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- Highs Attractive styling, comfortable ride, good value proposition.
- Lows Balky transmission, interior lacks the premium feel of some rivals, more commuter than off-roader.
- Verdict What the RDX lacks in sportiness and rugged looks, it delivers in features and value.
Acura has carved out a special niche for its best-selling model, the RDX two-row compact premium sport/utility vehicle. It is aimed at luxury models like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, though at a significantly lower sticker price and with a simplified trim and equipment package menu that eschews the sort of option-loading that can multiply the price of the more luxurious German competition. The RDX is now into its second generation, having launched for 2013, and has transformed from a sportier, edgier model with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine to a softer, plusher SUV with a V-6 and a lot of good kit and premium materials for an attractive price.
What's New for 2018?
The Acura RDX last got a facelift, with significant exterior and interior design changes, for the 2016 model year. For 2018, as in ’17, there are no changes to the SUV.
- Base: $36,995
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
When Acura swapped the 2.3-liter turbo four out of the first-generation RDX for a 3.5-liter V-6 in the current model, it got more power but a bit less torque. A new six-speed automatic transmission delivers better fuel mileage, although it can be balky on upshifts. Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) also was left out in the new model in favor of an optional part-time AWD system that never sends more than 50% of power to the rear wheels. With new, electrically assisted power steering replacing the old hydraulic unit, the RDX was transformed from an edgy compact SUV with sports-sedan pretensions to one we described as having “pillowy, almost Lexus-like shock tuning.” For buyers who want an SUV that acts like an SUV, that means the RDX is not trying to overcome the laws of physics that its height and weight make inherently antithetical to sporting dynamics.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Acura RDX is designed to be a comfortable, premium two-row SUV for young couples and empty-nesters, although its interior falls short of some luxury rivals. The RDX boasts a capacious 76.9 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the first row and favors equipment packages over trim levels. They begin with the Acura Watch Package, with adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation braking system, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist. The Technology package adds eight-way power front seats, high-definition radio, blind-spot information, rear cross-traffic monitor, multi-view rear camera with dynamic guidelines, and a host of infotainment and connectivity features. The Advance Package adds rain-sensing wipers, front fog lamps, remote engine start, parking sensors, ventilated front seats, auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, and Acura Watch.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Acura’s navigation system, featuring an 8.0-inch color screen, is a stand-alone option. Check the Technology Package, and AcuraLink satellite communications and voice recognition with real time traffic are added to the system. The Technology package also includes an upgrade to Acura’s excellent ELS surround-sound, 10-speaker, 410-watt hi-fi system.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.