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Acura to 'substantially refresh' RDX SUV for 2016

We witnessed Honda's not so minor refresh of CR-V, now Acura improves the best selling small premium SUV in North America. What's Acura up to? We look to the second generation 2015 Acura RDX for a clue or two.

How will Acura improve RDX for 2016? Acura’s second best selling vehicle is a compact SUV possessing large SUV attitude and measurable performance. We've spent some serious seat time in Honda CR-V’s up-town cousin, and actually prefer its driving attributes over that of North America’s best selling SUV, Acura MDX. Why is RDX the best selling premium SUV in North America? let’s take a closer look.

Take Honda’s premium CR-V Touring Edition, tweak the styling a bit and toss Acura’s chronic 273 horsepower V6 and performance 6 speed automatic transmission under the hood, that’s Acura RDX. While our description may be a bit simplified, 2015 RDX is a financially justifiable Acura uptick for those discerning buyers wishing for a small-ish premium SUV without stepping into the world of Euro influenced Audi, Volkswagen and Volvo-priced opulence.

Don’t read us wrong, we like the German and Swedish offerings, but looking to the price and specifications of all comers, we believe Acura to present the greatest value for your dollar spent in a rather crowded segment. Last week while attending Acura’s press introduction of the 3rd generation ILX, a surprise sat on the display floor in the form of a substantially upgraded RDX. We’ll tell you more about that later in the week when Acura allows us to.

But, the bottom line is: The second generation Acura RDX is a mere 3 years into production. 2016 RDX will be what’s referred to by Acura as a “substantial refresh,” offering a bit of refinement but few surprises. 2015s RDX has been well received and rates highest in class by Edmonds.Com and KBB.Com, how will Acura take it to the next level?

The drive experience

We’d spent some seat time in the 2015 RDX with Tech just minutes before the Calistoga ILX meet and greet, and were collectively impressed as to RDX power on command, exceptional car-like ride and maneuverability. Spending the week before driving a 2015 Acura MDX in Phoenix, we now found the premium, leather trimmed two row RDX to be a breath of fresh air.

Smaller, but just as comfortable as MDX, powerful and highly maneuverable in city traffic and parking lots, RDX may be the perfect 2 row SUV for those not requiring the seating capacity of the larger 3 row MDX. We discovered RDX V6 power acceleration and torque to be bordering on ‘ sport-like” in this under 4,000 lb SUV.

An exceptional smooth and stable ride is enabled in RDX via a 4 wheel independent MacPherson Strut suspension with multi-link rear and front and rear stabilizer bars. Body roll is negligible to nonexistent, while wheel and tire deadweight bounce is unnoticable. RDX has no peers in the small SUV segment. Exterior road and noise transmission to the interior is minimal with some minor wind noise coming off of Acura’s turn signal integrated rear view mirrors.Superior passive sound deadening and premium carpeting and floor mats isolate road vibration while adding rich texture to the floor surfaces of RDX.

For those wishing for a premium car-like ride with the higher visibility and security of a light truck platform, RDX provides both without compromise. Visually, RDX reads like a fine leather jacket featuring hand burnished alloy buttons, zippers and clips. A welcomed 10 way power adjustable, leather trimmed seat meets the driver , with all dash gauges, monitor and controls within easy reach and view. We love Acura ELS surround sound, multi view backup camera and 10 way power drivers seat, options not often found at this price point.

Elbow, knee and legroom is adequate for this 6 ft 5 inch tall journalists, with visibility, exceptional from all angles. Interior fit and finish is of pure Acura precision quality. With a base price of $36,495($40,195 AWD with Tech) we find no compromise of materials or craftsmanship present in RDX, priced $ thousands below comparable equipped competitors. You'll find full pricing and specifications for 2015 Acura RDX here. We don’t expect pricing to uptick(much) for 2016.

You won’t find Acura SH-AWD or a 9 speed automatic transmission optioned for RDX in 2015. As to what the future brings? One engine option, one transmission option, no Advanced Infotainment system or state of the art active safety, accident avoidance and blind-spot warning, not yet. However, Kelley Blue Book looks to above average resale value, exceptional quality and a history of Acura reliability in naming RDX the best overall purchase value in a very crowded segment. RDX is Acura’s # 2 best seller. It will be interesting to see how Acura improves on SUV perfection for 2016.


Parnelli J. (not verified)    February 12, 2015 - 12:35PM

When will the designers learn! This thing isn't any better looking from the front, side or rear than a Murano or Outback.