2016 Acura RDX review with video
Base price: $41,900 + taxes
As tested: $46,590 + taxes
Highway fuel economy: 8.6 L/100 kms
City fuel economy: 12.4 L/100 kms
Competition: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Volvo XC60
Acura’s sales have been heavily influenced of late by its SUV line-up. There’s the long-time MDX and its baby brother, the RDX, which has been with us since 2007. The RDX underwent a redesign for 2013 and now has what Acura calls a “refresh” for the 2016 model year.
The big changes include a new direction in powertrain, more standard features and a raft of new, clever safety tech as well. For years now, the RDX has been powered by a 4-cylinder turbo engine. Many companies have since followed suit and put smaller turbocharged engines into their crossovers too. But, going against the grain, Acura has decided to go oldschool and put a non-turbo 3.5-litre V6 into the new RDX. It’s the same engine you’d find in the Honda Odyssey minivan. The result is a smooth ride with no annoying turbo lag when you’re accelerating off the line or passing traffic on the highway. Speaking of highway driving, Acura says it’s seen a slight improvement in fuel economy with the new RDX despite its larger engine. And on the highway, I saw 9 litres per 100 kms. But on city roads, fuel economy was less impressive. In the depths of rush hour, numbers climbed to around 15 litres per 100 kms.
From the driver’s seat, our Elite trim (also new for 2016) didn’t leave many stones unturned. All the features you’d expect in a luxury SUV are there at well under the price of its European competition (a similarly equipped BMW X3 is around $63,000). But I did find the front seats feel a bit like a church pew with a very flat, unsupported lower bucket – especially compared to the Volvo XC60 or Audio Q5. My biggest beef from the driver’s seat is the infotainment system. Its convoluted, layered menus are difficult to use and seem unnecessarily complicate. Using the voice recognition software is equally frustrating as very few of my commands were actually understood. Then there’s the navigation which seems clunky and out of date. Major, well-established roads were totally absent from the map and the routes selected for me were long and indirect.
A Top Safety Pick + rating is well earned with a raft of new safety features available including rear cross traffic alert that alerts you when a vehicle is crossing your path as you’re pulling out of a parking spot, adaptive cruise control, blindspot detection and, perhaps most interestingly, its lane keeping assist system. This takes the traditional lane departure warning alarms and elevates it to the next level. When activated, the RDX will actually, as Acura says, “apply light steering torque to return the vehicle to the centre of the lane”. The result is spooky. The steering wheel tugs at your palms as it corrects your path and basically drives itself… but don’t try to take your hands off the wheel. After a few seconds, the car will remind you that steering is, in fact, required.
The back seat is really spacious in the RDX and blows away other SUVs this size. Rear facing child seats and full size adults can fit back there without cramping front passengers at all and headroom is excellent as well. Our trunk test also revealed excellent cargo capacity. The RDX gobbled up all of the standard gear we put in all our vehicles (stroller, backpack, diaper bag, two bags of groceries and a soccer ball) and still had room for our 80 pound dog. To see the tests for yourself, make sure to watch our video review above.
All in all, the RDX is a roomy, luxurious choice with some clever technology at a good price.
Family Wheels pros: amazing rear leg room and cargo capacity for a car of this size, smooth V6 power, good value, impressive high tech safety features on the upper trim levels, excellent safety rating
Family Wheels cons: infotainment system over-complicated, spotty mapping information in the navigation, voice recognition software doesn’t work well, driver’s seat not as comfortable as competition, fuel economy in the city
Family Wheels target: 1-3 child families. Fits car seats of all types well
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels driveability score: 4/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5
Family wheels final score: 24/30