One Step Beyond: The 2017 Acura RDX with Advance

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Acura RDX with Advance
The 2017 Acura RDX with Advance.
About a year ago, we had nothing but good stuff to say about the then-new 2016 Acura RDX with Advance.

It hasn't changed, other than the EPA fuel economy estimate of 19 city/28 highway having been revised to 19/27 and a paltry $100 increase in base price (from $43,420 to $43,520).  So what do we mean by "One Step Beyond"?

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Acura RDX with Advance
2017 Acura RDX with Advance.
This never happens....and by that, I mean that in close to two-thousand press fleet cars I've driven since becoming a professional TireKicker 19 years ago, this is a first...but the 2017 Acura RDX with Advance came with dealer-installed accessories.  These are things the factory authorizes ("Acura Genuine Accessories") but doesn't include when they build the cars.  It's up to the dealer, which makes some extra money by selling you some additional goodies to "personalize" your already-loaded crossover SUV.

All the manufacturers do it.  And Honda (parent of Acura) has a long history of it.  Once upon a time, such as when I bought my then-new 1984 Honda Civic sedan, the only way to get air conditioning or a radio were as dealer-installed options (I said yes to the A/C, but went to a local stereo shop and popped for an Alpine 7163 AM/FM cassette head unit and four speakers).

Interior view of 2017 Acura RDX with Advance
2017 Acura RDX with Advance.
Acura, however, appears to be making a big deal out of "Acura Genuine Accessories", with a comprehensive look at each and every one on its website. Despite having an exhaustive list of standard features in loaded Advance trim, our tester had $4,182 in dealer-installed options.

  • $2,463 for 18-inch Diamond-Cut alloy wheels (Frankly, we like the ones that come standard with the RDX with Advance just fine). 
  • $829 for roof rails. Which, I suppose, if you're going to tie stuff to the roof....
  • $288 for crossbars. Which, again, if you're going to tie stuff to the roof...but note that 110-pound weight maximum.
  • $118 for a rear bumper applique', to minimize scratches and scrapes from less-than-careful loading and unloading of the rear cargo area.
  • $148 for a cargo tray. Totally worth it.  Living midway between Lake Tahoe and the Pacific Ocean, wet sand is a thing.
  • $484 for illuminated door sill trim.  So the word "Acura" will glow at you.  
Which leaves us one last dealer-installed option.  The step beyond:

  • $802 for Advance running boards.  Now, running boards can be useful...especially in full-size SUVs, so you can step up and into that high-riding vehicle.  But the RDX is not a high-riding vehicle. That's the glory of small crossovers.  They're kinda like cars.  If you've clicked on the link, you've seen the artsy shot of the Advance running board.  Here's what it looks like when you're trying to get into the car, though:
Advance running board for 2017 Acura RDX
2017 Acura RDX Advance running board.
It's too low (as is the RDX itself) to provide any meaningful advantage as far as getting in the car.  It's  up against the body with no gap under the body and too narrow to put your foot on any way but sideways, but then your right foot is on the running board, not in the car, and it's blocking any progress of your left foot whatsoever.  So you end up stepping past it as though it's not there....but it is and it's causing you to have to stretch your leg half a foot more than you would to put your right foot into the car if it didn't have the running board to begin with.

And that...is one step beyond.  Skip the running board.

In fact, out of that list of  "Acura Genuine Accessories", we'd have taken exactly one, the cargo tray, if we were playing with our own money.  And loading it up with that batch took the bottom line of the sticker from under $45,000 ($44,460 with destination and handling charges) to almost $50,000 ($48,642)...which had an unintended consequence.  

Despite the manufacturer-supplied image of the interior above (used because I'm not the best photographer), our interior was black, not two-tone dove gray.  It looked like this:

Interior view of 2017 Acura RDX Advance in black
2017 Acura RDX with Advance interior in black.
At $44,460, I can look at that and say "It's less than $45,000, it's the interior of a vehicle that in base trim starts at $35,570 and it's fine."   But I saw the window sticker before I got in and my second thought (after "Who thought this needed running boards?") was "If I was paying almost $50,000, I'd want a nicer interior."  And the crossover world is awash in upscale interiors, so Acura has cause for concern.

Still in all, the 2017 Acura RDX with Advance is, as built at the factory, a comfortable, capable, reliable and stylish crossover.  It'd be on my short list.  But apart from the cargo tray, I'd take it just the way it rolled off the line in Liberty, Ohio.