The Acura RDX is a compact crossover now in the sixth year of its generation. It was a trailbreaker when it was introduced, a daring step into the uncharted territory of compact sport SUV. It’s long in the tooth now.
Available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, RDX comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 276 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a slick paddle-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.
Over the years its mission has grown to near-luxury, to the point where a fully loaded RDX can match the starting price of rivals like the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC. But its entry-level model is still quite a lot less, bringing the value of affordability to the RDX.
The 2018 Acura RDX ($36,775) comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, moonroof, power liftgate, keyless ignition, LED headlamps, rearview camera, and heated front leatherette seats, power adjustable. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
RDX with the Technology package ($40,475) has real leather upholstery, higher infotainment on 8.0-inch screen, upgraded audio and 18-inch alloy wheels. AcuraWatch includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, and lane keep assist ($1300).
RDX with Advance package the ($43,475) brings ventilated front seats, foglamps, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, remote start, and parking sensors, and AcuraWatch.
The base 17-inch alloy wheels could stand to be a bit more flashy, like the machine-finished 18-inch alloys that come with the Technology package.
The busy cabin shows its age, especially in gray, and struggles to meet that near-luxury tag. For example some matte silver painted plastic trim looks like it came off the modest CR-V. But close your eyes and the RDX feels like a crossover costing much more. It’s solid and quiet. Open them and you’ll see that the large center console has lots of storage space. The thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel suggests cornering tenacity that’s not quite there.
The rear passengers face a low bench seat, in an attempt to improve headroom which remains limited. It supposedly can fit three adults but we don’t recommend it. It folds almost flat, to create a good-sized 61.3 cubic feet of cargo space. And then there’s the bonus of another 15.6 cubic feet under the cargo floor.
The infotainment on the Technology and Advance RDX isn’t user-friendly. The menus are complicated, and a second screen in the process doesn’t help. Another drawback to the system is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto aren’t available.
The electric power steering is direct, better than that the Lexus RX. And the handling is accurate, if not entirely sports-car-like. Out on the wide-open road, at high speed, it’s rock steady. The suspension takes the bumps in stride.
We’ll stick to the base model, in avoidance of the frustrating infotainment on the upscale models. We’re fine with the good leatherette, and we still get the great V6 and slick six-speed paddle-shifting automatic. Comfortable supportive seats. The rear passengers will be a bit tight, but when they’re gone there’s tons of room for cargo. Sharp direct handling at all times. Cheaper than a BMW. So what if the trim isn’t fancy.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.