Acura recently reinvented its compact RDX luxury crossover, ditching the high-tech but quirky design of the old model in favor of a more mainstream approach. While some sportiness has been lost in the transition, the RDX is now much more comfortable, competent and capable all-around.
Outside, the RDX sports a clean and contemporary look, with notable cues including squinting headlights and a gracefully arching side window line. Acura's corporate "beak" grille is mercifully subtle and well-integrated into the overall design in this iteration.
The cabin is characterized by a symmetrical design composed of organic shapes and upscale-looking materials. The dashboard is more shapely than the somewhat squared-off unit in the last-generation model, while the old three-binnacle instrument cluster is replaced by a cleaner setup with large, legible speedometer and tachometer readouts. There's no iDrive-like control system; this means that the secondary systems are controlled by buttons and knobs, which are numerous but relatively intuitive.
Interior space is ample, especially for rear-seat passengers, and there's 26.1 cubic feet of cargo room available behind the second-row seats. Fold those seats down, and stowage space balloons to 61.3 cubic feet.
One of the biggest changes to the latest RDX is found under the hood, where a 3.5-liter V6 has taken up residence in the space formerly occupied by a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder. In contrast to the peaky old four, the V6 is smooth and refined in its power delivery. Power is rated at 273 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque, which is sent to either the front wheels (the standard configuration) or all four wheels (optional) via a six-speed automatic transmission.
In place of the old RDX's Super-Handling AWD system, which featured a sporty and sophisticated torque vectoring system, the new model features a simplified AWD setup. It utilizes a multi-plate clutch to send power to the rear wheels and is decidedly front-axle biased.
The front-wheel-drive model is rated at 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, while the AWD variant returns 19/27 mpg.
Trim Level Breakdown
As with other Acura models, the RDX features a trim level system in place of stand-alone options.
The base model comes standard with leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, a seven-speaker, 360-watt AM/FM/CD sound system with AUX and USB inputs, Pandora internet radio, Bluetooth connectivity, SMS text messaging, a smart key entry system with push-button start, a tri-view rear camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The RDX with Technology Package adds a navigation system with real-time traffic and weather updates, a 10-speaker, 410-watt ELS sound system with Dolby Pro Logic II, a power liftgate, fog lights and HID headlights.
Newly available as a dealer-installed option is a package that fully integrates Apple's Siri virtual assistant with the RDX.
Using Apple's new Eyes Free mode, RDX drivers can access Siri via their iPhone without taking their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. The Eyes Free function uses the vehicle's steering wheel-mounted buttons to access Siri's voice commands, which Honda says reduces distractions behind the wheel. Eyes Free also turns off the iPhone's screen so drivers aren't tempted to look at their device.
Standard safety features include dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems. A child-seat mounting systems, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), allows the quick and secure installation of a child seats.
The RDX faces a wealth of competition in the premium small crossover segment, including the fine-driving BMW X3 as well as luxurious rivals like the Infiniti EX35 and the Mercedes-Benz GLK350.