I’ve driven quite a few Acuras over the last little while and I’ve grown to appreciate the attention to detail they put into their lineup. I really like the MDX and RLX for their highway cruising comfort and engaging driving dynamics, but both of those are too big for my own personal needs. After I checked the editorial schedule, I became anxious to spend a week with the RDX, a midsized SUV much better suited to my currently lifestyle, and to see if I’d find those same wonderful traits at a lower price point.
At first glance, the RDX is easily mistaken for the larger MDX, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as they’re both thoroughly handsome SUVs. I like that Acura is retaining the strong family resemblance. My tester in the top-line Technology trim came in what Acura’s calls “Kona Coffee Metallic” and while I didn’t like the color much at first, it did garner plenty of compliments and made the SUV stand out from the sea of grey and beige our roads have become. I will admit though, I was a little disappointed to see that the LED headlamps available in the MDX and other Acuras are not available on the RDX; not only are they far superior to anything else, they do help create a distinctively Acura look.
Moving past its appearance is where it starts to become clear that the Acura designers have not lost their passion for the details on the RDX. The interior looks, feels and smells like that of its bigger and much more expensive brother, the MDX. What surprised me most was the fact that the RDX hardly felt smaller inside than the MDX. Excluding the fact that the RDX doesn’t offer a third row; there is a huge amount of space in the rest of the cabin and it’s clear the designers at Acura have worked hard to maximize every inch of that space. The rear cargo area is huge, there’s plenty of rear head and leg room for adults, and even up front storage is abundant. I never felt like my passenger and I were getting into each other’s personal space. The driving position and front seats are perfect with great visibility to all four corners of the SUV, without feeling awkward or like you’re sitting in a greenhouse. This is also a good time to point out that I found this RDX extremely easy to park, even in tight downtown lots. This is a trait often overlooked, but immensely important in the daily grind. Credit for this goes to the RDX’s very clear backup camera, side mirrors that automatically point downward (so you can spot curbs) when the SUV is in reverse and an exceptionally tight turning radius.
Parking isn’t the only thing that the RDX makes easy; driving it is also a very relaxing and pleasant experience. For our enthusiast readers I’ll point out that the RDX is not what I would consider sporty or engaging, in fact I feel like the MDX (in sport mode) is more connected to the road and fun to drive. However, when it comes to SUVs I’d fall into the same bucket as the majority of SUV buyers, who I suspect care much more about comfort and convenience than tossing it around curves. That is where the RDX excels; it’s a mid-sized SUV that rides with the comfort and silence I’d expect from a bigger, pricier luxury SUV. The steering is very light, which doesn’t offer much feedback, but it does have a very solid ‘on-center’ feel making it almost effortless to keep straight while whisking along the highway.
The only engine available with the RDX is Acura’s corporate 3.5L V6, but this six has been so well refined over the years that you’d be crazy to want anything else from Acura. The version in the RDX puts out a very healthy 273 horsepower giving the SUV more than enough oomph to deal with whatever the daily gauntlet of traffic here in the GTA might throw at it. Opening up the 3.5L offers enough thrust to firmly plant your passengers into their seats, and that’s good enough for me; especially when I was able to keep my average fuel consumption for the week out of the double digits at around 9.8L/100km combined.
Clocking in at $46,000, my 2014 Acura RDX Technology looks and rides like a big-dollar SUV, which makes it a pretty compelling proposition. However, there are a handful of features that seem oddly missing in a premium SUV such as the RDX, even at this price point. So at the risk of sounding like a princess, here’s my short list. For starters, there’s no heated steering wheel available, no cooled front seats, no heated rear seats, no panoramic roof and no available rear entertainment system. Honestly, these are all minor elements that that don’t equate to a whole lot, but given that the RDX is destined to be popular with young relatively affluent families I can’t help but feel like there are buyers out there who want a rear DVD to keep the kids quiet, but don’t want to spend an extra $20,000 to step up to an MDX when they have no need for a third row.
The features that did come on my tester where very well executed; the 410-watt surround sound stereo with massive rear subwoofer sounded excellent and the navigation included with the Technology package is very user friendly. I’ve said this before, but Acura needs to adapt the LaneWatch camera system that Honda has been using, it’s a great safety feature and would make good use of the navigation screen, which in the RDX is blank if not being used for a map or directions.
At the end of my week with the RDX it’s clear that Acura has done a great job leveraging the talents of their designers to build and SUV that offers a tremendous amount of value and, in my mind, is absolutely one of the top contenders in the premium midsize SUV segment. If you’re in the market for a well-rounded, practical and comfortable little SUV, the RDX should near the top of your list. Trust me, take one out on the highway, sit back in the perfectly padded driver’s seat, turn up the stereo and relax as the miles fly by.
2014 Acura RDX Technology