2014 Acura RDX
An inoffensively luxurious suburb-crawler.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: September 3rd, 2013
2014 brings all sorts of new updates to the year-old, second-generation Acura RDX. For example, you get a new paint color, Kona Coffee. You also get ... to pay an extra $200. And that's it. Nothing else has changed from the previous year.
Given my "proclivity" (read: disdain) for crossovers, I knew this would be a difficult assignment. An objective review of a wagon-killer? 'Twas a tall order, but after a week with the 2014 Acura RDX, I'm beginning to see reasons why people (other people, not your author) would enjoy driving one. It has a few points of endearment, at the least.
For the well-optioned price of 40 large, you get a car(?) with plenty of cargo space, a comfortable interior, a great sound system, and an appearance that's so innocuous that you're able to blend in with all types of traffic. Honda's always been about elegance through simplicity, and that continues over to their upmarket Acura brand.
That said, it's a little light on options for being that expensive. A similarly-priced (actually slightly cheaper) Honda Crosstour sacrifices a bit of cargo space, but you get a much more car-like driving experience with double the amount of cameras and warning systems.
There's no lane-departure warning on the RDX, no "stop tailgating for Christ's sake" warning, and cameras that only face rearward. The Crosstour has all that, along with a side-facing camera for a blind spot that's smaller than the RDX's. But you do get a button that opens the trunk from the cabin, which doesn't exist on the Crosstour for some weird, probably-innovative reason.
Keeping with the Crosstour-comparison scheme, the RDX utilizes the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine as the Crosstour, albeit with five fewer horsepower. On our tester, the motor connects to the drivetrain by way of a six-speed automatic transmission, which performed averagely for a transmission of that nature. Deceleration-related downshifts were plainly obvious, and it seemed to want to shift at awkward times, leading to a jerky feeling that doesn't really speak to the rest of the RDX's capability.
On the whole, it's not a bad vehicle by any stretch. If you want to blend in with your upper-middle-class surroundings while still being able to move two children to college at the same time, you've got a formidable friend in the RDX. Just don't get a speeding ticket - the V-6 engine note is one of the best I've heard, short of the Nissan GT-R.
Simple, but classy. The dashboard is arranged nicely, although the individual buttons for the infotainment seem to have been placed not by intuition, but by throwing darts and seeing where they land; also, the infotainment system itself is beginning to look a little dated in comparison to offerings from Lexus or Infiniti. It has a great mix of hard- and soft-touch materials and the seats are more than comfortable enough for long drives. Also, the rear-seat release latches are the best I've ever used; one pull, and the seat falls down without needing you to crawl into the back and push it yourself.
Again, simplicity reigns supreme. It carries the current Acura rear-end styling, which looks good with the RDX's nearly-flat booty. It's a little on the tall side, carrying a good deal of wheel gap that makes it look even larger than it needs to be. Acura's signature beak-style front grille looks proportional on the RDX, as well.
On the Road
It's a bit of a toss-up here. The power is definitely there, pulling with determination in both short and long spurts, and the engine note, my goodness. Honda's mastered steering feel for quite some time, and that's evident in the RDX. However, the ride is a fair bit bumpier than expected, especially with the thick-sidewalled all-season tires. Couple that with the iffy transmission and some very touchy brakes, and it takes a bit of effort to keep the driving smooth.
Is it a good value? Yes; even when you realize that the cheaper Crosstour has a greater amount of gadgetry - don't forget that Hondas and Acuras are pretty damn bulletproof. Does it move a whole load of cargo, human or otherwise? Yes, and it does so with ease. Does it look good? Yes, like a simple, two-piece tuxedo. It's pretty good overall. You know, for a crossover.
Specs & Price
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Power Output: 273 hp / 251 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 20 city / 28 highway (FWD); 19 city / 27 highway (AWD)
Base Price: $34,520 (FWD); $35,920 (AWD)
As Tested: $40,515
Available Features: Technology Package (Xenon headlights, navigation, rear camera, surround-sound audio system, power tailgate), roof rails, attachments for roof rails (ski attachment, snowboard attachment, kayak attachment), trailer hitch, splash guards, body side molding, remote start, engine block heater, woodgrain-look steering wheel and shift knob, woodgrain-look interior trim, cargo cover, all-season floor mats
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Acura RDX, click here: 2014 Acura RDX.