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2018 Acura RDX: New Car Review

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

There’s a slew of new luxury compact SUVs on the market, but only a handful have the durable reputation and enviable quality of the 2018 Acura RDX. While not as new as the Mercedes-Benz CLC Coupe, Infiniti QX30 or Jaguar F-Pace, Acura’s RDX for 2018 has the distinct advantage of being a known and proven commodity, having retained the same body, engine and option list for the last few years. Fortunately, it’s a look that has stood the test of time, as has the RDX’s excellent reliability and resale record. The RDX is powered solely by a 3.5-liter V6, which we find ironic, since many of its 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.

But with styling similar to the popular MDX crossover, a long list of standard and available equipment and a renewed commitment to its core audience, the 2018 Acura RDX shouldn’t be overlooked. See the 2018 Acura RDX models for sale near you

What’s New for 2018?

Once again, the Acura RDX carries over with no major changes

What We Like

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

What We Don’t

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

How Much?

$36,775-$45,500

Fuel Economy

The 2018 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’re so inclined, you can shift gears yourself with the steering wheel mounted shift paddles.

Fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive RDX is a modest 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, while the all-wheel-drive version earns 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Acura RDX comes in one trim, with no stand-alone options but a number of packages.

The front-wheel-drive RDX ($36,775) 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 start, 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 ($40,475) 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.

The AcuraWatch Plus Package 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 ($43,475) adds unique 18-in machine 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.

Safety

The availability of the AcuraWatch Plus Package of safety and driver-assistive technologies includes adaptive cruise control, which 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 won’t always 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 2018 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 in 2017.

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 the car has the steady smoothness you’d find in a bigger class of vehicle, such as the MDX. Too often, 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 the 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 feels not only coddled but also involved with the activity of driving rather than disconnected from it.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 BMW X3 — The X3 is all-new this year, offering a range of powerful turbocharged engines, including 355-hp M version. 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.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC — The GLC offers a bit more sophistication and there’s a sporty 4-door Coupe version as well. The GLC’s turbocharged 4-cylinder engine gets better fuel economy than the RDX, while the sporty V6-powered AMG offers better performance.

2018 Audi Q5 Also new this year, the Audi Q5 has quickly made itself the understated favorite in many categories. It has the curb presence and visible quality to state its case.

Used Lexus RX 350A 2012-2016 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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