The 2017 Acura RDX is one of the smoothest, most responsive-driving compact crossover SUVs—even though it prioritizes practicality.
Acura may be the underdog today in luxury sedans, yet it's giving shoppers exactly what they want with the 2017 Acura RDX and the larger MDX.
That includes strong powertrains, quiet cabins, and impressive safety—as well as just the right amount of versatility and practicality to make it one of the best-balanced picks in the segment, for those who are balancing the usual mix of sometimes-conflicting priorities.
The RDX was designed as a more pragmatic model for 2013, then refreshed just last year with a few new features and some styling nips and tucks, and we rate it a 7.2 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Style and performance
Overall, the styling is sleek, with an attractive profile and pronounced fender arches. The headlights are now a string of five LEDs, lined up in a row like diamonds on a wedding ring. The front-end appearance has become a little less beak-like, and LED front and rear lighting help give this design the right finer touches. For 2017, a couple of new colors are the most significant change in the lineup.
Last year, the 3.5-liter V-6 engine in the RDX got a slight power boost—to 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque—and tuning for more immediate response at all engine speeds and better drivability around town. Most of the RDX's rivals now come with a turbocharged inline-4, and versus those models the RDX's V-6 is strong and responsive. It's great for cruising around town, and works well in stop-and-go traffic. Strong torque from the V-6 means it doesn't have to downshift to accelerate.
The RDX handles like a well-tuned sedan; its small size makes it maneuverable in tight quarters and easy to park. Handling on winding roads is balanced, and 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, can send more power to the rear wheels under acceleration for improved stability, and in some situations it can add to the balanced handling characteristics of this model.
Comfort, safety, and features
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. To big adults, it's really a compact—especially if they’re seated in the second row.
The cabin of the 2017 RDX is just the right mix of elegant and formal fused with sporty; and that pretty much describes the mixed priorities you'll find in this crossover. Seats are comfortable, and the cabin is generally very quiet—although a somewhat tight back seat and rear seats that don't quite fold flat add up to a vehicle that definitely makes some compromises for its compact footprint and arching roofline. And the low cargo floor allows easier loading of cargo into the RDX. Hidden, underfloor storage accepts an additional 15 cubic feet of cargo.
In safety, the 2017 Acura RDX continues to be one of the best-performing models in this class. 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.
The IIHS called the 2017 RDX a Top Safety Pick+.
The 2017 Acura RDX comes in 10 different builds, yet few other options. Base, Technology, and Advance models set the stage for increasing levels of luxury and tech features, while a suite of AcuraWatch active-safety items are included at the Advance level but optional on other models. At the top Advance level, the RDX includes special 18-inch alloy wheels; remote start; front and rear parking sensors; and ventilated front seats.