2011 Acura RDX


Review: 2007 Acura RDX

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2012.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

The RDX is among the first of many premium, affordable, smaller crossover vehicles.
  • Fast
  • Sharp handling
  • Functional
  • Styling breaks no new ground
  • Marginal fuel economy
  • Some complicated controls

The new Acura RDX is getting in on the ground floor of the small, premium crossover vehicle market, which Acura expects to grow five-fold in the next few years.

Some auto analysts feel that Acura's prediction is probably on target. That market promises to take off because of uncertain fuel prices that encourage the purchase of smaller vehicles, the trend toward more upscale vehicle sales and the continuing desire for more vehicle utility.

The RDX is the first premium entry crossover from Honda's upscale Acura division. It combines sports sedan performance with the roominess and utility of car-based crossover vehicles, which have sport-utility vehicle attributes without truck-based SUV drawbacks.

High-Energy Urbanites
The RDX is mostly designed for high-energy urbanites—"young, upwardly mobile city-dwelling professionals who work and play hard," as Acura puts it. That's a dream audience for virtually all automakers.

The RDX has Acura's first turbocharged engine. It also has the first adaptation of the Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system from Acura's top-line RL flagship sedan.

Innovative AWD System
That innovative system provides above-average grip on wet or dry roads, compared to many AWD systems, because it distributes torque not only between the front axles, but also between the left and right rear wheels to enhance handling through corners and curves.

Beyond that, the RDX has enough ground clearance to use the system when on deeply rutted roads, although this is primarily an on-road vehicle.

Acura acknowleges that the RDX was designed to mainly compete with BMW's X3, which also has a five-passenger design and no third-row seat. The X3 is smaller than BMW's redsigned 2007 X5 SUV, and the RDX is smaller than Acura's redone 2007 MDX SUV.

Blurring Lines
However, the lines are blurring when it comes to smaller upscale crossover vehicles. Thus, although larger, the Lexus RX, Infiniti FX35, Cadillac SRX and Volvo XC90 may be considered other RDX rivals

The Nissan Murano SE and Subaru Forester XT 2.5 Limited also could be considered RDX competitors, but lack a prestigious nameplate.

No Styling Ground Broken
The RDX looks good, but breaks no new styling ground. It's priced at $32,995, but costs $36,495 with its optional Technology Package. That package contains items including a navigation system, rearview camera for help when parking, premium 10-speaker sound system and solar-sensing dual-zone automatic climate control system.

The standard RDX has many comfort, convenience and safety features. They include air conditioning with automatic dual-zone climate controls, leather upholstery with heated front seats and cruise control.

There's also a premium 7-speaker sound system with an in-dash 6-disc CD changer, split/folding rear seats, 8-way power driver's seat and power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry.

Among safety features are anti-lock brakes with brake assist for surer emergency stops, front- and side-curtain airbags and traction/anti-skid control.

Potent Turbo Engine
Acura gave the RDX a turbocharged, intercooled 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower and a solid 260 pound-feet of torque because a potent V6 engine reportedly wouldn't fit.

The dual overhead camshaft 16-valve engine whisks the RDX to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and allows quick merges and passing on highways. Power delivery is linear, with almost no turbocharger lag.

Marginal Fuel Economy
The RDX is quick, despite weighing almost 4,000 pounds. Acura was shooting for V6 performance and 4-cylinder fuel economy. But the RDX's weight results in so-so fuel economy for a compact crossover: an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 23 on highways. Moreover, premium fuel is required.

The smooth engine shoots power through a responsive 5-speed automatic transmission with an easily used manual shift feature.

Fun to Drive
The RDX is fun to drive. Steering is quick, although some may feel it's rather heavy. Handling is sharp, enhanced by 18-inch wheels. Although firm, the ride is supple and more comfortable than that of the BMW X3. The brakes provide confident stopping power.

Four tall persons fit comfortably in the quiet, futuristic-looking interior. Five such occupants would fit because there is especially good rear-seat room, but the center of the rear seat is too hard for comfort. It's thus best to fold down the wide rear armrest, which contains dual cupholders.

The quiet interior has supportive front bucket seats and the backlit gauges can be quickly read. Controls are easily reached, but some are undersized. The central console control knob and dashboard screen are used for audio and other functions, complicating tasks.

Roomy Cargo Area
A low, wide opening allows good access to the spacious cargo area. Rear seatbacks fold flat to enlarge that area without the need to remove their headrests. The rear hatch has a replaceable panel to reduce the cost of accident repair.

The RDX has a heavy hood that must be held open by a prop rod, instead of a more convenient hydraulic strut.

One need not be a "high-energy urbanite" to appreciate the RDX, which offers a good blend of performance, function and technology.


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BB06 - 9/15/2014 8:05:43 PM