2017 Acura RDX AWD Leading the Crossover Marketplace with Value and Cool features

Acura’s  RDX SUV has been around for a number of years, all of which have seen sales success to make the competition green with envy. Where competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and Lexus NX use turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, the RDX sticks with a robust V6 teamed to a smooth-shifting 6 speed automatic powering either the front or all four wheels. With seating for five passengers and a decent-sized cargo bay, the RDX makes a great luxury SUV for those who don’t need the added size and extra cost of the larger MDX. Acura’s full suite of luxury, technology and safety features is here, as is its unimpeachable reputation for reliability and excellent resale.  My test vehicle is a load All wheel drive with the loaded advance package.

The cool thing about the RDX when equipped with the Advance Package that includes every available feature offered on the RDX in one simple grouping. Add in all-wheel drive and you’re looking at price tag around $45,000.

The 2017 Acura RDX gets a few color revisions to its interior trim this year, but that’s about it. Acura’s dual-screen infotainment system presents a cleanly styled interface without of the multitude of buttons found on some competitors. Other touches of note include soft-touch materials, an available 8-way-power passenger seat, 10-way-power driver’s seat and a smart use of space for both passengers and cargo. For example, if the comfortable rear seats aren’t holding passengers, they quickly fold forward to create up to about 77 cubic feet of cargo space.

Fresh from an update last year, the 2017 Acura RDX SUV carries over its subtle tweaks that bring it in line with the more modern design language of the brand. Brilliant Jewel Eye headlights flank a revised 3-dimensional grille design, while around back the RDX’s taillights have the same signature look as the rest of the Acura lineup.

Most of the luxury SUV competitors the RDX faces don’t have the long list of standard features as the Acura, and fewer still at the price. The 2017 Acura RDX comes with things like dual-zone climate control, a 10-way-power driver’s seat, active noise cancellation, a multi-view rearview camera, and a 7-speaker/360-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with a 5-inch LCD display, USB/auxiliary inputs, voice-activated text messaging and Pandora Internet radio. Safety features include six airbags, stability and traction control, and Acura’s ACE body structure, which has helped it earn top crash-test ratings from both the government and the insurance industry.
While Acura tends to divide its major options into different model levels, Acura’s 2017 RDX breaks with this rule by offering the AcuraWatch package as a stand-alone option on all models, except the Advance Package, which includes it. AcuraWatch bundles adaptive cruise control, forward-collision braking and warning, and lane-keeping assist and departure warning in one package. All-wheel drive (AWD) is also available across the board. Navigation is available on the Technology and Advance packages, while the Advance adds luxury touches like ventilated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, remote starting, and automatic windshield wipers.

Under the Hood the 3.5 liter V-6 is not a powerhouse putting to a modest 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is good  EPA city rated at 19 city and 27 highway with my test vehicles advanced all wheel drive system.

On the road the 3.5-liter V6 delivers its power smoothly with plenty of low-end torque for quick acceleration and passing.  Cruising long highway stretches is where the RDX feels most at home, although the suspension is appropriately tuned for aggressive driving. However, don’t expect the RDX to perform like a BMW X3 or an Infiniti QX30. Acura’s almost fanatic desire to silence the RDX’s cabin is achieved through ample insulation and an active noise-cancellation system, while the AcuraWatch system helps keep everyone safe via the adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, collision warning and mitigation and lane-keeping assist.

While Acura tends to divide its major options into different model levels, Acura’s 2017 RDX breaks with this rule by offering the AcuraWatch package as a stand-alone option on all models, except the Advance Package, which includes it. AcuraWatch bundles adaptive cruise control, forward-collision braking and warning, and lane-keeping assist and departure warning in one package. All-wheel drive (AWD) is also available across the board. Navigation is available on the Technology and Advance packages, while the Advance adds luxury touches like ventilated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, remote starting, and automatic windshield wipers.

Acura’s RDX might not lead the premium-compact SUV class in any one area, but this is a vehicle that does just about everything well. A refined drivetrain, a ride/handling balance that’s among the best in the class, and a roomy, well-appointed cabin are its biggest strengths. RDX offers lots of comfort, convenience, and safety features at reasonable-for-the-class prices. Value-conscious luxury buyers would do well to put this Acura at the top of their shopping lists.

Lets talk about the sound system with ELS Surround Sound. the RDX for 2017 doesn’t need 20 speakers in every door to pull off amazing sound quality. The Acura ELS audio system is so well-engineered and fine-tuned, it blows the coils off systems costing twice as much. Fortunately, it’s incredibly affordable.

The system is designed by my friend Elliot Scheiner recording engineer and producer or Steely Dan, Donald Fagen,  The Eagles, Sting, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, Foo Fighters and dozens of others.  I have had pleasure of interviewing the “Master Of Sound” with 7 Grammys on his resume so far.many times.  He remains one of my personal favorite people to talk with about music or automotive surround sound.

Acura’s RDX might not lead the premium-compact SUV class in any one area, but this is a vehicle that does just about everything well. A refined drivetrain, a ride/handling balance that’s among the best in the class, and a roomy, well-appointed cabin are its biggest strengths. RDX offers lots of comfort, convenience, and safety features at reasonable-for-the-class prices. Value-conscious luxury buyers would do well to put this Acura at the top of their shopping lists. congratulations Acura  on the extremely well executed RDX.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD  6  speed automatic

Highlights

Value

ELS Surround Sond

All Arond Comfort

Lowlights

A little more power from V-6 would be great

So-So Fuel Economy

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 7

Braking 7

Fuel Economy 5

Performance 7
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Audio System 10

Value 10

2016 Best Drives: Audi TTS Smooth Operator

I have always liked the Audi TT, the first generation was cute and at the same quirky.  Back in Boston,  I remember driving a coupe in sub-zero temperatures.  It was my first experience with a non exotic car- mainstream dual clutch DSG gear box.

Generation two of the TT was a major league step up in styling, my wife and I purchased a new 2008 silver TT with a 3.2 liter V6 with a six manual and 19 inch wheels.  When my daughter was born in 2010 for the first six months of her life, the TT was our family car. Since my car was a two seat Corvette. The back seat is usable for small adults and even in our case a rear facing infant car seat.

2016 marks the third generation of the Audi TT and the vehicle is all new for 2016. It enters its third generation with new design inside and out, cutting-edge technology such as an all-digital “virtual cockpit” instrument display, and revised quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system for better handling. My test vehicle is the flagship TTS Coupe thats offers higher-grade performance.

As a whole, the 2016 Audi TTS is a technological powerhouse and performance marvel. But you’d be hard-pressed to find another with the handling, technology and  at least in coupe form that has the everyday practicality of the Audi TTS.  It kinda of Audi R8 with fewer cylinders and without an exotic mid engine layout

Inside the TTS you will quickly realize this is no mere digital instrument display. Powered by an NVIDIA quad-core computer processor, this 12.3-inch display harnesses serious tech horsepower to display a multitude of information at 60 frames per second. This enables the driver to keep eyes focused forward instead of having to glance sideways for map directions.

The Quattro all-wheel-drive system has long been synonymous with the Audi itself, and its abilities have been proven in rally cars worldwide. Even if you’re not sliding an Audi TTS around a dirt track, it’s easy to appreciate this system’s grip in spirited drives or on slick roads during inclement weather.

The virtual cockpit is just one aspect of the TT’s captivating cabin. Even the vents are impressive and elegantly simple.  The dashboard is styled to resemble an airplane wing, and the TTS’s dash is grained with a more technical and futuristic pattern than in the entry-level TT. The materials are of high quality and feel upmarket without trying to mimic traditional luxury the centerpiece of the whole  is the instrument cluster..

This enables the driver to keep eyes focused forward instead of having to glance sideways for map direction. Another cool feature: The heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning controls, as well as those for the heated seats, are integrated into the design of the vents, which minimizes clutter. It’s all truly contemporary and rich-looking, the main downside being, well, a massive risk of distraction; it also essentially excludes the passenger from the proceedings, but we’ll let you decide if that’s a net win.The TT’s front seats offer great ergonomics.

The 3rd-gen TT has the squat, muscular shape of its predecessor but with newly taut lines, a big trapezoidal grille and features like full LED headlights. There are nods to the original TT’s Bauhaus-inspired design: prominently rounded wheel arches and exhaust outlets that sit near the middle of the car. As with the last-gen model, the Audi TT’s body is made from aluminum.

The 2016 Audi TT comes surprisingly well-equipped out the gate. Standard features include Audi’s virtual cockpit digital display and MMI touch-based control system, 9-speaker/155-watt AM/FM/CD/HD Radio with two USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, full LED headlights, leather interior with 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats, and rear park-assist system in lieu of a standard rearview camera. My test vehicle the top line 2016 Audi TTS comes with magnetic ride control, 19-inch wheels, and TTS-specific exterior and interior aesthetics.

The options list is mercifully short for the new TT. My TTS had the technology package ($3,250), which adds navigation, Audi’s connect 4G LTE service with Wi-Fi, the side-assist blind-spot monitoring system, and rearview camera. An audio deal comes in the form of the 12-speaker/680-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system  $950 has never sounded better. Other options include Nappa leather seating and 19-inch wheels  My loaded TTS came in at $57,250.00

The Audi TTS uses the familiar 2.0 liter four cylinder found in many VW group products.  But in the TTS is turned up full blast to make 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. That enables the 2016 TTS to blast from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. All 2016 Audi TT models come with quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) and Audi drive select, which lets you adjust the car for sportier or more relaxed driving styles. All models also use Audi’s 6-speed S tronic transmission, an excellent dual-clutch automatic. My TTS test vehicle achieved 23 mpg  city and 27 mpg highway.

Although it is based on the VW Group’s MQB front-wheel-drive platform, the TTS exhibits almost no understeer and turn-in is impressively quick. I was quite impressed by the electrically boosted power steering, which is accurate, weighty, super smooth and responsive enough that only the hardest-core purists will wish for a hydraulic setup. The TTS also stays nicely planted on all road surfaces thanks the excellent Quattro all wheel drive system.

As a daily drive with rear seats folded down the cope offers a lot of cargo room.  The smoothness of the steering along the great AWD system really impressed this driver.  Congratulations Audi on the all new TTS one the best drives of 2016

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD 6 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Performance

Dash Layout

Stereo System

Navigation

AWD

Lowlights

Snug interior for some

Cost

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 8
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 8

Braking 6
Fuel Economy 8
Stereo System 9

Performance 8
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 9
Audio System 9.5