2017 Acura RDX Test Drive

Terry Box | March 29, 2017
2017 Acura RDX Test Drive

Perhaps I missed the Tweet – as usual -- but I thought Acura built edgy, off-center cars for us oddballs.

I mean, the new razor-cut, highly computerized NSX super-car looks and supposedly performs like something that ought to be circling Pluto.

Many of Acura’s sedans feature goofy Joker faces and a jumble of awkward lines, but also sport free-breathing, hard-charging four-bangers and V-6s – backing up those silly smirks with real smiles.

I think of them as high-tech eccentrics in California clothes, dudes with Japanese accents.

So when did soccer moms take over the crossover division at Acura?

Not that I have anything against soccer moms, any one of whom might make a better president than the bozos we’ve had over the last decade.

But moms tend to place practicality over performance and posturing, which can make for some pretty sleepy vehicles.

The 2017 dark-blue Acura RDX I had recently was, uh, eminently sensible – seemingly designed for suburban soccer moms with good jobs.

A sturdy mid-sizer, the RDX still wore the remnants of an Acura smirk up front -- a slightly upturned grille with the brand’s profoundly strange five-projector headlamps on either side.

A long, subtly raised hood flowed into a big windshield and slightly curved top, following universal crossover fashion, I think.

Meanwhile, character lines high and low, as well as large doors mostly defined the RDX’s sides, and it rolled along unobtrusively on 235/60 tires wrapped around multi-spoke alloy wheels.

Oddly, Acura opted for the hybrid look in back, tucking the RDX’s dual exhausts up under its lower body panel.

Granted, not a single line on the RDX felt polarizing in the way Lexus crossovers do, but I sure wouldn’t want to have to find one on the lot at NorthPark Mall.

In fact, the RDX’s average exterior probably lowered my engine expectations.

For a couple of hours right after I got the RDX, I thought some high-strung turbo-four or something was providing the motivation – as they formerly did.

Once I got some space, though, and was able to get into the throttle pretty aggressively, I realized the engine had to be packing more than four weenie, overly stressed pistons.

Sure enough, as I discovered, my all-wheel-drive RDX relied on a 3.6-liter V-6 for power – and Honda/Acura builds some of the sweetest V-6s in the auto industry.

With 279-horsepower to propel nearly two tons, the smooth, rev-happy engine requires a heavy foot – almost as if it were a bit embarrassed to be too boisterous.

However, give it the boot and the engine responds with an impressive run to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, according to Car and Driver, clicking through its six-speed transmission with positive 6,000-rpm shifts.

Most of the fun ends there, though if you’re a real thrill-seeker – a leather-and-whips sort of soccer mom, I suppose – the RDX can top out at 135 mph.

Just leave the kids at home.

The healthy V-6 can only muster 19 miles per gallon in town – and I often saw more like 16 – but fortunately, gas is still pretty cheap. Keep it on the highway and you may get 27 mpg.

While the beefy crossover offered quick steering, it felt pretty numb and turned into corners with more competence than zeal.

But, hey, what do you expect? It’s essentially a high-riding station wagon.

As such, the RDX leaned some in corners, but remained pretty well controlled.

And more important, the ride seemed long-legged and taut – not quite sporting, but no flabby floater, either.

At $44,460, the RDX qualifies as a near-luxury crossover and provides most of the amenities you would anticipate -- albeit with large dollops of plastic, the weight saving curse of the 21st century.

The busy black dashboard in my RDX, for instance, included hoods over the instrument panel and nearby display screen, as well as a protruding center stack with a smaller display screen down low.

Like way too many Honda products, the stereo could only be tuned with touchpads on the display screen – a simple task in rush-hour traffic, right?

Fortunately, the volume and climate-control systems had buttons and knobs.

Maybe Honda felt a bit guilty about it, though. Among the safety features in the RDX are lane-keeping assist, collision-mitigation braking and adaptive cruise control.

Most of the interior, incidentally, was gray, including the lower dash, the door-panels and seats.

Although the door panels looked pretty slinky and stylish – including padded armrests and centers -- they were mostly plastic.

Meanwhile, the RDX’s flat-gray leather seats were sectioned with perforated centers and offered pretty good leg and headroom in back.

In addition, you will find 26 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second seat.

All the interior really lacked was some warmth and soul – sort of like the RDX itself.

C’mon, Acura. Bring back the smirk.

2017 Acura RDX

  • What I liked most: The smooth, torquey V-6 engine.
  • What I would change: The styling, which needs some distinction in this crowded mid-size segment.
  • MSRP: Base price, $44,460. As equipped, with no options, $44,460.
  • Fuel economy: Rated at 19 mpg in town/27 on the highway/ 22 combined. 
  • Official color: Fathom Blue Pearl.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 1,987 miles.
  • Weight: 3,936 pounds.
  • Length-width-height: 184.4 inches long/73.7 inches wide/65 inches tall.
  • Fuel-tank Capacity: 16 gallons, with gas filler on the driver’s side.
  • Towing capacity: 1,500 pounds.
  • 2017 Acura RDX in a few words: Extremely competent, though a bit cold and uninspired.
  • Warranty: Six-year, 70,000-mile powertrain; four-year, 50,000-mile basic.
  • Final assembly location: East Liberty, Ohio.
  • Manufacturer’s website:
Photo Credit: Acura
Tags: 2017, Acura, rdx, suv
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