“If you are in the market for a fantastic, very well equipped small SUV with plenty of luxury touches then the RDX should be on your list…”

When one manufacturer comes out with a vehicle, you can be sure that the other manufacturers will match the equipment and price, almost to the dollar with their own products.

There are exceptions to every rule and the Acura RDX is one of those exceptions. The value that this entry-level premium SUV offer is so good, it is hard to find a vehicle that can compete on price, features and overall ease of use. Based on the hot-selling Honda CR-V, Acura takes what is good about that vehicle and transforms it into an Acura, full of luxury touches, more power and refinement that makes it the best value in the hyper competitive compact luxury SUV space.

Looks 

With every great deal there is usually one area that lets down the overall package and in the case of the RDX it is exterior styling. The Acura grille is less intrusive than the previous model but it might be rather bland. Wheel sizes are kept to 18-inches, even the optional sport wheels are only 18-inches. The rest of the RDX is inoffensive but not striking either. The size and shape is perfect for most buyers looking for a compact SUV, with large easy to use doors. The RDX is sold in only two trim levels; the base is $41,390, almost dollar-for-dollar the same starting price as all other small luxury SUVs. It is the optional Tech package that makes this a steal. Fully loaded, the RDX Tech is just $3,000 more at $44,390.

Inside

Acura takes the CR-V’s selling points like a roomy cabin, flat rear floor, automatic folding rear seats and pumps up the features. The dash is nicely arranged with much higher trim and finish on the dash, doors and armrests. Standard features include heated leather seats, power moon roof, push button start and a multi angle rearview camera. The Tech package adds an 8-inch centre screen with voice activated navigation, a power tailgate, duel climate control and an upgraded stereo system, for just $3,000 more. Try and find these features in one of the competitive German of Japanese vehicles for just over $44,000. It doesn’t exist. Acura and Honda are moving towards a two-screen centre console, the RDX is still sold with a single screen and this makes the operation much simpler. The new systems are eye catching but simplicity over flash has a place.

Drive

With manufacturers racing to include smaller turbocharged engines with eight and nine speed automatics, the RDX is still sold with a trusty 3.5L V6 and a proven 6-speed automatic. Take notice, this might not be the case with the next model so buying this simpler RDX might be a good buy. The 273hp engine is very quick off the line; it cruises with ease and passes without hesitation. In real world highway and city driving the RDX returned 13L/100km just slightly worse than the 12L used in the CR-V. All wheel drive (AWD) comes standard on all models but it is a simpler system than the previous model. The suspension is less aggressive than the past model too. This has all been done to produce a ride that will appeal to a wide range of buyers. In everyday driving, the laid-back approach is welcome but the powerful engine always makes the commute fun.

Verdict

Some good news, the rumour mill is grinding out potential new updates for the 2016 model year including a refreshed front end and interior tweaks. Stay tuned. As it stands, the RDX is a bargain in the small luxury SUV space but this Acura model almost needs an edge because the brand doesn’t have the same badge-appeal as the German makers and even Lexus. This RDX competes in the luxury space but many potential buyers don’t perceive Acura to be true luxury, more premium than luxury. This is the same battle Lincoln is facing. If you are in the market for a fantastic, very well equipped small SUV with plenty of luxury touches then the RDX should be on your list. Get past the badge-appeal and find out for yourself what this vehicle has to offer.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca


 

The Lowdown

Power: 3.5L V6 with 273hp

Fill-up: 12.1L/8.7L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $$41,390-$44,390

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