Building a 2019 Acura RDX

The 2019 Acura RDX is one of the best-selling compact luxury SUV’s and the brand’s most popular model. A complete redesign for this year brought with it more daring styling inside and out, plenty of tech features and a turbocharged 4-cylinder in lieu of the naturally aspirated V-6.

The RDX, and Acura brand as a whole, occupies a middle ground in the market somewhere above mainstream and below full-on luxury automakers. Acura occupies the same gray area as Lincoln, Volvo and, to some extent, GMC and Mazda.

As a value leader, items like Acura’s reputation, lackluster dealership experience, interior materials quality and lack of engine options are forgivable when the RDX has a starting MSRP of $37,400, which is significantly less than the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

Exterior:

The 2019 RDX was given much more expressive styling with its redesign, so a bold exterior color is fitting to its mission to shake things up and stand out from the crowd. Select Apex Blue Pearl to nicely set off the the bodyside sculpting, flowing roofline and chrome grille surround. This color is a $400 option and is only available with the $3,000 A-Spec Package, which requires the $3,200 Technology Package. So essentially right out the gate the RDX went from $37,500 to $44,000 even.

2019 Acura RDX exterior colors

Interior:

With the A-Spec package comes a selection of black or red interior options. While the black interior looks fine, it’s a tad boring. We’ll proceed with the red interior in keeping with this RDX’s flashy exterior color.

Wheels:

When equipped with the A-Spec package 20-in Shark Gray wheels come standard on the RDX. Hopefully these won’t look too outdated in a few years as shoppers grow tried of the dark wheel trend that has swept the industry.


Powertrain & Drivetrain:

A 272-hp 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine comes standard and is matched up with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, however you’ll want to upgrade to the excellent $2,000 Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system for added handling prowess. That brings the price to $46,000 even.

Packages:

Three packages are available on the 2019 Acura RDX. To start, shoppers can select from the aforementioned Technology and A-Spec packages. The Technology Package brings with it equipment like advanced safety features, an upgraded infotainment system, and upgraded leather seats. The A-Spec package gives the RDX personality. With unique front and rear bumpers, a unique grille design, and darkened headlamps and taillamps, Acura did a solid job of making this package differentiated and compelling. Inside, the A-Spec RDX has upgraded materials, heated and ventilated front seats, and other extras that create a modern ambiance. It should be noted that the A-Spec Package is only available with the Technology Package.

The third and final package is the Advance Package, which requires the Technology Package but is not available with the A-Spec Package. The Advance Package includes features like adaptive dampers, acoustic from glass, wood trim, upgraded front seats, heated rear outbound seats and other luxury features. Overall, the A-Spec package better suits the RDX’s sporty design and costs $1,900 less, so we’ll stick with that.

2019 Acura RDX packages

Summary:

This nicely equipped RDX comes out to $46,995 after destination. That compares favorably against competitive models from Audi, Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Any closer to $50k and the Acura’s sheen would begin to dull as it doesn’t offer an upgraded engine option.

2019 Acura RDX build

Rx for the Acura RLX

Perched atop Acura’s sedan lineup is the full-size RLX. Far less popular than the mid-size TLX and virtually all of its competitors, the RLX is a rare bird indeed. Last year a total of just 1,931 units were sold in America. That pales in comparison to the volume of Volvo S90’s (6,967 units) and Audi A6’s (10,561 units) sold in America last year. For heaven’s sake, even the often forgotten Infiniti Q80 (née M) had more than double the sales of the RLX last year. So, what’s going on?

Three primary issues are at play that collectively are holding the RLX way back. Fixing one or, ideally, all could make an impact in the marketplace and allow the RLX to resonate with shoppers. Although a price cut for the top-end Sport Hybrid in 2018 did correlate to a year-over-year increase in sales, it clearly had a minimal impact in the big scheme of things. Far more drastic measures are needed to help get the RLX, and the Acura brand in general, on track.

Supersize It

First, being that the RLX is not significantly larger than the TLX, Acura shoppers who want a sedan have little incentive to upgrade to the RLX. Perhaps Acura should follow competitor’s lead and sell an extended wheelbase version of the RLX to create more delineation both visually and in terms of interior volume.

Volvo only sells the extended wheelbase version of the S90 in America and Infiniti offers an extended wheelbase version of the Q70. called the Q70L which has five additional inches of rear legroom. Like Acura, both brands don’t have the strongest reach and positioning within the marketplace, however they’ve found a niche by offering something Tier 1 brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Audi don’t.

2019 Acura TLX versus 2019 Acura RLX

Bring the Wow Factor

Styling is another factor at play. The RLX’s design is too conservative inside and out, lacking the wow factor of big winners in the $50,000-$60,000 luxury sedan segment. Perhaps by borrowing more styling cues from the NSX, Acura can simultaneously inject the RLX with more personality while also establishing a stronger and more cohesive design philosophy for the brand as a whole.

2019 Acura RLX exterior side
2019 Acura RLX exterior rear
2019 Acura RLX interior

As it stands now, the new Honda Accord arguably has a more interesting exterior and interior design than the RLX. Acura needs no holds barred sensational design to stand out from the crowd and impress shoppers not selecting a car based on price.

Invest in Brand

This is a tricky one that would not be a quick fix like the other two prescriptions. The fact of the matter is the Acura doesn’t spring to mind for most consumers when they think of luxury car brands. While value shoppers in the sub-$50,000 segment can look past badge appeal and a less polished dealership experience if they’re getting more features for less money, above that price point expectations are much higher and that’s where Acura comes up a few cards short. Improving brand awareness and perception would require a massive investment in research & development, design, materials, dealerships, and marketing, but it could pay big dividends by moving Acura from a bit player to a major threat to competitors.

The days of pushing warmed-over Hondas should come to an end and usher in a new era for Acura, and it could all begin with the RLX. While pursuing such an undertaking to transform a underdog into a force to be reckoned with would require courage and grit, that’s just the stuff that Legends are made of.

[Images: Acura]

2019 Acura ILX

For 2019 Acura has updated and restyled its smallest sedan, the compact ILX. With styling that now matches the brand’s latest design philosophy, it looks sportier and more premium than the 2018 model. As with other Acura models, a sporty A-Spec package is available that mostly offers cosmetic enhancements, like side sills and larger wheels. For 2019 Acura made previously optional advanced safety tech standard and also upgraded the seats and infotainment system. Within the brand’s lineup the ILX slots below the TLX mid-size luxury sedan.

Notably, Acura also lowered the base price of the ILX, which now starts at $25,900. That’s significantly less than other entry-luxury compact sedans like the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3.

Pros: The ILX offers the cachet of a premium brand at a relatively affordable price compared to its prime competitors. A lower price and added features make its value proposition compelling. Strong safety scores are also a plus.

Cons: Fresh styling and new features don’t fully conceal the ILX’s mainstream roots. Based on the Honda Civic, the ILX has a choppy ride and lack of road noise isolation that are unbecoming of the Acura brand and could prove tiresome for shoppers seeking a truly luxurious experience.

Looks Best In: For 2019 Acura updated the interior and exterior color palettes. Perhaps the most eye-catching exterior color is Performance Red Pearl, which nicely sets off the redesigned grille and headlamps and emphasizes the car’s performance focus. However, it is the deep and rich Apex Blue Pearl that perhaps best suits the ILX, and many of the other Acura models this unique color is offered on. When paired with the bold Red leather interior, it makes the ILX look quite striking.

2019 Acura ILX exterior2019 Acura ILX interior

Competition: Top compact luxury sedan competitors with strong safety scores include the Audi A3, BMW 2-Series, Mercedes-Benz CLA, and Volvo S60. The ILX’s price point also pits it against midsize mainstream sedans with performance-focused variants, like the Mazda 6, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is compromised in that it features a cramped cockpit that lacks isolation from road noise and, like the ILX, its ride is not as smooth as might be expected from a luxury brand. The Audi A3 is among the most well-rounded competitors, offering avant garde design and a more composed ride, plus standard all-wheel-drive.

Safety Score: The Acura ILX has received strong crash test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, although weak headlamps precluded it from receiving a Top Safety Pick designation.

Summary: For shoppers drawn to the ILX’s premium styling and not bothered by the ride, the ILX is an efficient, responsive and affordable entry point into the luxury fold.

[Images: Acura]

 

 

 

 

2019 Cadillac XT4

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is a compact luxury SUV with a starting price of $34,795. Competing in a crowded segment, the XT4 goes up against the likes of the BMW X1, Lexus NX, Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40. What sets the Cadillac XT4 apart from the competition is bold styling borrowed from the famous Escalade. Available in Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport trims.

The mid-level trim should suit most as it comes with leather, park assist and a power liftgate. The Sport trim is primarily comprised of cosmetic updates, like a unique grille design and larger wheels. Front-wheel-drive is standard, with all-wheel-drive being optional on all trims. Ride and handling characteristics are unknown, however it is expected that the XT4 will take after its larger XT5 stablemate, which offers a firm but composed ride.

Pros: Great Exterior Styling, Roomier Interior Than Competitors, Good Fuel Efficiency

Cons: Mostly Boring Exterior Paint Selection

Looks Best In: Twilight Blue exterior/Sedona/Jet Black interior

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Competition: BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Infiniti QX50Lexus NX

Safety Score: As of publication date the 2019 Cadillac XT4 has not yet been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Summary: The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is a stylish and compelling choice within its segment. Offering a number of interesting available features like adaptive cruise control and a heated steering wheel.

[Images: Cadillac]

2019 Acura TLX

The 2019 Acura TLX enters its final year in its current form, as a full redesign is expected for 2010. With a starting MSRP of $33,000 the TLX is a mid-size luxury sedan that slots above the compact Acura ILX and full-size RLX in the brand’s sedan lineup. Its available with a 2.4 L 4-Cyl and optional 3.5 L V-6. As with other Acura models, a sporty A-Spec variant is available, which mainly consists of cosmetic enhancements. With a new model around the corner, expect discounts to be readily available on the 2019 TLX. If having a prestigious badge is not important, check out the larger mainstream Honda Accord and Kia Optima, both of which are available with high-end features.

Pros: Available AWD, Expressive Color Combinations, Smooth Available V-6

Cons: Outdated Design, No Hybrid Available

Looks Best In: Still Night Blue exterior/Red interior

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Competition: Lexus ES, BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Volvo S60, Kia Optima


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Safety Score: The Acura TLX received a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Summary: The 2019 Acura TLX is a solid pick within the mid-size luxury segment, it offers a comfortable driving experience and a stylish design that imparts a sense of occasion lacking in mainstream sedans. With expected discounting during the final model year of the current design, a good deal could be had by the savvy shopper.

RELATED: Infographic: Acura MDX 2001-Present

[Images: Acura]

Infographic: Acura MDX 2001-Present

The Acura MDX has been a mainstay in the Acura stable since its debut in 2001. A perennial strong seller, the MDX is now in its third generation. Learn more about the MDX and its changes over time.

RELATED: 2019 Acura MDX Review

RELATED: Lux SUV Olympics: Going for Gold!

Acura MDX 2001-2019


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Automotive Consulting Services for Media, Manufacturers & Dealers 
36176972_2130100717221198_3731073798393298944_nThird Auto offers expert automotive industry consulting services for dealerships, manufacturers and media companies. With a focus on consumer trends, sales analysis and digital marketing tactics, Third Auto can provide insights and information across key areas within the automotive sector. ThirdAuto.com also offers exclusive Sponsored Content placement opportunities for advertisers to get in front of engaged auto shoppers and enthusiasts. Learn More.


 

2019 Acura MDX

The 2019 Acura MDX is a three-row luxury crossover with a starting MSRP of $45,295. Although mostly carried over from 2018, the 2019 model features a sporty A-Spec version that lends some sporty design cues inside and out. The MDX offers luxurious accommodations and a smooth V-6 engine. It’s also available in hybrid form, although it’s quite pricey with a starting price of $52,800, which diminishes its value proposition. The Acura MDX is an upscale variant of the mainstream Honda Pilot, which is a good choice for shoppers on a budget to consider if they’re willing to forgo some of the frills that come with the Acura.

Pros: Stylish Exterior, Powerful Engine, Safety Score, Comfortable Ride

Cons: Non-Hybrid Version Less Efficient Than Competitors, Interior Less Upscale Than Competitors

Looks Best In: Apex Blue Pearl exterior/Ebony interior

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Competition: Infiniti QX60, Mazda CX-9, Volvo XC90, Buick Enclave


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Automotive Consulting Services for Media, Manufacturers & Dealers 
36176972_2130100717221198_3731073798393298944_nThird Auto offers expert automotive industry consulting services for dealerships, manufacturers and media companies. With a focus on consumer trends, sales analysis and digital marketing tactics, Third Auto can provide insights and information across key areas within the automotive sector. ThirdAuto.com also offers exclusive Sponsored Content placement opportunities for advertisers to get in front of engaged auto shoppers and enthusiasts. Learn More.


Safety Score: The Acura MDX received a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Summary: The MDX is a practical people hauler that delivers a refined driving experience. For a more modern interior design, look toward the Volvo XC60 or Mazda CX-9. The MDX’s archrival is the Infiniti QX60, which offers slightly better fuel efficiency and a lower starting price.

[Images: Acura]

Discovering Automaker’s Awesome Original Websites: Japanese Luxury Roundup

In the mid-1990’s most automotive brands that existed at the time began launching websites as digital was rapidly becoming the next frontier and offered an opportunity to showcase products and influence consumers as they perform research. Early examples of auto manufacturer websites provide a unique window into brand identity as there were wild variations in style and tone compared to the much more uniform websites of today, where virtually all have a nearly identical layout and user experience.


Lexus:

Lexus then

Lexus.com, 1996

The first snapshot of Lexus’ website was recorded on December 22, 1996. Creatively titled “Lexus Centre of Performance Art”, the website navigation is overlaid atop an sketch that resembles an interpretation of an ancient Roman villa. Resembling a guide for tourist in a faraway land, perhaps Lexus employed this model to help guide brand-new internet users by leveraging a familiar map-based layout from traditional printed media. There is also a “concierge” named Alex prominently featured, who was doubtlessly utilized by befuddled website visitors back in the day. According to the description Alex is there to “help you at any time, on any page”. Perhaps the most striking element of Lexus’ homepage in 1996 was that there was no imagery of their vehicles. At this time the brand’s lineup consisted of the ES, GS, LS, SC and LX.

Lexus now

Lexus.com, 2018

Fast forward 22 years and we encounter Lexus’ website in 2018. Taking on a far more sophisticated look, the design has been cleaned up and organized. Alex the concierge has retired, however there is a “Shopping Tools” menu with visuals for top functions at the bottom of the page. As web users as a whole became more acclimated to navigating websites and assimilated to the digital word, we notice less copy and far more visuals. While less cluttered, the website has certainly lost some personality over time. Here’s a little message for Lexus: Bring back Alex! Perhaps he could be reborn as a virtual chat assistant. In 2018 the brand’s lineup has doubled in size compared to 1996. The current vehicles are the IS, ES, GS, LS, RC, LC, NX, RX, GX, LX.

RELATED: Lux SUV Olympics: Going For Gold!

Continue Reading “Discovering Automaker’s Awesome Original Websites: Japanese Luxury Roundup”

2019 Acura RDX

The Acura RDX has been completely redesigned for the 2019 model year. Slotted below the mid-size Acura MDX in the brand’s SUV lineup, the RDX is a luxury compact crossover that competes with BMW, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz segment entries. Prices start from an MSRP of $37,300. For 2019 the RDX’s V6 has been swapped out for a turbocharged four-cylinder, which saves weight and delivers improved fuel-efficiency.

Pros: Less Expensive Than Competitors, Comfortable Interior, Good Ride/Handling Balance, Standard Advance Safety Tech, More Interior Space Than Some Competitors

Cons: Generic Rear Styling, Oddball Interior Design

Looks Best In: Fathom Blue exterior/Ebony interior

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Competition: BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, Infiniti QX50, Lexus NX

Safety Score: As of publication date the 2019 Acura RDX has not yet been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Summary: Whereas the last Acura RDX was a vehicle that sold more based on its value pricing than its styling and driving flair, the 2019 model has transformed into a no-excuses entrant in the compact luxury SUV segment that can hold its own against the likes of BMW an Mercedes-Benz and still costs thousands less. Compared to the Lexus NX and Infiniti QX50, the 2019 Acura RDX offers a more sporty driving experience and more interior room.

Thanks for reading Third Auto. Like us on Facebook and check in as we continue to report on car news, car reviews and industry analysis.

[Images: Acura]

 

Lux SUV Olympics: Going For Gold!

When shopping for a family-friendly three-row SUV that has luxury features and lots of utility, the choices are plentiful. In this evaluation we’ve narrowed down the choices to luxury brands only, as they generally offer upgraded dealer service, longer warranties, and more creature comforts than mainstream brands. However, shoppers on a budget or uninterested in all the gizmos can check out some top mainstream picks like the Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, and Kia Sorento.

Next, we looked at price. Especially with luxury SUVs it’s quite easy for the price to skyrocket. The contenders here are all within the $45,000-$55,000 price range, making them far more fiscally responsible than offerings from BMW and Mercedes-Benz which carry a $10,000+ price premium for a similarly sized, or smaller, vehicle. Also a consideration is the price of ownership, so we looked at fuel efficiency is a ranking factor as well.

When carrying around precious cargo safety is a top concern. We evaluated ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to determine the winner in this test. It’s important to note that the brand-new 2018 Buick Enclave is a strong contender in the three-row luxury SUV segment, however since it has not been evaluated by the Institute it was not utilized in the comparison.

Finally, interior accommodations and cargo room were evaluated. When carrying around strollers, strapping in car seats, and tackling trips to Costco, having a capacious interior is very important. Often a key indicator of interior packaging efficiency is how much cargo space is available behind the third row, so that’s the criteria we’re ranking on.

The contenders are: Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX350 L

So, which of luxury three-row SUV took home gold? See our the Lux SUV medal ranking below. But first, if you haven’t already, click here to join us on Facebook to receive the latest updates from Third Auto. We appreciate it!

Medal Rankings:

Bronze: 2018 Lexus RX350 L

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The new three-row version of Lexus’ best-selling RX line. With a bit more brand recognition and prestige than the other contenders, the RX earns points because that can translate into higher value retention over time. However, with an MSRP of $49,070, it’s nearly $4,000 higher than the larger and more fuel-efficient QX60. The RX350 L ties the MDX with a “Top Safety Pick” status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Read Third Auto’s full review of the 2018 Lexus RXL here.

Silver: 2018 Acura MDX

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The 2018 Acura MDX earns points for its “Top Safety Pick” status by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and offers cargo space behind the third-row only about one cubic foot shy of the first place Infiniti. Likewise, its base price when equipped with all-wheel-drive came out to $46,200, a $1,100 premium over the Infiniti. The non-hybrid model we evaluated was let down my a 21 combined MPG rating, which tied with the Lexus for second. A very competitive package, the MDX’s virtues makes it a strong contender, but aren’t enough to earn gold.Read Third Auto’s full review of the 2018 Acura MDX here.

Gold: Infiniti QX60

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With the lowest base price when quipped with all-wheel-drive, the most cargo room behind the third row seats and the best combined mileage, albiet only by 1 MPG, the Infiniti QX60 takes home the gold. It’s demerits include a poor rating for its headlights by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a bit less brand prestige than the Lexus, however overall the Infiniti QX60 makes a great choice for shoppers in the market for a three-row luxury SUV under $55,000.Read Third Auto’s full review of the 2018 Infiniti QX60 here.

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[Images: Acura, Infiniti, Lexus]

2018 Acura RLX

Rounding out our review of Acura’s sedan lineup, we come to the 2018 Acura RLX. This is the full-size luxury sedan perched above the midsize Acura TLX and compact Acura ILX. The 2018 RLX has a starting price of $54,900.

Pros: Speedy & Efficient Available Hybrid/AWD Combo, Less Common Than Competitors, Solid Construction, Good Interior Materials

Cons: Interior/Exterior Design Philosophy Leaves Something To Be Desired, Huge Price Jump From TLX

What You Should Know: Unless AWD is absolutely essential, check out the Infiniti Q70 Hybrid.

Looks Best In: Majestic Black Pearl exterior/Seacoast interior

2018 Acura RLX exterior2018 Acura RLX interior

Coolest Feature: 377-hp Hybrid Powertrain

Competition: Infiniti Q70, BMW 5 Series, Genesis G80

Summary: It’s easy understand why the RLX is overlooked. It lacks the flashiness of a BMW and the bespoke elegance of a Volvo. It will probably prove to have more long-term reliability than those brand’s models though. The Infiniti Q70 Hybrid is probably the closest competitor and it looks more opulent inside and out and is slightly more efficient and less expensive, however AWD is unavailable.

Did You Know? The RLX traces its lineage back to the, ahem, legendary Acura Legend, which was released in 1986 and well-loved by fans of the brand for its design and performance.

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[Images: Acura]

2018 Acura MDX

The 2018 Acura MDX is the brand’s full-size luxury crossover with a starting MSRP $44,200, and is among the most popular vehicles in its class. The MDX slots above the compact Acura RDX, and have three rows of seating.

Pros: Roomy & Comfortable, Sleek Design, Available Hybrid Improves Efficiency

Cons: Infiniti QX60 Is More Stylish & More Efficient Than Non-Hybrid MDX

What You Should Know: When considering the MDX be sure the check out archrival Infiniti QX60, which is another great family vehicle.

Looks Best In: Fathom Blue exterior/Graystone interior

2018 Acura MDX exterior2018 Acura MDX interior

Coolest Feature: Fast AND Efficient Available Hybrid Powertain

Competition: Infiniti QX60, BMW X5, Ford Explorer Platinum

Summary: A solid choice for families looking for a 3-row crossover with more flair than an everyday Ford Explorer or Honda Pilot, the Acura MDX is well-suited to carrying cargo and people in style.

Did You Know? 2001 was the first model year for the Acura MDX, when it was the first three-row luxury crossover available on the market. It’s been a big seller ever since.

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[Images: Acura]

2018 Acura RDX

The 2018 Acura RDX is the brand’s compact luxury SUV, slotted below the full-size Acura MDX in the lineup. Pricing starts at $35,800, and the RDX comes very well-equipped. A major distinction from many of its competitors is the standard V-6 engine.

Pros: V-6 For Same Price As 4-cyl Competitors, Roomy & Comfortable Interior

Cons: Not As Luxurious Or Stylish As Some Competitors, No Hybrid Option 

What You Should Know: The smooth V-6 delivers a premium sound and driving experience that gives the RDX more character than 4-cylinder competitors.

Looks Best In: Basque Red Pearl II exterior/Parchment interior

2018 Acura RDX exterior

2018 Acura RDX interior

Coolest Feature: Powerful 279-hp 3.5 Liter V-6 Engine

Competition: BMW X1, Audi Q3, Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee

Summary: The understated Acura RDX has a jewel of an engine and costs thousands less than many fancier competitors. Although not the most opulent or stylish compact luxury SUV, it offers a more premium driving experience than the Honda CR-V upon which it’s based, making it worth the price jump for shoppers looking for something extra.

Did You Know? The Acura RDX was the #4 best-selling luxury SUV last year, according to NY Daily News.

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[Images: Acura]