G ood looking, poised, a charming personality and loves the outdoors, it’s easy to fall for the all-new Acura RDX. No longer the loaded yet lonesome cousin of the hugely popular Honda CR-V, the third-generation of RDX is a coming-of-age transformation to a truly luxurious mid-sized sport utility, with an emphasis on “Sport”.
While the Acura brand name may not have the same perceived standing as its luxury class German counterparts, the RDX delivers a real-world driving experience that’s certainly on par, and arguably better. New chassis, new interior, new turbocharged engine, new ten-speed transmission and, what’s the clincher for me, Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).
When you press on the gas pedal as you reach the apex of a bend, a stabilizing invisible guiding hand seems to gently push the outside rear corner of the RDX. It’s the distinctive torque-vectoring characteristic of SH-AWD at work, as it sends additional drive power to specific wheels when needed. If that seems strange, it’s not. RDX is a super-fun vehicle to take for a drive on a twisty section of road.
When pushed, the new turbocharged 2.0-litre engine provides generous low-end torque and makes a growly nose that sports car fans will appreciate. Overall horsepower (272) is almost the same as the previous V6, but fuel economy is much improved (11.0 L/100km city and 8.6 L/100km highway). Closely spaced gears (all ten) make the transmission a super slick operator and help keep the engine in a sweet power band.
A large round dial in the dash centre stack allows the driver select driving modes. There’s comfort, sport and sport+ settings and they do transform the driving personality of RDX. Would like to see an additional custom mode, however, to allow a driver pick and choose settings.
Depending on your tech savvy skill level some of the controls and especially the new infotainment interface may be “totally awesome”, or a wee bit intimidating. Most functions are reasonably intuitive, but there’s a learning curve attached to mastery of the finger operated True Touchpad, with a feature called “absolute positioning”. It’s linked to a large high-mounted 10.2‐inch HD monitor that’s close to driver eye-level and is Apple CarPlay compatible.
The cabin of my test Premium Elite trim level RDX had a spacious, bright and airy feel and a massive panoramic moonroof was undoubtedly a contributing factor. The eye-catching layout was beautifully finished with quality leather surfaces and authentic Olive Ash wood accents.
This top-level trim package also comes with acoustic sound deadening, adaptive suspension dampers, a power liftgate, upgraded front seats with power side-bolsters, a head-up display and a high-end ELS audio system. Cabin noise at cruising speed, on a variety of highway surfaces (including concrete), was impressively quiet.
The new body of RDX is now six inches longer than CR-V and it has one the largest cargo areas in its class, plus a handy new in-floor storage compartment. An athletic stance gives this RDX a more muscular look than its predecessor. Front and centre is Acura’s new diamond pentagon grille and it’s flanked by adaptive LED headlights with pop-out washers. In fact, all lighting on my RDX was LED.
See for yourself and make a date with an RDX at your local Acura dealer.
Acura RDX perception: An upscale version of the Honda CR-V, the top selling SUV sold in Canada.
New Acura RDX reality: A stand alone mid-sized luxury sport utility that’s bigger and better than CR-V.
Base Price: $43,990
Premium Elite trim: $54,990
Bob has been writing car reviews and auto related stories for over 25 years and is a member
of the Auto Journalists Association of Canada.