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2018 Acura RDX: What You Need to Know

U.S. News & World Report - Cars logo U.S. News & World Report - Cars 3/15/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a car parked on the side of a road: 2018 Acura RDX© American Honda Motor Co., Inc. 2018 Acura RDX

The 2018 Acura RDX offers ample seating space and a quiet, comfortable ride along with a long list of standard features and excellent crash test results. However, the RDX doesn’t have the thrilling performance or outright luxury of some rivals.

The 2018 Acura RDX is ranked:

Is the Acura RDX a Good SUV?

Don't let the midpack ranking fool you: The Acura RDX is an excellent vehicle in the highly competitive luxury compact SUV class. With strong marks in crash tests, an attractive list of optional safety features, and more overall cargo space than nearly all other class rivals, the RDX is a great value in the class. That combination of value and quality is why we named it our Best Luxury Compact SUV for the Money. The second row also provides lots of room to stretch out in, even for adults.

Should I Buy the Acura RDX?

With a relatively low base price in an expensive class, a new Acura RDX is a good value and a good buy. Its high safety ratings, loads of space, and abundant features make it a solid choice for families and as a comfortable daily driver. It also adds a plush and peaceful interior for thousands less than more expensive rivals.

Still, against those same competitors, the Acura suffers when it comes to performance and luxury. If you're looking for a quick punch when you hit the gas or agile handling through corners, check out a sporty SUV like the BMW X3 instead. If you’re underwhelmed by the Acura's cabin and styling, peek inside the luxurious and elegant Mercedes-Benz GLC. The Lexus NX, like the RDX, has a low MSRP for the class and a history of good predicted reliability.

Should I Buy a New or Used Acura RDX?

The Acura RDX was last fully redesigned for the 2013 model year. There are few differences between the 2017 and 2018 models. If you're open to buying a used car, you can likely save thousands of dollars by shopping for an older RDX. However, you may not want to go past the 2016 model, since it added some important safety features. For 2016, Jewel Eye headlights became standard and the AcuraWatch suite of safety technologies became available. 

To research some other models in this generation, check out our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Acura RDX. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for information on incentives of used vehicles.

We Did the Research for You: 48 Reviews Analyzed

For our 2018 Acura RDX review, we researched dozens of professional evaluations, along with safety scores, reliability data, and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best buying decision possible. This 2018 Acura RDX review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2013 through 2018 model years

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles for a decade, and our team has more than a combined 75 years of experience in the automotive industry. To maintain objectivity, we don't accept incentives or expensive gifts from car companies, and an outside team handles the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Acura RDX Cost?

Prices for the 2018 RDX start at $35,800. Though this crossover has only one trim, you can customize your vehicle by adding optional packages. Options include the Advance package ($1,700), the Technology package ($3,700) and the AcuraWatch Plus package ($1,300). Acura also offers all-wheel drive (AWD) for $1,500. For great savings at your local Acura dealer, check out our U.S. News Best Price Program. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Acura deals page.

Acura RDX Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Acura RDX or Mercedes-Benz GLC?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC has a handsome and opulent interior awash in upscale materials. For advanced safety and high-tech features, it’s hard to beat the GLC. You’ll get standard amenities like forward collision alert, emergency braking, and driver drowsiness monitoring, and you can add extras like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and a head-up display.

Which Is Better: Acura RDX or BMW X3?

The BMW X3 offers the utility, space, and convenience of a SUV but also the performance of a sport-oriented luxury car. Unlike the RDX and its singular engine choice, the BMW has a brag-worthy optional turbocharged engine with up to 300 horsepower, as well as a fuel-efficient available turbodiesel engine. The X3’s athletic handling is almost certain to spice up your commute.

Which Is Better: Acura RDX or Lexus NX?

With a similarly low price tag and good predicted reliability, the Lexus NX is a good alternative to the RDX if you’re looking for a no-nonsense, good-value luxury SUV. However, you may be disappointed if you're looking for an SUV with more athleticism because the Lexus has more muted performance.

RDX Interior

How Many People Does the RDX Seat?

The RDX has seating for five. Its rear-seat space is ample, meaning adults can fill every seat on short trips. The generous rear legroom and shoulder room best the BMW X3 and Lexus NX. Leatherette upholstery and heated front seats are standard, while available options include leather sport seats and ventilated front seats.

RDX and Car Seats

For securing child safety seats, there are three tether anchors and two sets of lower anchors. The hardware is easy to use for the most part, though there are a couple of glitches. These include the tether anchor's ceiling-mount for the middle seat (which can impede the driver's view) and lower anchors that are mounted deep in the seat cushions (which impacts findability, but not usability).

RDX Interior Quality

The RDX cabin has about the same features and quality that you'll get with similarly priced rivals like the Lexus NX and Infiniti QX50 (though the QX50 also comes standard with leather seats). The Acura's cabin is certainly pleasant and quiet, and you can add swanky upgrades like leather upholstery and ventilated front seats through the Advance package. Even with these extras, the level of refinement doesn't quite reach what you'll get inside a Mercedes-Benz or Volvo. Also, few high-end upgrades (like heated rear seats or a hands-free liftgate) are available.  

RDX Cargo Space

Whether you have the rear seats up or down, you’ll get an above-average amount of cargo space in the RDX. Its cargo hold measures 26.1 cubic feet behind the seats, which is enough space for your Labrador, folding chairs, and picnic basket. Laying these seats down opens up 61.3 cubic feet of room (one of the largest overall capacities in the class). A wide opening and standard power liftgate add convenience when loading your gear.

RDX Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Few are impressed by Acura's confusing infotainment system, whether it’s the standard single-screen setup or the upgraded dual-screen system. The base system places a surplus of buttons below the 5-inch display screen, and it can be distracting to locate the control of choice while driving. The upgraded system replaces the buttons with a second display (an 8-inch touch screen), but the interface lags and its menus are still complicated to maneuver through.

Once you get past the steep learning curve, you may learn to appreciate the upgraded system's unique setup. The dual-screen layout lets you keep an eye on two different functions – such as navigation and media – at the same time. A seven-speaker premium sound system, satellite radio, and proximity keyless entry come standard, and the upgraded system (part of the Technology package) includes navigation, voice recognition, and three additional speakers.

RDX Performance

RDX Engine: Smooth, but Not Robust

As a daily driver, kid hauler, or road trip vehicle, the RDX is just as powerful as you need it to be. It comes with an eager V6 engine and a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, offering enough power to quickly merge onto the highway or overtake slower vehicles without any drama. However, there are no other engines available, which will disappoint heavy-footed drivers looking to scorch the pavement at every stoplight.

RDX Gas Mileage: Average Fuel Economy

Even though a V6 engine powers the Acura RDX (most luxury compact SUVs employ a four-cylinder engine), the RDX's gas mileage is close to the class average. With front-wheel drive, it gets 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. These numbers dip to 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway with all-wheel drive (AWD). If you want to keep your fuel costs down, a four-cylinder model like the Volvo XC60 should be on your list. It gets 23/30 mpg city/highway, and unlike the Acura, it does not require premium gas, saving you about $500 a year in fuel costs compared to the RDX.

RDX Ride and Handling: All-Day Comfort

The easy-driving RDX feels more like a luxury car than a hefty SUV. This is in part due to its responsive steering and composed suspension. The ride quality remains poised and controlled, absorbing imperfections on the highway. It doesn't feel uncomfortably floaty or so relaxed that the body leans unpleasantly in corners. Front-wheel drive is standard and AWD is available for an additional $1,500.

RDX Reliability

Is the Acura RDX Reliable?

J.D. Power and Associates gives the current RDX generation a predicted reliability score of 3.5 out of five, which is slightly above average among all vehicles and typical for a luxury compact SUV.

Acura RDX Warranty

Acura covers the 2018 RDX with a four-year/50,000-mile limited new-car warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

RDX Safety

RDX Crash Test Results

The 2018 RDX has a five-out-of-five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover evaluation. The RDX also aced all five Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, earning a 2018 Top Safety Pick designation. When outfitted with the available AcuraWatch Plus package (which includes a collision mitigation braking system), the RDX offers a Superior ability to prevent a front crash, according to the IIHS. 

RDX Safety Features

The RDX comes standard with a rearview camera that offers multiple viewpoints, so you can see different angles of the area behind the SUV. Available safety features includes front and rear vehicle sensors, collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Which Acura RDX Model Is Right for Me?

The 2018 RDX comes in only one trim level. You can customize it by adding a variety of packages. The other main option is to upgrade from standard front-wheel drive to AWD, which adds $1,500 to the price. 

Even without any added packages, the RDX comes nicely equipped. Standard technology includes a rearview camera that can toggle between three different viewpoints (to better see what's behind you) and Acura’s Keyless Access System (so you can unlock and start the car without taking the key out of your pocket). Dual-zone climate control, a power moonroof, a seven-speaker sound system, satellite radio, a 5-inch infotainment display screen, and a power liftgate are also included.

This setup does omit a few elements, though – like leather upholstery. Car shoppers who want a higher dose of luxury should ponder the RDX Technology package. In addition to leather seats and some extra safety systems, its upgraded infotainment system adds an 8-inch touch screen, an enhanced media interface, navigation, and a 10-speaker premium sound system. The GPS-linked climate control system automatically adjusts your interior temperature settings based on current weather conditions, and it can even keep track of which side of the car the sun's rays are warming most. The MSRP for an RDX with the Technology package is $39,500.

Acura RDX AcuraWatch Plus Package

Acura bundles a handful of advanced driver assistance features to create its AcuraWatch Plus package. The collision warning system alerts you to impending front impacts and automatically applies the brakes to prevent a front collision. Adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist are also included in this $1,300 option.

Acura RDX Technology Package

The $3,700 Technology package is a must if you want a leather interior. This upgrade also includes sport seats, a GPS-linked climate control system, an 8-inch touch screen (in addition to the 5-inch display), navigation, a 10-speaker premium audio system, an enhanced media interface, and voice recognition. Two safety features are also part of the package: blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Acura RDX Advance Package

Opting for the RDX Advance package rewards you with the poshest version of this crossover SUV. It costs $1,700, but because it also requires the Technology and AcuraWatch Plus packages, marking this box creates an MSRP of $42,500 for an Acura RDX FWD and $44,000 for an Acura RDX AWD. Interior upgrades are limited to ventilated front seats. Exterior upgrades include front and rear vehicle sensors, auto-dimming side mirrors, fog lights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Who Makes the Acura RDX?

Acura is the luxury branch of the Honda Motor Company, which has its global headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. In addition to building SUVs like the Acura RDX and Acura MDX, the company also builds Honda-badged SUVs like the CR-V and Pilot.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Acura dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Acura deals page.

The Final Call

If you're looking for an entry-level luxury SUV, the 2018 RDX is a great value. Its base model blends an appealing mix of premium treats (including leatherette upholstery and a power moonroof), while its below-average price can save you thousands over similarly ranked rivals. This Acura also has top crash test ratings and an alluring list of available safety features.

Car shoppers should be aware of two main areas where the RDX doesn't match some of its top rivals. For example, its overall driving demeanor emphasizes comfort and composure, making it perfectly respectable for everyday driving situations. However, luxury SUV buyers who want a sporty feel will be better served by a BMW X3 or Jaguar F-Pace. If you want an ultra-luxe ride, note that high-end treatments like Nappa leather and wood trims aren’t offered in the RDX. Flip through brochures of the Volvo XC60 or Mercedes-Benz GLC for first-class cabin materials.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2018 Acura RDX reviewon U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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