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2016 Acura RDX brings the fun factor back to SUV ownership [Video]

When was the last time you drove an SUV that was effortless, intuitive to driver command and fun to drive?

How often do you hear an SUV owner refer to driving their truck-based SUV vehicle of choice as fun? It’s usual more of a ‘“I bought the thing because the wife and kids feel safe in it.” In rolls 2016 Acura RDX, a compact SUV with mid sized accommodation, comfort, exceptional power and active safety features. And then there’s that “Fun” factor.

The first time I drove Acura RDX SUV was in Calistoga, California during Acura’s introduction of the 2016 ILX. A week or two prior, Torque News-Acura had completed a week long drive review of 2015 Acura MDX. We were collectively impressed, but came to the conclusion that while MDX was the best selling premium SUV in North America for several reasons, it was large by import SUV standards, and personally, I didn’t require a three row SUV for daily commuting.

In rolls a compact premium SUV with MDX V6 power
Good looking from any angle

Tipping the scales at 324 lbs less than a comparably equipped MDX, and just a scosh larger than Honda CR-V, Acura’s second best selling offering puts the fun factor back into premium SUV ownership and operation.

RDX is my personal Acura ride of choice along with the 45,000 folks that purchased or leased RDX in 2014. It’s compact without interior-comfort-compromise, powerful, nimble and exceptionally well finished.

First drive impressions

A few weeks ago, Acura released a significantly upgraded 2016 RDX, sporting increased horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency, while preserving the truck-like stance and ground clearance required for the mild off-road duties of this exceptionally appointed 2 row premium SUV.

I liked driving 2015 RDX and looked forward to experiencing the 2016 offering; finding it to be effortlessly maneuverable in city traffic; effortlessly parked where desired,(multiple-angle back up camera) and measurably “Sporty” when called on for acceleration.

For 2016, RDX visually conveys a chunky can-do attitude through 18 inch machine polished rims, bull-dog compacted MDX design attributes, and just enough bling to catch the eye without being over the top. Acura has integrated MDX design DNA into RDX for a more refined premium 2-row look.

Priced from $35,270 front wheel drive (FWD) to $43,420 + all applicable delivery, fees and sales tax for the fully optioned all-wheel drive (AWD) RDX Advance, there's an RDX experience waiting for your specific SUV application.

Exterior design impressions


There’s no mistaking RDX for anything other than a premium Acura SUV, and that of course is the intent of Acura design, a statement of understated up-trending financials--mobility.

I find the integration of head and tail light assembly to blend nicely with the exceptional sharp to organic body-line meld; fit and finish to be flawless, as punctuated by Acura’s messaged grill design and exceptional 18 inch machine polished wheels. I further appreciate the visually balanced integration and flow of the rear hatch assembly and top cowling. and a stylish interior of fine-finished tech driven premium quality and comfort.


While sitting behind the wheel of the substantially refreshed RDX, one brushes with the elegantly reserved design aspects inherent to the Acura philosophy of tech driven, precisely measured refinement. In other words, RDX is visually ‘smashing’ in and out.

From its custom exterior paint palet, (our test vehicle was a “Fathom Blue Pearl”) to the 2 tone interior color schemes, upgraded butter leather, textured and soft-touch interior finishes, with just a hint of burnished metal details, RDX sets its owner apart from the crowd without screaming ‘ostentatious’ at the the onlooker; and yet states with confidence that the occupant has “Made it!”


RDX dash, i-MID, voice command and touch screen personal connectivity

This is where I make a confession: It’s there, it works pretty well, but I personally don’t give a hoot! Harsh, I know. however, I’m that guy that loves to drive, is fascinated by low friction engine technology, electronic, automated torque transference, seamless shifting and superior fade-free braking: 2016 RDX provides all of this and more.

On the electronic side of things: While Honda, Acura leads the industry in superior safety cage, crumple zone development, accident avoidance, brake mitigation and multiple-angled directional lined back up cameras, voice recognition in our test vehicles remains challenging. It could be my deep voice or tonal resonance, I have no idea. Acura installs a pretty decent ELS stereo system, and yes, the on board Acuralink ™ and safety suite continues to evolve; still not perfect in our test vehicle, but getting better with every new offering. Check it out! You may be very happy with Acura’s tech-side.

100% “Made in America”

Plenty of leg room

Although Acura underlines the exceptional standard active and optional safety features available in 2016 RDX, I’m looking to the drive-performance; for me the # 1 consideration when purchasing a car or light truck. For Honda CR-V owners, drop a 3.5 liter V6 under the hood, stretch your CR-V by an inch or two, then bump up the all wheel drive and braking technology a bit; you’ll have an idea of RDX handling, power and stability.

I discovered V8-like torque and sprint power under the hood of 2016 RDX

279 horsepower 1-VTEC V6 and 6 speed automatic transmission: While not Honda’s latest Earth Dreams ™ high compression, direct injection, cylinder managed V6 as found in MDX,The highly responsive Drive By Wire ™ fuel injected 3.5 Liter V6 produces 279 Horsepower and 252 ft-lb torque. engine found in 2016 RDX, when mated to Acura’s latest 6 speed automatic transmission, produces a very responsive V8-like launch and engine sound track conducive to aggressive driving behavior.

Exceptional average MPG

When driven in a civilized manner, our 2016 test RDX recorded a high of 31 mpg on the highway, with 22.9 mpg recorded over our 480 mile test drive. It may be noted that we ran RDX on unleaded regular gasoline for 80 miles or so, thus mildly impacting our fuel economy. However, Acura’s 3.5 Liter V6 did not protest while operated on unleaded regular fuel.

For 2016 MDX’s little sister RDX takes on a close family resemblance without stealing the show. Parked side by side and viewed from the rear, subtle differences between the two best sellers come to light. In short for 2016, RDX takes on more of an MDX upscale elegance without losing its highly maneuverable utility and road agility; it’s fun to drive!

I found this Honda CR-V sized premium SUV to be responsive, handle reasonably well, while exhibiting TLX-like interior quiet, passenger and driver comfort. For 2016, RDX when opting for all-wheel-drive (AWD) features Acura’s Intelligent Control System ™, effectively shifting greater torque to the rear axle for minimum FWD torque steer, while resulting in a ‘live axle’ rear drive feel. Enhanced electronic power steering, brake distribution, ABS, vehicle stability assist, available LaneWatch, ™ adaptive cruise control, and more add to to an exceptional compact SUV based daily driver with true “Fun” factor, I like that.

Best_Ride_2 Row_Segment

What I like

1. Exceptional interior quiet
2. V8-like power to weight ratio
3. World-class fit, finish and premium detailing
4. Jewel Eye ™ headlights
5. Mixed touch-screen, manual (knob) controls
6. leather wraped Smart Wheel ™
7. Coupe-like city handling

I’d make a couple of changes

A tighter,more responsive steering feel, just a little less body roll in high speed cornering, a larger forward compartment cup holders, greater adjustability in the steering wheel column, and
the perfect driver’s seat adjustment for this tall driver.

I take 2016 Acura RDX Advance AWD to the beach with Ms. Nancy King of Jazz
Underground fame

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I had the chance to drive the RDX as a loaner. Being the owner of an 11 MDX and an 05 TSX, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the RDX handled - much better than the TLX I had as a loaner a few months back. I would suggest that Acura add physical buttons to their touch screens to facilitate ease of access to the different systems. That was one thing I never like about the RDX and TLX is that you have to look at the screen to use a function. Granted, voice commands are there and a dial is there too, but nothing beats having a physical button. Not too many buttons though - I have over 40 of them in my 11 MDX. Great review by the way.
Welcome Emil. I too was pleasantly surprised! Thanks for dropping in.
Just leased a 2016 RDX Base AWD. Looked at Honda CRV Touring, Honda HRV EX-L, Mazda CX5 Grand Touring, Lincoln MKC base, Lexus NX200T base, BMW X1 Base. What sold me on the RDX was comfort, engine, residual value, MPG, and features. The Honda's and Mazda would have came fully loaded but the lack of nameplate cache for what I would be paying a month was a little bothersome but what really got me was the lack of power and refinement. The RDX has a Lexus RX feel and ride and a really great 3.5 that can do about 0-60 in 6 seconds. The NX200T and X1 by far had the best cache and most sporty feel and driving characteristics but the Lexus was too expensive since no one in my area carried a bare bones NX and the BMW X1 Base was just too basic lacking some really basic features even a Honda would have. The MKC was my second choice with its lively 2.0 turbo charged engine and nice styling, but the MKC based on the Ford Escape has bellow average reliability and the base MKC is a little bare bones and options quickly raise the price. The only thing(s) I don't like about the RDX are the kind of plain interior that doesn't have any unique or premium stitching or materials and the fact that it doesn't come standard with blind spot warning or backup sensors. Other than that the RDX is a really comfortable crossover, with great cargo space, and great acceleration.
Welcome jrasero. I appreciate the detailed account of your personal buying adventure. Reads like you di d your homework. Yes, RDX is a fun drive! Enjoy...
Thanks for your review. I agree with the likes & changes you recommend, although can't identify with being that tall. My wife is 5' and she was glad to be able to adjust the RDX to her needs. We have had our RDX Advance AWD for a little over a month and are very pleased with it. We found the NX and X1 did not meet our needs as well. The smooth V6 engine and passenger comfort, front and, in particular, rear, were major selling points. After sitting in the back seat of the MKC, we didn't pursue that further. The NX, X1 and MKC all had higher MSRP's than the RDX when similarly optioned. Although we had to get the Advance package for all of the electronic safety options, we use them all and find them to be well worth the expense.
Just a wonderful vehicle to drive. For me it is the right size in and out. Such a quiet, smooth and refined ride. The engine is so quiet and the transmission so smooth. 8 and 9 speed transmissions seem to be the latest craze, however there is absolutely nothing wrong with this 6 speed. One of the criticisms of the 8 and 9 speed transmissions is that they are always searching for the right gear. The upgraded stereo in the Technology model is rather good with lots of adjustments for sound and you have a choice of AM, FM, Sirius, CD and the HDD. I do like the ability to 'record'/ store my favorite CDs to the HDD. It gives me the ability to have my favorite music at the touch of the screen and yet have all those CD cases taking up space in the console. People's bodies come in all sizes and shapes, but these seats fit mine perfectly. When I am home and not busy I keep trying to come up with reasons why I need to go out for a drive! It is like being 16 again when you just got your driver's license. :-) I trade my vehicles every 2-3 years and I already know that I am going to miss this 20146 RDX!