- Just right size for small families
- Smooth ride, athletic handling
- Agreeable, smart interior
- Great brakes
- Hesitant transmission
- Unremarkable exterior
- Lacks standout tech features
The 2014 Acura RDX offers a relatively sporty look and driving feel, as well as a quiet, comfortable interior and top-notch safety; but features or flair it's no standout.
The 2014 Acura RDX has made quite an about-face from its initial form. Introduced as a compact crossover with a high-strung turbocharged four-cylinder with a taut ride, the RDX has matured into a better choice for family drivers. It's still sized manageably, but has been upgraded to a V-6 engine, and with a better selection of safety features and conveniences.
Already into its second year since a complete redesign, the RDX last year found--compared to the first-generation RDX that preceded it--a 'milder' personality that more shoppers should like. With the first-generation RDX, Acura had been pretty much the first one out the gate among sporty luxury-brand crossovers. It got a few things right--like the just-right size, nimble handling, and attractive design--but it offered plenty of rough spots, too, including a rough ride, laggy power delivery, and surprisingly lackluster gas mileage. The new RDX bucks the former model's turbo four and stuffs in a 6-cylinder in its place. Rivals are dropping bigger engines, but in this case, the switch yields better power, refinement, and fuel economy. Gas mileage is higher, up to 5 mpg compared to the previous engine--a respectable 28 highway in front-drive models.
The RDX has an energetic driving feel. It doesn't quite offer the turbo urge of the pre-2012 model, but it's strong, and smooth, whenever you need it to be--aided by a transmission that lags sometimes for downshifts but is otherwise responsive. Merges happen quickly into speedy freeway traffic and the RDX readily passes two-lane slow pokes. With new two-stage shocks, it rides better, and stays composed on winding roads while it handles their worse bumps.
Nicely drawn but hardly extroverted, we'd call this RDX more mature than the previous generation, as well as some other models in this class. Big fenders help punctuate an otherwise smooth shape and generally attractive profile. The cabin has sleek lines and a well-organized pod of dash controls. Soft-touch trim lends an upscale feel, though there are a few bright finishes on the dash we'd soften.
The RDX is closely related to the CR-V, and it shares a lot of the Honda crossover's smart packaging, from its low cargo floor, to its well-designed seats, to its versatile cargo area. Front-seat space is ample for even those bigger than 6 feet tall. Its tilt/telescope steering and 8-way power seat mean almost any driver can find the right position at the controls. The cabin is hushed, and comfortable from the back seat, too. The RDX sits in the middle of the compact-SUV market, with almost 77 cubic feet of storage inside, including beneath its rear cargo floor.
On the value front, the 2014 RDX undercuts BMW and Mercedes, offering more in the way of content than even Lexus does in the the RX 350. Yet you won't find touches like blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and automatic parking. It does have dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and pushbutton start, ambient lighting, cruise control, and 7-speaker audio with USB and Bluetooth audio control.
With the optional Technology Package, Acura fits a sophisticated nav system with voice commands, real-time traffic, SMS texting, and streaming audio via Pandora. It also gets the 10-speaker Acura/ELS audio system , a beautifully rich-sounding system. The navigation system is relatively easy to use, but we think it--and the interface itself--looks a bit dated in comparison to the large, wide-aspect screens in rival models.
The only significant change in the 2014 RDX, versus last year, is a new extra-cost exterior hue: Kona Coffee, replacing Amber Brownstone.