The Acura RDX is an important reboot for the luxury brand. But when I drove one, it was in conditions far from those highly controlled environments that automakers create for journalists: Rather than a perfect road under pure sunshine, it was a half-inch-an-hour Texas deluge—biblical stuff. And that precise scenario made me think you should be driving this thing if you are into the white-hot five-seat luxury SUV segment.
The imperfect conditions I piloted the RDX through in the exurbs are likely similar to your daily drive: bracing right-hand turns onto speedy highways and left-handers across oncoming traffic.
The RDX is made for this stuff. Take a tough right turn into a highway merge, hit the gas, and an all-wheel-drive system adeptly powers the outside rear wheel—up to 100 percent of the backside’s available torque, if needed. In most vehicles, you’d take the turn slowly, then apply power once you’re straightened out, to avoid upsetting the car’s balance, but in the RDX you find yourself gunning it while you let the AWD system and steering sort themselves out—even in the rain.
When you ask for it, you get plenty of power. Acura ditched the RDX’s V6 option, opting for a two-liter turbo charged four—essentially the same powerplant as in the highly entertaining Honda Civic Type R, tuned here to make 272 horsepower and tied to a 10-speed automatic.
But Acura didn’t just improve the drivetrain: The cabin is a sybaritic space that feels as if it were dreamed up by designers soaking in a clothing-optional Big Sur spa. A panoramic moonroof is standard; under it, the leather-wrapped interior is filled with curves and arches, with hardly a straight line in sight. By the numbers, the RDX beats its competitors in interior roominess, and the driver’s seat is adjustable 16 ways. If you can’t find a comfortable spot here, you’re probably incapable of chilling out.
Acura and parent company Honda are pushing to include as standard more tech like the RDX’s lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise, and emergency braking. To get those on the competing Audi Q5 would cost thousands extra. Also standard: the RDX’s infotainment system, controlled via a touch pad. But if you get fed up with its learning curve, you can chuck duties over to Apple CarPlay. Both let you talk to the RDX using natural language, so many requests get you what you want. Except “find dry land,” apparently.