If we look at the history of the RDX, the first generation was the sporty, agile compact SUV that was designed for a dynamic experience. For the 2nd generation, Acura decided that wasn’t the way to go instead they went soft. Maybe a bit too soft, the 2nd gen was aimed for comfort, with a big V6 up front it delivered smoother power and it lost the super handling all-wheel-drive system. Now on the 3rd generation, Acura has combined best of both versions by putting a turbocharged engine into a quiet and comfortable cabin.
From the outside, the new RDX has the fresh and bold look of a lot of the new Acuras. The once know Acura peak is gone in its place, a massive Acura logo that hides some of the car’s radar assistance programs. There’s use of angular chrome pieces that help the Acura look a bit more muscular without being too boy-racer. Acura’s Jewel LED headlights are now upgraded with more pods than before, the light output from these are quite good. Lighting up the night well, with the aid of LED fogs there’s not much that can be missed.
From the back, there are standard LED taillamps as it is 2018, a powered tailgate making it easier to get items in and out. All seems pretty standard, but there’s an overall athletic feel to it that the old one was missing.
Stepping inside the cabin is where you can genuinely see Acura’s mission. It’s clear to see that they spent more of their budget in here. Unlike any Acura before it, in the RDX they have gone with a brand new infotainment system that utilizes a widescreen unit that sits tall and centre of the dash. Featuring navigation, XM radio and Apple Carplay (sorry, no Android Auto here) it’s almost everything the typical driver would need. Controlled by a touchpad by the centre armrest this is one of the easiest and best touchpad systems ever. That said, most touchpad systems are pretty garbage so it may not be saying much.
The rest of the cabin is composed by a nice mix of materials from leather to wood it’s a definitely an upscale cabin. With the A-spec trim, you even get a bit of suede spread across the dash. While Acura wanted to inject the sportiness of the NSX in here, they also included this rather odd looking dial smack in the centre of the dash. Turning it will result in changing the vehicle’s dynamics. With the top Platinum Elite trim, it even stiffens the dampers allowing the driver to have a better feel a bit more involvement.
As for the rest of the cabin, the seats are lovely. The top spec gets adjustable thigh support as well as adjustable side bolsters to hug both the driver and passenger. The rear seats are just as excellent, with optionally heated surfaces they are as comfortable as need be. A new standard feature that most people will love is the inclusion of a panoramic sunroof. It’s quite large stretching over both rows it allows plenty of light into the cabin.
While behind the wheel of the new RDX it’s easy to forget just how big the vehicle is. Weighing in at 4000lbs it’s not light, however, it is light on its feet. Steering feel is precise with minimal effort while on comfort mode. Turn the dial to sports plus and it does add a bit more heft giving the driver a bit more of that sporty vibe.
Under the hood, there’s a 2.0L Turbocharged 4 cylinder that shares some of its components with the new Accord as well as the Civic Type-R. Tuned a bit differently and with different internals, in the RDX it makes 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s more than enough for this SUV. Paired with this engine is Acura’s new 10-speed transmission which does do quick work of going through the gears. As you accelerate to highway speeds, it’s a bit odd hearing the car go through 8 or so gears but it’s smooth and does not hesitate while delivering excellent fuel economy. During the week of mostly city driving, it managed to return 11.5L/100km.
Unlike the previous generation, the new RDX uses Acura’s excellent Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive which can send up to 70% of the vehicle’s power to the rear wheels and 100% of that to the outside wheel when cornering. What this equates to is dynamic handling you would generally not find in this class of vehicle. With a bit of steering angle, under full throttle, the system is able to pull the RDX around bends and corners at speeds that would make the occupants a bit worried.
Overall, the RDX is a wonderful addition to the Acura lineup. It’s the perfect blend of luxury, sportiness, and refinement. With a starting price of $46,190, there’s plenty of standard features that one would need in a luxury SUV. There are not many other SUVs out there that are the complete package, the RDX is one of the few that check’s all the right boxes. The only real negative is the touchpad infotainment system can be a bit difficult to use at first but given some time it becomes easier.