By Derek Price
Luxury and value are concepts that don’t often go together, but Acura is doing a good job mixing the two in vehicles like the RDX.
Not surprisingly, luxury cars can be among the most expensive to own. They’ve got complicated systems that can require extra maintenance and sometimes break. They tend to drop in value like a mob informant in a lake, too, which is part of the price you pay for owning today’s flashiest and trendiest cars.
If you’ve got the money to spare, that’s no problem.
Acura, though, takes a very different approach, and the RDX is a perfect example.
First of all, it’s priced right, starting around $35,000. That’s not much more than the average new-car transaction price, but it comes with the added prestige and the polished driving feel of a luxury crossover.
It’s also reasonably roomy for families and provides an upscale level of equipment even on the base model, including a power liftgate, heated seats and a multi-view camera system.
But where the RDX really shines as a value comes after the sale.
With good fuel efficiency, a reputation for reliability and excellent resale prices on the used-car market, Acuras are some of the least expensive cars to own over five years.
That’s not just my opinion. That’s based on the hard data compiled by Kelley Blue Book, which gave Acura its top prize for luxury brands in its most recent 5-Year Cost to Own Awards.
My test vehicle, a 2017 RDX, is essentially a carryover model after getting a thorough upgrade last year. It adds two new exterior colors, called Lunar Silver Metallic and Modern Steel Metallic, while keeping virtually everything else the same, including the starting price of $35,370.
I wish grocery stores could keep their prices as steady.
While it feels refined, quiet and powerful over the road, its one downside is that it doesn’t turn as many heads or carry the same cachet as some other luxury crossovers. Its styling remains conservative at a time when even once-snoozy brands like Lexus are taking risks with bold, aggressive, out-there body lines that draw more attention.
Not everyone craves attention, though, and the RDX seems built for people who value substance over style and logic over emotion. It does its job well with few weaknesses, adding a layer of sumptuous veneer and technology over its tried and true, Honda-derived backbone.
One package that I’d highly recommend is the AcuraWatch safety system. It combines adaptive cruise control, automatic braking before a collision, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and collision warning sensors, a mixture that makes the vehicle both safer and more relaxing to drive on long highway trips. It costs $1,300 to add AcuraWatch to the base trim.
I’m also a big fan of the 3.5-liter V6 that Acura puts in every RDX. It makes 279 horsepower, which makes it accelerate faster than many of its competitors while still returning 28 mpg on the highway on front-wheel-drive models.
Just like swirling luxury and value together, efficiency and power make a great combination.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2017 Acura RDX AWD with Advance Package ($43,820). Options: None. Price as tested (including $975 destination charge): $44,795
Wheelbase: 105.7 in.
Length: 184.4 in.
Width: 73.7 in.
Height: 65 in.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6 (279 hp, 252 ft. lbs.)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 19 city, 27 highway
Why buy it?
It’s a logical, practical luxury crossover for people who want a good value. It’s conservative, powerful, refined, efficient and is predicted to have a strong price on the used-car market.