2016 Acura RDX AWD AdvancePosted on February 19th, 2016
Four-season compact crossover
By Nina Russin
When Acura introduced the first-generation RDX in 2007, it was as a smaller, less-expensive alternative to the MDX. This year, a refreshed second-generation car is in a league of its own, with styling and performance to compete against the best that the growing compact segment has to offer.
Equipped with a 279-horsepower iVTEC engine and six-speed automatic transmission, the RDX has enough power to offer appealing performance in the most challenging situations. My sister-in-law who lives in Colorado at considerable altitude bought the all-wheel drive version last spring and hasn’t looked back since.
Acura keeps the buying process simple by incorporating option groups into its grade strategy. The fully-loaded advance model tested starts at $43,520 excluding the $940 destination charge. Standard features include keyless entry, remote engine start, a multi-view rear camera, satellite radio, Pandora, power moonroof, 18-inch alloy rims, LED headlamps and tail lamps, navigation, real-time traffic updates, premium audio system, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, rain sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, heated and ventilated front seats.
The 2016 RDX is a refreshed version of the model that debuted in 2013, with a restyled exterior, interior and more powerful engine. The advance package is new, adding machined alloy wheels, rain sensing wipers, remote engine start, ventilated front seats and an automatic dimming driver’s side mirror. The package includes AcuraWatch active safety features as well: lane keeping assist, collision mitigation braking, forward collision warning and lane departure warning.
A new thin-film-transistor information display in the gauge cluster gives the driver easy access to average vehicle speed and fuel economy, driving range, tire pressures and turn-by-turn directions.
The retuned engine gains six horsepower and a pound-foot of torque. Formula style paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow the driver to choose gears manually for more aggressive performance. The available all-wheel drive system is also retuned for more rear torque bias, giving the RDX sportier performance on dry roads. Retuned steering controls and stiffer suspension mounts improve response on winding roads.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
This week I drove the 2016 RDX around Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as through the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. The 100-mile test loop included some dense rush-hour traffic, as well as less traveled two-lane roads where I could evaluate the changes to the steering and suspension.
Acura’s talent for combining a pragmatic approach to everyday driving with the type of performance enthusiasts crave carries through to its compact crossover. The retuned engine’s long, flat torque curve gives it excellent power off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile per hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. There’s plenty of power for accelerating up steep hills and passing slower vehicles on the freeway.
The six-speed automatic transmission delivers linear performance, progressing smoothly through the gears during normal driving situations. When the driver punches the throttle, the transmission responds with quick downshifts while the exhaust delivers a satisfying belch.
A variable cylinder deactivation feature cuts engine power from six cylinders to three when power demands are low to stretch fuel economy. The system is invisible to the driver and boosts highway gas mileage to 28 mpg.
The motion adaptive electric power steering provides ample assist for low speed maneuverability with on-center response that is virtually indistinguishable from a conventional hydraulic system. The advantage of EPAS is its packaging under the hood. There are fewer mechanical components to wear out over time and reduced pumping losses boost overall fuel economy.
A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in the back. The stiffer suspension mounts give the RDX nimble performance over pitchy hills and through sharp turns without sacrificing ride comfort. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the crossover in firm, linear fashion.
Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior, enabling both rows of occupants to converse or enjoy the premium audio system.
Keyless entry makes it easy to enter and exit the car after dark, adding a measure of safety and saving from fumbling for the key fob. Acura designers excel at intuitive controls. The steering wheel diameter is just the right size, with redundant controls designed to minimize driver distraction.
The rearview camera at the top of the center stack is covered with a long hood so bright sunlight doesn’t interfere with the driver’s view. Navigation graphics are bright and easy to follow. The new information display enables the driver to see which of four wheels is setting off the low tire warning if that becomes an issue and monitor fuel economy. Audio controls are easy to reach from either front seating position. A mouse-type control eliminates a bunch of unnecessary buttons. Dual-zone climate controls, heated and ventilated front seats keep front row occupants comfortable in temperature extremes.
The refreshed model has more driver’s seat adjustments, making it easier to find a comfortable position with good lower lumbar support. A dead pedal reduces leg fatigue on longer drives.
A low step-in height eases access and egress for both rows. The lift-over height for the cargo area is also low, making it easier to load in bicycles and other large items. Levers on either side of the cargo area fold second-row seats flat to extend the cargo floor. A flap over the seam prevents bicycle chains from catching on the way in.
The Acura RDX comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control with roll-over sensing, tire pressure monitoring and LED daytime running lamps.
Acura builds the RDX at its East Liberty, Ohio assembly plant.
Like: A stylish midsize crossover with nimble performance and available all-wheel drive for buyers living in four-season climates. A cylinder deactivation feature extends highway fuel economy to 28 mpg.
Dislike: The additional cost of the new advance package moves the RDX into the mid-luxury range. Its higher price may keep the RDX out of reach for some potential buyers.
Model: RDX Advance AWD
Base price: $43,520
As tested: $44,460
Horsepower: 279 Hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 252 lbs.-ft. @ 4900 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 19/28 mpg city/highway
Comment: The manufacturer recommends premium unleaded gasoline for optimum performance.2016, Luxury 2016, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, Acura, auto review, performance, pricing, standard safety