Review: 2017 Acura RDX
– Detroit, Michigan
Acura is a luxury brand that is often dinged in comparisons based on sporting vehicles. Its sedans don’t raise one’s pulse so much as rear-drive competitors from BMW and Mercedes. Even the outstanding and tremendously quick NSX is more of a thinking man’s supercar when compared to a Porsche 911 or an Audi R8.
But in the segments where large volumes of vehicles are sold – crossovers and sport-utility vehicles – Acura does some of its best work. The MDX is the company’s most successful nameplate, and this 2017 RDX is, I believe, perhaps its most segment-competitive product, period.
- Even Michigan roads seem quieted by Acura’s compliant suspension tuning. I love commuting in this crossover, if not driving it aggressively, because it feels so stable and sanguine amidst the drudgery. I’d really need some comparative drives to understand if the RDX is quieter than, say, a Lexus NX or Audi Q5, but there’s no question this is a filtered cabin.
- Naturally aspirated engines are starting to seem downright torque deficient in today’s turbo world, but I doubt many shoppers will notice when using this smooth V6 powertrain. The Acura 3.5-liter six makes a meaningful 279 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, and will hustle a little bit if you dig really deep into the gas pedal. But it’s mostly quiet and able when it comes to regular schlepping.
- A weekend golf outing gave me good hope for the interior space of this Acura. The RDX swallowed four guys and four golf bags, without a complaint from anyone in the crew. The new-for-2017 rear AC vents were a godsend on a hot day, too. No one had the round of their life that afternoon, mind you, but you can’t expect a crossover to help with everything.
- In the 2017 model year, more than ever, this is one super-safe vehicle. Acura’s ACE body structure is tested to protect in front-impacts, while the Forward Collision Warning should help you keep from having one. The lane-keep assist is still something I turn off when driving and it feels unnatural, but for someone looking for an autopilot-like kind of experience it could relieve driving fatigue.
- For all the good things I have to say about the RDX, you’ll never catch me calling it “exciting.” The same insulation from the road – both tactile and aural – that make it a very refined vehicle, make it dull as a doorstop under most circumstances. Any “feeling of speed” I derived from the CUV had more to do with to catching up on Serial podcasts and losing track of time, than an engine note coercing my foot to the floor.
- Acura badges aren’t nearly so common in the midwest – especially in Detroit – as they are in other parts of the country. Even still, the design of the RDX doesn’t do much to separate it from the unbroken blanket of gray and silver crossovers that covers our roads. I find this styling to be reserved to the point of shyness, though not ugly. That’s a reasonable quality for many vehicles, but why am I paying luxury-car money for an anonymous two-box shape?
- The interior has been upgraded in this ‘17 update, and it’s nice enough, but it doesn’t feel special or surprising like Audi and Mercedes interiors sometimes do.
Photos: Seyth Miersma / Motor1.com