When people stop me and ask me about compact SUVs out on the market, it never fails that I forget all about the Acura RDX. It’s relatively new to the Acura lineup and is their first compact-luxury-crossover. It was built to replace the MDX as their entry-level SUV as the MDX has grown in size and price. This is only the second generation of this compact crossover, but so far, it’s failed to gain any real notoriety. In 2011, Acura only managed to push just over 15,000 units from dealership lots; a number that the much more expensive BMW X3 doubled. So why is this crossover so forgettable and has Acura addressed this with 2015? Let’s find out.
In my opinion, the MDX has never been much of a looker and with the addition of Acura’s beak-like front end; the second generation is even more awkward at first glance. Granted, it’s not only this luxury crossover but the entire lineup sporting sharp edges, strange angles, and a beak up front. The strange thing is that’s it’s kind of growing on me. The styling of the second generation really makes it stand out from the crowd much more than the previous models, and although I’m still not in love with the front grille, it sort of works.
What else works for me is the interior of this crossover. Stepping inside, you’re instantly met with a slew of black leather and black accents. Maybe it’s not the best for Texas summers, but the MDX’s interior certainly looks the luxury part. The seats in the front and rear are extremely comfortable and the overall feel of everything is upscale and luxurious. It actually reminds me more of BMW’s interiors.
Your navigation, infotainment system, and standard backup camera are all displayed on a 5-inch display mounted up high on the dash. This is no touchscreen as Acura has taken the same approach that many luxury brands seem to be going these days using a knob and buttons to interface with the system. The screen is well covered, so there’s not much glare and all of the user interfaces are crisp, easy to see, and easy to navigate.
It’s not just about where you’re going, of course, but the experience of how you get there. The previous generation was always touted as one of the top “drivers” crossovers. With its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and well-rounded suspension, it was a fun little ride. Well, that’s all gone with this new generation as the only available option is Acura’s 3.5-liter SOHC V6 engine. This engine pushes 273-horsepower at 6,500-rpm and 254-lb.ft. of torque at 4,440-rpm. That V6 is matched up to a 6-speed automatic transmission and comes standard as a front-wheel-drive setup with an optional all-wheel drive.
Although the previous generation was sportier, this vehicle is much more refined and smooth. It has a more luxurious ride while still having decent driving characteristics. While this might be a bad thing for any sporty-crossover enthusiasts out there, it’s actually a great thing for your everyday driving and refinement.
Of course, we have no shortage of luxury-crossover SUVs these days and you could easily be looking at something like the BMW X3 or Audi Q5, but really, the MDX doesn’t quite fit in with the like of these brands. That’s okay, though, because the RDX is much less expensive than those brands. With a base price of $34,895 and our packed out tester sporting an MSRP of just $40,890, this is a much more affordable option. You could look at the Volvo XC60 as it’s also a quirky and fun luxury-crossover, but neither of these is really at the top of my list when looking at crossovers. You might not consider these luxury options, but I wouldn’t jump into a new crossover today without at least test driving a Jeep Cherokee or the Hyundai Santa Fe. They are both great vehicles in their own right and have beautiful and luxurious new interiors. If you’re looking for a more American styling, you also can’t leave out the GMC Terrain.
Overall, I actually really liked the RDX more than I thought I would. It’s a great crossover and is great for running a small family around in comfort. It’s a comfortable ride, not as sporty or as jarring as the previous generation, but that’s one of the big appeals for the mass market. We also netted some pretty impressive fuel economy numbers along the way. The EPA rates this vehicle at 19-mpg city and 27-mpg highway. Overall we ended up the week with a combined average of 22.3-mpg which, for the way I drive and the size of the vehicle, I’d say is pretty good. So although this still isn’t on the top of my list, it’s now a vehicle worth remembering and I’m sure I’ll be recommending it to someone soon.