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2018 Acura RDX

$36,000 - $44,200
Price Range (MSRP)
Acura RDX

2018 Acura RDX Review

by Roger Biermann

Acura's second-generation RDX has aged gracefully and is one of the top players in the luxury compact SUV class, combining a classy driving experience with lots of space, an excellent V6 engine, and all at a price that undercuts most of the competition. The responsive 3.5-liter V6 engine delivers 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque and pairs well with a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. Power is sent to the front wheels as standard, but the RDX can be specified with all-wheel drive as well. Even in base form, the RDX is brilliantly equipped, with features such as automatic LED headlights, a power liftgate, a sunroof, and heated and powered front seats. Three optional packages add even more equipment, with the AcuraWatch Plus adding several driver assistance features, the Technology Package adding an upgraded audio system and seats, and the Advance Package packing on extras such as ventilated seats and remote engine start. Although the interior is generally inviting, the infotainment system feels dated and the overall design is rather plain. With an MSRP ranging from $36,000 to $44,200, even specifying the range-topping RDX means it is priced on par with a far more basic BMW X3 or Jaguar F-Pace.

2018 Acura RDX Changes: What’s the difference vs 2017 RDX?

With the third-generation 2019 RDX on its way, the second-generation model is unchanged for 2018, having received a mid-cycle facelift in 2016. The mid-cycle refresh included the use of the more powerful V6 as well as an AWD system that can send more torque (up to 40 percent), to the rear wheels.

Pros and Cons

  • Excellent performance from V6 engine
  • Impressive interior and cargo space
  • Long list of standard features
  • Superb value, even with added packages
  • Good fuel efficiency
  • Complex infotainment system
  • No Android Auto or Apple CarPlay
  • Bland styling
  • Just one powertrain available

RDX Exterior

The RDX's most recent update added sleeker Jewel Eye LED headlamps and LED taillamps which have helped to keep the design relatively fresh. LED daytime running lights are also standard, along with 18-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, and rear privacy glass. Still, it's not the most exciting SUV to look at, and the front-end lacks the more modern five-sided grille treatment found on other Acura models such as the RLX and TLX.

2018 Acura RDX Front View
2018 Acura RDX Rear View
2018 Acura RDX Rear View
See All 2018 Acura RDX Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The 2018 RDX is built on the same platform that Honda uses for the CR-V and as such, is similarly sized to that model on a 105.7-inch wheelbase. The RDX is 73.7-inches wide, 65-inches high, and 184.4-inches in length, all closely mirroring class rivals, although the RDX is longer than both the CR-V and Lexus NX. Ground clearance is 8.1 inches, which is greater than that of the NX, CR-V, and BMW X3. Equipped with AWD and the Advance Package, the RDX's curb weight is 3,946 pounds, generally making the RDX lighter than AWD rivals like the X3, NX, and Audi Q5, all of which weigh in excess of 4,000 lbs. The base model RDX with FWD weighs in at 3,737 lbs.

Exterior Colors

The RDX is available in a choice of six colors on the standard model. These are Modern Steel Metallic, White Diamond Pearl, Kona Coffee Metallic, Basque Red Pearl II, Crystal Black Pearl, and Lunar Silver Metallic. The Technology, Technology & AcuraWatch Plus, and Advance Packages are also available with the striking Fathom Blue Pearl shade. The more extroverted colors help to spice up the rather plain design of the RDX.

  • White Diamond Pearl
  • Basque Red Pearl II
  • Kona Coffee Metallic
  • Lunar Silver Metallic
  • Modern Steel Metallic
  • Crystal Black Pearl
  • Fathom Blue Pearl

RDX Performance

All RDX models are powered by the same 3.5-liter V6 engine delivering 279 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque, while the sole transmission option is a six-speed automatic. Whether in front-wheel-drive or optional all-wheel-drive form, the V6 helps the RDX to provide healthy performance - aided by the smooth shifts of the auto - with 0-60 mph taking a brisk 6.2 seconds. The RDX will go on to a top speed of 135 mph. Many rivals are faster than this, but they also cost far more than the RDX. Towing capacity is below average, the RDX only being able to tow up to 1,500 lbs for both FWD and AWD models. This is significantly less than an Audi Q5, which has a towing capacity of 4,400 lbs.

2018 Acura RDX In Motion
2018 Acura RDX Rear View Driving
2018 Acura RDX 3.5L V6 Engine

Engine and Transmission

Every RDX is powered by Acura's familiar, naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine delivering 279 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. Also standard across the range is a six-speed automatic transmission featuring a manual shifting mode. There is however the choice of all-wheel drive (as standard, the RDX is front-wheel drive), and this system can send up to 40 percent of available torque to the rear wheels.

For an SUV weighing in at just under the 4,000-pound mark, the V6 provides ample power to get up to speed quickly and makes an appealing sound while doing so. It's not the fastest SUV in its segment, but rivals that are significantly quicker all carry a far higher price tag. The difference between Normal and Sport modes is noticeable, with the former improving efficiency but seeing the gearbox feel a tad indecisive as it always tries to select the highest gear. Sport provides surprisingly sharp throttle response but will see the otherwise impressive economy figures take a dip. Otherwise, the RDX (like most other Acura models this side of the NSX) is most in its element at a high-speed cruise, where it feels refined and easily able to keep pace with faster left-lane traffic.

  • Engine
    3.5-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The RDX prioritizes comfort over ultimate dynamic ability, a setup which should please the majority of buyers. With an absorbent and smooth quality of ride under varying conditions, it never feels unruffled and does an excellent job of masking surface changes from occupants. Adding to the effect is a particularly hushed cabin, the RDX being even quieter than a Lexus NX.

It's when hustling the RDX through a couple of tight curves that some imperfections start to permeate its otherwise polished demeanor. For starters, the electric power steering isn't the most accurate and requires tiny corrections midway through corners to stay on track. Both grip levels and body roll containment can't be described as sporting, although the AWD model is, of course, the superior driving partner under these conditions. Still, these unflattering characteristics are less of an issue in everyday driving, where the RDX feels refined, controlled, and more than worthy of its place in the luxury compact SUV segment.

Braking ability is good, the RDX maintaining straight-line stability under hard braking and proving resistant to fade even following several stops.

RDX Gas Mileage

Considering that the RDX uses a larger capacity V6 in a segment populated with smaller, turbocharged four-cylinders, its competitive gas mileage is especially impressive. EPA-rated estimates are 20/29/23 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles for the FWD model in standard form. This is a shade behind the combined-cycle 25 mpg achieved by the BMW X3 and Lexus NX 300 - both of these rivals use 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The AWD RDX, with its heavier drivetrain, sees fuel economy drop marginally to a combined 22 mpg. A 16-gallon gas tank will realize a mixed driving range of 368 miles for the FWD model and 352 miles for the AWD. Premium unleaded gas is recommended for the RDX.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    16.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 19/27 mpg
* 2018 Acura RDX AWD

RDX Interior

While some competitors have prioritized a sense of occasion when getting into their cabins, the RDX forgoes a distinctive design in favor of a comprehensive list of standard features. So, while there are fewer glossy surfaces and outlandish, brushed aluminum speaker covers to ogle over, the RDX focuses on what's really useful. Seats are well-padded and comfortable, the door armrests are positioned at the same height as the middle armrest for maximum comfort, the instrumentation is conservative but perfectly legible, and materials feel as though they'll stand up to the rigors of family use. Available features like ten-way, power front seats, ventilated seats, dual-zone climate control, and a ten-speaker audio system leave the driver and passengers with plenty of creature comforts to keep them happy. Seating space is excellent front and rear, and three adults can comfortably fit in the second row. Only the dual-screen setup of the infotainment system adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to the ergonomics.

2018 Acura RDX Dashboard
2018 Acura RDX Driver Seat
2018 Acura RDX Dashboard
See All 2018 Acura RDX Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The generously proportioned RDX interior seats five passengers in two rows - unlike the bigger MDX, no third row is available here. While the seats are large enough, they don't provide the best lateral support, although the padding strikes a good balance, being comfortably firm. Interior dimensions make for excellent space front and rear, with both legroom and headroom matching or exceeding the best in class. Rear shoulder room is more than you'll find in a BMW X3, Lexus NX or Mercedes-Benz GLC. Together with a raised back seat providing a clear view out and a flat floor in the second row, this makes the RDX a great choice for seating three passengers at the back. Both front and rear doors open at an almost 90-degree angle to aid ingress and egress, although access to the rear requires a slightly higher step up to get seated. Visibility is first-rate and the side mirrors are sufficiently sized, making it easy to maintain awareness of surroundings from the driver's seat.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Base and AcuraWatch Plus models have leatherette coverings on the seats while upgrading to any of the other available packages brings with it a full leather interior which nicely enhances the ambiance. Three interior colors are available: Graystone, Parchment, and Ebony, while instead of wood, there are silver inserts spanning the dashboard. While there are ventilation outlets at the rear, there are no individual temperature adjustments for rear passengers, just two blank plastic panels below the vents that do look a bit cheap alongside the rest of the interior.

RDX Trunk and Cargo Space

Trunk space behind the second row of seats is a useful 26.1 cubic feet, which is a full 8.4 cu-ft up on the Lexus NX. The BMW X3 does, however, offer a more commodious 28.7 cu-ft. Loading cargo is a simple affair thanks to the RDX's wide rear hatch and the standard fitment of a power liftgate. Folding down the 60/40-split rear seats can be done effortlessly using levers situated either in the trunk or on either rear bench shoulder. Doing so will expand total cargo space to 61.3 cu-ft, although there isn't a completely flat floor. Further adding to the practicality score are headrests that don't need to be removed before folding down the back seats.

Storage space in the cabin is reasonable, with a large, covered compartment situated ahead of the gear selector and similarly practical storage space between the driver and front passenger. Rear seat passengers have map pockets behind the front seats and medium-sized bottle holders in the doors.

2018 Acura RDX Cargo Area
2018 Acura RDX Maximum Cargo Space
2018 Acura RDX Rear Passenger Seats

RDX Infotainment and Features

Features

Standard RDX models are decently equipped. The list includes a power moonroof, a power liftgate, a rearview camera, multi-information display, LED headlights with an automatic function, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, ten-way power driver's seat, four-way power front passenger seat, keyless access system, and a seven-speaker audio system.

Higher trims add several driver assist technologies such as adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system, lane keeping assist system, and a rear cross traffic monitor. The range-topping Advance Package includes all of the above, plus ventilated front seats, fog lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, parking sensors both front and rear, and remote ignition. It's just a pity that rear seat passengers miss out on individual climate controls or their own USB ports.

Infotainment

Standard models are equipped with a single, non-touch, central display screen on the dashboard. Connected to it is a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Pandora compatibility, iPod integration, MP3/auxiliary input jack, and a seven-speaker audio system. Unfortunately, even though Acura now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the TLX and MDX, the 2018 RDX misses out on both. Upgrading to the Technology Package adds a dual-screen setup featuring an eight-inch upper screen and a seven-inch touchscreen lower down. This package also boasts an upgraded ten-speaker ELS sound system, navigation with voice operation, HD radio, Aha compatibility, Siri Eyes Free, and the AcuraLink app which easily allows you to connect to the vehicle using your smartphone.

While the Technology Package's added features will be a must for many buyers, its dual-screen layout - with the lower touch screen - is actually more complicated to use than the standard model's simpler layout. Still, familiarity with the system improves the speed of operation, and most owners should be able to adjust sufficiently over time.

RDX Problems and Reliability

The RDX has a J.D. Power predicted reliability score of four stars, rating the model as better than most. According to NHTSA, there have been no safety recalls for the 2018 Acura RDX. Together with the RDX's proven, naturally-aspirated V6 and strong build quality, there is little reason to doubt the long-term dependability of the model. Should you run into any issues, the RDX is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, matching what you'd get with an X3, NX or Q5. Also included is a six-year/70,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

RDX Safety

Acura has an excellent reputation for safety, and this trend continues with the RDX's five-star NHTSA overall safety rating. This is matched by top marks from the IIHS with the 2018 RDX being named as a Top Safety Pick, one of the industry's most respected safety designations. The IIHS also pointed out the RDX's superior ability to avoid a frontal crash when specified with the AcuraWatch Plus Package.

Key Safety Features

The RDX's comprehensive list of safety features includes dual front airbags, front side airbags with SmartVent technology, and side curtain airbags which also have a rollover sensor. Four-wheel ABS, child seat anchors, stability control, emergency braking assist, and daytime running lights are also standard on every model. Depending on which package is added on to the standard model, a range of driver assistive features become available. These include a pre- and post-collision safety system, a blind spot warning accident avoidance system, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning, all of which contributed to the IIHS awarding the RDX as a TSP for 2018.

Verdict: Is the 2018 Acura RDX a good SUV?

Despite being in the twilight of its model life, the 2018 Acura RDX is still a top contender in its segment. While the styling may have aged, the RDX still offers one of the most accommodating and comfortable interiors in its class. The cargo area is also practical in its design and will serve the needs of most small families. Equipment levels are superior to other vehicles in the class, with even the standard model being decently specified.

Dynamically, the RDX prioritizes comfort over outright sportiness, but it does so with aplomb, especially when accompanied by the smooth, easy power available from the V6. With an exemplary safety rating and good anticipated reliability, the RDX offers long-term peace of mind.

Flaws are few and far between and don't seriously dampen the appeal of the RDX. Yes, the infotainment system needs to be simplified, but with familiarization becomes easier to use. The single engine option limits the wide-ranging appeal of the RDX, but it's difficult to fault the combination of refinement, power, and efficiency delivered by the V6. Overall, the RDX more than holds its own against newer competition.

What's the Price of the 2018 Acura RDX?

All RDX models are powered by the same V6 engine. The range begins with the base 3.5-liter V6, front-wheel drive model at an MSRP of $36,000. Prices do not include taxes, license or a destination and handling charge of $940. Four optional packages follow: the AcuraWatch Plus Package at $37,300; the Technology Package at $39,700; the Technology & AcuraWatch Plus Package at $41,000; and finally the Advance Package at $42,700. All-wheel drive is available for an additional $1,500 on every model. The fully loaded model with both the Advance Package and AWD tops out at an MSRP of $44,200.

2018 Acura RDX Models

The RDX range comprises a total of five models, with all being powered by the same 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. These are the base 3.5-liter V6, the V6 with the AcuraWatch Plus Package, the V6 with Technology Package, the V6 with Technology & AcuraWatch Plus Package, and the V6 with Advance Package. All models are front-wheel drive and available with the option of all-wheel drive.

Base models are fairly well equipped with features such as a seven-speaker audio system, dual-zone climate control, and heated power front seats. This model - along with the AcuraWatch Plus - are the only two with leatherette instead of leather seats. The AcuraWatch Plus Package includes an impressive range of driver assist features; the Technology Package adds an upgraded ELS audio system as well as Acura's navigation system; the Technology & AcuraWatch Plus Package, of course, combines these two packages' features; and the Advance includes everything the cheaper packages do while adding luxury items such as ventilated front seats and remote start for the engine.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$36,000
AcuraWatch Plus
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$37,300
Technology Package
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$39,700
Technology & AcuraWatch Plus
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$41,000
Advance Package
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$42,700
See All 2018 Acura RDX Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Acura's rather unconventional 'package' nomenclature typically refers to what is known as a trim line for other brands. Although the brand markets these as standalone packages, they, in fact, build upon one another and are therefore not truly standalone.

The AcuraWatch Plus Package costs $1,300 and highlights Acura's dedication to safety and advanced driver assistive features. While the base model makes do with normal cruise control, this package gains adaptive cruise control. A pre-collision safety system and lane departure warning (as part of accident avoidance) are included as well. The Technology Package costs $3,700 and adds another two key driver assistive features: blind spot warning and a post-collision safety system. Inside, it gets an upgraded ELS sound system with ten speakers, eight-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat (Base and AcuraWatch Plus only offer four-way power adjustment), and leather-covered sports seats. The Technology & AcuraWatch Plus Package combines the features of these two packages. The fully loaded Advance Package costs $6,700 and, in addition to the features listed above, adds on parking sensors both front and rear, ventilated front seats, fog lights, and remote engine start.

What Acura RDX Model Should I Buy?

The RDX is rare in offering unbeatable value all the way up to the most expensive Advance model. Even though this version is specified with all the luxuries most owners would want and need, it remains competitive value. Consider the $42,700 MSRP of the RDX with the Advance Package: the almost identically priced BMW X3 xDrive30i costs $42,650 but adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, heated and cooled seats, a sunroof, and navigation all cost extra. All of these items are included with the RDX Advance, clearly underscoring the exceptional value built into this range. As such, buyers would be happy in any RDX, but we'd recommend at least opting for the AcurwaWatch Plus equipped model for the advanced safety features on offer.

2018 Acura RDX Comparisons

2018 Acura RDX
2018 Acura RDX

2018 Acura RDX vs Acura MDX

Size and seating capacity are the primary differences between Acura's RDX and the larger, midsize MDX. At slightly different stages in their life cycles, the 2018 MDX also benefits from the more stylish diamond pentagon grille, with the RDX still using the older Acura grille. At an MSRP of $44,200, the cheapest MDX is exactly the same price as the most expensive, all-wheel drive RDX. At over ten inches longer, however, the MDX provides seating for seven in three rows, as opposed to the five-seater RDX. The MDX's V6 is also slightly more powerful, but it needs the extra urge to cope with a heavier body. This comparison is pretty easy to unpack: unless you must have the extra two seats (and the superior trunk space when the rearmost seats are folded), the RDX makes more sense, providing most of the MDX's luxury SUV persona but at a better price.

See Acura MDX Review

2018 Acura RDX vs Lexus NX

The RDX's fellow Japanese cousin, the NX, is a close match in both size and price. The NX starts with an advantage on the showroom floor - assuming you prefer its more aggressive styling when parked alongside the rather plain RDX. At a base level, the NX includes adaptive cruise control and navigation, both not included on the cheapest RDX. However, the RDX fights back with its more powerful (although thirstier) V6. The base NX 300 uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The Acura wins the space race, offering better cargo space and superior rear seat leg room. Overall, the RDX offers a more consistent spread of abilities than the still capable NX.

See Lexus NX Review

2018 Acura RDX vs Honda CR-V

The highly regarded Honda CR-V starts at an MSRP of $24,250, a full $11,750 below the cheapest RDX model. The first concession to this price saving involves the powertrain: 190 horsepower is the most you'll get from the version equipped with the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, and the only transmission option available is a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). This makes the V6-engined RDX a significantly more pleasurable, refined drive. The RDX also includes niceties such as parking assistance and ventilated seats that you won't find in the CR-V. However, the Honda offers vast cargo space and even better space for passengers than in the already spacious RDX. It is also the significantly more fuel-efficient model. Ultimately, both the CR-V and RDX are excellent midsize SUVs with distinct positions in the market: the CR-V is more affordable and frugal, while the RDX is more luxurious and powerful.

See Honda CR-V Review

Acura RDX Popular Comparisons

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