It was bound to snow. I would be shocked, and probably depressed, if it didn't snow the day I traveled to the Detroit auto show. It's an annual tradition. This year was no different as I woke up to blowing white and icy roads, knowing full-well it would be worse in Michigan. For the trip, I needed luxury, capability, and efficiency, so good thing the Acura RDX was ready to roll.
Except, it was covered in ice. Chiseling it away revealed the crossover's sleek flanks, precise sculpting, thin LED headlamps, and 18-inch machined alloy wheels. Acura's 5-point grille with thick satin silver crown is on its way out, but looks elegant on the RDX. Unfortunately, the exterior would soon be covered with salt and gunk -- a quite undignified suit for Acura's tall little wagon.
As is Acura tradition, the interior is comfortable, but not ostentatious. Everything is padded or stitched. And, there's connection to upper-rung Acuras like the RLX witth wide expanses of faux aluminum and a cabin that has the feeling it will last forever. A little more style would be nice, but it's far from ugly. Given the ugly outside, I didn't really want to leave the cozy seats.
Do you know how cold it is in Detroit during January? Well, the thermometer said "10 F!" And, walking along the Detroit River redefined wind chill. Trust me; slamming the door, flipping on the heated seats, and clicking on the dual-zone automatic climate control were God-sends. In nicer weather, ventilated front seats and a power sunroof would be dreamy. Makes me dream of summer. I just cranked the 410 watt premium audio system and let winter melt away.
I'll save you (most of) my rant about Acura's two-screen frustration system, which supposedly allows you to manage multiple funcations simultaneously, but it's ridiculously complicated for no good reason. Voice commands are rarely understood and scrolling through satellite radio stations will summon memories of the old 286 computer you once waited an eternity to boot. Just give me simple volume and tuning knobs. Ugh!
The rest of the technology suite works considerably better. Navigation, Bluetooth calling/streaming audio, and USB ports worked seamlessly. Active noise cancellation kept the cabin whisper quiet. Advanced safety equipment includes forward collision warning with auto stop, rear cross path detection, lane keep assist, and blind spot warning systems. They saved the RDX' grimy flanks more than once.
Don't think the RDX is some underpowered slug just because it is "entry level"...because its sleek self is propelled by a kickin' 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 279 horsepower to torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Shift it via paddles if you please. That transmission, aerodynamics, and variable displacement that shuts down cylinders at cruise enable 19/28-MPG city/hwy.
Even on Detroit's potholed roadways, the RDX' four-wheel independent suspension just rumbled over without shaking or quaking. It feels a little hollow at times, but behaves over the rough stuff. Steering is luxury car light, but reacts quickly. My arms hurt after hours of fighting crosswinds, but that's no blame for the RDX. It was always willing to swish through curvy backroads or cling to on-ramps as commanded.
While sometimes a little boring, the RDX is a well-built machine -- able to take all winter throws at it while insulating happy people from bitter cold. Having seen the spectacular Acura Precision concept car at the show, I promise stylilng will soon light a fire under the Lincoln MKC, BMW X1, Lexus NX200t, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Subaru Outback. Prices start at $34,370, but came to $44,460 with all the kit.
2016 Acura RDX
- Five-passenger, AWD crossover
- Powertrain: 279hp 3.5-liter V6, 6-spd trans
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 18"/18" alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Safety/Comfort
- Fuel economy: 19/28 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: East Liberty, OH
- Base/as-tested price: $35,370/44,460