Since the compact Acura RDX arrived on the scene for 2007, the luxury SUV landscape has continued to grow and change. And while an even smaller footprint is where most rivals are these days, with fuel prices on the down swing, luxury brands are starting to once again make big plans for their mainstream utes. Let’s see where the RDX fits in among the mayhem.
Now in its 2nd generation, this 2016 Acura RDX gets a thorough mid-cycle makeover, to help it stay appealing in today’s ultra-competitive luxury crossover world.
The exterior is certainly spruced up; with new front and rear fascias, Acura’s Jewel Eye LED headlights, and new wheel designs.
Under the hood, there’s still a single-cam 3.5-liter V6, but it’s a newer version; with improvements across the board. Horsepower is up 6, to 279; torque climbs just 1 lb-ft. to 252, but its torque curve has been broadened and flattened.
Fuel economy is also bettered, though only by one Highway mile-per-gallon. Government Ratings with the standard 6-speed automatic and optional all-wheel-drive are 19-City, 28-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged a very good 25.1 miles-per-gallon of Premium. So the Energy Impact Score is average at 15.0-barrels of yearly oil use with CO2 emissions of 6.6-tons.
And finally, the engine also runs a little smoother, thanks to an improved Variable Cylinder Management system and new active engine mounts.
As for why Acura continues on with V6 power when most rivals go with, or at least make available, a 4-cylinder? Well, luxury shoppers often seek things not to meet their needs, but to portray an image. By going for a compact class ute, they can appear eco-friendly and socially responsible, but with a smooth-running hidden V6 and midsize-like capabilities, they can still get their chores done easily and comfortably.
So, what else is new about this “tweener”? Well, in and around this roomy 5-seater cabin a few more features are made standard, including the power operated lift gate.
All except base models gain a new 4.2-inch color TFT display in the gauges cluster that provides more information. Cargo capacity remains a very good 26.1 cubic-ft.; expanding to 61.3 with the rear seatbacks folded.
Safety improvements include the all-encompassing AcuraWatch suite of hands-off systems. Auto braking worked well in our testing. Performing smoothly, though with lots of mechanical noise. And you get plenty of both audible and visual alerts before it actually brakes for you.
As for the road manners; even with lots of new tweaks, little has changed from our 20-14 impressions. This RDX is clearly more about ride comfort than any “sport” in utility. It continues to handle competently, but drivers’ comments like “steering numb and too light”, and “comfortable, but generic”, tell the tale. Still, we found abundant V6 gusto and composure for on-ramps and emergency passing situations.
A trip to our track confirmed that there is indeed plenty of power on tap. 60 miles-per-hour was hit in just 6.5-seconds. There’s good torque off the line and through the first couple gears, as shifts are both smooth and quick.
The engine sounded beefy, and the exhaust quite sporty; as we completed the ¼-mile in 15.0-seconds flat at 96 miles-per-hour.
Our handling impressions were also validated, with a very soft feel even with damper rebound springs to reduce body roll. Still, there’s decent communication through the wheel for a luxury-minded ute; and the all-wheel-drive system has more rear bias, greatly limiting understeer.
Braking was very impressive. Solid stops from 60, with an average of just 123-feet, were mostly fade free; accompanied by a nice feel to the pedal and good feedback.
Acura lets you prioritize whether to add tech, safety, or luxury to your base RDX that starts at $36,310. If you want it all, the Advance will set you back $42,960. All-wheel-drive adds just $1,500 more to any RDX.
All-in-all, a very worthy update to a fine vehicle. But it will take a complete next gen reboot to bring it fully up to speed with lux compact rivals. That’s not a knock on the 2016 Acura RDX by any means. It’s just a sign of where we find ourselves these days, in the highly competitive world of “what have you done for me lately” luxury-crossovers.
Engine: 3.5 liter V6
Torque: 252 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 19 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway
1/4 mile: 6.5 seconds
EPA: 15.0 seconds @ 96 mph
Energy Impact: 15.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.6 tons/yr