2017 Acura RDX Elite Road Test Review

August 16 2019, North Shore Acura

2017 Acura RDX Elite Road Test Review

A very good luxury utility that drives even better value

Name me a German compact SUV that comes standard with full LED headlamps? I'll save you the time of looking, as there isn't one. This advanced safety and styling feature is only optional with the Teutonic brands, each of which costs more than Acura's RDX even when compared in base trim.

From the Japanese premium brand's entry-level ILX sedan to its mid-size seven-occupant MDX utility, good value has long been an Acura trait. You can buy a 2017 RDX for as little as $42,190, which is a great deal for what you're getting.

So many premium features for such great value

First off the RDX comes standard with a smooth and energetic 3.5-litre V6 that's good for 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, plus standard AWD. Additional standard kit includes 18-inch alloys, amplitude reactive dampers, a host of AcuraWatch features such as forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, tire pressure monitoring, and adaptive cruise control that helped it achieve a best possible IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating and five-star NHTSA crash test rating.

The RDX standard features list continues with proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, ambient cabin lighting, auto on/off headlights, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone auto climate control, five-inch colour infotainment featuring a multi-angle rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, satellite radio, Siri Eyes Free, text messaging functionality, 360-watt seven-speaker audio, eight-way powered and heated front seats with driver's side memory that also controls the side mirrors which include auto reverse tilt, a powered moonroof, a HomeLink garage door opener, active sound control, a powered liftgate and more. Configure an RDX next to any of its European competitors and you'll quickly realize there's a reason it's one of the most popular in its segment.

Options are aplenty and well priced

It gets even more interesting when we factor in options, my tester in full-load Elite trim and therefore including everything from $45,190 Technology trim such as remote start, power-folding side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a larger eight-inch LED backlit VGA infotainment display dedicated to navigation mapping, trip and traffic incident info, phone messages, voice activation settings, calendar, clock, and more, plus a separate "On-Demand" colour touchscreen below that lets you adjust the audio and enhanced GPS-linked and solar-sensing climate control system, the former upgraded to a superb 410-watt, 10-speaker ELS surround sound system, while Tech features continue with dynamic guidelines for the rearview camera, AcuraLink telematics services, leather upholstery, heatable rear outboard seats, and blindspot monitoring with cross-traffic monitoring. Specific features that come with the $46,790 Elite upgrade include fog lamps, sportier looking 18-inch wheels, auto-dimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, and ventilated front seats.

The only thing that could've made my tester better (although it comes down to personal taste) is an all-black Carbon package that for $3,600 and change adds black diamond-cut alloys, black running boards with rear steps, plus black roof rails and crossbars; a hardwood trim package for the interior that nears $1,400, and a number of other accessories your dealer can install.

Refinement is an RDX trademark

Life with the RDX starts out with one of the most substantive and well-made proximity key fobs available. Both front doors provide keyless access, and opening either makes it clear Acura has gone above and beyond to provide a luxurious experience for driver and passengers. Quality soft-touch surfaces include the entire dash top, much of the instrument panel, plus most of the door uppers and inserts, while the classic looking dual-dial primary instrument cluster flanks a large trip computer at centre, and two big screen infotainment displays light up the centre stack, the topmost one more of an advanced multi-information display that's controllable with a large rotating knob and buttons on the lower section of the stack, and the lower one a touchscreen.

The seats are wonderful, their adjustability ideal for my medium-build five-foot-eight body's size and shape and the two-way powered lumbar also a good fit for the small of my back, while their perforated inserts are useful for cooling during summer's heat and three-way warmers amply hot when winter arrives.

Superb standard performance sets the RDX apart

Lighting up the engine simply requires a push of the red engine start/stop button on the dash, the 24-valve, SOHC V6 purring to life in sensationally smooth near silence. It's a powerhouse when compared to the competition's base mills that are mostly turbo fours, and plenty quick off the line with a zero to 100km/h sprint of 6.0 seconds (or at least that's what I was able to time on my stopwatch) thanks to a comparatively svelte 1,797-kilo curb weight. Likewise the six-speed automatic is amply responsive to throttle input and plenty positive while shifting when set to Sport mode, standard paddle shifters providing the type of hands-on engagement performance fans like. The engine's i-VTEC and Variable Cylinder Management technologies also help it claim a thrifty fuel economy rating of 12.4 L/100km in the city, 8.7 on the highway and 10.7 combined.

The RDX balances ride comfort and road-holding as well as its engine manages smooth power delivery with strong acceleration, its standard amplitude reactive dampers making the most of an inherently good suspension setup made up of MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link design at the rear. Acura combines this with standard all-wheel drive that's only deployed when required so as to minimize fuel usage. It sends up to 40 percent of the engine's torque to the rear during moderate acceleration in dry conditions or maintains a 50/50 torque-split in slippery conditions, while the usual stability and traction control systems help to improve grip further when needed.

No shortage of space and convenience in this family friendly CUV

One of the reasons the RDX is so popular is interior roominess, the rear seats comfortable and accommodating and the cargo compartment spacious as well with 739 litres behind the 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 2,178 litres when they're laid flat, which is an ultra-easy process that only requires the tug of separate sidewall-mounted levers. Carpeted flaps automatically fall into place to cover the gap that groceries might otherwise roll into, while the load floor and those sidewalls are also covered in high-grade carpeting. Acura adds chromed tie-down rings to secure heavier items, a nice touch.

That the latest RDX is one of the more attractive SUVs in its compact luxury class doesn't go against its appeal, its distinctive LED headlights initially catching the eye, its sleek lines enhanced by the Elite trim-line's stunning multi-spoke wheels, and its sharply angled taillight lenses making quite the statement from the rear.

I certainly can't see the RDX slipping backward in popularity here in Canada. It's simply too good and offers such great value that it'll likely continue as a bestseller for years to come.