With a new engine, the 2015 Acura RDX is more refined than its turbocharged predecessor. Too bad that its dashboard tech is just as dated.
July 8, 2014 6:17 PM PDT
Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/CNET
/ Caption by: Antuan Goodwin
The RDX's design is simpler and more approachable than the previous model, but still feels sporty and compact in person.
HID headlamps come as part of the Technology package. As we'll learn, that option is a bit of a mixed bag.
I'm just a bit disappointed that the larger MDX's available full LED headlamps haven't trickled down to the smaller RDX.
However, the largest changes happen beneath the surface in the form of a new V-6 engine and a lighter all-wheel drive system.
The RDX's cabin isn't bad looking at all. While the Acura doesn't quite pull off "luxury," it does "premium" well.
The RDX's steering wheel falls nicely into the hand and adjusts manually to tilt and telescope.
This 2015 model is using what looks like an older version of the Acura infotainment system.
There's no touchscreen in the RDX's cabin. On-screen selections are made with this rotary controller.
The only gearbox available is a 6-speed automatic transmission. Shifts were smooth and quick.
The new power-plant is a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that outputs 273 horsepower.
However, variable cylinder management allows this V-6 to behave like a V-4 or an I-3 in low-load situations, saving fuel when you're just cruising.
Acura has also outfit the RDX with a new all-wheel drive system. In the wake of SH-AWD, the newer, lighter system feels like a step backwards.
The new system is an on-demand setup that can send up to 25% of available torque to the rear wheels.
Push-button starting is a standard feature.
Keyless entry doesn't require you to remove the remote transponder from a pocket. Just approach the vehicle, grab the handle, and the doors will unlock.
It's also a bit disappointing that the MDX's advanced driver aid technologies haven't trickled down to the RDX. A standard rear view camera is as advanced as it gets here.
The RDX gets a lot of the fundamentals right. It goes well, stops fine, and the cabin is fairly quiet. But the dashboard tech's cobbled together controls are a sore spot.
Something about the RDX's physical controls and the clunky on-screen display just didn't jibe with me.
The on-screen graphics looked dated and pixelated, especially when compared to the smooth interfaces of Audi and BMW.
The text entry system would attempt to auto-complete street names for me by graying out unusable characters. However, I saved no time on my inputs, because it still made me scroll through every character.
The Technology package upgrades the audio source list with internal HDD storage for your digital media, but I don't know anyone who would use this over a simple USB drive.
Thankfully, USB and iPod connectivity are standard features, as is Bluetooth for audio streaming, hands-free calling, and text-to-speech messaging.
The Technology package, one of the only options available on the RDX, also includes an upgraded ELS audio system.
A power liftgate is yet another reason to consider the Technology package.
I really wanted to like the 2015 Acura RDX. The new engine is surprisingly good and efficient, the new chassis seems well put together, but the tech nearly ruined the experience for me.
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