As I crept over the ledge, perched precariously only on two wheels, my wife and me dangling in the air, I thought to myself, “this is a CUV?!” With that thought, I inched our way forward until I hit the tipping point, and came back down to Earth with a gentle thud. The road, if you can call a dirt track at a 48-degree incline a road, was definitely not the type of setting you think of when it comes to luxury crossovers. Yet, here we were, in Acura’s RDX making our way up and down it look like child’s play.
We spent the better part of the afternoon, crawling over humps, making our way through the rocky course, and spending more time on two or three wheels than all four. This isn’t just a normal CUV that makes runs to the mall, or drives around your prize winning St. Bernard to all the local dog shows. It is a CUV that you’d be proud to own. Better yet, you could take your dog to the show, then for the heck of it, take the route home through Moab, just because you can.
A Gucci Mountain Goat
Inside the cabin of the RDX, you have access to almost everything you could ever want. Heated and cooled seats, touch screen navigation, and steering wheel accessibility so you never have to move your hands over to the infotainment center. Which is a definite plus since the console infotainment controls can be a bit perplexing at times, especially on the go. The RDX is safe, reliable, and impressively equipped in the tech department.
Furthermore, everything you touch in the RDX feels good and luxurious. The leather is soft, and the buttons and knobs all feel solid in construction. Nothing feels like a recycled Honda part, rather it feels unique to Acura, something that couldn’t be said of some of the cars the company was building just a few years ago.
With that, the RDX’s interior is much more cavernous than one would expect.
My 6’4”, 230-lb frame doesn’t always fit in cars. More often than not, my head is scraping the roof, however, somehow I fit just about everywhere in the RDX. From the front seats that were absolutely divine, especially since I’m still recovering from my motorcycle accident, to the back seats that fit a fully grown human without needing to lop off the persons legs and head. Even the trunk can fit a few full size dogs.
One part I especially am keen to talk about is Acura’s safety system suite. We all know that there’s a vast majority of drivers out there that are hugely distracted. Whether that’s because of phones, texting, or any number of other things going through our minds at any given time. We all are human, and we all make errors in judgment.
With that, Acura’s safety systems, which include blind spot monitoring, automatic braking, and lane departure, people now have a safety net to catch them when they’re doing something potentially dangerous. However, one issue that I found with these systems are that they are extremely sensitive, and with that sensitivity, they tend to go off quite a bit when there isn’t a need for them. Thankfully, you do have the option to switch them off.
Honestly though, after driving the RDX around, you won’t want to go home any time soon
Eat My Dust Jeep!
CUVs aren’t really meant to be true off-roaders. They’re designed for soccer moms that want something small, but still want AWD to save them when hazards of winter inevitably arrive. The RDX wasn’t intended to rock crawl, or traverse ledges like a purpose-built Jeep. Yet, there I was, on two wheels.
I’ve never been more surprised by the capability of an automobile. I figured that the RDX would be just some little CUV that could never tackle anything more than a light bit of snow and dirt. I was wrong. It went over ruts, over big rocks, and through enough sand and dirt to qualify it in this year’s Rally Dakar.
The trail we took the RDX through is around 5 miles long, and through the steep terrain and loose sand, we never felt like we were going to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere. We had the AC blasting, the tunes rocking, and just enjoyed the natural beauty we were privy too because of this rugged luxury CUV.
The RDX’s 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque is more than enough to propel the car forward, and creep its way out of most sticky situations. While I’m not sure if you could go mudding in the RDX, it is more than capable of handling 80% of most off-road expeditions. Could it use a bit more torque? Yes. Could the tires be more knobby? Of course, but that’s not what this CUV was built for.
The RDX isn’t a Jeep. It isn’t a Range Rover. It’s a middle-level luxury CUV. However, through the course of Acura’s engineering, the RDX was given some true off-roading chops, something that was wholly unintended.
Acura’s RDX has all the amenities that one could ask for in a premium CUV, but it also has the ability to show up the rest of its competition in terms of on and off road capability. CUV’s like the Mercedes GLC, the Audi Q5, the Lexus NX, and the BMW X3, aren’t as at home in the rocky deserts of California as the RDX.
However, it is not only in capability that the RDX has its competition beat. The RDX I tested was just over $44,000 including destination. It included everything you could want in terms of luxury and technology, and you’d be extremely hard pressed to find any of the others mentioned above in that same respective price range. The RDX is a luxury CUV for when you want to go to the opera, and a sand slinging off-roader for when you just want to be dirty. It’s a special CUV that doesn’t take the thrill out of driving, but rather enhances it.
Engine: 3.5 Liter V6
Price (As Tested): $44,430
Can handle rough terrain like a Jeep would
Price point is really good considering the competition
Seats are hugely comfortable
Power isn’t up to date with modern V6s or inline turbo four-cylinders
Safety systems are extremely sensitive to the point where it can get annoying