2016 Acura Rdx - The Car Connection

   
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The Car Connection Expert Rating Breakdown



The Car Connection Expert Review


Mitch McCullough

Mitch McCullough

Editor


  • Likes
  • Smart V-6 acceleration
  • Rides smoothly
  • More agile than its rivals
  • Intuitive controls
  • Dislikes
  • Back seat is a little cramped
  • Rear seats don't fold flat
  • Tinny audio
  • Annoying forward-collision warnings

The 2016 Acura RDX is a smooth and responsive crossover SUV; it’s easy to live with, as long as the back seat fits your passengers.


Acura's entry into the luxury compact SUV category is a strong one. The 2016 Acura RDX is versatile and practical, and can be equipped with enough safety technology to place it at the top of its segment. It may not have the brand cachet of some of its competitors such as the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and Audi Q5, but it certainly has the chops to compete. It's main rival—at least in terms of fuel economy and perceived safety—may be the Volvo XC60, which is another popular pick in the category.

New for the 2013 model year, the RDX gets an update for the 2016 model year that fits a new V-6 engine under the hood, and adds some light styling touches. The headlights are now a string of five LEDs, lined up in a row like diamonds on a wedding ring. The front fascia has been reshaped, along with the rear, which also gets LED taillights. The emphatic, angular grille is still front and center, but it seems to fit better on this vehicle than any other Acura. Overall, the styling is sleek, with an attractive profile and pronounced fender arches.

For 2016, peak power from the V-6 is up slightly, and there’s more torque over a broader range, resulting in more immediate response at all engine speeds and better drivability around town. The 2016 RDX is rated at 279 horsepower (up 6 hp) and 252 pound-feet of torque (up 1).

We found it to be a smooth, responsive engine that delivers strong acceleration performance. It's great for cruising around town, and works well in stop-and-go traffic. Its ability to accelerate from 40 mph to 70 mph makes for comfortable passing on two-lane roads, and it's enjoyable on winding rural roads. Strong torque from the V-6 means it doesn't have to downshift to accelerate.

The RDX is built like a car, drives like a car, and its small size makes it maneuverable in tight quarters and easy to park. Handling on winding roads is a balanced vehicle, making the RDX enjoyable to drive, though it isn't sporty in the German-'ute vein.

The optional all-wheel-drive system, called "AWD with Intelligent Control," has been retuned for 2016 to send more power to the rear wheels under acceleration for improved stability. It helps the RDX feel a bit more like a rear-wheel-drive car, less like a front-wheel-drive car.

The cabin is comfortable, handsome, and controls and features are easy to find and operate. In terms of space, the RDX is best for a pair of adults and another pair of smaller passengers. The RDX shares its basic structure with the Honda CR-V, which means it’s a compact by the EPA definition, and to big adults, it’s really a compact—especially if they’re seated in the second row.

The RDX’s front seats are comfortable. An eight-way adjustable driver's seat and a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes allows for drivers 6 feet tall or shorter. Both our tall testers and those of average height found it comfortable enough that we didn't take much note of it, a good sign. The back seats are comfortable for two smaller passengers, crowded for three.

The RDX offers 61 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded, though the rear seats do not fold perfectly flat. That's comparable to the 2016 BMW X3's 63 cubic feet. A low cargo floor allows easier loading of cargo into the RDX. Hidden, underfloor storage accepts an additional 15 cubic feet of cargo.

Safety ratings are top-drawer with the latest RDX. Front, side-impact, and side-curtain airbags come standard, along with anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and traction control, a rearview camera, and a rollover sensor to trigger the curtain airbags.

Priced from the low $30,000 range to nearly $40,000, the RDX has standard power features; cruise control; dual-zone climate control; keyless ignition; a seven-speaker sound system with USB/MP3 support; and Bluetooth. Navigation is an option, and it comes with voice recognition.

To improve fuel economy, three of the six cylinders will deactivate under light loads and just go along for the ride, though the driver cannot tell any of this is going on. Fuel economy on the EPA combined cycle is 23 mpg, or 22 mpg with all-wheel drive. That’s not quite as good as the Volvo XC60 with its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that’s rated 26 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and the RDX requires premium gasoline, whereas the XC60 uses regular gas.

Styling
7.0

Clean lines and an understated design make the 2016 Acura RDX an attractive, yet conservative, SUV.


The 2016 RDX is an attractive vehicle, with a profile and overall looks that are similar to other compact crossovers. The shape is smooth, punctuated by pronounced, muscular-looking fender arches. The roofline is low and arched, for a smart stance.

The styling details of the RDX have been revised for 2016 to bring it more into line with the rest of the Acura lineup—but it’s still a near-luxury crossover SUV, which means the basic outline and details aren’t very mysterious or controversial, except maybe at the front.

The front gets a new grille and new LED headlights. The rear uses LEDs with light-pipe design for taillights. All RDX models get new wheels for 2016.

The most distinctive view is still from the front, though with distinction comes with a catch. Some don't like the bright grille that resembles a beak, though it looks better on the SUVs than on the sedans.

Inside, there's a tasteful balance of form and function, with a central pod of dash controls, plus lots of soft-touch materials and matte surfaces that bring an upscale look and feel. If we could point to a flaw, it's that for the dash it relies too much on bright finishes. It's more mature, and there's there's none of the claustrophobic wrap-around feeling you get in some sporty crossovers—even though the center controls are positioned out a bit toward the driver.

Clean lines and an understated design make the 2016 Acura RDX an attractive, yet conservative, SUV.

Performance
8.0

The RDX isn't sporty, but is has responsive handling, feels very confident, and has a strong V-6.


The 2016 RDX comes standard with a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine with cylinder-deactivation technology, which means it can shut off half its engine under light loads, to save fuel. The new engine is rated at 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. It’s a smooth and refined piece, and very responsive at all engine speeds, though it hesitated occasionally when cold.

Shutting down cylinders in the 2016 RDX increases its highway EPA ratings by 1 mpg, rising to 19 mpg city, 28 highway, 22 combined for all-wheel-drive models and 20/29/23 mpg for front-drive models. The cylinder deactivation is barely detectable by the driver.

The RDX is built like a car, drives like a car, and its small size makes it maneuverable in tight quarters and easy to park. Handling on winding roads is a balanced vehicle, making the RDX enjoyable to drive, though it isn't sporty in the German-'ute vein.

The RDX's all-wheel-drive has been tuned for more rear bias—it sends more power to the rear wheels under optimal conditions, which can aid stability and traction on snow and ice.

Driving refinement is further enhanced by new active front and rear engine mounts, updates to the steering control system and increased suspension mount stiffness. These tweaks reduce the amount of vibration the driver and passengers feel on rough roads. All of this adds to the feeling of a premium vehicle.

The RDX isn't sporty, but is has responsive handling, feels very confident, and has a strong V-6.

Comfort & Quality
8.0

The RDX's interior feels sophisticated, and cargo space is good, though second-row room is a little snug.


The RDX has a nicely trimmed cabin with controls that are easy to operate and don't annoy. For 2016, RDX has been updated with more silver and black trim, heated front seats and second-row air-conditioning vents.

The front seats are comfortable, with an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat and steering column that tilts and telescopes to adjust to different size drivers. There is plenty of room for tall drivers.

The back seats are comfortable for two medium-size adults, tight—but doable—for three, with the middle rider cramped for leg room and shoulder and hip room. We’ve found taller passengers don’t quite have enough knee or head room to be comfortable for long distances in the back of the RDX, but average-size teenagers and children should be fine.

By the numbers, the RDX has 38.1 inches of head room, 38.3 inches of leg room, 57.2 inches of shoulder room, and 53.8 inches of hip room in the rear seats. By comparison, Volvo says its XC60 has 38.1/36.4/55.2/53.8 inches, respectively, which is less leg room and shoulder room than what’s in the RDX.

The cabin offers plenty of small-item storage in cubbies and bins. The center console can hold 23 CD cases, and there’s a little shelf above it perfect for a cell phone with a power outlet inside the center console for charging. A smaller covered storage space in front of the shifter can also hold a cell phone and it includes a USB port, an audio input jack, and a power outlet. The glove box has a tray to hold the owner’s manual out of the way, and that tray can be removed. The rear of the center console has a small shelf for back-seat riders. Storage is also provided in the door panels.

There is 26.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, 61.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, and 76.9 cubic feet including under-floor storage. That storage capacity makes it roughly the equal of the BMW X3. However, in the RDX, the rear seats don't fold down fully flat, and the RDX doesn't have the clever second-row Magic Seat found in the Honda HR-V. On the other hand, the RDX has a low cargo floor, which makes it easy to pile groceries and cargo in back.

The RDX's interior feels sophisticated, and cargo space is good, though second-row room is a little snug.

Safety
9.0

Safety scores are high for the RDX, and it's added high-tech safety options.


Federal safety officials give the 2016 Acura RDX a five-star overall rating for crash safety, with five for frontal crash, five stars for side crash, and four stars for rollover. The IIHS has named the RDX a Top Safety Pick+, with "Good" ratings for all of its crash tests.

All 2016 Acura RDX models can be equipped with the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver-assist technologies. It includes adaptive cruise control; forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking; lane-keeping and lane-departure warning systems; and a driver-side mirror with an expanded viewing area.

Like other forward-collision warning systems, the one in the 2016 RDX is good, but not perfect. It’s designed to detect objects that could prove dangerous—but those objects aren’t always easy to sort out in real life.

Safety scores are high for the RDX, and it's added high-tech safety options.

Features
7.0

The RDX offers much in the way of features, though some of the latest technology offerings are absent.


The RDX is very well equipped, even before opting into Acura’s comprehensive packages of add-on features.

The RDX comes loaded with power features; dual-zone climate control; cruise control; keyless ignition; ambient lighting; a seven-speaker sound system with USB/MP3 support; and Bluetooth hands-free calling. Navigation is optional, included in the Advance and Technology packages, and it comes with voice recognition.

The 2016 RDX Advance Package includes special 18-inch alloy wheels; remote start; front and rear parking sensors; and ventilated front seats.

The 2016 RDX Technology Package includes blind-spot monitors; HD Radio; a multi-rearview camera; and a dual-screen infotainment display. In that setup, the top screen is a big, bright display dedicated to navigation with beautiful, uncluttered maps that are easy to read while driving. The audio system is intuitive, and very easy to control underway with the large display screen below the navigation. It has a real button for volume and for switching the system on and off, a vastly superior setup to the sliders and on-screen controls found on some Honda models.

The RDX offers much in the way of features, though some of the latest technology offerings are absent.

Fuel Economy
6.0

The RDX turned in its turbo-4 for a V-6 engine, and since then fuel economy hasn't been its prime directive.


The Acura RDX only comes with one engine: a 3.5-liter V-6. It gets good fuel economy for a V-6, but some of the smaller engines from other automakers are more efficient.

The front-drive 2016 Acura RDX is rated at 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined, according to the EPA. With all-wheel drive, it's rated at 19/28/22 mpg.

The 2016 Volvo XC60 beats that with 23/31/26 mpg with front-wheel drive, while the BMW X3 sDrive 28i is rated 21/28/24 mpg, beating the RDX by 1 mpg.

The RDX turned in its turbo-4 for a V-6 engine, and since then fuel economy hasn't been its prime directive.




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