2015 Acura RDX Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 8, 2015

A sporty yet smooth driving feel, quiet interior, and top-tier safety all add up to a lot of appeal for the 2015 Acura RDX, although its lack of features and flair stop it short of greatness.

Families who could do without the ruggedness and off-road cues but definitely need a versatile, luxurious interior may find the 2015 Acura RDX to be a near-perfect fit. As more of an urban or suburban crossover wagon, with the confidence of a V-6 engine, strong safety, and a good feature set, it's an appealing package to pragmatic yet fashion-conscious parents.

On the outside, the RDX is good looking, but it definitely looks less extroverted than it feels behind the wheel—and far more mature than the last-generation model, which is now fading to memory as a bold, original statement, but one that wasn't as popular as this current model. The shape of the RDX is smooth, and the profile is attractive, punctuated by pronounced fender arches. Inside, there's a characteristically Acura form and function, with a central pod of dash controls, plus lots of soft-touch materials and matte surfaces that bring an upscale look and feel. If we could point to a flaw, it's that for the dash it relies too much on bright finishes.

The 2015 RDX bucks trends toward turbocharging and downsizing in favor of a large, 3.5-liter V-6. And although that might seem an odd decision, the V-6 does return a respectable 28 highway with front-wheel drive. From the driver's seat, the RDX feels peppy, smooth, and strong for everything from urban stop-and-go to rural high-speed passing. Under full throttle, the RDX willingly moves quickly without requiring dramatic multi-gear downshifts from the six-speed automatic (good, because the automatic can be hesitant when you really need it); it also handles the road well, and thanks to two-stage dampers it stays composed on twisty sections yet easily absorbs potholes and general harshness.

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What's inside is surprisingly space-efficient and well-laid-out. That's in part because the RDX is closely related to the Honda CR-V—so you get the CR-V's low cargo floor, well-designed front and rear seat layout (although better seats themselves), and good versatility. You'll find front-seat space in the RDX that's ample even for those over six feet tall, yet an eight-way power adjustable seat and tilt/telescoping steering column offer adjustability for most heights and body types. The RDX is right in the zone for its compact crossover class, with 26.1 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, 61.3 cubic feet with the seats folded flat, and 76.9 cubic feet including under-floor storage. Even for those seated in back, the cabin itself is very quiet.

The Acura RDX has some great crash-test ratings—as well as a top-notch set of safety equipment. Front, side, and side-curtain airbags are standard on the RDX, along with anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, daytime running lights, a backup camera, and a rollover sensor to trigger appropriate airbags. The RDX is missing some of the advanced active-safety features of the larger (and pricier) MDX, however.

The 2015 Acura RDX undercuts BMW and Mercedes in pricing, and offers more value, in terms of features for the money than most vehicles in this class—even the Lexus, which is admittedly a half-size up. Dual-zone climate control, cruise control, keyless entry with push-button start, ambient lighting, a seven-speaker sound system with USB/MP3/Auxiliary support, Bluetooth handsfree calling, and more are all standard features. Yet what's missing are the high-end goodies that most of those other models offer—like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and parking assistance.

An available Technology Package adds navigation with voice controls, real-time traffic and weather, a GPS-linked climate control, SMS texting support, and Pandora app functionality. Also part of it is a ten-speaker Acura/ELS audio system that produces clear, enveloping sound even at very low volumes. There have been no significant changes for 2015, although we'd like to see a somewhat more straightforward and modern-looking infotainment and navigation setup.

7

2015 Acura RDX

Styling

The 2015 Acura RDX is conservative but attractive, with an understated design and clean lines.

The Acura RDX was completely recast two model years ago as a far more conservative, straight-laced vehicle than its predecessor had been. With it, Acura is no longer seeking young professional males looking for sportiness; instead it's going for those with kids--and empty-nesters. That edge was tough to see go, and styling is part of it, for sure, as the current RDX is smart inside and out but hardly bold.

On the outside, the RDX is good looking, but it definitely looks less extroverted than it feels behind the wheel—and far more mature than the last-generation model, which is now fading to memory as a bold, original statement, but one that wasn't as popular as this current model. The shape of the RDX is smooth, and the profile is attractive, punctuated by pronounced fender arches. From the front, the new RDX is at its most muscular, but the somewhat controversial bright 'beak' grille is toned down here. More powerful fenders and a standard crossover ride height give a sense of off-road capability, though the RDX is no true SUV--its roofline is low and arched, really more like that of a wagon.

Inside, there's a characteristically Acura form and function, with a central pod of dash controls, plus lots of soft-touch materials and matte surfaces that bring an upscale look and feel. If we could point to a flaw, it's that for the dash it relies too much on bright finishes. It's more mature, and there's there's none of the claustrophobic wrap-around feeling you get in some sporty crossovers--even though the center controls are positioned out a bit toward the driver.

8

2015 Acura RDX

Performance

With a strong V-6, responsive handling, and a very well-tuned chassis, the 2015 RDX feels very confident, if not sporty.

Call it a mystery. With the last redesign given to the Acura RDX, the brand decided to buck the trend toward turbocharging and downsizing in favor of a large, 3.5-liter V-6.That might come as an odd decision from a company that's known for technology and efficiency, although the V-6 does return a decent 28 mpg highway.

The benefit of going with a big engine is readily apparent from the driver's seat; the RDX feels peppy, smooth, and strong for everything from urban stop-and-go to rural high-speed passing. Under full throttle, the RDX willingly moves quickly without requiring dramatic multi-gear downshifts from the six-speed automatic (good, because the automatic can be hesitant when you really need it)

The 2015 RDX also handles the road well, and thanks to two-stage dampers it stays composed on twisty sections yet easily absorbs potholes and general harshness. It still ranks on the sporty side. but it's not as crisp as the pre-2013 model, but it's not as brittle either. The RDX leans a bit in hard corners; then an ingenious new double-piston design engages, increasing damping force and making for a surprisingly capable crossover. Steering feel is a little too light and vague at lower speeds, but the system has a nice weighting at the speeds you'd drive on highways or two-laners.

Brakes are very strong, with a strong capable feel in around-town drivine--although modulation isn't great in sportier driving and harder stops.

The all-wheel drive system is no longer of the SH-AWD variety (that's left to the MDX), but as the angle of ascent changes or wheel slip in front is sensed, more torque is delivered to the rear.

8

2015 Acura RDX

Comfort & Quality

A competitive cargo space, a quality interior, and a quiet, composed ride add up to a very sophisticated experience.

The 2015 Acura RDX has a cabin that's surprisingly space-efficient and well-laid-out.

Against tough competition like the Lexus RX, BMW X3, and Audi Q5, the 2014 Acura RDX holds up admirably in almost every respect pertaining to comfort, space, and versatility.

The RDX is closely related to the Honda CR-V—so you get the CR-V's low cargo floor, well-designed front and rear seat layout (although better seats themselves), and good versatility. You'll find front-seat space in the RDX that's ample even for those over six feet tall, yet an eight-way power adjustable seat and tilt/telescoping steering column offer adjustability for most heights and body types.

The RDX is right in the zone for its compact crossover class, with 26.1 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, 61.3 cubic feet with the seats folded flat, and 76.9 cubic feet including under-floor storage. Even for those seated in back, the cabin itself is very quiet.

In front, we've found that the length of the seat bottoms is a bit short for longer-legged drivers, however. In back, it's perhaps too narrow for three adults but still suitable for all but those in the six-foot-plus club.

Keep in mind that the ride quality is smooth and quiet; while the suspension is just firm enough for some sportier moments, it filters out road noise admirably.

Plastic plays a more dominant role on the dash, and the fit and finish aren't quite as tight and tidy as the Audi Q5's, but otherwise materials are impressive, fit and finish is good, and the RDX cabin feels every bit like that of a luxury vehicle. The cabin is well-laid-out, too, with cubbies and nooks for storage, and ergonomically-placed if not always logically laid-out controls.

9

2015 Acura RDX

Safety

The RDX is one of the best picks in its class for safety, with a solid set of ratings and a good safety kit.

The 2015 Acura RDX has some great crash-test ratings—as well as a top-notch set of safety equipment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the RDX a five-star Overall Rating, as well as top five-star scores in frontal and side impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the RDX top 'good' ratings in all frontal, side, and rear tests, along with roof strength; although it hasn't yet been tested in the new small overlap frontal category.

The RDX includes front, side, and side-curtain airbags, along with anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, daytime running lights, a backup camera, and a rollover sensor to trigger appropriate airbags. The RDX is missing some of the advanced active-safety features of the larger (and pricier) MDX, however.

7

2015 Acura RDX

Features

The 2015 Acura RDX is missing some of the tech options of rival models, but if offers a lot of features for the money.

The 2015 Acura RDX undercuts BMW and Mercedes in pricing, and offers more value, in terms of features for the money than most vehicles in this class—even the Lexus, which is admittedly a half-size up. Dual-zone climate control, cruise control, keyless entry with push-button start, ambient lighting, a seven-speaker sound system with USB/MP3 support, Bluetooth handsfree calling, and more are all standard features. Yet what's missing are the high-end goodies that most of those other models offer—like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and parking assistance.

An available Technology Package adds navigation with voice controls, real-time traffic and weather, a GPS-linked climate control, SMS texting support, and Pandora app functionality. Also part of it is a ten-speaker Acura/ELS audio system that produces clear, enveloping sound even at very low volumes.

What's also still missing, even with the Technology Package, are leading edge tech items--things like radar adaptive cruise control, night vision, and pedestrian detection.

There have been no significant changes for 2015, although we'd like to see a somewhat more straightforward and modern-looking infotainment and navigation setup.

7

2015 Acura RDX

Fuel Economy

The large V-6 engine, and a lack of a hybrid option in the RDX, means that it's barely average for fuel efficiency.

The front-wheel drive version of the 2015 Acura RDX achieves 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, while the all-wheel drive model is estimated at 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined. That's about on par with other luxury crossovers--although not quite as good as the BMW X3 with its turbo four, for instance.

And that underscores what will be one of the issues for some shoppers. The Acura RDX only comes with one engine: a 3.5-liter V-6. That doesn't sound like the recipe for segment-leading fuel economy, and it isn't. But it isn't bad either, for its typical family purpose, and how it might be bought in place of even bigger and heavier vehicles.

There are still no plans for a hybrid model in the RDX; and the diesel engine that Acura had been teasing a few years ago is no longer in the works.

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September 26, 2016
2015 Acura RDX AWD 4-Door Tech Pkg

FANTASTIC choice.....SUPER FAMILY CAR!

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WE LOVE our RDX.....it's made for a small family as an EVERY-DAY CAR! We love the RIDE.....GAS MILEAGE.....APPOINTMENTS both IN and OUT...the SIZE....the QUICK ACCELERATION......oh, it is QUITE AFFORDABLE!
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August 25, 2015
For 2015 Acura RDX

amazing suv with amazing value

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it has the most comfort and style of any vehicle I have ever owned, and that is saying something. Acura is the sleeping giant of value in my book.
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June 4, 2015
2015 Acura RDX AWD 4-Door Tech Pkg

First luxury vehicle

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While looking for a new vehicle, I test drove several and really fell in love with the style and immunities of the Acura RDX. Because of price, I was torn between the Honda CR-V and the RDX, but luxury won out... + More »
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