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2016 Acura RDX: New Car Review

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for information on a newer Acura RDX, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Acura RDX Review.


The 2016 Acura RDX is a strong competitor in a field it once held almost all to itself. The compact luxury-crossover segment has exploded in recent times, but the RDX has managed to keep one step ahead by retaining racy good looks, an excellent reliability and resale record and a very reasonable price tag. The RDX is powered solely by a 3.5-liter V6, which we find ironic since many of the RDX’s closest competitors have now moved to smaller, 4-cylinder turbocharged engines similar to what came in the RDX when it first debuted. The RDX also offers the option of all-wheel drive, plus an available advanced driver-safety system dubbed AcuraWatch.

Competing with such heavyweights as the Lexus RX, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class and Audi Q5, the RDX has its work cut out. With styling similar to the popular MDX crossover, a long list of standard and available equipment and a renewed commitment to its core audience, however, the 2016 Acura RDX shouldn’t be overlooked. See the 2016 Acura RDX models for sale near you

What’s New for 2016?

The 2016 Acura RDX sees improvements made to its V6 engine, suspension and standard equipment list. The AcuraWatch suite of driver-assist technologies is now available, while a new Advance package is added to the lineup. The RDX also receives a mild exterior freshening, with new Jewel Eye LED headlights, LED taillights and new wheel designs.

What We Like

Plush cabin; smooth power; quiet at highway speeds; slightly sporty edge 

What We Don’t

Pricey; missing some key features, such as a panoramic sunroof and heated rear seats; no high-mileage hybrid or diesel option

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The 2016 Acura RDX is powered by a 279-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Acura’s Active Cylinder Management system lets this engine run on six, four or three cylinders, depending on the need for power. The 6-speed automatic transmission goes about its business without notice, but if you are so inclined, you can shift gears yourself with the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Fuel economy for the front-drive RDX is a modest 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, while the all-wheel-drive version earns 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Acura RDX comes in one trim with no stand-alone options.

The front-wheel-drive RDX ($36,190) includes a power moonroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, auto on/off headlights, an 8-way power front driver’s seat with power lumbar support, a 4-way power passenger seat, leather seat trim, heated front seats, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, hill-start assist, cruise control, keyless access with push-button starting, a tilt-telescopic steering column, a 360-watt 7-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, a rear backup camera and the Active Noise Cancellation system.

The RDX with the Technology package ($39,490) brings a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, the AcuraLink satellite communications system, voice-activated navigation with real-time traffic and weather updates, SMS text messaging, GPS-linked climate control, and the ELS premium sound system with 410 watts, 10 speakers, DVD audio, Dolby Pro Logic II and 15 gigabytes of hard-drive music storage.

AcuraWatch can be added to the base RDX or the RDX with the Technology package. It includes adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, collision-mitigation braking, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning.

The RDX with the Advance package ($42,840) adds unique 18-in machined alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, bi-directional keyless remote engine starting, fog lights, ventilated front seats and the AcuraWatch system.

All-wheel drive adds another $1,400 to the bottom line of each version.

The GPS-linked, solar-sensing dual-zone climate control system seemed a bit gimmicky and didn’t provide any noticeable benefit to cabin comfort. Credit goes to Acura for adding the automatic 3-flash turn-signal function for lane changes to the RDX. This is a handy feature that remains uncommon among Asian vehicles, although American and European brands have embraced it for some time now.


The big news this year is the availability of the AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver assistive technology. Adaptive cruise control keeps a safe distance from the traffic ahead, while systems such as lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist help keep drowsy or distracted drivers safe. Collision avoidance and mitigation braking also help avoid accidents by alerting the driver to an impending accident. Although the AcuraWatch system can’t bring the car to a full stop as some other systems do, it will slow the vehicle while simultaneously tightening the seat belts and preparing the safety systems for impact.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the 2016 Acura RDX performed near the top of its class, earning five out of five stars in the front-end and side-impact tests and four stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also thinks highly of the RDX, handing it a Top Safety Pick rating.

Behind the Wheel

It’s often a knock to say that a car feels bigger than it is because this usually implies that it feels clumsy and ponderous. In the case of the RDX, however, it means that the car has the steady smoothness you’d find in a bigger class of vehicle, such as the MDX. It’s too often that small SUVs feel bouncy and rough, so this is a nice exception.

The taut, accurate steering provides uncommon feel and feedback for a luxury-class vehicle, especially one that isn’t German. Acceleration from the V6 is quiet and strong, with the 6-speed automatic transmission gliding smoothly through its gears.

Lexus established itself as the player to beat in the premium compact-SUV market with its slick, quiet, luxurious RX 350. The RDX now enjoys all of those same attributes, so it should be very appealing to customers who want to be bathed in an atmosphere of luxury while driving a smaller SUV. The RDX adds the benefit of responsive handling and a communicative steering feel, so the driver not only feels coddled but also feels involved with the activity of driving rather than disconnected from it.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 BMW X3 — The X3 offers a range of powerful turbocharged engines, including a diesel option. Checking off options on the X3 can push the price well beyond the most expensive RDX trim, but you’ll get many more features when doing so.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class — The 2016 Mercedes GLK-Class offers a higher quality of materials and a more sophisticated information and entertainment system. A fuel-sipping diesel is also an option.

2016 Audi Q5Audi has quickly made itself the understated favorite in many vehicle categories, and the Q5 certainly qualifies. It has the curb presence and visible quality to state its case.

Used Lexus RX 350 — A 2010-2014 Lexus RX offers a more luxurious ride and more interior room, plus the option of a hybrid model.

Autotrader’s Advice

Although SUVs are thought of as 4-wheel-drive off-roaders, most of us do fine with the cheaper, more fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive versions, especially when they’re equipped with modern traction and stability control systems. It therefore makes sense to save money on the purchase and save gas during ownership by choosing the front-wheel-drive version. Unless you’re all about premium audio and factory navigation, we’d say to skip the Technology package and go for the base trim with AcuraWatch. 

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