Now approaching the end of its first decade, the Acura RDX is in the fourth year of its second generation. The 2016 edition arrived with a massive makeover. The exterior has a new grille, jewel-eye LED headlights and new taillights. The interior has been updated with a new trim, more standard equipment and a new optional touchscreen.

The 2016 Acura RDX also has several new optional features, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane departure warning and intervention, a blind-spot monitoring system and automatic wipers.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

A compact SUV available in one trim, the 2016 Acura RDX features a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 279 horsepower. It’s matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel standard.

My test vehicle had the optional all-wheel drive as well as the three optional packages —AcuraWatch Plus, Technology and Advance.

The 2016 Acura RDX has has nearly completely new look.
The 2016 Acura RDX has a nearly completely new look. Images © James Raia/2015

Standard features on the RDX include 18-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), a four-way power passenger seat, premium vinyl (leatherette) upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch dashboard information display and a seven-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a USB audio interface, Pandora, Siri Eyes Free and an auxiliary audio jack.

The AcuraWatch Plus package adds adaptive cruise control, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and a lane-departure warning and intervention system. This package may be ordered by itself or in combination with the Technology package.

The Technology package bundles sport front seats, an eight-way power front passenger seat, leather upholstery, a navigation system, voice commands, the Acura Link app suit, a larger (8-inch) display screen plus an additional 7-inch touchscreen display on the dashboard, and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound system with HD radio and Aha compatibility.

The Advance package includes all of the content in the AcuraWatch Plus and Technology packages. And there are also ventilated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, auto-dimming sideview mirrors, remote engine start and foglights.

With its lengthy standard equipment, optional features and overall new look, the RDX prompts a question: Is it a better vehicle than its larger, far more expensive stablemate, the Acura MDX.

The Acura MDX is a three-row, seven-passenger offering featuring a 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower with a new nine-speed automatic transmission. It has a lot to offer for a larger family. Yet, depending upon what packages are purchased, the MDX can cost about $15,000 more than the RDX.

Family brand price comparisons side, the 2016 Acura RDX has many other features to offer. The V6 accelerates with authority and it does so quietly. The six-speed isn’t the update-to-date automatic transmission in the industry, but it responds with smooth and timely shifts.

The new Acura RDX maneuvers with poise and the steering is light and composed. The MDX for some reason doesn’t drive as well and nor do many of the RDX’s competitors.

A newly named top IIHS safety selection, the 2016 Acura RDX has ample cargo space. The rear seats easily fold flat (when the front seats are moved forward), and there’s plenty of room for groceries, hauling and most mainstream needs.

Likes:

Overall comfort.
Push-button automatic transmission.
Jewel Eye headlights.
Second-seat release handles work smoothly.

Dislikes:

Touchscreen interface isn’t intuitive.
Some German rivals are sportier.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Acura RDX

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.5 seconds.
Airbags: 6.
Fuel economy: 19 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway), 22 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 279.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $43,420.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.acura.com.
Price As Tested: $44,340.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 6 years/70,000 miles; Powertrain, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited mileage.

What Others Say:

“That the 2016 Acura RDX needed only a handful of upgrades to stay competitive in the premium SUV segment speaks volumes about how right Acura got it. Already sporting a powerful V6 engine, the choice of front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), plenty of cargo space, and comfortable seating for up to five passengers, the new Acura RDX gets a bit more power, a new trim level that bundles all the technology Acura can muster, and it now boasts the Jewel Eye headlight treatment, fully bringing it into the modern Acura visual aesthetic.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“Part of acknowledging the general goodness of the RDX is divorcing it from the increasingly popular idea of the sporty crossover, like the German set. Following this mid-cycle revision, the RDX leans much more closely toward the crossover example set by the Lexus RX – that of the comfortable, relaxed, and finely appointed five-passenger cruiser. You’d never know it based on sales numbers, but the RDX is an excellent alternative to the all too popular Lexus.” — Auto Blog.

“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.” — AutoTrader.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words

“The 2016 Acura represents everything an entry level luxury SUV should offer. It’s handsome inside and outside and it has a pleasing combination of comfort and performance.”

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