Archive for the RDX Category

Drive to Five Review: 2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD Advance

Posted in Accord, RDX, Vehicle Reviews on August 9, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  563,495 Miles

Odometer (RDX):  911 Miles

Refined, Dynamic, and Xceptionally equipped.  I guess that’s how I’d define the acronym that Acura pinned on its latest version of the crossover that so many have come to know and love.  Does it look at home in this garage?

The Acura RDX, now in its third generation, is a power player for the Acura brand.  It sells over 50,000 units per year.  That success is impressive given the competitive segment that the RDX plays in:  It seems, everyone is trying to get in on the crossover game.  Over the years, I’ve been able to see firsthand the evolution the RDX.  Back in 2016, I put a prior-gen model through its paces on a mountain climb.

Building each upon advancements in technology since the RDX first launched in 2007, the 2019 model year version was first shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2018, and it went on sale six months later.  You can see the differences between the third and second-gens here.

I got my hot little hands on the first one in the Phoenix area media fleet this past Wednesday.  It only had 775 miles on the odometer when I turned the key.  Or rather, pushed the Start button.  This is a level of tech I’m not accustomed to!  You can practically get a whiff of the new car smell just from looking at the interior.  What if they made scratch & sniff computer monitors?

Getting settled into the RDX, I enjoyed the step-in height right off the bat.  I’m accustomed to riding low to the ground, so this was a nice change of pace – especially when I needed to throw my backpack and laptop into the back seat as I left the office.  Speaking of the seats, the driver’s seat was ergonomic perfection – especially when cranked up to Level 3 on the ventilation setting.  It is August in Phoenix, after all.

The RDX is about as well-rounded as any vehicle can be.  It exhibits polite road manners, it’s easy to maneuver and park, scoots down the road with plenty of power, and offers up some great utility for folks with active lifestyles who need that extra cargo room or ground clearance from time to time (in my current collection of 7 Acuras, none have All-Wheel-Drive capability – sadly).

Over my seven days with the RDX, I had time to capture perspectives of both positive and negative nature.  Maybe it’s easier to just summarize a few of those points in list form.

  • Loved:  Power, ELS audio system, visibility, illumination, seats, step-in height, fit & finish, ride quality, convenience tech (power liftgate, smart key, head up display), panoramic roof, storage solutions, HVAC effectiveness, overall size – not too big, not too small, gauge cluster display (fun graphics upon start/stop), CarPlay interface
  • Disliked:  Touch pad interface, dynamic selector placement (I’d prefer a volume knob front and center instead), occasionally intrusive safety tech, default automatic start/stop, black wheels

Performance is the name of the game, with the RDX producing 272 horsepower (that’s two more than my 1992 NSX!) out of a 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder.  A ten speed automatic transmission (again, outdoing the NSX with double the gears!) puts the power to the ground lickety-split.  I found “Sport Plus” mode to generate a surprisingly quick acceleration experience for a vehicle that weighs nearly 4,000 pounds.  I got a kick out of the graphics on the Snow mode setting.

It’s worth mentioning that as an audiophile, I greatly appreciate the efforts made to create a great sounding listening experience in the cabin.  I was provided some ELS Studio 3D audio files on a USB stick that I played at max volume.  I can say with a certainty that Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” sounds at least as good in the new RDX as it sounded in my old TL Type-S with a DVD-Audio sound system.

Acura’s return to its “Precision Crafted Performance” mantra from the brand’s early days is evident here, especially considering the RDX can be outfitted in A-Spec.  The A-Spec trim has always been known as the sportiest, and offers up suspension & handling updates among other features.

Tipping the cash register at just over $48,000, this RDX was highly equipped, but still offers a nice value for those wanting a well-rounded package.  I thank the folks at Acura for the chance to put this one through its paces for a few days!

I’ve uploaded a video capturing some of my experience with it.

Here you can see the head-up display

Multiple camera angles when putting the vehicle into reverse

When I parked the RDX and walked away, I received a notification about where it was located.  This could be handy at concerts, in unfamiliar cities, etc.

Roommate took this while I was playing Musical Cars on Saturday morning.  The RDX felt right at home swapping spaces with some fellow Acuras.

Out and about on Saturday with Greg’s 1995 NSX.

Visiting Vlad who has a Civic Type-R.  He liked the RDX, too.

Safe seating for my Chipotle take-out transport!

Lots of controls down here to the left of the steering wheel.

View from the cargo compartment

And the cargo compartment itself.  Pretty roomy!

Until next time!

Bonus material – I have another Honda at the house.  This one needs some love.

Drive to Five Review: Climbing Arizona’s Mount Ord in a 2016 Acura RDX

Posted in Arizona, RDX, Vehicle Reviews on February 21, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  542,120


Odometer (ILX):  155,439


Odometer (RDX); 8,397


Trip Distance: 144 Miles




Just 33 miles up State Route 87, my road trip companions and I found ourselves veering off the beaten path to explore a trail called Forest Road 626 that would take us on a dramatic ride to over 7,300 feet in elevation.  While only six miles in length, the road offered up a sample of rugged terrain in the Tonto National Forest including patches of snow, rocky ground, ruts, and steep climbs.  Sounds like the perfect environment for a crossover vehicle looking to prove itself as a capable, go-anywhere (and do it in style) rig.  Enter the RDX.


The Acura RDX, now in its second generation, first debuted 10 years ago at the New York International Auto Show as a 2007 model year vehicle (pictured above).  It was a compact answer to the surging demand for sport utility vehicles and it was born as the little brother to the larger 3-row Acura MDX crossover.  Today, that little brother has matured, going from its turbo 4-cylinder engine to a larger V6 powertrain when the 2013 model year hit.  The RDX also grown dimensionally both inside & out, and with this latest iteration promises to be more refined and luxurious than its predecessor.


For the last several days, I put a Basque Red Pearl RDX “Advance” through its paces to see just how it stacks up.  On paper, the RDX is the clear frontrunner of its class.  Powering the RDX is a 3.5 liter single-overhead-cam “i-VTEC” V6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management.  It delivers a horsepower rating of 279 with a respectable MPG rating of 22 combined.


Acura has packaged its RDX so that it provides a lot of bang for the buck.  And it needs to, because the segment in which it competes has some impressive contenders like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Lexus NX.  My test model came equipped with the line-topping “Advance” trim with 18-inch wheels, remote engine start, parking sensors, heated & cooled front seats, fog lamps and rain-sensing wipers for those 3 months of the year when we actually get moisture in Phoenix.


Has the RDX hit a home run?  According to US News & World Reports, Consumer Guide,, and Kelley Blue Book, it absolutely has, since each of these respected entities has given the RDX a recent award.  But this is my review, so I’ll see if I agree with their assessment.



Right off the bat, the RDX wooed me with its Jewel Eye headlights and sexy lines, but I discovered that this is one runway model that isn’t afraid to put on hiking shoes.  Demeanor is collected and precise on the highway.  From my place in south Scottsdale to Fountain Hills where we made a Starbucks stop, the RDX tracked straight, quietly, and with more than ample passing power at 65-75 miles per hour on the Beeline Highway.  Driving aids like the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane-Keeping Assist System (LKAS), when enabled, make the RDX feel almost autonomous when desired.



The good news for the folks who will take their RDX camping or off-roading is that the composure stays intact when the going gets rough.  There is good feedback from the steering & suspension but never a loss of control.  I found the OEM Michelin tires to be grippy even in the loose gravel as we made our climb.  And when faced with a deep section of slushy snow on a north-facing (shaded) section of the trail, I admit I thought about turning back but we pressed onward and the RDX maintained its footing.  We used the paddle shifters to downshift when descending the grades so we could stay off the brakes.  All said, the driving experience was refined and confidence-inspiring.



From the top of Mount Ord, my friend Chandler waved the “magic key” and granted us access to the small cabin at the base of an 8-story-tall fire watch tower.  Chandler works for the Forest Service and his team staffs the cabin and tower every year starting in April which is considered the beginning of fire season.  It was incredible to climb a few flights of stairs and catch a 360-degree view of the beautiful Tonto National Forest that surrounded us.



We’d worked up an appetite and made one last stop before heading home to Scottsdale:  Lunch at “Jake’s Corner” off Highway 188, a place that’s been a waypoint for travelers since it started as a stagecoach stop exactly 100 years ago.  It was perfect weather outside for enjoying a burger and homemade beans with the gang.


So is the RDX a winner?  Coming at $44k including destination & handling in fully loaded trim, it’s still $13k cheaper than its big brother Acura MDX that I tested last year, and (as far as I’m concerned) offers just as many creature comforts without sacrificing anything except the 3rd row seat.  I consider it a near-perfect solution for someone needing all-weather / all-terrain capability with luxurious amenities and just the right size.

Likes:  Style (except for the wheels), performance, handling, packaging (use of space).  Dislikes:  Touch-screen infotainment, interior color (too light, shows dirt easily), phone pairing disabled while in motion (even for a passenger).  I also think the adaptive cruise control should allow for a closer following distance.  Even when adjusted to the shortest distance it felt like the vehicle was holding me back too far.

The 2016 RDX delivers unmatched value where it counts the most.  Give one a whirl if you haven’t yet!  Below are the rest of the photos and a short video from our adventure.  Thanks as always for coming along for the ride, and to Acura for letting me put a few miles on a new RDX!

Northbound Highway 87


Starting our climb up Forest Road 626


Narrow trail made for some challenges when encountering oncoming traffic


Right at home in the woods


Now with a nice layer of dust


Taking in the scenery


Hiking up the final stretch to the watch tower


Lunch spot at Jake’s Corner


Dollar bills on the ceiling.  This seems to be a “thing” at most western-themed bars around here


Those baked beans were delicious!


And a few beauty shots with the Formula Red NSX & Basque Red RDX.  Just because.  Enjoy!