Acura’s compact luxury-performance crossover SUV shares its basic structure with the Honda CR-V, though powertrains differ. After years of being powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the RDX switched to V6 power for 2016, as part of a substantial freshening.

Except for two new color choices, little has changed for 2017. Instead of offering separate options or option groups, Acura markets the RDX in base form, or including an AcuraWatch Plus, Technology, or Advance package.

Pricing and Equipment

Starting at $35,370 (plus destination charge) for the base front-drive model, the RDX can be equipped instead with all-wheel drive for an additional $1,500. Top model is the RDX with Advance Package, priced at $43,520 with all-wheel drive.

An RDX with the AcuraWatch Plus package includes safety and driver-assistance features. The Technology Package includes silver/black trim, a power front passenger seat, dual-screen multi-information display, HD radio, blind-spot information, rear cross-traffic monitor, and a multi-view rearview camera with dynamic guidelines.

Specifying the Advance Package adds machined alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, foglamps, remote engine start, front/rear parking sensors, ventilated front seats, and the AcuraWatch safety and driver-assistance technologies.

Acura’s 3.5-liter V6 makes 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, driving a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 20 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway (23 mpg combined) for front-drive. All-wheel drive drops each estimate by 1 mile per gallon. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the RDX a five-star crash-test score.

Standard equipment in the base Acura RDX includes:

  • LED projector headlights and LED taillights
  • Heated front seats
  • Second-row air conditioning vents
  • Power tailgate
  • Multi-view rearview camera
  • Cruise control
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Keyless ignition
  • Seven-speaker sound
  • Bluetooth

Navigation is optional.

Performance Pros

BMW 640
  • Eager acceleration from a smoothly responsive engine. In addition to functioning well in stop-and-go traffic, the RDX delivers strong acceleration at highway speeds: say, from 40 to 70 mph. That translates to confident passing and merging, while hefty engine torque means less downshifting is needed to accelerate.
  • Smooth ride, compared to some members of the compact-crossover class, helped by a relatively long wheelbase.
  • Maneuverability. More agile than competitive models, the RDX definitely drives like a passenger car. Therefore, it’s inevitably easy to maneuver and park in urban settings. Handling well even on winding roads, it can be enjoyable to drive, while imparting a confident feel.

Performance Cons

  • A comparatively firm suspension suggests the possibility of occasional reactions that start to approach harshness, especially as the pavement grows rougher.
  • Despite cylinder-deactivation technology that eliminates half of the engine’s cylinders under light load, gas mileage is nothing to boast about—though it’s not bad for a V6 engine in a utility vehicle.

Interior Pros

BMW 640
  • Front-seat space is bountiful, in a versatile and practical cabin.
  • Well-marked controls are easy to locate and use. Instruments are exceptionally easy to read. Acura’s large navigation screen (if installed) has long been one of the clearest and best.
  • An under-floor storage compartment provides 15 cubic feet of extra space for smaller items, hidden from the view of onlookers.

Interior Cons

  • The back seat is cramped for adults, short on both head and leg space. Two smaller passengers might be comfortable back there, but three would be a squeeze.
  • Compared to other premium-level crossovers, luxury details in the RDX are less than abundant. Again, this choice of amenities coincides with Acura’s emphasis on family practicality.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

By stepping up to one of the package-equipped versions, an RDX can be fitted with enough available safety technology to head its class. Excellent crash-test scores also boost its appeal to the family market.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Lack of standout features or attractions, or a distinctive character. Practicality is a fine, tangible—indeed, essential—benefit in a crossover SUV, but that’s available in a host of models. Even if there’s little to complain about or lament, Acura’s smaller crossover simply doesn’t stand apart enough to make many people exclaim, “I want that one.”

The Bottom Line

A “wow” factor might be absent, but family-minded shoppers who lean toward the premium-model end of the spectrum probably won’t fret. Crossover SUVs aren’t expected to provide a thrill-a-minute, after all.