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Will Acura Add Safety And Connectivity Technology and Features the RDX Has Been Missing For 2016?

What changes will make it different?

This was Acura’s entry into the luxury compact crossover market in 2006 as a ’07. The second generation came into being as a 2013, so after a carryover for ’15, we expect a least a refreshing in model-year 2016. Don’t look for anything too radical, though, as Acura appears to have adopted an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy with this vehicle.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

While there is plenty to like about the 2015 version, the next offering should be an improvement, especially where the exterior is concerned. Thus, it’s worth holding out to see what rolls off the assembly line.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

While the flagship RLX is good but unremarkable, the ’15 RDX is probably best described as acceptable. It does just about everything you would want, but in a decidedly conservative and mundane fashion. It’s a long way from being a bad crossover, but it’s nowhere near the front of the class. While it drives better than it looks, the exterior is dull enough to turn most people off from ever finding out what else it has to offer.

Will the styling be different?

It probably will follow the blueprint of the ’16 ILX and get a refreshed front and rear with a new grille and a more sporty and aggressive stance to keep it in line with the rest of the developing range. Although there’s nothing too off-putting about the 2015 styling, it’s probably among the most anonymous designs on the market today. Any changes—no-matter how small they may be—are sure to be an improvement.

Any mechanical changes?

The six-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift, paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control may sound interesting, but the title is better than the unit itself. We expect something like the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with torque converter that the new ILX is getting to find its way into the ’16 version of the RDX. A new engine isn’t out of the question either, as Acura chose to shun turbocharging for the 2015 model in favor of a slightly-retro, 3.5-liter SOHC V-6 i-VTEC unit.

Will fuel economy improve?

A 3.5-liter V-6 may not sound like a recipe for class-leading fuel economy, and it isn’t. This car may not deliver the worst fuel consumption figures in the segment—with 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined for front-wheel drive models and 19, 27 and 22 mpg, respectively, for all-wheel drive—but it’s decidedly middle-of-the-pack. Even without an improved engine, an up-to-date transmission should at least offer a minor boost in gas mileage.

Will it have new features?

This is an area where we definitely think we’ll see improvement, and with good reason. We don’t expect Acuras to be lacking in the latest safety, infotainment and connectivity technology, but the RDX definitely lets the side down in these areas right now. Even if you pay extra for the Technology Package, features such as radar adaptive cruise control, night vision and pedestrian detection are still absent. The manufacturer needs to address such matters if this car is to compete against the very best in this segment in future.

How will 2016 prices be different?

The base price for the model-year ’15 RDX is $35,990, which is a reasonable value even if the car lacks any semblance of excitement. Though we do expect changes for ’16, the price shouldn’t increase much.

What is the expected release date?

Around the middle of 2015, unless there are more significant changes than we currently expect. There’s no word about a hybrid version at the moment, but Acura’s track record in that department would suggest the release date could be put back if a hybrid is to be added to the lineup.

Best competitors

Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus RX 350, Mercedes GLK Class, Volkswagen Tiguan

What changes would make it better?

The Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system we see in the RLX Sport Hybrid would transform the RDX and take it way beyond its rivals, but that’s pretty unlikely to come to fruition. A new body shell would be even more welcome; right now, it’s just too nondescript.

Quick hit

This is already an excellent drive that delivers a smooth ride, excellent handling and impressive maneuverability, so Acura isn’t all that far away from having a pretty good contender in the segment. A sportier look and an updated powertrain would make all the difference and transform it from infinitely forgettable to truly memorable.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]