The 2017 Acura RDX is hardly brash, daring, or overtly sexy, but it's an attractive vehicle inside and out, and definitely worthy of its luxury nameplate, coming in at a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
In side profile, the RDX isn't dramatically different than other compact crossovers, with its tasteful combination of smooth contours and crisp detailing. The roofline is low and arched, for a smart stance. And last year's revamp brought some of the details—especially in front—a little more in line with the rest of the Acura lineup.
The most distinctive view is still from the front, though with distinction comes with a catch. Some don't like the bright grille that resembles a beak, though it looks better on the SUVs than on the sedans.
Last year the look was given a minor update, with new wheels, a new (somewhat less beak-like) grille, and new LED headlights. In back, LEDs brought a light-pipe design.
Form and function are pretty well balanced inside, with two-tone designs that arcs slightly around the driver and passenger, with a central pod of controls that drops down in between, over a horizontal beltline that runs across the middle. Center controls are positioned out a bit toward the driver, but otherwise the design is mostly symmetric. If anything, the look hinges a little too much on brightwork—it might feel a little on the drab side without all the chrome bezels.
The 2017 Acura RDX remains inoffensive and understated—with just enough elegance to be in step with its luxury badge.
While most compact crossovers are now powered exclusively by turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, the 2017 Acura RDX does things quite differently. It comes standard with a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine that we like enough to give it an 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The engine makes 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, and the RDX to responds sharply and swiftly to a prod of the accelerator. It’s a smooth and refined piece, working together quite well with the 6-speed automatic transmission, and it's very responsive at all engine speeds—though it hesitated occasionally when cold in one test car.
Don't think of this as an SUV. The RDX is built like a car, and it drives like a car in virtually all conditions. Its small size makes it maneuverable in tight quarters and easy to park. Handling on winding roads is a balanced vehicle, making the RDX enjoyable to drive, though it isn't sporty in the German-'ute vein.
Driving refinement last year was enhanced by new active front and rear engine mounts, updated steering control system and increased suspension mount stiffness. These tweaks reduce the amount of vibration the driver and passengers feel on rough roads. All of those add to the feeling of a premium vehicle.
You can get an RDX in front- or all-wheel-drive form. The latter has been tuned for more rear bias; it sends more power to the rear wheels under optimal conditions, which can aid stability and traction on slippery conditions ranging from snow and ice to mud.
Although the very strong V-6 and responsive handling bring some great first impressions, the RDX isn't overtly sporty.
The cabin of the 2017 RDX is just the right mix of elegant and formal fused with sporty; and that pretty much describes the mixed priorities you'll find in this crossover. It's nicely trimmed inside, with controls that are easy to operate and don't annoy. Seats are comfortable, and the cabin is generally very quiet—although a somewhat tight back seat and rear seats that don't quite fold flat add up to a vehicle that definitely makes some compromises for its compact footprint and arching roofline.
There are some compromises, but overall the RDX is pretty capacious and comfortable—enough to merit a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Front seats in the RDX have rich bolsters and are eight-way adjustable for the driver. The steering column tilts and telescopes to adjust to different size drivers, and there's plenty of room for the big and/or tall.
The limiting factor for the RDX is its compact-car footprint—and perhaps most appropriately, its compact-car width. We’ve found taller passengers don’t quite have enough knee or head room to be comfortable for long distances in the back of the RDX, but average-size teenagers and children should be fine. If you need space for five adults from time to time, which means wedging three across the rear bench seat, the larger MDX might be a better pick.
There is 26.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, 61.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, and 76.9 cubic feet including under-floor storage. That storage capacity makes it roughly the equal of the BMW X3. However, in the RDX, the rear seats don't fold down fully flat, and the RDX doesn't have the clever second-row Magic Seat found in the (related) Honda HR-V.
On the other hand, the RDX has a low cargo floor, which makes it easy to pile groceries and cargo in back. And it's also, by the way, exceptionally easy to get in or out of the RDX as a driver or passenger, as pretty much all the seats are at a nice high hip point.
The cabin offers plenty of small-item storage in cubbies and bins. There's in-door storage, and the center console can hold 23 CD cases—if that still means anything—and there’s a little shelf above it perfect for a cell phone with a power outlet inside the center console for charging. A smaller covered storage space in front of the shifter can also hold a cell phone and includes a USB port, an audio input port, and a power outlet. There's a tray in the glove box, and the rear of the center console has a small shelf for back-seat riders.
Last year the RDX was updated with more silver and black trim, heated front seats and second-row air-conditioning vents.
Back-seat space isn't all that impressive, yet the RDX's cabin is sophisticated, versatile, and comfortable.
All 2017 Acura RDX models can be equipped with the AcuraWatch suite of active-safety technologies. It's included with the Advance Package and optional on other models, and it wraps together adaptive cruise control; forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking; lane-keep and lane-departure warning systems; and an expanded-view driver-side mirror.
The RDX is hard to beat for safety, scoring a near perfect 9. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The IIHS rates Acura's forward-collision warning system "Superior" in its front crash prevention tests, noting that almost braked itself to a complete stop from 12 mph and cut speed down to 9 mph at the point of impact with a 25-mph closing speed. Like other forward-collision warning systems, the one here is good, but not perfect. It’s designed to detect objects that could prove dangerous—but those objects aren’t always easy to sort out in real life, and it includes an especially strong and scolding warning system that can effectively cry sheep in daily gridlock.
There are no significant changes to the vehicles structure or occupant protection for 2017, which is a good thing. The IIHS called the 2017 RDX a Top Safety Pick+.
The RDX managed five stars overall, including five stars for front and side impact protection, but a four-star rollover rating, which is common for many SUVs.
A great set of active-safety features complements solid occupant protection.
|Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Barrier Rating:||Not Rated|
|NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating:||(4/5)|
|Side Impact Test||Good|
|Roof Strength Test||Good|
|Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint||Good|
|IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results||Good|
|IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results||Good|
The 2017 Acura RDX comes in 10 different builds. And before you rush to conclusions about the overwhelming number of choices, keep in mind that this is a very streamlined lineup for a luxury vehicle, and that there's an almost non-existent options list.
What you need to decide, primarily, is whether you want the base, Technology, or Advance model. And then consider the importance of AcuraWatch active-safety items, which are included at the Advance level but optional on other models. Given this lack of customizability, the RDX comes in at a 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The base 2017 RDX comes loaded with power features; dual-zone climate control; cruise control; keyless ignition; ambient lighting; a seven-speaker sound system with USB/MP3 support; and Bluetooth hands-free calling.
The Technology Package includes blind-spot monitors; HD Radio; a multi-rearview camera; and a dual-screen infotainment display. We commend Acura for giving this system real buttons for volume and for switching the system on and off, a vastly superior setup to the sliders and on-screen controls found on some Honda models.
Navigation is optional, included in the Advance and Technology packages, and it comes with voice recognition.
The Advance Package includes special 18-inch alloy wheels; remote start; front and rear parking sensors; and ventilated front seats.
Many of the class-best tech features are missing here, although the 2017 RDX is reasonably well-equipped.
The 2017 Acura RDX only comes with a V-6 engine. And while that might scare some efficiency-minded shoppers away from this compact crossover, there's no reason to avoid the RDX for this reason and it rates a 6. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The RDX is rated at 20 mpg city, 28 highway, 23 combined, according to the EPA. And with all-wheel drive, it's rated at 19/27/22 mpg.
The Volvo XC60 beats that with 23/31/26 mpg with front-wheel drive, while with rear-wheel-drive, the BMW X3 sDrive 28i is rated 21/28/24 mpg, beating the front-wheel-drive versions of the RDX by 1 mpg.
The V-6 engine in the 2017 Acura RDX has cylinder-deactivation technology, which means it can shut off half its engine under light loads, to save fuel. It's barely detectable by the driver, and something that you actually might hear more than you feel—with a slight change in exhaust tone.
Fuel efficiency is hardly the priority here—although in real-world driving the V-6 isn't as thirsty as you might think.