Quick and Subtle
Despite fierce competition from a crowded field of sub-$45,000 USD luxury crossovers, the 2016 Acura RDX has little to worry about. That’s because the refreshed RDX boasts a killer combination of surprisingly potent acceleration, decent fuel economy, and a reasonably large interior. More exciting shapes exist in the $35,000-$45,000 USD class of five-passenger luxury crossovers, but for all its faults, the RDX is a car you’re not likely to grow out of as quickly as some others.
In a class of turbo-fours, Acura offers a naturally aspirated V-6. The sportier first-generation RDX was powered by a turbo-four as far back as the 2007 model year, but the more mainstream second-gen model eschewed that inefficient choice for a 3.5-liter V-6 that’s now good for 279 hp at 6,200 rpm and 252 lb-ft of torque at 4,900 rpm. At wide-open throttle, the V-6 lets out a strong exhaust note but otherwise keeps to the background. In a market with 570-hp Porsche Cayenne Turbo S CUVs, the RDX’s specs aren’t impressive, except they’re unmatched at this price point by almost everything.
At the track, our all-wheel-drive tester hit 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, with 45-65 mph (72-105 km/h) passing acceleration taking just 3.1 seconds. Perhaps the RDX’s closest competitor is the comparison-test-winning Lexus NX, which we’ve tested in all-wheel-drive NX 200t F Sport form hitting 60 in 7.0 seconds and 45-65 (72-105 km/h) in 3.7 seconds. The BMW X3, which carries a starting price of about $4,000 USD more than the RDX, was second in that comparison; it managed a 6.0-second 0-60 sprint in all-wheel-drive form with a 240-hp turbo-four, with 45-65 (72-105 km/h) in 3.3 seconds. Around the figure-eight course, the RDX finished in 27.7 seconds at 0.63 g (average), compared to a Lexus NX 200t F Sport’s 27.2 seconds at 0.65 g (average). About the RDX on the track, testing director Kim Reynolds commented that “pitch and roll are reasonably controlled, and it brakes with a good sense of pedal feel into the corner.”
The AWD-only 2016 X1 might be a better BMW alternative to the RDX in terms of price, but even that reimagined and enlarged German crossover (or the Lexus NX) can’t quite reach the Acura in terms of interior space. Sharing a platform with the Honda CR-V, the 2015 Motor Trend SUV of the Year, the RDX has plenty of space for four and a nearly flat floor for rear-seat passengers. The rear seatbacks don’t recline, but there’s plenty of headroom, and the front seat backs are softâa good detail in case all four passengers are tall. SAE-rated cargo space is also plentiful, at 26.1 cubic feet behind the second-row seats and 61.3 cubic feet behind the first row.
The 2016 RDX rides well, striking a good balance between feeling everything on the road and nothing at all. It’s competent but not fun on a winding road, with the six-speed automatic’s S mode speeding up responses when necessary and the paddle shifters useful for those who occasionally engine brake. It’s moderately quiet inside, too. For a relatively spacious crossover that hits 60 in just over 6 seconds, the 2016 RDX offers decent fuel economy. EPA efficiency is rated at 19-20/28-29 mpg (12.4-11.8/8.4-8.1 L/100km) city/highway (with FWD and AWD); the 2016 Lexus NX 200t does a bit better in the city but lags a little on the highway with a 22/27-28-mpg (10.7/8.7-8.4 L/100km) rating. If the pricier X3 is on your list, that crossover is rated at 21/28 mpg (11.2/8.4 L/100km), and the AWD-only X1 will be rated 22/32 mpg (10.7/7.3 L/100km). The Real MPG numbers tell a different story, suggesting that the RDX might gain some ground in the real world. Our AWD 2016 RDX tester earned a Real MPG rating of 21.5/30.2 mpg (10.9/7.8L/100km). The less powerful 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport AWD earned 21.5/27.7 mpg (10.9/8.5 L/100km), though a non-F Sport model may have been slightly more efficient on the highway.
Perhaps the most important RDX number is the base price: $36,210 USD. For that you get a truly drivable crossover with standard LED headlights, a rearview camera, a power liftgate, heated front seats, a power moonroof, HVAC vents for rear-seat passengers, and that 279-hp V-6. Our tester was completely loaded at $44,360 USD (including destination) with $1,500 USD AWD, an ELS 10-speaker sound system, navigation, upgraded 18-inch wheels, heated and cooled front seats, foglights, rain-sensing wipers, and parking sensors. Most buyers will be satisfied by the RDX’s options list, though not available at any price are features including a panoramic sunroof, a multicamera parking system, a power tilt and telescoping steering column, and power-folding side-view mirrors (at least not on the North American model).
Acura’s suite of active safety tech, called AcuraWatch Plus, is also offered on every trim, and we’d recommend considering the $1,300 USD package. The technologies can nudge you back into your lane on a multilane highway and even slow down if an obstacle is detected. The adaptive cruise control can be useful, as well, but won’t work below around 20 mph (32 km/h). Even so, it’s thanks in part to AcuraWatch Plus that the 2016 RDX is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. In NHTSA testing, the 2016 RDX is rated an overall five stars (out of a possible five)—the Lexus NX matches the Acura in both ratings.
Inside, Acura’s two-screen layout allows the driver to view two pieces of info simultaneouslyâfor example, navigation on top and audio info on the smaller screen below. Issues remain with the smaller audio screen not showing enough song-title text, but I prefer this two-screen layout to being forced to split up one infotainment screen into tiny rectangles. Interior quality is solid but price-appropriateâthere’s nothing special inside that will lead anyone to think this is a $50,000 USD luxury crossover. The RDX excels more at oxymoron-like “functional luxury” instead of a strong emotional pull. Outside, the story is the same. Styling is restrained and premium but won’t inspire double takes on the street. One cool detail for RDX owners: Unless the RDX is side by side with the larger three-row MDX, it’s easy to confuse one with the other.
The 2016 RDX won’t speak to everyone, but it offers enough interior space, power, and features to please most buyers. Those who don’t respect the Acura badge, who want something sportier, or who seek a more visually stimulating daily driver have options in this price range. We’d just suggest to drivers who choose another similarly priced crossover to move over when they see a quicker RDX in their rearview mirror.
|2016 Acura RDX AWD Advance|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$44,360|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.5L/279-hp/252-lb-ft SOHC -valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,907 lb (60/40%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||184.4 x 73.7 x 65.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.8 sec @ 93.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||122 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.80 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.7 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||21.5/30.2/24.7 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||19/28/22 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||177/120 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.87 lb/mile|