Fresh off last year's full redesign, the 2nd-generation Acura RDX is a rare example of an SUV that does almost everything right. Its no-frills character, strong-yet-fuel-efficient V6, and expansive list of standard equipment make the 2014 Acura RDX a serious contender in the small luxury SUV segment. Available in front-wheel drive (FWD) or-all-wheel drive (AWD), the RDX further impresses with one of the best optional audio systems on the market and top-notch ergonomics. But, despite Acura's best efforts to promote the RDX as a tech-laden wonderland, rivals like the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK Class and Audi Q5 offer significantly more in the way of advanced in-vehicle technology. On the other hand, the 2014 RDX nonetheless remains an attractive package for value-seeking luxury car shoppers. That's why we named it one of the 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000 for 2014.
You'll Like This Car If...
The 2014 Acura RDX is the clear choice for those who have grown weary of the complex ordering guides, pricey options and questionable reliability associated with many of today's luxury SUVs. Exceptional resale value combined with Acura's well-established reputation for quality offers prospective RDX owners an added measure of peace of mind.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you desire a compact SUV with the athleticism of a sports sedan, the BMW X3 or Infiniti EX might be a better fit. On the opposite end of the performance spectrum, off-road types should take a closer look at the stylish and highly-capable Range Rover Evoque.
In the wake of last year's complete revamp, the Acura RDX sees no changes of note for 2014.
Driving the RDX
To our welcome surprise, the 2014 RDX delivers above and beyond the expected level of dynamism, proving itself a capable performer in initial acceleration and passing power. The standard V6...
... idles smoother and pulls harder than the 4-cylinder turbocharged engines found in the Audi Q5 and Land Rover LR2. For those times when more oomph is required, the RDX has a sport mode for speedier gear changes and enhanced control over the paddle shifters. It doesn't take a whole lot of work to get comfortable in the 10-way power driver's seat, but front passengers might feel like they're riding low, as that seat does not adjust for height.
ACURA/ELS SURROUND SOUND While it's comprised of a comparatively low speaker count, the available Acura/ELS sound system is one of the best factory-installed sound systems money can buy. Speaking of which, the Acura/ELS setup is also remarkably affordable for a system of this caliber.
MULTI-VIEW CAMERA Unlike traditional backup cameras, the RDX employs a versatile Multi-view camera system for a more comprehensive view from behind the vehicle. Choose from the basic default mode, a wide angle 170 degree setting, or a unique top-down view, which comes in handy when parallel parking or lining up a trailer.
2014 Acura RDX Details
The cabin of the 2014 Acura RDX is a classic representation of form meeting function. Yet the RDX still boasts a commendable amount of soft-touch materials, giving this SUV the premium feel (literally) its price warrants. Numerous buttons populate the dash and steering wheel, but they are relatively easy to use and identify, and are more straightforward than the center-console-mounted rotary dials used in the Mercedes GLK, BMW X3 and Audi Q5. In terms of hauling power, the RDX offers an expansive 76.9 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, topping virtually all compact competitors. Although the rear seats lack fold-flat capability, they do feature a 60/40 split to accommodate larger items. Furthermore, the RDX has more rear legroom than even the mid-size Cadillac SRX.
Acura learned from some of its past, shall we say, design controversies with the ZDX and TL, opting to play it safe with the 2nd-generation RDX. On the whole it works, though with its sloping rear roof and teardrop windows, you wouldn't be blamed for confusing the RDX with the CR-V if glancing at the Acura from the side or rear. Thankfully, the RDX's nose signals a different, classier car, as do its prominent fender arches and more aggressive stance.
As a value-based proposition, the 2014 RDX offers the longest list of standard equipment in the category. Key features consist of a Multi-view backup camera, heated front seats with a 10-way power driver's seat, and a 7-speaker audio system with a 5-inch LCD display, voice-activated text messaging (not compatible with iPhone) and Pandora Internet radio. And unlike its German-built rivals, the RDX includes keyless entry and start as standard fare. On the safety front, the RDX comes with six airbags and a full suite of electronic stability aids.
Apart from all-wheel-drive and a handful of dealer-installed accessories, optional features for the 2014 RDX are grouped together in the $3,700 Technology Package. Package highlights include a navigation system with traffic overlays, high-intensity-discharge headlights that significantly improve nighttime visibility, the above-mentioned Acura/ELS audio system, and an AcuraLink application hub with Zagat ratings, weather forecasts and dealer appointment reminders. On a sour note, the voice recognition's primitive software platform makes for frustrating and overly complicated hands-free communication. If you own a smartphone, we suggest using the native voice assistant software (i.e. Siri or Google Voice Search) for phone and audio commands.
Under the Hood
In addition to being the first V6 offered in an RDX, the standard 3.5-liter, naturally aspirated engine boasts another first for Acura: Variable Cylinder Management. The purpose of this system is to save fuel by deactivating cylinders when they're not needed. A V6 uses six of them – hence the name – but this system enables the engine to run on four or even three, essentially making it a smaller, more fuel-efficient power plant. Cylinder-deactivation systems have had a rather tainted past, but today's computer-assisted engine management systems make for a smoother application. How smooth? You probably won't even be aware that cylinder deactivation is taking place while behind the wheel of a 2014 RDX. The sole transmission choice is a 6-speed automatic linked to a set of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
In base attire, the 2014 Acura RDX carries a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $34,500. Opting for all-wheel drive will set you back an additional $1,400. Top-of-the-line versions equipped with the Technology Package and AWD come in just north of the $40,000 mark. Save for the Volvo XC60, the RDX's sub-$36K starting price undercuts the base and fully-loaded sticker prices of every small luxury SUV. Before heading to the dealership, take a look at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page to see what others in your area are paying for the Acura RDX. When it comes time to sell, the 2014 RDX is expected to hold some of the strongest residual values in its class, surpassed only by the Mercedes-Benz GLK and Infiniti EX.
"Got the base model - interior features are a bit spartan for a vehicle in this price range (no power hatch release?, tiny LCD screen)but I liked the handling and style and bought it anyway. The vehicle also has a sort of whistle/hum/vibration - particularly noticeable at under 2,000 RPM and at low speeds - I don't think it's a mechanical problem, but it sure is annoying to hear it all the time.
Unfortunately, within a week after purchase, the vehicle intermittently won't start without trying a couple of times. Five months and 3,400 miles later, it's still happening, randomly. Dealer is unable to replicate so in their estimation the problem doesn't exist... Told me to wait until the problem happens more often and to bring it in. Intellectually, I understand that, but gee whiz... I'm really regretting my purchase."
"I purchased this car because of the Honda/Acura name. I've owned 4 Honda Accords prior to purchasing this vehicle and was MOST excited about having a PREMIER vehicle of the Acura class. I was WRONG. NO previous vehicle I've ever owned / driven is a noisy as this one (trucks included). I was told by one of the tech's at the dealer that the Acura RDX does not have the road noise damping features that are standard on all the other models. WHY??? When I run over manhole covers/bumps in the road there is noise from all areas of the car. I'm considering trading it in for a much quieter ride."
Pros: "Luxury, reliable, great handling, roomy, fun."
Cons: "no rear vent and power outlet in rear seat."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Really fun SUV to own. Have the 2103 RDX FWD with the Tech Package. Comfortable ride, great handling and reliable.
Gas mileage is about as expected 19 city and 27 highway.
Nice acceleration when you need it.
Quite roomy for small luxury SUV. Only flaw is no air vent in council for the back seat and no power outlet either."