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The Acura RDX Elite is easy to like, but difficult to love.

It is easy to like its smooth, easy driveability, its just-right size for four adults, its competitive array of electronic bells and whistles and near-perfect balance of comfort and agility.

It is hard to love it, though, because there is next to nothing in this vehicle that really gets the pulse going. It is a well-put-together, solid and refined vehicle that plays it safe – to a fault.

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Which is not to say that Honda has not upped the ante on the 2016 model. Its exterior lines are more sharply defined, and the front is adorned with aero vents and LED headlights for an authentically sporty look. LEDs set off the rear, too, rounding out the upscale modern look. The 18-inch alloy wheels and ride dampening give this rig its cushy sure-footedness.

The really interesting stuff is on the inside, where Honda has loaded the Elite with truly distracting array of electronic gadgets, some of which serve a useful purpose. The Elite comes with an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, high-definition radio receiver, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning, front and rear parking sensors and ventilated front seats. The navigation system also includes voice recognition.

Honda's so-called AcuraWatch incorporates adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation braking, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist. More importantly, it has my favourite feature – a rear camera that makes it easy to judge exactly how close you are to whatever you don't want to hit.

There's more – but you get the idea. Bells and whistles: check and check.

The familiar 3.5-litre V-6 has a marginal power boost over previous years, and gets good highway mileage of about 9 litres/100 km, thanks to a mechanism that shuts off three cylinders when you are loafing down the highway. Curiously, though, Honda continues the Japanese-makers' reluctance to offer a diesel option, which puts it at a disadvantage to the amazing Audi Q5.

Driving the RDX is a pleasure. It is smooth, relatively quiet, stable and adequately powerful. It truly is a car you could sit in all day without getting fatigued. If that's what you're after in a luxury vehicle, then this could be car for you.

On the other hand, $48,585 is a big bite for a vehicle whose greatest claim is competence – especially when you put it up against Lexus NX 200t, aforementioned Q5, and BMW X3.

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Honda is best when it stops playing it safe. Too bad it didn't take a few more chances with the RDX.

You'll like this car if ... You want to convince your mum that success hasn't gone to your head. She'll appreciate its comfort and reliability.

TECH SPECS

  • Base price: $41,990; as tested: $48,585
  • Engine: 3.5-litre V-6, 24-valve with variable cylinder management
  • Horsepower/torque: 279 hp/252 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with paddleshift
  • Drive: 2WD/AWD
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 9.4 combined city and highway, regular fuel
  • Alternatives: Lexus RX350, BMW X3, Audi Q5

RATINGS

  • Looks: With its familiar Acura front grille, it is pleasant and understated, but unremarkable in appearance.
  • Interior: The plush, glove-soft ivory interior is comfortable and functional. There is a just bit more plastic, however, than a car at this price point should have.
  • Performance: Quick and agile, with a ride that is firm but never jarring. The modern conventionally aspirated engine strikes a balance between enough power to pass with keeping fuel consumption at a responsible level.
  • Technology: From integrated navigation system, back up camera to adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist system, the Acura comes loaded with all the electronic goodies we’ve come to expect in an upscale vehicle.
  • Cargo: Standard cargo can handle the weekend luggage for a family of four.

The Verdict

8

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This is an extremely well-put-together vehicle that makes a virtue of not standing out from the crowd. Pleasant to drive, it ticks off all the boxes for an upscale family vehicle.

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