If you now and again work your way this far into the Saturday S-R, you may be aware we’re deep into AcuraLand.
We’ve recently driven the midsize TLX and compact ILX sedans. Today, we test the smaller of Acura’s best-selling crossovers, the RDX, and in early July we look at its midsize MDX counterpart.
These fresh Acuras are more powerful and efficient than their predecessors. They’re safer, more responsive and more lively under hand. Though not generally the most luxurious or best-performing cars in their competitive sets, each makes a case for itself based on a balance of luxury, performance, safety and value.
The typical Acura costs significantly less than a comparably equipped competitor.
All RDXs are powered by a new, 276-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 paired with a six-speed automatic. FWD trims earn 23 mpg combined/20 mpg city/29 mpg highway; AWD is rated at 22/19/28.
The new engine uses Variable-Cylinder Management to boost efficiency without impacting performance. Under light loads, such as freeway driving, the engine can run on as few as three cylinders.
New active engine mounts, increased suspension-mount stiffness and steering-system tweaks reduce the amount of noise, vibration and harshness that filters into the cabin. Acura’s newly standard “Jewel Eye” LED projector headlights cast a bright, sharp light against the dark. LED taillights are now standard, as is a rearview camera.
On my daily drive route, the RDX settled confidently into the winding two-lane highway at the bottom of the hill. Turn-in is quick and accurate and the RDX tracks curves with little body lean and zero drama. From behind the wheel, the RDX feels more sport-sedan and less upright crossover.
Acura retuned the AWD system this year to send more torque rearward, improving driving dynamics and foul-weather performance. The six-speed automatic matches up nicely with the engine’s torque profile to produce brisk acceleration. When urged, it kicks down quickly and smoothly for freeway merging and quick passes.
New high-contrast silver and gray trim bits enliven the cabin. Lined storage cubbies add a quality feel. Acura’s two-screen infotainment/navigation paradigm is a logical — and easily mastered — solution to the problem of the too-busy touchscreen. AcuraWatch and audio-system control buttons festoon the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
A new high-end Advance options package includes rain-sensing wipers, foglights, remote engine start, front and rear parking sensors and ventilated from seats. But its piece d’resistance is AcuraWatch, a suite of safety and driver-assist technologies that includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System and Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Departure Warning.
AcuraWatch makes driving safer and less stressful in the here-and-now, and hints at the future of the driverless car. Standard with the Advance package ($8,150), it’s also available as a $1,300 stand-alone option on all new RDXs.
A separate Technology package ($3,700) adds an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, HD radio, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert and more.
Acura says the RDX and MDX comprise the best-selling crossover duo in the U.S. (the MDX alone bests all comers). This year’s RDX updates are likely to improve that sunny state of affairs in AcuraLand.
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer. Contact him at email@example.com.
2016 Acura RDX AWD Advanced
Vehicle base price: $35,270
Trim level base price: $43,420
As tested: $44,340
Options: The RDX AWD Advanced is a fully equipped trim. Our tester included no options.
Towing capacity: 1,500 lbs
EPA rating: 22 combined/19 city/28 highway
Premium unleaded fuel required