Hot off a mid-cycle refresh, the 2016 Acura RDX receives some much-needed tweaks inside and out, as well as a safety technology package that’s worthy of a luxury brand.
The Acura RDX crossover SUV gets some major updates for the 2016 model year, and continues to offer a roomy cabin with seating for five and plenty of cargo space. A new front fascia that showcases Acura’s attractive ‘Jewel-Eye’ multi-LED headlamps adds an aggressive flair to the previous model year’s aesthetic ‘sameness.’ Restyled alloy wheels add a nice hint of performance and LED taillights finish the RDX’s new rear styling. These updates give the 2016 model a contemporary look that helps the 2016 RDX stand out in the crowd.
Bucking the current crossover trend of small turbocharged engines, the 2016 RDX is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shifting mode.
The 2016 RDX is available in five trim levels. Front-wheel-drive comes standard on all models, while a retuned all-wheel-drive system is optional.
The 2016 RDX blends sharp focal points and rounded arches to create a visually pleasing design. The restyled grille adopts Acura’s new and more aggressive design language. The five jewel LED headlights wrap around the front fenders for a powerful and engaging effect. A power moonroof is standard equipment at all trim levels.
There is a slight edge to the new lines of the RDX that I like. While not the most aggressively styled compact crossover on the market, Acura carefully walks the fine line between mass appeal and decided individualism.
My review vehicle arrived wearing a glossy coat of an all-too-sedate slate silver metallic paint. The color did a nice job helping the RDX blend into my suburban neighborhood. A few folks stopped to ask what I thought, but it never attracted undue attention. However, I feel that choosing a bolder shade, like the rich Basque Red Pearl or striking Fathom Blue Pearl, would help the plentiful chrome accents pop and add the dramatic curb appeal that the new lines deserve.
The RDX interior is an exercise in sophisticated utilitarian luxury. Favoring function over flash, the understated design and subtle trim work is visually pleasing, but a little underwhelming. The majority of surfaces are soft-touch, but Acura uses longwearing hard plastics in some of the heavier trafficked areas, like the door pulls.
The base and AcuraWatch Plus trim levels wrap the seats in leatherette material. Higher trim levels treat occupants to real perforated leather-trimmed sport seats. In typical Acura fashion, the seats walk the line between soft and sport.
While I found them quite comfortable, a few of my passengers felt they were too firm.
The quiet cabin provides a nice open feeling. The RDX comfortably seats five, although longer trips with three adults in the back seat would be taxing, which is expected for the compact SUV segment. Front-seat passengers have plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the standard heated seats, and the driver is treated to a standard 10-way power adjustable seat and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
Cargo space with all the seats in use measures 26.1 cubic feet. That number grows to 76.9 cubic feet when the second row seats are folded flat. About average for the segment, the RDX provides plenty of room for a family of four to pack for an extended weekend trip. Placing the rear seats in their stored positions transforms the RDX into the perfect home project mobile.
The RDX is powered by a silky-smooth 3.5-liter V6 engine, which produces 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, a slight bump over last year’s model. A six-speed automatic transmission effortlessly takes care of gear changes, sending power to the front wheels or all four if optionally equipped with Acura’s refreshed all-wheel-drive system. In an effort to improve handling dynamics, Acura has tuned the new all-wheel drive system to send more power to the rear wheels when necessary.
Acura’s V6 engine aims to please. The ample power helps the crossover scoot along more rapidly than many of the other vehicles in its class.
The beautifully musical sound of the V6 under heavy acceleration speaks volumes for the engines engineering and capabilities. It may read a little funny, but you can hear the quality.
Fuel economy is slightly improved thanks to a nifty engineering trick that shuts three of the V6 engine’s cylinders down under light load conditions, such as set-speed highway cruising. This trick adds one mile per gallon to the EPA numbers resulting in 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway when equipped with all-wheel drive. The numbers, while average for the segment, are quite impressive considering that the RDX makes 279 horsepower and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds.
On the road, the RDX is respectful and generous. The suspension does an excellent job absorbing uneven pavement and highway cruising is, in a good way, rather boring.
Acura’s crossover is relatively drama free and displays the same characteristics that you want in a good friend: stability, composure, reliability and helpfulness.
Of course, those same noble characteristics can leave enthusiasts wanting for more. The RDX favors comfort over dynamics, resulting in a ‘safe’ vehicle that rewards the driver and passengers on long road trips, but wouldn’t necessarily be your first pick for running around on the weekend with your buddies. Steering is numb, the ever-present body roll reminds you to keep aggressive cornering in check, and while the engine is powerful, the softer chassis betrays it.
A big part of the RDX’s refresh centers on innovative technology. Standard features include a premium seven-speaker audio system. USB connectivity with iPod integration and hands-free Bluetooth allow the crossover’s entertainment system to become an extension of your smartphone. A rear camera, power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control and heated front seats round out the RDX’s standard electrical goodies.
The optional Technology package piles on some incredible features at a reasonable cost. The package adds Acura’s latest navigation system that includes real-time traffic information and can reroute directions accordingly.
An ‘on demand’ multi-use display screen works in concert with a second multi-information display to offer a tablet-like interface that does not interfere with the vehicles navigation display. In other words, your passenger can change the radio station without temporarily causing you as the driver to lose the navigation display, something that I appreciated more than I expected.
The Technology package also includes a great sounding 10-speaker ELS audio system featuring HD Radio, AHA compatibility, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a very cool GPS-linked climate control system.
My top-trim RDX with Advance Package included the Technology and AcuraWatch offerings along with parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto dimming side mirrors and remote engine start with vehicle feedback. The RDX’s key fob remote allows you to lock or remote start the vehicle from up to 330 feet away. You can also you the key fob to confirm that the engine is running or that the doors are locked. The system is impressive, easy to use, and makes you wonder why every company isn’t offering a similar system.
Earning a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2016 Acura RDX offers an incredible amount of standard and optional technology-based safety features.
Most noteworthy is the $1,300 group of collision-avoidance technologies that the manufacturer refers to as ‘AcuraWatch.’ The package includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist, and a potentially life-saving collision-mitigation braking system. The feature set is standard on the top-spec Advance Package trim, but can be added as optional equipment to any trim level.
Other notable safety features include a host of air bags, advanced traction control, anti-lock brakes, a rearview camera and an expanded-view driver’s side mirror.
The base front-wheel-drive 2016 Acura RDX starts at $35,190 (including a $920 destination charge), which is very reasonable for the luxury crossover segment. Adding all-wheel-drive to any trim level costs an additional $1,500.
My top-trim 2016 RDX with Advance Package retails for $44,340. Even that price represents excellent value for a vehicle that offers the luxury and equipment of Acura’s crossover. If you spend some time checking out the competition, you will realize that the RDX’s price tag falls below that of the majority of comparably equipped competitors.
Considering the relatively affordable pricing, the fact that the RDX historically offers excellent resale values, and the decent fuel economy numbers, the 2016 RDX adds up to an excellent value.
Thanks to a striking new front fascia that includes Acura’s attractive ‘Jewel-Eye’ LED headlights, the refreshed 2016 RDX combines good looks, plenty of muscle, ample technology and a surprisingly affordable price tag to create an appealing luxury crossover. While the driving dynamics may fall short of what some key competitors offer, the RDX excels in creating a road-going experience that favors the entire family rather than simply trying to appeal to the person behind the wheel.