Acura’s 2017 RDX is a value champ in the luxury midsize crossover segment

These shark-eye look head and parking lights are brilliant and look sexy

If you like to buy Acura’s MDX AWD crossover but your budget just can’t swing its price, their RDX is comparable with smaller dimensions and a smaller price. And it’s loaded with the latest technological safety enhancements like its larger sister car.

Actually the RDX is derived from Honda’s top-selling CR-V compact crossover, but with more interior space, features and upscale accommodations. As such, RDX is a front-drive AWD system (FWD is standard, AWD optional) that transfers power to the rear wheels when slippage occurs with the front wheels. Like the CR-V, there is no AWD lock for when the getting gets stuck. But this is true of most vehicles in this segment with the exception of the Jeep Cherokee and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport to name just two.

RDX resembles its big sister in that it sports jewel-eye LED headlamps and LED taillights. They look like shark eyes and are brilliant at night. The vehicles overall look is one of stylish class.

RDX is powered by Honda’s famed 3.5L V6 that puts out 279-hp and 252 lb/ft of torque. When coupled to the standard 6-speed automatic transmission, the combination garnered EPA mileage estimates of 19 city, 27-highway mpg. The same engine is in the MDX but rated at 290-hp and 267 lb/ft of torque. A substantial power increase plus the MDX has a compression ratio of 11.5:1 whereas the RDX carries a lower ratio of 10.5:1.

During highway passing situations or when merging into speedy rush hour interstate traffic, there’s a one or two second delay until the trans kicks down and the torque comes on. Otherwise there’s sufficient power for typical driving conditions. RDX has been independently timed at 6.5 seconds for 0-60, making it fairly swift for its class.

Step-in into RDX’s cabin is an easy 20 inches. Once in your find upscale but not overly fancy accommodations. Front seats are plain but comfy. The rears are nicely soft (which is unusual for most back seats) and comfy for two adults or three youngsters. Want three rows? Then you have to opt for the larger MDX.

HVAC controls are large rotary dials and easy to use. The test car came with dual color display screens. The 7.5-inch upper display is used for GPS nav and rearview camera while the lower 7-inch screen serves audio and AcuraLink infotainment that includes Aha, Pandora and other apps.

In the RDX we tested, it came standard with the Tech Package that included a long list of items like nav system, rearview camera, AcuraLink and more. Standard too was an Advanced Package with rain sensing wipers, remote start, ventilated (and heated) front seats, fog lights and Acurawatch Plus package that adds safety features of lane keeping assist and departure, collision mitigation braking and forward collision systems (applies brakes if a collision is imminent) and adaptive cruise. Many of these are extra cost options on some cars but Acura includes them on this nicely equipped model.

The cargo area has one of the widest cargo gate openings of any in this class. It measures 47.75 inches wide, 32.5 deep with the back seats up and 32 inches high. Flip the rear seatbacks, which is easily accomplished by pulling two handles in the cargo area, and they automatically flip forward creating 64 inches of depth. More appropriately, there’s 26.1 cubic feet of cargo space or 61.3 with the seats folded.

Driving wise, RDX parks easily with a 38.9-foot curb-curb turning radius and handles rough pavement with finesse. Unimproved railroad crossings are mere ripples making for a smooth, quiet ride on 18-inch Michelin tires. There’s nary any body lean in sharp turns taken at speed while the vehicle remains planted with good grip.

With no extra cost options, the RDX based-priced at $43,520. Only after adding the delivery charge of $940 did the bottom line rise to $44,460. This vehicle is laden with loads of features and safety items that most would charge extra for but Acura embedded them in a one price package.

Added to this, RDX received a full five-star government safety rating and a “Good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. All impressive ratings that make RDX a top pick among compact crossovers.

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