- Strong acceleration and fuel economy from standard V6 engine
- Elevated rear seat provides generous legroom and a commanding view
- More features than competitors at a similar or much lower price
- Generous cargo capacity for the segment
- Technology interface can be distracting to use, especially the optional dual-screen system
- High-tech safety features and adaptive cruise control don't work as well as some rival systems
- Cabin lacks overtly luxurious look and feel
There are many reason why the Acura RDX is one of our top picks in the segment. It's a well-made, well-equipped compact SUV that is a clear, premium step up from the Honda CR-Vs of this world. Its value is undeniable and a must-drive for sensible sorts whose left side of the brain is more influential than the right.
Chief among the RDX's virtues are space and value for your money. Let's start with the first. Although a "compact" SUV, the RDX has plenty of family-friendly space -- so much so that you could almost consider it an alternative to midsize SUVs like the Lexus RX 350. Should you need a backseat big enough to affix a rear-facing baby seat, or conversely, a pair of growing teenagers, the RDX is better suited to the task than most other vehicles in the segment. Cargo capacity is also generous, both in terms of its on-paper measurements and real-world practicality.
As for value for your money, a fully loaded RDX with the Advance package and all-wheel drive is barely more expensive than the most basic BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace or Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. Sure, there are some areas in which those are superior to the RDX, but if you're looking to get the most equipment for your money while still getting a premium badge and a higher degree of quality, this Acura could definitely be a better way to go.
The RDX got a face-lift last year, so changes for 2017 are restricted to a pair of new color choices.
We recommend getting a loaded RDX with the Advance package. It doesn't cost much more than the base version of rivals like the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, yet it includes high-end features like the AcuraWatch safety system that provides a safety net most shoppers will benefit from.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
The Acura RDX essentially carries over unchanged for 2017.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Acura RDX is a compact luxury SUV that seats five people. There is a single trim level available with three optional packages (AcuraWatch Plus, Technology and Advance). Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional.
Standard features are plentiful. They include 18-inch wheels, a rearview camera, automatic LED headlights, cruise control, rear privacy glass, keyless ignition and entry, a power liftgate, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio, and a seven-speaker sound system with satellite radio, Pandora Internet radio control (streams from smartphone), an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port and a media player interface.
The Acura RDX is the value champ in the segment, boasting more equipment and space for your dollar than anything else.
The AcuraWatch Plus package adds a forward collision warning and automatic braking system, a lane-departure warning and keeping system, adaptive cruise control and a color trip computer display.
The Technology package adds blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, a navigation system, traffic information, GPS-linked climate control, leather upholstery, an eight-way power passenger seat, smartphone apps, HD radio, Aha Internet radio capability and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS sound system.
The Advance package includes all of the above extras plus front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, foglights, auto-dimming side mirrors, remote ignition and ventilated front seats.
There are no other options.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The 2017 Acura RDX's cabin is a pleasant place to be, as it feels spacious and boasts solid construction.
Base models get a dial controller on the center stack plus conventional sound system buttons. That setup works fine, though the control knob in the middle of the dash is less intuitive to use than some rival console-mounted controllers. Unfortunately, the base setup might actually be preferable to the upgraded split-screen interface that comes standard with the Technology package -- operating the touchscreen's virtual buttons is a more distracting and often slower process, and the way the system divides information between the two screens can be confusing.
On the upside, the front seats are as firm and supportive as those in the best European models, while the backseat offers more legroom than most competitors, making it easy for a pair of 6-footers to sit comfortably in both rows. One notable ingredient here is the elevated height of the rear bench, which affords both excellent thigh support and a commanding outward view, while still leaving ample headroom. There's also enough width for three adults to share the space during short trips.
The 2017 RDX's 26.1 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats is about the same as most rivals, but folding down the rear seats (via a pair of nifty release handles on the cargo bay walls) opens up 61.3 cubic feet of capacity. That makes it one of the most spacious in the segment, though in general, this segment considerably trails their non-luxury counterparts in this regard: the Honda CR-V, for instance.
The cargo area is wider than that of many rivals and generally more useful.
The 2017 Acura RDX comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, active front head restraints and a rearview camera.
Optional active safety equipment includes forward collision warning, forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, a blind spot monitor, lane-departure warning and lane-departure intervention. Though these systems on paper sound similar to those offered by rivals, in practice we found them to set off the collision alarm in instances when a collision is clearly not imminent. Its adaptive cruise control system is also too quick to slam on the brakes and too slow to get back up to speed.
In Edmunds brake testing, an all-wheel-drive 2016 RDX came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, which is about average for this class.
The government gave the RDX a top score of five stars for total crash protection, with five stars for total front impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the RDX its highest possible score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof-strength and head restraints and seats (whiplash protection) tests.
Backseat space is among the most generous in the segment.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2017 Acura RDX is only available with a 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but all-wheel drive is optional.
In Edmunds acceleration testing, an all-wheel-drive RDX went from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, making it one of the quickest SUVs in the segment.
Despite it have a V6 engine in a segment where turbocharged four-cylinders are prevalent, the RDX still returns class-average fuel economy. The EPA estimates that it will return 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway) with front-wheel drive and 22 mpg (19/27) with all-wheel drive. We managed a respectable 24.9 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds evaluation route.
The RDX is handsome, but not overly flashy like some of its competitors.
A turbocharged four-cylinder is increasingly the engine of choice for small luxury crossovers these days, but the V6 in the 2017 Acura RDX is so good that you might just wonder what all the fuss is about. Step on the gas pedal and the RDX scoots ahead quickly and quietly, though there's also a nice V6 snarl at high rpm that sounds better than a lot of those four-cylinder engines. The six-speed automatic transmission is also a bit unusual in this era of eight- and nine-speed automatics, but it generally responds to your inputs with smooth and timely shifts.
Though it's not quite as sporty as some rivals, the RDX still changes direction with poise and confidence. Its steering feels light but precise, and overall handling is composed and secure when driving through turns. On the open highway, the RDX boasts low levels of road and wind noise, with an impressively comfortable ride. Indeed, with its luxurious yet responsive character and standard V6 power, the RDX isn't just a top compact crossover. It can also be viewed as a more affordable alternative to midsize models like the Lexus RX.
If a small, luxury SUV is on your shopping list, you should consider the 2017 Acura RDX. This stylish Acura is one of our favorites thanks to its fuel-efficient, yet powerful V6, comfortable interior and long list of standard features. Read on to find out why the RDX could be a good fit for you.