2018 Acura RDX: A Competitive and Affordable Luxury Crossover

Consumers shopping for a luxury crossover have no shortage of options. Scroll down to learn about the 2018 Acura RDX’s performance specs and defining features:

The 2018 Acura RDX is one of the many choices in this segment. The RDX has been given lukewarm praise by reviewers and hasn’t been a huge hit with consumers in terms of sales. If you’re in the market for a luxury crossover and are considering the 2018 Acura RDX, here’s everything you need to know.

What’s Under the Hood: A Lone V6

Many automakers have begun downsizing the engine options on their crossovers and SUVs. Acura didn’t take that route with the RDX. Instead of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the crossover’s lone power plant is a 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front two wheels — all-wheel drive is available — through a six-speed automatic transmission that comes standard with paddle shifters.

Car and Driver did 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds in the all-wheel-drive RDX. That’s an impressive time, but reviewers from the outlet (and overall) say the SUV offers only a pedestrian driving experience. The RDX isn’t primarily designed for spirited driving, though. It’s also not designed to sip gas either.

The 2018 Acura RDX’s fuel economy is 20/28/23 (city, highway, combined) for the FWD model and 19/27/22 mpg with AWD equipped. Those figures are about average for the segment. While the RDX’s V6 gets decent fuel economy, the model as a whole is hurt by the lack of more gas-friendly engine options like a turbocharged four-cylinder or hybrid setup. According to Motor Trend, the 2019 Acura RDX will feature a tweaked version of the Accord’s 2.0-liter turbo and an automatic or dual-clutch transmission with potentially eight gears.

If you’re looking to save money at the pump, or if you want to carve up the corners on occasion, the 2018 Acura RDX isn’t the crossover for you. However, if you want to get from A to B in quiet and comfort and if you value being able to pass cars at-will on the highway, the RDX will suit your needs and then some.

What’s Inside: A Roomy Interior and Confusing Infotainment Center

The 2018 Acura RDX doesn’t offer the most luxurious cabin in its class, but it is competitive for the money. The crossover seats five and has been praised by reviewers for its above-average cargo space and second-row leg room. The RDX offers 26.1 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats up. Folding the back row of seats increases storage space to 61.3 cubic feet. Loading cargo is made easier thanks to a standard power liftgate.

Other standard features include leatherette-trimmed sport seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, a five-inch infotainment center, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. Optional features include perforated leather sport seats that are both heated and ventilated, an eight-inch navigation display screen, GPS-linked climate control, and a premium 10-speaker audio system.

One of the biggest knocks against the RDX’s cabin is its confusingly designed infotainment center. Optioning the eight-inch navigation display screen does not remove the five-inch screen. Instead of doing that, Acura chose to stack the two one on top of the other. This creates an awkward dynamic in which you’re unable to quickly and easily control what’s happening on the top-mounted nav screen.

Aside from its awkwardly designed infotainment center, there’s not much to seriously knock the RDX’s cabin for. It isn’t close to being the most luxurious in its class. Heated and ventilated rear seats are nowhere to be found on the options list, and neither are Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, although Siri Eyes Free is available. But Acura wasn’t trying to make the most luxurious crossover around. Instead, the automaker worked to strike a balance between luxury features and affordability. For the most part, Acura succeed.

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Safety Features, Tech, And Ratings

The 2018 Acura RDX is a 2018 IIHS Top Safety Pick. The crossover received “Good,” the highest rating, in all tests, although its headlights and child seat latch anchors were rated as “Acceptable” (the second-highest rating). The 2018 Acura RDX is safest when equipped with the optional AcuraWatch Plus and Technology Package. These packages add driver safety and assistance features like a collision-mitigation braking system, adaptive cruise control, and a blind spot information system.

Pricing And (Lack Of) Trim Levels

The 2018 Acura RDX starts at $36,000 for a model with front-wheel drive. Optioning all-wheel drive tacks $1,500 onto the price tag. Like the larger MDX, the RDX does not feature trim levels. Instead, Acura offers three options packages that add additional luxury and tech. The $1,300 AcuraWatch Plus package adds safety and driver assistance features along with a color multi-information display in the gauge cluster. The additional safety and driver assistance features added are a collision-mitigation braking system, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist.

The $3,700 Technology Package is the most comprehensive options package on offer. It adds perforated leather sport seats, an eight-way power adjustable front passengers seat, GPS-linked climate control, a 10-speaker ELS premium sound system, and a navigation system. Additional safety features added include a rear cross traffic monitor, blind spot information system, and guidelines for the rear backup camera. The Technology Package also adds voice recognition capabilities to both the navigation and climate control systems.

Acura’s final options package for the RDX is the Advance Package. This package can only be selected if both the AcuraWatch Plus and Technology Packages are optioned. The $1,700 package adds heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, remote engine start, auto-dimming side mirrors, 18-inch machine finish alloy wheels, fog lights, and front and rear parking sensors.

A fully optioned RDX with all-wheel drive comes in at $44,200. That’s a pretty good price as far as luxury crossovers go. If you want to save a bit of cash, the Advanced Package can be left off the options list given that it contains a lot of aesthetic upgrades and doesn’t offer much in the way of interior luxury or tech features (save for those seats). Also, unless you live somewhere that sees snow or rain you might want to consider leaving all-wheel drive off the options list as well.

How It Stacks up against the Competition

The 2018 RDX is in a crowded segment. Name an automaker and it probably builds a model that competes with the Acura. When it comes to pricing, the RDX beats out its European competition easily. The BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Mercedes-Benz GLC all start at over $40,000. However, when it comes to performance and luxury features, these European crossovers are ahead of the RDX.

The RDX compares favorably to its Asian rivals like the Lexus RX and Infiniti QX50. The RX is much more expensive than the RDX, with a base price of $43,270. If you want an AWD RX, you’ll need to fork over $44,670. While the Lexus is more expensive, it does offer a hybrid option and the ability to seat seven. The RDX compares favorably to the Infiniti QX50, offering better fuel economy and more cargo space, although the Infiniti offers a livelier driving experience. Acura’s edge may not last too long, though, as the completely redesigned QX50 is set to debut within the next few months.

So, is the 2018 Acura RDX a good buy? Yes, it is. While the RDX doesn’t offer class-leading luxury, performance, or tech features it is competitive where it counts and offers great bang for your buck. If you’re looking to cart the family and some cargo around in quiet and luxury, and if you don’t want to break the bank in the process, the 2018 Acura RDX should definitely be on your radar.

lev radin / Shutterstock

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