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 near the head 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 Acura 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 five LEDs in its headlights string together like jewelry. 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. It's sleek and attractive, with pronounced fenders and a clean profile.
For 2016, peak power from the V-6 is up slightly, and there's more torque over a broader range, resulting in better drivability and more immediate power response. 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 works well in city traffic, and it's well-sorted for urban driving. 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. The V-6 engine's ample torque means it doesn't need to shift as often.
The car-like RDX 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 available all-wheel-drive system, dubbed 'AWD with Intelligent Control,' has been retuned for 2016 for better stability. It can send additional power to the rear wheels when it's accelerating. It helps the RDX feel a bit more like a rear-wheel-drive car, less like a front-wheel-drive car.
The RDX can host a couple of adults in front, a pair of smaller adult passengers in its back seat. The cockpit is handsome, comfortable, and the controls are well-organized. Since it shares some of its structure with Honda's CR-V, it's fairly compact in footprint. That becomes obvious to tall people when they try to ride in back.
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. Cargo loading is easy thanks to a low load floor, and there's a well under it for storing another 15 cubic feet of stuff.
Safety ratings are top-drawer with the latest RDX. The usual standard stability control and airbags are joined by a rearview camera.
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.