reviews

2015 Acura RDX Walk Around


For the 2013 redesign, Acura said the RDX went from looking sporty to more formal, elegant and sophisticated. Sure enough, it’s all true. RDX is still a medium-sized Acura SUV in your mind (though technically it’s a compact), like all the others you’ve known; but the sheetmetal is indeed more elegant and sophisticated. The second-generation RDX is also 100 pounds lighter than pre-2013 models.

The hood on the Acura RDX appears long, extending downward to an arc before the grille begins with a touch of black mesh over the wide band of wing-shaped silver, which is Acura’s hallmark emblem. Below the grille, the front fascia is clean, stylish, and aerodynamic. Rounded at the edges, it features sleek, sharp, exotic-eye headlamps and two tidy trapezoidal air intakes at the bottom corners.

Blocky round fender flares remain from the original RDX, but the sides are sculpted cleanly, with rounded rockers instead of cladding. Most notably, the roofline and window outline is indeed elegant, reminiscent of the Lexus RX 350. Tinted door glass is installed. The lines on the 2015 RDX make the old RDX look like its square roof was just slapped on.

At the rear, too, a more formal look is evident. Smooth downward diagonal edges make the back appear less blocky than in the past.

Interior

The interior of the RDX matches the exterior, with sweeping lines. Analog gauges and graphics are clean and beautiful, high contrast in white and LED backlit at night. The front doors open wider than in the original RDX, and the center console offers a sizable 8.2 liters of space (5.6 liters in the glovebox).

We spent a week in the RDX, and found it to be sweetly quiet over all pavement and at all speeds, a result of attention and insulation. We also especially liked the lighting that brightens and dims progressively. Switches are illuminated in the dark, including the switches on all four doors. The RDX features theater dimming, set by the driver to any of three levels.

Acura’s leather seats are invariably clean, classy, and smooth, and the RDX is now all Acura. They fit well, with good ergonomics and bolstering, which is helpful because Acuras corner well and can be driven with spirit. The driver’s seat has two-way adjustable lumbar support. We ran a hard 200 miles in the rain, and the seats got an A for comfort and support.

However, the navigation and radio, part of the Technology Package, don’t come close to an A. The navigation system was consistently inaccurate and hopeless with voice recognition (although, after our passenger repeatedly fooled with it while we were driving, the system did manage to find the nearest Big 5 sporting goods store). In addition, the radio was difficult to tune, taking time and concentration off the road. It made us long for the simplicity, accuracy and clarity of, say, the Volkswagen Tiguan.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel holds audio and cruise controls on its three spokes, as well as a button for the Multi-Information Display, along with navigation, voice recognition and more. Controls for standard Bluetooth are on the lower left corner of the steering wheel.

The MID information window is located on the face of the speedometer, and shows temperature, odometer, average mpg, instantaneous mpg, range, tire pressure, average speed and elapsed time. We use range, or distance to empty, the most; and like many information displays (exceptions include the VW Tiguan), we think it takes too many clicks to find it on the RDX.

Like a growing number of cars, the RDX features a one-touch turn signal system for lane changes. When the driver moves the lever just a touch, the turn signals flash three times.

The rearview camera is viewed on the 5-inch LCD display on the center stack. Solid yellow guidelines indicate the vehicle’s width, but we found them to be unclear and weren’t willing to depend on them if scraping a fender was a possibility.

With the Technology Package comes an 8-inch display with three rearview camera angles: normal 130 degrees, wide-angle 175 degrees, and downward at the rear bumper for close parking or backing up to a trailer. Also included is a 360-watt 7-speaker audio system.

At the rear, the door openings are wide for easy access, and back-seat legroom is an okay 38.3 inches. The 60/40 rear seats drop nicely with one touch. With the seats down there’s 76.9 cubic feet of cargo space, plus best-in-class total interior volume.

If dual-zone climate control isn’t enough, the Technology Package offers a GPS-linked, solar-sensing, automatic climate control system. The nav system determines the position of the sun and, using the solar sensor on the dashboard, the climate control automatically adjusts the heating and cooling inputs, fan speed, and vent position from side to side, to compensate for asymmetrical solar heating and maintain the set cabin temperatures. All we can say is: whew. Kind of like having your own house robot to draw the blinds and open the windows for you when it’s too sunny in the room. We’re fine with the standard dual-zone automatic climate control.

The Technology Package also includes an internet radio interface and an SMS text messaging feature that works with certain phones and plans. It can read incoming texts aloud over the audio system, and allow the driver to reply without touching his or her phone, sending one of six messages: Talk to you later, I’m driving; I’m on my way; I’m running late; OK; Yes; No.

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