It’s an Acura altercation as we pit crossover vs SUV in today’s Vehicle Matchup. Acura, Honda’s luxury brand, has been creating the MDX SUV since the 2001 model year. The RDX crossover is the newcomer to the Acura lineup, having only been in production since the 2007 model year. Can the RDX stand up to its big brother in today’s matchup? Find out as we compare specs, design, performance, features, and safety of the Acura MDX vs Acura RDX.
Acura MDX Overview (base)
Engine: 3.5L V6
Fuel Economy: 19 City / 27 Hwy
MSRP: From $42,865
2016 Acura MDX Review
Like many other premium mid-sized SUVs today, the 2016 Acura MDX blurs the lines between sporty crossover and upright SUV. Most recognizable from the front, the MDX features a high-set smiley face grille, with chrome stripe and Acura logo. From the side and rear, the MDX is attractive, but will blend in to the crowd with standard luxury SUV design cues.
Inside, the Acura MDX has a V-shaped center, and multiple sloping surfaces. Unique to the 2016 MDX is a push-button transmission shifter that increases space around the center console. Another new feature inside this SUV is a frameless rearview mirror, which is a slim, modern alternative to the bulky rear-view mirrors found in many vehicles. Active noise cancellation makes the cabin of the MDX very quiet.
Front seats are quite comfortable and roomy, the second row will fit most adults, and the third row will be comfortable for smaller adults and children. There is enough cargo space for very large items, thanks to third and second rows that fold completely flat.
Those who want an SUV, but fear that driving a big vehicle will be difficult should love the Acura MDX. It’s both responsive and nimble, making it easy to drive for its size. The 3.5L V-6 responds with smooth aggression. Paddle shift controls come on every MDX, which can be used for a sportier driving experience.
At highway cruising speeds, Acura’s Variable Cylinder Management system allows the engine to run on only 3 cylinders, improving fuel economy. The 2016 Acura MDX has good fuel economy for the class, achieving 19 city mpg and 27 highway mpg. Add available AWD, and those numbers decrease by 1 each. Adding optional Idle Stop technology will slightly improve fuel economy.
An over achiever in the safety department, the MDX has received top ratings from both the NHTSA and IIHS. Rear camera is standard, and blind-spot monitors are standard in all trims other than the base. Other optional features include lane departure warnings, automatic braking, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist.
To learn more about the latest available vehicle safety technology, check out the Top 5 Car Safety Features Available in 2015.
Every MDX comes with paddle shift controls, front-wheel drive, automatic climate control, leather seats, pushbutton folding second row seats, 12V outlets, heated seats, and more. Upgraded features include, navigation, multi-rearview camera, 16.2 inch screen rear entertainment system, upgraded audio, AcuraLink infotainment, and more.
Acura RDX Overview (base)
Engine: 3.5L V6
Fuel Economy: 20 City / 29 Hwy
MSRP: From $35,270
2016 Acura RDX Review
We first saw the redesigned 2016 Acura RDX at the Chicago Auto Show back in February. This year Acura has added a new grille, jewel LED headlights, and new wheels. The 2016 RDX looks much like the rest of the Acura lineup, with a distinctive, beak-like front. This vehicle has a standard-looking luxury crossover presence from the side and rear.
Inside, the RDX is full of the brand’s DNA. The V-shaped center, swoopy dash, and upscale materials characterize this crossover. Center controls are extended toward the driver slightly, making them easy to reach. The functions and controls are easy to operate and understand. The cabin is very quiet thanks to active noise cancellation.
Front seats have plenty of room for tall drivers, but the second row doesn’t have enough leg room for taller adults. The second row can fit 3, but the middle passenger will have less leg room. Storage space is adequate with second seats up, and ample with second seats folded down. However, the second row doesn’t fold completely flat. There is an under-floor storage space that adds additional cargo room.
The 3.5L V6 handles the 2016 Acura RDX very well at all speeds. It handles and maneuvers like a sedan. It isn’t as sporty as some rivals, but offers a pleasant driving experience with plenty of power for most drivers. Paddle shifters are included, and can be used instead of the automatic transmission if desired.
Thanks to Acura’s Variable Cylinder Management system, the engine will run on only 3 cylinders under light loads, improving fuel economy. The Acura RDX achieves 20 mpg city and 29 highway. Those numbers each decrease by 1 when adding optional AWD. Fuel efficiency isn’t the primary focus of the RDX, but these numbers are still near that of the competition.
This crossover has achieved top marks from both the NHTSA and the IIHS for crash-worthiness and strong safety features. Optional safety features include adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system, blind spot monitor, parking sensors, lane keeping assist, multi-rearview camera, forward collision warnings, and more.
Every 2016 Acura RDX comes with keyless entry, pushbutton start, dual-zone climate control, rear seat vents, Bluetooth hands free calling, and more. Optional features include navigation, remote start, upgraded audio, ventilated seats, and more.
Acura MDX vs Acura RDX Winner:
Base model: Acura RDX
At a much lower entry-level price, the 2016 Acura RDX provides an excellent luxury crossover experience. The RDX performs very well for the price, with a smooth ride and agile handling.
Upgrades: Acura MDX
From giant back seat entertainment to a full suite of safety features, the fully loaded 2016 Acura MDX is an incredibly luxurious SUV. It will fit 6 passengers comfortably, and is quite easy to drive for a vehicle of this size.
Overall Winner: 2016 Acura MDX
The veteran MDX comes out on top when comparing the Acura MDX vs Acura RDX. It’s clear to see why Acura has remained a top competitor in the luxury mid-size SUV market. Stylish appearance, incredible safety ratings, and room for the entire family make the 2016 MDX a great choice.