’ve driven so I can’t say whether they’re all like that. Overall though, a nice driving car for something so big. 

    BURN: Kia. Just for the resale value free fall it will probably experience. It sort of reminds me of a VW Phaeton. It may be a huge value when new, and is probably quite a good car,  but no one is going to pay 50k for a brand whose products are mostly destined for Buy Here Pay Here lots in 5 years.   

    • 0 avatar

      Kia is one to buy lightly used in a year or two when it’s around 25k. Just like the Phaeton.

    • 0 avatar

      “he deal breaker for me is the way the tires seem to grab and track any sort of grooves in the pavement. Also there seems to be a lot of tire noise for a luxury car. Might be a sport package thing?”

      They all do this, seems like, no matter the generation. I’m assuming he has the factory specified Goodyear RS-A tires, which are hot garbage. They tramline and are loud.

      • 0 avatar

        Eagle RS-A. I’d almost rather have Linglong Singsong Happy Tire XTE or whatever crap Chinese”Economy” tire places sell now.

        The only worse tire I’ve experienced OEM is Firestones Affinity.

        • 0 avatar

          They are BAD. But I’m having a hard time justifying throwing perfectly good tires away on a car that I put <2,000 miles on per year.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            If they ride like crap, they’re not really “good” tires. Buy some decent rubber, and flip the Eagles on CL.

          • 0 avatar

            Well, “healthy” tires then.

            That sounds like a lot of work!

          • 0 avatar

            Goodyear seems to build some truly crappy tires for the OEM market. Like they go out of there way to sell sh%&y tires to the new car factories.

          • 0 avatar

            My Golf came with Hankook’s that were OK. I decided to use the OEM 16″ alloy wheels for winter tires and bought some Michelin Pilot Sport AS-3 on 17″ aftermarket wheels for the rest of the year. Found a deal on Tire Rack for wheels and tires. Sold the mostly new Hankooks on Craigslist, enough to offset the cost slightly.

          • 0 avatar

            @Dan, I don’t think GoodYear is the only one to do it, but they probably make specific (read: cheap) tires to meet bids from manufacturers.

            I know the Firestone tires that were OEM on my friend’s Altima were absolutely garbage, and when I looked them up, they were not available on the retail market.

            I imagine the conversation goes something like this:

            Carmaker: “We need tires for less than what we are paying now. They don’t need long life, excellent traction, low noise, etc. They just need to be cheap and promote good MPG.”

            Tire manufacturer: “We will build a tire that meets your demands yet still makes us money. It’ll be so awful, we won’t bother offering it to the public.”

  • avatar

    I don’t want any of them but:

    Buy the Acura

    Drive the Kia

    Burn the Infiniti

    My 2010 Altima soured me towards any Nissans and the Q looks like a fancy Altima to me.

    Kia is a hard one. If it’s luxury features, I’m sure the Kia has a ton of it and is probably has the most stuff for the money. The Kia (or Genesis) would be relatively unwanted compared to the Acura or Infiniti. Not an exclusivity thing, but it is different, which I like in my cars.

    As much as it pains me, buy the Acura. Acura today is nothing like the company that made my 88 and 89 Legends (both used in the late 90’s), my folks 92 Integra LS or the first new car my sister bought, an 02 RSX. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. But I do know Honda makes a decent car and that’s why I’d buy it. My last experience with an Acura was the 2013 MDX my parents had and it was OK, but I didn’t want one after an extended drive to the beach with it.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Spill the dirt on that Altima, gearhead. A soured 2012 owner wants to know.

      • 0 avatar

        Just not impressed enough to get another Nissan. It was fairly quiet, solid and rode well. Lots of room as well. If you just wanted decent point A to B transportation and no joy in getting there, it was fine. But that 2.5/CVT which was just OK on the test drive was not endearing over 36 months. Such a harsh motor in many ways and indifferent transmission (literally). Around the hills of Pittsburgh, that CVT was awful.

        It was not fun at all to drive. The only time it did well was on the highway when the CVT worked well for passing or steady cruising. But even at steady legal speeds, the mileage wasn’t that great for all the promises of a CVT.

        Mine was a lease and it was a leftover or perhaps a rejected fleet deal. Minimal “S” equipment, power seat delete and there were 10 of them all the same (white/beige interior) on the big Nissan dealers lot. $220/mo total with nothing down. It was a bargain of a car, but it was one of the least enjoyable cars I’ve owned.

        I’ve had a few Altimas as rentals since and while improvements have been made, I don’t want another Nissan. Unless it’s a GT-R and that’s unlikely to happen.

        • 0 avatar

          Having driven a 2012 S quite a bit, I agree with you gearhead. I’d also add that the seats are awful and the interior as a whole is simply of a lower class than many competitors (including my brother’s Fusion S).

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I thought for sure you had a CVT failure to share.

          Not a good sign if a 0 down $220/mo bargain leaves this kind of bad taste in the mouth on a car that was perfectly reliable.

          I’d still go for a G37, though. Window switches and display fonts excepted, they don’t feel like they share any DNA.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Buy the K900, because at least it’s got a long warranty.

    Drive the Acura, stooped over, because despite being a large luxury sedan at 6’4″ I don’t fit in the car.

    Burn the Infiniti, because it’s a Nissan.

  • avatar

    LIke pretty much everyone here, none of these vehicles appeal to me in the slightest, and I haven’t seen any of them on the road in years.

    Buy the Infiniti, just echo the most fun to drive label, and it’s the most Japanese-looking and feeling.

    Drive the Kia, seems like a good highway road trip car, but wouldn’t want to own one or be seen in one too often.

    Burn the Acura, looks awful and overpriced, totally uncompetitive even against these two competitors.

  • avatar

    Buy the Infiniti, give it my standard treatment (coilovers, intake/exhaust). Just a BBW version of my G37.

    Truthfully, burn the others. I was hoping the KIA had the new 3.3T or the RLX was the Sport Hybrid… neither is the case so they can both burn to a crisp

  • avatar

    Burn them all and buy a used LS460. I don’t get this pretend luxury stuff; go all out and get a proper luxury car.

  • avatar

    None of these are truly “desirable”.

    RLX – with AWD? Yes please. FWD Only? Buy I guess because at least it should be reliable.

    K900 – with V8? Yeeeeeeeee haaaaaaaaawwww! As presented here? Burn because the depreciation doesn’t make it worth the effort. (Heck cut out the middle man and just set a big pile of cash on fire.)

    Infiniti? Drive because at least a natural aspirated VQ is present and under your right foot.

  • avatar

    Burn: The FWD car… Acura. ‘Nuff said.

    Buy: Um… I guess the Infiniti, but only because it keeps it’s value better. If I drove both, and I liked the KIA more, I’d probably go with it.

    Drive: The KIA. And since I like it’s looks better, I’d probably drive it more than the Infiniti.

  • avatar

    First I apologize , I was one of the ones who asked for something from this century, damm you Corey your making the 90’s looking good and that is not easy. But since I asked for it here goes

    Buy Acura, no one does so there is some appeal to that, it is more than likely well put together and should not give you any issues. Also someone has to buy it new so the TTAC folks can buy it in 5 years at 43% of what I am paying, your welcome.

    Drive the K9 or K900 or Hal 9000 what ever it names is. Why not ? Again you will not see to many and that is a plus to me, I will be able to see how far Kia has come to their goal of a cheaper E class.

    Burn the Q something , really no reason except I would not be able to deal with explaining if I owned the Infinity q something car or Q something SUV, what is the difference between the Q50, 60. 62.5 … so as a protest to Infinity stupid naming structure it will have to burn.

    This is the first for me Corey, any of these cars could switch order and it would not really matter to me, that has not happened in this series, even the sad 90’s mini van had one I knew belong in a certain place. All of these just really interchangeable to me.


  • avatar

    Abstain. Just like buyers in the marketplace.

  • avatar

    Burn ’em all. Two too many doors.

  • avatar

    Buy the Kia. Its handsome and RWD.

    Drive the Acura. I’d almost swap with the Kia to buy. I don’t find it ugly.

    Burn the Infiniti and send a pic to their U.S. headquarters with a note saying “this is what happens when you make a new car worse than what it’s replacing.”

  • avatar

    Holy Jeebus…

    1. RE: Resale. Anyone who thinks any of these cars is going to retain some semblance of resale needs to go back to Marketing 101. If they weren’t desireable new, they won’t be used either.

    2. re: Reliability. Every one of these cars is blessed with every electronic gizmo known to Western Civilization. And they will fail- the only question is when. The KIA has the longest warranty, but so few are sold, parts availability down the line is a real concern.

    And why don’t they sell?

    Acura seems to have decided to be the Japanese Buick, right down to the grill. Problem is, no one buys Buicks either.

    Infiniti, ironically, builds the sedan I’d most likely buy if the Charger weren’t available. The Q50. The rest of the lineup is downright painful to look at.

    A luxury KIA? That makes as much sense as a sub-compact Mercedes. Oh wait… they did that, with about the same success.

  • avatar

    Keep Infiniti.
    Drive K9000000, because wth.
    Burn Honda Legend.

  • avatar

    Buy the Infiniti, yay process of elimination.
    Drive the Kia, it looks OK but I’m not paying big bucks for a Kia. Sorry.
    Burn the Acura. Burn that fugly front end twice just to make sure.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised the Infiniti is less than the Acura. Looking at mid-size cars, I found the Q60 more than the TLX and was even more than the A4. It might have been the equipment or what the dealers were promoting.

  • avatar

    Buy the Infiniti, despite the ugly styling and out-of-date interior. It’s the best deal of the three, and RWD is good.

    Drive the Acura. It’s got a nice ride/handling balance for a big front-driver.

    Burn the K900. The thing has the suspension tuning and refinement of an ’84 Town Car.

    Note: My Buy/Drive would be reversed if the Acura were priced how it should be, straight across from a similarly equipped ES350.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s funny because I sort of started out like “I wonder how much the RLX is, I don’t remember.”

      And then “JEEBUS it’s expensive.”

      • 0 avatar

        Yep. The reason it failed in the marketplace is that it was an ES competitor priced like a GS/5 Series/E-Class competitor. They might have been able to get away with 540i pricing for the Sport Hybrid if they had managed to make it available in volume in 2014, but the FWD version never had any way to support that kind of pricing.

        At ES prices, marketed against the ES, it would have won some comparison tests against the ES and LaCrosse and sold some copies.

  • avatar

    Buy: the Kia, hopefully for a deep discount.
    Drive: the Infiniti….to the nearest chop shop, so you can get money for its parts.
    Burn: the Acura, so you can collect the insurance payout.

    Then take your insurance fraud winnings + chop shop partout money + flip the Kia for a hopefully small loss…..

    Then buy a GS-F. The *other* untouchable large luxury sedan, and one that probably doesn’t suck.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    Buy the K900, soft floaty ride, very quiet cabin, big soft seats, its the modern day equivalent of a Lincoln Town Car. Drive/burn the Acura or Infiniti I don’t care which one, they’re not luxury cars, they’re both stiff riding and cramped.

  • avatar

    Buy: Kia, for the displacement, the RWD, the lux and the rarity.
    Drive: Infiniti; it’s cromulence personified.
    RLX: don’t do it.

  • avatar

    Buy: Kia. Previous good experience with their products, should be the most reliable (and has a long warranty if not), a supremely comfortable isolation chamber for the daily commute.

    Drive: Infiniti. More horses and most likely the most entertaining to hustle down a two-lane blacktop. Also, I think it’s the best-looking. But the long-term reliability of a Nissan product s a big wild card.

    Burn: Acura. I’m generally a fan of Honda’s efforts but, my, how Acura has lost their way. In looks, in mission, in…pretty much everything. It’s not a bad car, but something has to burn here, and the Acura gets flame-broiled.

  • avatar

    I guess buy the Acura because it’s a Honda and shouldn’t bankrupt you.

    Drive the Infiniti even though it is a terrible boat because it has a decent motor in it. I had one as a rental a few weeks ago – I wasn’t even a little bit impressed otherwise. Awful. How is it so small inside?? The Q50 is a much better grade of terrible.

    Burn the KIA, because I would have to go to the KIA dealership to buy one and that just isn’t happening. Ever.

  • avatar

    Buy: Something slightly used, with heavy depreciation. Given the list we’re been limited to, that’s likely the Kia.

    Drive: I very badly want to drive a fully loaded Lincoln Continental Black Label, with those zillion way seats. Why is this not on the list?

    Burn: The Infiniti. I don’t trust anything made by Nissan. Doesn’t help that they can’t spell infinity.

    • 0 avatar

      I was also wondering why the Conti isn’t on this list. It would be an easy “buy” for me. Yes, I’m a FoMoCo guy, but the Continental would be my choice even if I drove/loved a Lumina with a giant “3” in the back window (*shudder*).

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, for the “buy”, I’d rather have the Lincoln, but it wasn’t on the list. Kia has heavy depreciation for a reason. In my experience, a four year old Kia feels like an eight year old Ford. Nice enough when new, but they just don’t age well.

        • 0 avatar

          “In my experience, a four year old Kia feels like an eight year old Ford.”

          In my experience, a two year old Kia K900 felt like an 8 year old Ford…a work pickup that was rode hard and put away wet every day.

    • 0 avatar

      The Black Label has about $20k in MSRP on the most expensive car on this list (the Kia). A non-turbo Contintental Reserve would be a fairer comparison.

  • avatar

    Buy the Infiniti. It could be fun.

    Drive the Acura, on winter highway trips.

    Burn the poor Kia.

  • avatar

    Buy: Acura. Shall be the best resale value.

    Drive: Infiniti. Nicer than the others, and more fun to drive.

    Burn: Kia. Ugly and no resale value.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Don’t buy any of them new. Wait three years and buy a CPO off lease version for 50% or more off.

    Of these three, the Infinity is the most interesting. The Acura RL/RLX has been an also ran forever. I would happily drive one if it showed up in the garage, but wouldn’t buy it. The K900 might be ok at 75% off original price :).

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