Model year 2016 sees the RDX dotted with updates and enhancements. Jewel-eye LED headlamps are applied, the engine is powered up a snudge, numerous exterior elements are restyled to convey Acura’s latest styling language, and a new suite of safety and connectivity features are included. Improvements to ride and handling have been carried out too, the All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system is more assertive in sending power to the rear wheels, and a small price increase nets shoppers a more comprehensive list of feature content
On board, Acura’s signature dual-screen centre stack sees one display up top, and another just beneath, for quick access to and reference of navigation, entertainment, communications and the like. The dual screens look futuristic, and will make gadget-buffs feel warm and fuzzy inside, though design aficionado types may take issue with the different colours, fonts and layout of each interface. In all, the atmosphere imparted by the tester’s grey and tan-coloured cabin and high-tech readouts is casually luxurious and sophisticated: perhaps not as serious and formal as a comparable BMW or Mercedes, but not lacking for high-tech or a luxurious feel. This is khakis- and-a-golf-shift luxury.
Elsewhere, look for generous at-hand storage, a neat and tidy button control layout, and a great sense of space, relative to RDX’s overall dimensions, which forms the basis for a feeling of just-right sizing that’s apparent in numerous ways. The cargo space is deep, wide, has a largely-square aperture, and gets a low load floor for easy access. The rear seat floor area is virtually flat, free of a central hump to accommodate driveline components beneath, and enhances rear passenger space as a result. You could seat three adults in back with little issue. Headroom in both rows is more than adequate, and up front, entry and exit require no stepping up or down, but rather, a lateral butt-slide sideways and directly into the seats. This is the sort of crossover I could load my elderly grandmother into with no issue, the kind that my dog can jump aboard without hesitation, and the kind your writer could hop in and out of during a full day of errands, without any fatigue.
RDX’s new powertrain is similar in specification to last year’s model: a 3.5L V6, six-speed automatic with paddle shift, and AWD that’s no longer of Acura’s Super Handling variety. This year, the new engine features direct injection for better low-RPM torque response, and a bump in rated horsepower.
On offer is additional creamy and solid output at lower revs, with improved low-end sauce reducing the need for downshifts in city traffic and highway hills, thereby boosting overall efficiency, if slightly. Sporty drivers will appreciate the high-revving power peak, and the nearly 7,000 rpm redline accompanied by a snorty roar and an eager, free-breathing character when opened up.
Paddle-activated gear changes come smoothly, with perfect rev-matching on downshifts and pleasing sound effects, though a slight delay requires drivers to think a half second ahead of the gearbox at full throttle, to avoid engaging the rev-limiter.
In all, here’s an engine that’s remarkably smooth and quiet when driven by the light-footed, though one that works beautifully when having the bejesus driven out of it, should drivers be so inclined.
Effective use of the latest high-tech features is demonstrated in two key areas. First, the LED headlights. These can be hit and miss depending on the manufacturer, though the multi-segment LED lamps capping the RDX’s front end provide crisp, saturating and consistently-dispersed light well up the road, and into nearby treelines. Low beam performance is good, and high-beams are fantastic.
Second, the networked array of radar and camera safety systems works well, with lane-departure and rear cross-path traffic alerts engaged with admirable effectiveness. The adaptive cruise control system works nicely too, though it can occasionally feel abrupt and clumsy, depending on the traffic situation.
Mileage on my highway-intensive watch landed at a measured-by-hand 9.8 L/100 km, with the computer readout suggesting the figure to be an even better 9.5. That’s pretty stellar real-life mileage for a generously-sized AWD ute with the better part of 300 horses.
4 years/80,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/unlimited distance roadside assistance
Mercedes Benz GLK
With an impressive standard features list, a trophy rack stuffed with awards, and a proven brand reputation, as well as plenty of space, decent overall comfort and good fuel mileage, the RDX ticks virtually all the right boxes as an attainable and sensible luxury crossover for the masses.
Consider it alongside comparable offerings from Audi, Lexus, Infiniti and others.
RDX starts at $42,000 with this fully-loaded Elite-grade tester coming in a touch under $47,000.
Pricing: 2016 Acura RDX Elite
Base Price: $46,590
A/C Tax: $100
Price As Tested: $48,635