Review: 2016 Acura RDX Elite

2016 acura rdx canada review

Written by: Calvin Chan

Photography by: Calvin Chan


When the Acura RDX was first introduced to the public in 2006, the premium compact crossover segment was still in its infancy. Yes, the RDX was simply a classier and more stylish Honda CR-V but it gave customers more than just a premium badge. It came with leather seats, a powerful turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, Japanese reliability, and amazing resale value.

But in the wake of increased demand and rising competition from the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Mercedes-Benz GLK, sales of RDX began to dwindle and its relatively bland styling began to age rather quickly. Acura’s bread and butter crossover SUV needed a restorative jolt, and now it finally gets one.


For 2016, the RDX receives a full-face makeover with refreshed front and rear styling along with the Jewel Eye headlight treatment to blend in with the rest of the Acura lineup. It’s less plain-Jane overall and Acura did a wonderful job giving the RDX a good visual balance between soft and edgy. The design is pleasing to the eye and it’s easy to tell that the design team didn’t get too carried away with sharp lines (read: Lexus NX).

The RDX has been nudged into the modern world and it now looks ten times better than the dreary looking crossover of the past. The new model appears livelier, sportier, and mutates further away from its original CR-V DNA.

Inside you’re greeted with a familiar CR-V layout but all the gauges, levers, and dials bring a much more premium feel - as it should considering it commands a heavier price-tag. It’s very roomy inside and a six-foot tall passenger would find comfort in any one of the five available seats. Compared to the 2015 model, the cabin appears more spacious but the exterior doesn’t give off the same vibe.


The MDX is the next logical step up if you want more cabin space but if you don’t need to transport seven passengers, the RDX is the way to go. It offers full utility, performance, and value without a third row. Furthermore, the wealth of storage and trunk space in the back gives even the Volvo XC60 and Infiniti QX50 a run for their money.

The circular steering wheel with mounted paddle shifters is arguably one of the best in the segment. It’s the perfect size and grips well from any driving position. The gauges and redundant dual screens will also look familiar to Acura owners, the latter of which I still have a hard time using despite having logged more than 10 hours in Acura vehicles alone this month. The mix of the touchscreen, hard buttons and dials transform the action of changing the radio station into a logistical nightmare.

Take a peek at what other automakers are doing and you’ll find that everyone is simplifying their setup. Now look at the RDX’s cluttered center stack. The hard buttons are mixed and mashed with varying font sizes and redundant icons, and there aren’t just one or two rotary dials, there are four: two for the HVAC controls, one for the menus and one for the volume – all within close proximity of each other.


Infotainment system aside, the rest of the RDX is quite good. The real star is what’s firing under the hood. While automakers like BMW and Lexus are beginning to downsize their engines into turbocharged four-cylinders, Acura is sticking with their tried and true naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 that delivers a healthy 279 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque.

The V6 makes more power than last year’s iteration, and I’ve always praised it for being incredibly smooth, linear, and quiet on the road. The torque curve has also been broadened for 2016 so there’s more grunt and throttle response throughout the rev range and like all VTECs, the higher you rev it, the harder it will pull.

When the RDX was first launched, it came with a turbocharged engine but I’m glad Acura took the other route and stuck with the energetic V6. The only drawback is fuel economy, however Acura has done a great job reducing emissions. The RDX has the ability to shut down either two or three of its cylinders when they’re not needed. That way less fuel is burned and consumed. The cylinder changeover is so smooth in fact that a regular driver would never notice it. And to be honest, my money is betting on the fact that most RDX owners don’t even know their car had this kind of fuel-saving function.

The RDX does drink premium fuel and amounts to a few more dollars at the pump compared to the 87-octane drinking CR-V. Be that as it may, we’ve been averaging a commendable 12.2 L/100km throughout our week of driving. That’s just a slight tick above the smaller 2.0-litre turbo engines from its competitors.


We must also give praise to Acura for sticking the RDX with their proven 6-speed automatic transmission – nine gears is really overrated. It just goes to show that a careful setup with a 6-speed can net you similar fuel consumption numbers as an 8-speed. The RDX’s gearbox certainly stands up to the competition and even comes with paddle shifters if you feel so inclined to shift yourself.

I’m also glad to report that the RDX steers wonderfully. The feel is spot on, taut, and progressive – it becomes light at high speeds but tighter at low parking speeds. It’s a very good balance but as my passengers have suggested, the RDX rides on the firm side of the spectrum. It’s not exactly a sporty suspension, but it’s not luscious with the bumps either – potholes will have you bouncing about. There’s also a fair bit of body roll, which isn’t something I’d be looking for in a five-seat family crossover.

Furthermore, the brakes have an insane amount of initial bite, something that can be quite frightening if you’re used to a pedal with more travel. However, it becomes easy to get used to and modulate after a few tries.

The RDX also comes with a newly revised all-wheel drive system, and though it’s not the spectacular torque-vectoring SH-AWD system from the past, this one now has more rear torque bias for a sportier feel on the road. AWD also comes standard on all trims.


The RDX comes in three flavours, a base trim ($41,990), Tech ($44,990), and Elite ($46,590), each adding on appealing options over the last. Our specific tester was the most expensive Elite trim but in our opinion, it’s not worth the extra money.

How would we spec our RDX? I’d be perfectly okay with the base RDX – it comes with a ton of standard features like Bluetooth connectivity, Adaptive Cruise Control, a rear view camera, a power tailgate, heated front seats, and smart key access with keyless ignition.

If you feel like you need navigation, a blind spot monitoring system, a premium audio system to please your ears, and heated second row seats to please your passenger’s behinds, then the mid-tier Tech package may be up your alley.

It’s hard to justify the more expensive Elite trim. It adds on a set of unique 18-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, fog lights, auto-dimming side mirrors, and ventilated front seats (do people actually like having a chilly bum? Personally, I think it feels rather uncomfortable). I’d avoid this package unless you are really fond of those wheel designs.


The Acura RDX makes for an ideal city commuter, one that’s capable of hauling, handling, and squeezing its way through town even if it doesn’t provide the most comfort or supple ride. With a major styling refresh and a mild performance bump, it’s poised to become the top-dog seller once again.

You get everything you see with the RDX: a genuine driving experience, a throaty V6 engine, good price, value, and it’s even got good reliability under its sleeve. The RDX isn’t the comfiest crossover on the lot and there are others like the X3 and Q5 that ride a lot smoother, but when it comes to value and down-to-earth appeal, the RDX’s new guise propels it back to where it all started – at the top of the ladder.


Click here for the Chinese review.


Photo Gallery:


2016 acura rdx elite 2016 acura rdx rear 2016 acura rdx kona coffee metallic


acura rdx kona coffee metallic 2016 acura rdx brown paint 2016 acura rdx jewel led headlights


2016 acura rdx interior 2016 acura rdx white black interior 2016 acura rdx gauges


2016 acura rdx touchscreen displays 2016 acura rdx 6-speed auto 2016 acura rdx active cruise control


2016 acura rdx red engine button 2016 acura rdx trunk cargo



型号 Model: 2016 Acura RDX Elite

顏色 Paint Type: Kona Coffee Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $41,990

試車售價 Price as Tested: $46,590
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,685
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,685 / 1,872 / 1,678

車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,797
引擎 Engine: 3.5-litre, 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 279 hp @ 6,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 252 lb-ft @ 4,900 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Solid disc

油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.4 / 8.6 / 10.7
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.9

輪胎尺碼 Tires: P235/60R18; Michelin Primacy MXM4





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