A compact crossover seems like a cost-effective way to break into the world of luxury vehicles, but their attractive prices gloss over one minor detail: You typically have to add pricey packages and options to get the full experience. Not so with the Acura RDX, which promises a reasonable starting price, plenty of standard features and relatively few options packages. You also get sporty handling, generous cargo capacity, and a powerful yet fuel-efficient engine.
The Acura RDX has two distinct generations. The first generation is more involving to drive, and the second generation offers greater refinement and practicality. Be it new or used, however, you'll get admirable Acura traits that either type of buyer can appreciate. One is a strong reputation for overall quality and reliability that should translate into years of trouble-free miles. Another is a generous list of standard features.
Current Acura RDX
The Acura RDX is a five-passenger luxury compact crossover powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that provides 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. It delivers swift acceleration, and thanks to cylinder-deactivation technology, fuel economy that rivals the turbocharged four-cylinders that power the competition. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard, with all-wheel drive offered as an option.
The RDX is sold in a single trim with three optional equipment packages: AcuraWatch Plus, Technology and Advance. Standard features include automatic LED headlights, a rearview camera, a sunroof, a power liftgate, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger) with heating, premium vinyl upholstery, Bluetooth, and a seven-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
The AcuraWatch Plus package adds a forward collision warning and automatic braking system, lane-departure warning and mitigation, adaptive cruise control and a color driver information display. The Technology package adds amenities such as blind-spot monitoring, leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, navigation, a 10-speaker audio system and HD radio. Selecting both of these opens the door to the Advance package, which adds front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming side mirrors and ventilated front seats.
On the road, we're impressed by the RDX's quick acceleration, relaxed highway cruising demeanor, precise steering, and composed (if not quite as sharp as in the earlier stiff-riding RDXs) handling on curvy roads. We think this shift in focus serves the Acura RDX — and the large majority of its potential owners — quite well.
We've found the RDX's cabin to be both spacious and well-constructed. The overall layout is both attractive and easy to navigate. In front, the seats offer support on par with that of high-end German competitors, while the rear seats boast generous legroom. It's one of the few vehicles in its class that can seat three adults comfortably in the back. The RDX's 26.1 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats is about average for the segment, but folding down the rear seats opens up a more generous 61.3 cubic feet of capacity.
Used Acura RDX Models
The current-generation Acura RDX arrived for the 2013 model year. It is a more well-rounded crossover than its predecessor, with a bit more room for passengers and a lot more room for cargo. Better performance and fuel efficiency were other key improvements. A simpler, lighter all-wheel-drive setup replaced Acura's previous Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. Though SH-AWD undeniably aided athleticism, it will likely be missed only by a small percentage of hard-charging enthusiasts. Inside this RDX's stylish body is a cabin sporting numerous luxury features such as keyless ignition and a power liftgate.
This second-gen RDX has received one key update over its life cycle. The 2016 model year saw a handful of improvements, including a new grille, redesigned headlights and taillights, a slight bump in horsepower and torque, a new touchscreen interface, additional standard features and newly available safety equipment.
Produced from 2007-'12, the first-generation Acura RDX was a compact luxury crossover SUV aimed squarely at driving enthusiasts looking for feisty performance and sharp handling. It came with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine making a strong 240 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission (with paddle shifters) was standard along with Acura's advanced SH-AWD system. The SH-AWD system instantly transferred torque among the wheels (front to rear as well as side to side) to optimize grip and handling in any driving situation. A front-wheel-drive model was added to the lineup in 2010.
Standard feature highlights included leather seating, heated seats, xenon headlights, a rearview camera, and a 260-watt audio system with a six-CD changer and USB port. Options included a navigation system (with voice activation and real-time traffic reporting), a sun-sensing climate control system and an upgraded audio system.
In reviews, we found this RDX to be one of the most entertaining crossovers to drive, thanks to its peppy acceleration and agile handling. The drawback to this sporty personality was the sacrifice of some utility. Although passengers had plenty of space (the rear seats were nearly as roomy as those in the larger Acura MDX), the maximum cargo capacity of 61 cubic feet was on the small side compared to what most rivals offer, and the RDX lacked items such as adjustable cargo tracks and a rear parcel shelf.
The RDX changed little during this run. A few minor improvements took place for 2008, including a new auto-dimming rearview mirror, memory settings for the driver seat, a larger navigation screen and standard Bluetooth connectivity. For 2010 a few new features became available including a backup camera, Bluetooth streaming audio and a USB port.