Acura is working on converting entry-level luxe hunters to its cause, and the second step in the strategy that started with the 2016 ILX is this, the 2016 Acura RDX. Revamped and prettified to better match not only Acura’s latest design language – glitzy “Jewel Eye” LED headlamps and less plasticky snout included – but the raised expectations of luxury SUV buyers the 2016 RDX gets a new engine, gives economy a bump upwards, smarter all-wheel-drive, and a more capable infotainment system. Meanwhile, there’s an even more expensive version at the top end to capitalize on what Acura says is a new breed of drivers.
On the outside, the styling is broadly the same as before only tauter, with most changes around the grille and lights, as well as the lower front and rear fascia. The trapezoidal front vents are now chrome-trimmed and sharper, and the wheels are new for the 2016 model year, too.
The new engine is a 3.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC V6 with 279 HP and 252 lb-ft of torque, matched to Acura’s nine-speed auto transmission. The torque curve is more even compared to the older car, too, which should mean less waiting for the grunt to kick in.
However, it also has the ability to shut down two of its six cylinders when their contribution isn’t required, and as a result fuel economy has jumped a point over the old car. So, despite being more powerful, the EPA fuel ratings are 19/28 mpg for the AWD models in city/highway driving, or 20/29 mpg for FWD versions.
For those opting for AWD, the system is new there too. Whereas the old SUV pushed up to 25-percent of its torque to the rear, the 2016 RDX can split 40-percent to the back wheels, for better grip. During cruising, meanwhile, all the power can be routed to the front wheels for better economy.
Inside, the twin displays – the lower being a touchscreen – are carried over from the 2016 ILX, with physical controls for the HVAC system but touch used for entertainment and navigation. Other previously optional (or simply unavailable) features are now included as standard, including a 10-way power adjustable drivers seat, 8-way power adjustable passenger’s seat, each of which add heating (active cooling is an option).
An automatic power-tailgate is standard too, and there are new rear ventilation controls for the backseat passengers. Bluetooth connectivity, a multi-view reversing camera (though sadly no 360-degree vision, though Acura says it’s expecting that to arrive eventually), and a power moonroof are also standard fit.
However, while the MY2015 RDX topped out at around $40k, for the update Acura has added an Advance Package for those still wanting the SUV’s relatively compact footprint, but demanding more tech and comfort. European rivals in the segment were pushing mid- to high-$40k pricing in their top-end configurations, Acura pointed out to me, a space that previously the RDX simply didn’t have a footprint in.
So, the Advance Package introduces the front seat ventilation, fog lamps, remoter engine start, rain-sensing wipers, and parking sensors, together with the adaptive cruise control and active lane-keep assistance that can be separately added as part of the AcuraWatch+ upgrade to the lower tiers.
Acura is yet to confirm final pricing, with those details expected to come closer to the 2016 RDX’s arrival in showrooms in spring 2015.