Full Edmunds Expert Review: 2016 Acura RDX SUV
What's New for 2016
Changes for the 2016 RDX include a new grille, refreshed headlights and taillights, a slight increase in engine output, a new infotainment touchscreen, additional standard features and newly available safety equipment. We recommend getting a loaded RDX with Advance package since it doesn't cost much more than the base version of rivals like the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. The included AcuraWatch safety tech may be annoying at times, but it ultimately provides a safety net most shoppers will benefit from.
The original RDX bounded onto the scene as Acura's high-tech wonder, boasting a turbocharged four-cylinder engine (Acura's first) and a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system. It failed to resonate with as many shoppers as Acura had hoped, however, so in 2012 the company redesigned it as a more conventional small luxury crossover SUV with a traditional V6 engine. The new RDX quickly became a favorite for consumers as well as us. Four years later, the 2016 Acura RDX is still a great choice for a small luxury crossover SUV.
The Acura RDX has a new look for 2016. Notably, LED headlights are standard this year.
Part of that is due to the changes Acura made this year. High-tech driving aids have become standard fare in luxury-branded vehicles and can even be found in some compact economy cars, but the RDX was previously lacking in this regard. As such, we're pleased to see that the 2016 RDX offers a blind-spot monitoring system, adaptive cruise control (which slows the RDX to match the speed of the vehicle ahead of it), a forward collision mitigation system (which can detect slow-moving or stopped objects ahead and warn the driver or apply the brakes) and a lane-departure intervention system (which applies a little steering to help guide the RDX back into its lane should it start to drift).
Besides the new tech on offer, the RDX still features the basics that we've liked these past few years. There's only one engine on offer, but that 3.5-liter V6 is strong and makes a bit more power this year plus better fuel economy (now up to 23 mpg combined) thanks to a cylinder deactivation system. Inside, a spacious and comfortable cabin makes the RDX easy to live with day to day, while the RDX's long list of standard features and competitive price boost its value proposition.
There are still a few drawbacks to the RDX. Some other rival luxury crossovers are a little more prestigious and/or sportier to drive, such as BMW's X1 and X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and the Porsche Macan. The RDX's one-engine approach also means it lacks a fuel-saving alternative, such as the diesel and hybrid powertrains offered in the Audi Q5 and Lexus NX 300h. It's also worth checking out the Volvo XC60 if you need something a little roomier. But for what we suspect most shoppers are going to want from a small luxury crossover, the well-rounded 2016 Acura RDX gets just about everything right.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 Acura RDX small luxury crossover SUV is available in a single trim level with three optional packages (AcuraWatch Plus, Technology, and Advance). Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional.
Standard features on the RDX include 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, heated side mirrors, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), a four-way power passenger seat, premium vinyl (leatherette) upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch dashboard information display and a seven-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a USB audio interface, Pandora, Siri Eyes Free and an auxiliary audio jack.
The AcuraWatch Plus package adds adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and a lane-departure warning and intervention system. This package may be ordered by itself or in combination with the Technology package.
You'll want to pick the Technology package or Advance package to get leather seating and a navigation system.
The Technology package bundles sport front seats, an eight-way power front passenger seat, leather upholstery, a navigation system, a blind-spot monitoring system, voice commands, the AcuraLink app suite, a larger (8-inch) display screen plus an additional 7-inch touchscreen display on the dashboard, and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound system with HD radio and Aha compatibility.
The Advance package includes all of the content in the AcuraWatch Plus and Technology packages plus ventilated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, auto-dimming sideview mirrors, remote engine start and foglights.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2016 Acura RDX utilizes a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends that output to the front wheels by default, with all-wheel drive optionally available.
In Edmunds acceleration testing, a 2016 RDX with all-wheel drive zipped from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which is quick for a vehicle in this segment.
Fuel economy is also quite good for the class, with the front-drive RDX at an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway). The RDX's AWD system comes with only a slight fuel-efficiency penalty at 22 mpg combined (19 city/28 highway).
The 2016 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.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2016 Acura RDX's cabin is a pleasant place to be, as it feels spacious and boasts solid construction. The pleasing textures, design and two-tone color treatment comprising the dash, center stack and gauge cluster effectively blend the notions of luxury and technology. 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.
The 2016 Acura RDX's tech interface is OK, but rival systems are easier to use.
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 2016 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. This is an average amount for a compact luxury crossover; in general, these models aren't as spacious as non-luxury models such as the Honda CR-V. The RDX offers 4 cubic feet more than the Audi Q5, but 6 fewer than the class-topping Volvo XC60.
A turbocharged four-cylinder is increasingly the engine of choice for small luxury crossovers these days, but the V6 in the 2016 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 even nine-speed automatics, but it generally responds to your inputs with smooth and timely shifts.
If you pick the all-wheel-drive RDX, you'll be rewarded with a smart-handling small luxury crossover.
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.