Honda and Acura have been redoubling their efforts towards high-end quality over the past few year, and the 2017 RDX Elite serves as a fine example of their efforts.
The line between CUV and SUV is often blurred, and that is most definitely the case with the Acura RDX Elite. While classified by Acura as an SUV, the often overweight feeling of many SUVs is absent in this model. Instead, the RDX (which is based on the Honda Civic-derived platform that underpins the CR-V) drives and handles like some of the industry’s sportier crossovers, and as an added bonus thanks to a great turning radius. It never feels like you’re driving a small motorhome – even in the smallest parking lots.
With that said, the RDX Elite’s functions and capacities are everything you would expect from a $40,000+ luxury SUV. The cargo area is spacious, as are the rear seats, and the ride quality is fit for just about anything the average Canadian could throw at it. Acura’s Amplitude Reactive Dampers, in tandem with the multi-link rear suspension, make bumpy dirt roads a breeze in addition to providing the RDX with some stellar handling for a vehicle of its size.
As I set sail for Sudbury, a four-hour drive from my home north of Toronto, I was already impressed within the first hour of driving. The ELS Studio 410-watt audio system, featuring 10 speakers including a cleverly trunk-integrated subwoofer, provided crystal-clear sound while I indulged in SiriusXM satellite radio. The seats, which feature both heated and cooled options in three levels as well as 8-way power adjustment, were incredibly comfortable. My only minor gripe with the cockpit, and perhaps my only complaint at all with the RDX Elite, is that after four hours of driving, the lumbar support adjustment module became a noticeable point against my back in the seat, even at it’s lowest setting. Still, it is one of the world’s most comfortable seats.
The RDX attracts looks from passers-by everywhere, which for an SUV, is quite the feat in terms of design. In Elite trim, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin all-seasons adorn the RDX at ground-level, and fog lights exclusive to this high-end trim gives the RDX a real all-purpose look. In addition, a stunning set of full LED headlights are standard. I don’t think there’s a German compact SUV on the market that can say the same. Acura has certainly done their part in setting the RDX Elite’s looks apart from the competition.
As I make my way through country roads and highways on my road trip, the car’s 3.5L V6 is not shy to put its 279 horses and 252 lb-ft of torque to good use through the AWD system. I mentioned that the RDX drives a bit like a crossover, and the straight-line performance is where I notice this the most. Throttle response is peppy and immediate, and the option of shifting with the paddles in Sport mode adds some engagement to the drive if you feel so inclined, but the 6-speed automatic does such a good job of anticipating your driving style that I chose to let it do the work for me for a majority of the journey.
What really strikes me as incredible with the 2017 RDX Elite is the fact that this car has every feature in the book. Anything I wanted in a daily driver was right at my fingertips. Blind spot notification, lane assist, Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), heated and cooled front seats (and even heated rear seats), auto-dimming side mirrors, integrated navigation, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, remote start, and keyless entry are just some of the features that I’ve started missing since I got back into my personal daily driver.
Even with all of these features, a larger body, and a lively V6, the RDX Elite manages fairly impressive fuel economy. Acura rates the RDX Elite’s city / highway / combined fuel consumption at 12.4/8.7/10.7 L/100 km, respectively, and even with some spirited driving along the way, I found it pretty easy to average achieve similar numbers.
All in, the 2017 RDX Elite should be near the top of the list for any prospective SUV / CUV buyer. With good fuel economy, promising daily driver performance, ample cargo space and enough features to rival even the highest-end competitors, the RDX Elite is certainly one of Acura’s best offerings, and the increasing sales numbers every year since the beginning of the current generation attest. With a new model on the way for 2019, the RDX should become an even more important vehicle in the Acura fleet.
SPECIFICATIONS – 2017 Acura RDX Elite
BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $47,390 / $49,435 (incl. $2,045 destination)
FINAL ASSEMBLY: East Liberty, Ohio
ENGINE: 3.5L V6
HORSEPOWER: 279 hp @ 6,200 rpm
TORQUE: 252 lb-ft. @ 4,900 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 1,741 kg
CONFIGURATION: front engine, all-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic w/ Sequential SportShift
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (L/100 KM - CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 12.4 / 8.7 / 10.7
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 60 / 100,000
ALTERNATIVES: Audi Q5, Cadillac XT5, Infiniti QX50, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC
Photography by Adam Gordon