$24,227 - $29,560

2016 Acura RDX Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Acura RDX was new.


Performance: 8.0

Reviewers say the RDX's engine is refined and provides a good amount of power for highway passing and merging. Its six-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly overall, they add, though it isn’t as quick as some would like. Auto reporters appreciate the Acura RDX's poised handling through turns and accurate steering. It also remains comfortable over rugged roads and has strong brakes, they report. Fuel economy is average for a luxury compact SUV.

  • "It's often a knock to say that a car feels bigger than it is because this usually implies that it feels clumsy and ponderous. In the case of the RDX, however, it means that the car has the steady smoothness you'd find in a bigger class of vehicle, such as the MDX. It's too often that small SUVs feel bouncy and rough, so this is a nice exception." -- AutoTrader
  • "Turbocharged four-cylinder engines and seven- or eight-speed automatics seem to be the powertrain of choice for most automakers offering small luxury crossovers these days, but the V6 in the 2015 Acura RDX is so good that you might just wonder what all the fuss is about." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "To our welcome surprise, the 2014 RDX delivers above and beyond the expected level of dynamism, proving itself a capable performer in initial acceleration and passing power." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)
  • "On balance, what emerges is a driving experience that is pleasant, comfortable, competent, and as memorable as a bowl of oatmeal." -- Popular Mechanics (2013)

Acceleration and Power

Powering the 2016 Acura RDX is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that provides 279 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. According to the EPA, the RDX gets up to 20/29 mpg city/highway, which is typical for the class.

Automotive journalists praise the RDX's V6 engine for its smooth power delivery and say it has good power for highway passing. Test drivers agree that the six-speed automatic transmission shifts effortlessly, but a few notice that it can hunt for gears when downshifting.

  • "Acceleration from the V6 is quiet and strong, with the 6-speed automatic transmission gliding smoothly through its gears." -- AutoTrader
  • "The RDX is downright quick thanks to its 279-hp V6, with good throttle response as soon as you touch the pedal. Like all VTEC engines, it pulls harder in the higher rev ranges, mostly above 4,000 rpm. Shifts from the automatic are plenty smooth, and the paddles are basically jewelry, telling the car's brain that 'it's OK to shift now, if you'd like.' The 3.5 doesn't really have a growl to speak of, but at a full-tilt shift, it has a little musicality to it." -- AutoWeek
  • "The six-speed automatic favors smoothness over speed, and downshifts require some hunting. There is a manual mode with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, but it doesn't have a huge impact on upshift or downshift speeds. We do like the solid, satisfying sensation when slotting the shift lever into gear. It's a little thing, sure, but gives a real sense of quality." -- Autoblog
  • "True to its modest nature, the 2015 Acura RDX doesn't exactly position itself as a rocket. Yet it exceeded our expectations in terms of initial acceleration and passing power. The standard V6 idles smoother and pulls harder than the 4-cylinder turbocharged engines found in the Audi Q5 and Land Rover LR2, and there's a sport mode when more oomph is needed." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)

Handling and Braking

Although they note that some rivals offer sportier driving dynamics and better road feel, reviewers are pleased with the 2016 Acura RDX's composed handling through turns. They add that its ride remains comfortable over rough highways, and its steering is accurate. Test drivers also agree that the RDX's brakes are strong and responsive. The Acura RDX has standard front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "Much like the CR-V on which it's based, the RDX feels very disconnected, both through the steering and the chassis. We aren't asking for low-profile rubber or anything like that, but something to better communicate road feel to the driver would be nice." -- Autoblog
  • "The RDX adds the benefit of responsive handling and a communicative steering feel, so the driver not only feels coddled but also feels involved with the activity of driving rather than disconnected from it." -- AutoTrader
  • "Bumps are handled by a MacPherson strut setup in front and a multilink design in back. Front and rear stabilizer bars keep everything planted. Most potholes arrive with a muffled thud in the cabin and can throw the car off its course a bit, but they have to be big, and the RDX has to be going slow. Bumps at speed on the highway are mostly absorbed." -- AutoWeek
  • "Though it's not quite as overtly sporty as some rivals, the RDX still changes direction in fine fashion. Its steering feels light but precise, and overall handling is composed and secure when driving through turns. On the open highway, the RDX boasts low levels of road and wind noise, plus an impressively comfortable ride." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Acura engineers obsessed over brake tuning, and it shows: the RDX has a surprising amount of bite coupled with firm, linear pedal travel." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)

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