2016 Acura RDX Advance: Freshness Date Extended

Partial front view of 2016 Acura RDX Advance
The 2016 Acura RDX Advance.
The pace of technology is such that mid-cycle refreshes, when an automaker makes substantial changes to a vehicle without creating an all-new, next-generation model, are more important than ever. A clean-sheet is too expensive to do every three years, but you'll get killed  by the competition if you're waiting for the next go-round to bring the goodies that were too expensive, not available yet or no one in the segment had been offering when you launched the current generation.

Rear three-quarter view of 2016 Acura MDX Advance
2016 Acura RDX Advance.
Acura is using the mid-cycle refresh of its entry-luxury crossover, the RDX, to give it a lot of the goodies its big brother MDX got in 2014 (JewelEye LED headlights, LED taillights as part of a re-style that mimicks the MDX's rear appearance), and jacking up the sizzle by introducing it as an early 2016 model.

The refresh includes a new 3.5-liter V6 i-VTEC engine with 279 horsepower and Vehicle Cylinder Management, which nudges the EPA fuel economy estimate up to 19 city/28 highway (a figure that beats the Lincoln MKC's 19/26, but lags behind the Lexus NX200t and BMW X1, which are forgoing six-cylinder engines in favor of turbo-boosted 2-liter fours. The Acura is more powerful than they are, at 279 horsepower, but all-wheel-drive (a new Intelligent Control system, delivering more torque to the rear wheels) costs it, as does having only six gears in its automatic transmission.

It drives well, though...with plenty of power both off the line and in passing situations, and the only time you'll find yourself wishing for a different transmission will be when you're stopped at a fuel pump. Driving dynamics have always been an Acura strong suit, and the refreshed RDX continues that tradition. It's a crossover that handles much more like a sport sedan, and the kinship between it and the TLX sedan during high-speed lane changes or rapid trips down two-lane country roads.

2016 Acura RDX Advance interior.
2016 Acura RDX Advance interior.

For 2016, the Advance is the new top-of-the-line model.  At a base price of $43,420, it's a one-price-gets-all trim level that groups the Tech Package (navigation, voice recognition, multi-angle rearview camera, AcuraLink with real-time traffic, rear cross-traffic information, a blind spot alert, an on-demand multi-use display touchscreen, and an upgraded audio system with 10 speakers, surround sound and HD Radio as well as an 8-way power front passenger's seat and a GPS-linked, dual-zone automatic climate control), the Advance Package (remote engine start, parking sensors, ventilated front seats, auto-dimming side mirrors, fog lights and rain sensing wipers) and the Acurawatch Plus Package (lane-keeping assist system, color meter display screen, collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and lane departure warning).

Despite all the tech, you still feel like there's a driver's car right there where you can use it.  And there have been improvements to the audio system and the cruise control, both of which operated flawlessly during our week with the RDX.  

The 2016 RDX comes at just the right time to do battle with a competitor that didn't exist when this generation was launched...the Lincoln MKC. The one the Phoenix bureau reviewed in March cost almost $8,000 less than the RDX in terms of base price, but when optioned up to this level, its bottom line was $49,265.  The Acura rings in at $44,340.  That's a nearly a five grand advantage for the Acura. Factor in Honda/Acura's legendary reliability, and our money would be going to the Acura dealer.