Acura has long been a value leader in the luxury segment, especially with its crossovers and SUVs. It’s smallest crossover offering (for now) is the 2018 RDX, and it's one of the least expensive models in its class, especially when compared to its European rivals. But can this affordable, well-equipped luxury crossover compete with the more prestigious BMW, Mercedes, and Jaguar models?

Continue reading to find out.

Best Value

It’s hard to say that a fully loaded crossover is a great value, as packages are often profit padding for manufacturers, but a fully-loaded 2018 RDX is an exception.

In its base format, the 2018 Acura RDX is pretty well equipped, but tack on the Advance Package, which also requires the AcuraWatch Plus and Technology packages, and there's true value here. Not only is it fully loaded at a still-affordable $43,475 (including $975 in destination charges), but it's also only slightly higher than the starting price for base versions of two of its German rivals, the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, which both start from $41,045. We'd also recommend adding Acura's excellentSuper-Handling All-Wheel Drivesystem – it's a worthwhile $1,500 option.

Here’s how our loaded-to-the-gills 2018 RDX looked on paper:

  • Model: 2018 Acura RDX Advance Package SH-AWD
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6
  • Output: 279 hp / 252 lb-ft of torque
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • MPG: 20 city / 28 highway
  • Exterior color: Basque Red Pearl II
  • Interior color: Parchment
  • Options: AcuraWatch Plus ($1,300, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, instrument cluster display), Technology Package ($3,700, sport seats with perforated leather, eight-way front passenger seat, navigation, real-time traffic, the AcuraLink connectivity system, 10-speaker audio system, blind-spot monitoring, rear-view camera with cross-traffic alert, and voice recognition for navigation and climate control), and Advance Package ($1,700, heated and ventilated seats, rain-sensing wipers, remote start, auto-dimming side mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, and front and rear parking sensors).
  • Base Price: $36,770 (including destination fees)
  • As Tested: $44,975 (including destination fees)

Performance Pros

Acura RDX
  • Smooth V6 power delivery, which remains an Acura hallmark
  • Great combination of ride and handling – smooth on rough roads, but capable and fun when the road gets twisty
  • Surprisingly direct electronic power steering

Performance Cons

  • Feedback through the chassis and steering are limited
  • It's a sport utility vehicle, but the RDX isn't sporty. In fact, it's very buttoned-down and occasionally boring to drive
  • Big V6 is thirstier than the competitive turbocharged four-cylinder engines

Interior Pros

  • Very comfortable front seats with lots of lumbar support
  • Massive 76.9 cubic feet of maximum cargo space
  • Lots of little cubbies to store pocket-dwelling items
  • Relatively quiet cabin

Interior Cons

Acura RDX
  • Front passenger seat is not height adjustable
  • Too much painted plastic in a luxury model
  • Infotainment system is frustrating due to poor menu layout, lots of buttons, and confusing dual screens
  • The second row is a little tight for older kids and adults

Our Favorite Thing

The RDX remains a very safe vehicle. While the 2018 RDX hasn’t undergone IIHS testing just yet, we expect its Top Safety Pick Plus rating from 2017 to carry on. The 2017 model returned “Good” ratings in all five IIHS crash tests, while the front crash avoidance system was rated as "Superior" and Acura's JewelEye LED headlights scored an “Acceptable” rating.

Our Least Favorite Thing

As a whole, the RDX’s cabin is pretty good for an aging and affordable luxury crossover, but we noticed all too often that it missed the mark in refinement. Painted plastics peek through the higher-end appointments while the less than desirable two-screen infotainment system remains unintuitive years after its debut.

Right For

Acura RDX

The Acura RDX is perfect for a smaller family looking to test out the luxury crossover segment for the first time. Not only does it offer a premium feel at a lower price, but its highly desirable options are also reasonably priced.

Wrong For

Established luxury-car buyers will easily sniff out the some of the less-than-luxurious materials Acura used here and there inside the RDX, making this a poor option for those already coming from a premium model. Its tight rear seat also makes it a tough buy for families with teenage children.

The Bottom Line

Just looking into getting your first luxury crossover? The 2018 Acura RDX might be the perfect buy for you. Its low price and range of premium (and affordable) options make it a good buy for first-timers looking for additional features.