When the snow piles up in a surprise, overnight attack and greets us in the morning with mushy white drifts that reach over our boot-tops, that’s when an all-wheel drive vehicle gets the chance to show its stuff.
My tester is a 2010 Acura RDX, in Technology package trim (which basically adds navigation system with bilingual voice-recognition abilities to an already well-equipped platform); but it is the four-wheel traction I appreciate the most as I take to the roads.
Acura brands its version of the drivetrain as Super-handling All-wheel drive; and sure, I’ll go ahead and call it “super”, as it hasn’t let me down yet.
SH-AWD distributes the torque between the wheels according to where it detects slippage, and works in conjunction with the computerized stability-assist and traction control systems to provide maximum grip in any situation.
I get lucky with the timing during my period in the tester, and have it for a couple of days before the snow hits; so, I get to enjoy the RDX’s driving dynamics on dry pavement as well.
The turbocharged 2.3 litre engine brings very good, lag-free acceleration to the crossover platform; and combines with excellent brakes and steering feel to make the vehicle one of the sportier offerings in its class.
The chassis is the same as previous generation RDX models, and the suspension retains a “stiff” feel that makes the ride more jarring than some of its competitors, but definitely makes the vehicle feel more solid and stable when cornering.
Acura’s smallest crossover ute gets a refreshed outward appearance for 2010, with the faux-metal grille taking on the “grinning” impression beginning to appear on some of Acura’s sedans (the TL, for example). The rear end is also reworked for the new model year, as is the styling of the 18-inch wheels.
Inside, the RDX shows off some nice upholstery (the leather quality has been upgraded from the previous generation) and a comfortable front row. I have always liked Acura’s driver’s seats, in any of the models I have used, and the fully adjustable and all-day-supportive bucket in the RDX is no exception.
The rear row suffers from a lack of space for taller passengers, but provides good sightlines for backseat drivers with an elevated, stadium style arrangement.
The RDX dash hosts a lot of information displays, particularly in the Tech package trim; and is cluttered with enough buttons and switches to please any toy junkie.
Don’t let the trim level name fool you, either, for while the Technology Package brings the aforementioned navigation rig (with an 8-inch display) and upgraded sound system, even an entry-level RDX boasts a high level of standard equipping. Bluetooth hands-free capability, iPod connection and charging ports and rear view camera are standard across the line-up, though the camera display is viewed through the rear view mirror in base models.
Overall, I have to give the vehicle high marks all around; owing mostly to the all-wheel drive performance (sorry, the “super-handling all-wheel drive” performance) during my time in the vehicle; with little to dislike.
The main detractions with the RDX are a hard-to-see display screen that tends to get lost in glare during daylight hours, a tailgate that must be opened manually to access the cargo area, and a tendency to drink more fuel than most of its competitors due to its turbocharged engine.
Its sticker price might be off-putting to buyers looking simply for an AWD small crossover as well, as the RDX is priced well above similarly styled utes. Starting at a base of $39,990, the Technology Package model tips the scale to $42,990 before taxes.
What’s great about buying a vehicle today is not just that they’re safer, greener, more powerful, better handling and light years more advanced than ever before.
It’s also that you can find one tailor-made for just about any lifestyle.
While this has created nearly as many market segments, as there are personality types, buyers have unprecedented choice, often having their cake and eating it too.
Take crossovers, for example.
CUVs quite conceivably combine the best of all vehicle types, the style, handling and performance of a sedan, with the higher driving position and cargo flexibility of an SUV.
All this with the safety and stability of all-wheel-drive.
A small slice of this segment (the entry premium category) delivers the added benefits of a more upscale look, more luxurious interior and an impressive suite of technologies to keep occupants safe, informed and entertained.
Vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GLK350, the BMW X3 and the Acura RDX, my tester for the week, are all part of this competitive segment, which in my mind offers some of the best value for the money.
The entry point for these CUVs is around $40K, not much higher than where many of the non-premium brands top out.
Sure, we’re talking about base Mercs, Bimmers and Acuras, but you’ll find each extremely well equipped and with the build quality and cachet that goes along with a premium brand.
The Acura RDX, which starts at $41,885 (including freight and pdi of $1,895), has a new look, a more refined interior, new technology and better fuel economy for 2010.
Its new exterior is punctuated by Acura’s now signature grille, a bold, metallic grin that some like and some don’t.
That aside, the styling is sporty, yet refined, with large wheel arches over 18-inch alloys, an aggressively-raked body and windscreen, short rear overhangs and wide track.
From the rear, the black bumper fascia, large exhaust finishers, revised taillights and rear spoiler enhance the vehicle’s muscular appearance.
I’ve always liked Acura interiors, and the RDX is no exception.
The perforated leather seats (heated and power-adjustable up front), high-quality fabric inserts and soft-touch materials, LED backlit gauges (with progressive illumination), ambient lighting and ergonomic layout all contribute to what Acura designers describe as a “finely appointed urban loft apartment.”
I’ll take their word for it.
Other standard interior features include dual-zone automatic climate control, hands-free Bluetooth phone interface with steering wheel controls, multi-information display, rear camera displayed in the rearview mirror, power moonroof, USB connector and seven-speaker, 360-watt AM/FM/XM six-disc CD changer with steering wheel mounted controls.
Another feature I like is the lockable, briefcase-sized storage console between the front seats.
When it’s not swallowing your laptop of file folders, it has numerous dividers for organizing the cavernous space.
Back seats are comfortable and supportive, and offer no shortage of knee and headroom.
Behind the 60/40 split fold-down seats, you’ll find 788 litres of cargo capacity, 1,716 litres when folded.
The RDX’s cabin is hushed; even with the 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder running full bore.
Some of this is due to powerplant engineering; other reasons include the extensive use of high-tensile steel for more body rigidity (allowing the four-wheel independent suspension to work optimally), a slippery exterior shape, aerodynamic side mirrors and more.
But don’t let the cushy comforts fool you — the RDX is no pushover.
The fully independent front and rear suspension (Mac struts with stabilizer bar up front, multi-link with stabilizer bar in rear) is forgiving over choppy pavement, yet is taut in the corners with a minimum of body lean.
The 2.3-litre, DOHC 16-valve inline four-cylinder provides the kind of power you’d expect from a big six: 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque with plenty of punch at the low end without the typical turbo lag.
This is thanks to a variable flow turbocharger (VFT) that, like a small turbo, spins up quickly when pressed, yet, like a larger turbo, still has enough flow for good performance at high r.p.m.s.
By combining the best of both, the VFT delivers a broad powerband with a quick throttle response.
All that power is routed through a standard equipped five-speed automatic transmission that can operate either in fully automatic mode or manually with paddle shifters.
In automatic mode, the transmission incorporates grade logic control and shift hold control.
I won’t get into how these work, but both are sophisticated systems that reduce gear “hunting” on hills and through turns.
Acura’s super handling all-wheel-drive (SH-AWD) system is also complex, but very effective.
I’ve had the opportunity to test it in all kinds of weather and found it to be on par with the best AWD systems I’ve driven.
SH-AWD progressively distributes the optimum amount of torque not only between the front and rear axles but also between the left and right rear wheels.
During high-speed driving, up to 90 per cent of torque can be directed to the front wheels.
Under hard, straight-line acceleration, up to 45 per cent can be sent to the rear and in hard cornering (during acceleration), up to 70 per cent can be sent to the rear axle for sportier dynamics.
Additionally, up to 100 per cent of the torque that is sent to the rear axle can be applied to either wheel as needed.
This is all backed by standard safety and handling systems that include ABS with electronic brake distribution and brake assist and vehicle stability assist with traction control.
You also get dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, front side airbags with passenger-side occupant position detection system and side curtain airbags.
All in all, the 2010 RDX is a very sophisticated ride that stands well as a base vehicle, but, if you want, can be upgraded with the technology package (for another $3,000), which includes an eight-inch screen, navigation with bilingual voice recognition, rearview camera and the 10-speaker Acura/ELS Surround 410-watt audio system with AM/FM/XM tuner, 6-disc in-dash CD changer, DVD-Audio and Dolby Pro Logic II.
Still, I drove the base unit and, after a week behind the wheel, found myself wanting for nothing.
* Fun to drive
* Voice activated navigation helps keeps eyes on the road
* Concert-hall 10-speaker stereo
* Luxuriously appointed interior
* FIRM ride
* That turbo is thirsty!
* Minimal cargo room
* Front fascia styling only a mother could love
Just when I thought there was no hope for the crossover segment, Acura introduces the game-changing 2010 RDX with a fresh new exterior look, a more luxurious interior, and a host of new technology features. The 2010 RDX is now available with a two-wheel drive option which offers improved fuel economy and a lower price point over its SH-AWD™ counterpart.
OK, Acura… Let’s get the bad out of the way so we can get on with the good stuff. What’s the deal with your visual branding “power plenum grill” that has plagued your car line? You have damaged the looks of one of the most handsome lines of cars out there. I have not yet met anyone who thinks it’s attractive. Enough on that. The rest of the exterior styling is great – the sheet metal looks very fluid and dramatic. The updates to the rear-end styling for 2010 are great. Acura has really perfected the appearance from the rear.
All RDX models come with a 240 hp, 2.3L turbocharged, direct-injection, 4-cylinder engine with i-VTEC™ (intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control). I had the pleasure of driving the lighter-weight 2WD version. The ride is firm, but the RDX is quite nimble when slicing through the turns. I was impressed by how the RDX drives more like a sports sedan than an SUV. Potential RDX buyers will be elated to know that there is no significant loss of the driving feel when comparing the all-wheel drive system to the front-wheel drive alternative.
The technology package, which brings voice-activated navigation, rearview camera, real-time traffic and weather, 10-speaker surround w/subwoofer, and dual zone, GPS-enabled climate control, provides a generous level of comfort and convenience. The RDX felt like a perfect partner in crime… er travel.
The RDX’s small size limits cargo capacity, but the car is just so nimble and agile, the small size turns out to be one of its assets. It’s also deceptively quick. If you are first in line at the traffic signal, a few seconds after getting the green you are already separated from the rest of the pack as they continue to shrink in your rear-view mirror.
Acura’s quality Michelin tire choice and substantial sound damping help with the exceptionally quiet ride. This is the quietest Honda/Acura I have ever driven. A small amount of wind noise creeps through at freeway speeds, but it’s remarkably quiet overall.
The primary sound you hear is some sexy engine noise under brisk acceleration – Acura engineered that sound and I can appreciate it immensely; it doesn’t happen by accident. The engine makes a nice growl along with a little wisp of turbo spool. It’s intoxicating and addicting!
Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
I loved the nicely perforated, supportive and heated leather seats. They are a bit on the firm side, but I felt great even after long trips and I think they’ll hold up to years of use. There’s a lot going on with the dash, but its well worth the effort to learn it.
After taking a minute to study the layout, I found the buttons easy to decipher. There are four basic button areas: Nav Interface Dial, Audio, Climate control, and steering wheel buttons, and three display areas: Nav Screen, Center display, Multi-Information Display on the speedo cluster.
The center interface dial and surrounding buttons can be used to control navigation, weather, and traffic info; fine-tune the 10-speaker stereo settings including bass, midrange, treble, center and subwoofer volume, all using the navigation screen for visual feedback.
Acura RDX front seating area 60/40 split folding rear seats 60.6 cubic feet of storage when rear seats are folded flat
Below the interface dial, you’ll find basic radio controls in a typical half-din style interface. You can control volume, select sources and presets, load CD’s, seek/scan, and and there is an analog, audio Aux-in jack. There is a USB connector in the center armrest console and the iPhone/iPod controls work great.
Flanking the Interface Dial area are the Dual-zone, GPS-enabled, sun-position-sensing climate controls. That’s the wordy-way of saying it keeps you and your passenger comfortable no matter what. You can set and forget the temperature controls. The temp and fan-speed feedback display is near the windshield next to the ubiquitous, yet expanded Honda/Acura digital clock (called the ‘center display’). This display also shows audio system status including artist/song titles.
There’s a small multi-information display at the bottom of the center speedometer gauge. Use this display along with steering wheel buttons to personalize basic car options. Do you want the doors to unlock when you shift into park? How long do you want the auto headlights to remain on after you exit the vehicle? Do you want to enable hands-free Bluetooth? All of these can be done with the multi-information display.
Acura RDX command center Route guidance from the nav-system Acura RDX center information display
I need to take a few sentences to praise the voice-activated Navigation. For one, you can operate it while driving without taking your eyes off the road. There are a host of voice-commands you can speak to it, making it infinitely useful.
On your way to your destination, you decide you need gas. You press a button on the steering wheel and say “Find nearest gas station” or “Find nearest fast food” in a couple seconds; the Nav display lists search results on the screen.
Not wanting you to take your eyes off of the road to read the list, you twist the Interface Dial and the Nav reads out the listing to you; “Chevron”, “Shell”, or “In-n-out burger”, "Taco Bell”. You press the Interface dial when you hear the one you want and the nav asks if you want to ‘set as new destination’ or ‘set as a way point’ on your current route. You select “add as waypoint” with the Interface Dial and the voice-assisted nav guides you there.
I just can’t get over how easy and intuitive it is. Nissan, GM, and others should take note of what Acura has done with their navigation. Oh, and you can use your voice to control almost every function of the car – audio, climate control – you just need to learn to use the proper vernacular.
The very firm ride is the first hint to great handling. The suspension might even be a bit over-damped, but the first time you pitch it into a corner, it’s worth any compromise in freeway ride comfort. The RDX can probably out corner many sedans – it’s that confident in the corners. I could not detect much body roll at all and it just felt planted while inspiring confidence.
My passengers were not impressed with the firm ride on the freeway. In fact, my wife wrote off the car almost completely as did my rear-seat passenger. They felt they were being thrown back and forth over bumps on the highway. I think it’s a combination of firm suspension, relatively short wheel-base and high-perched seating position from being a crossover. I thought it was awesome! But I had a steering wheel to hold onto. It did seem as firm as my own sports car!
Acura’s choice of Michelin Pilot HX – MXM4 in P235/55R18 had a lot to do with great handling – sticky, responsive and quiet. The brakes are exceptional as well. Jump on them and they scrub speed very quickly and the chassis just deals with the g-forces.
Engine/Drivetrain Performance All RDX models come with a turbocharged and intercooled 2.3 liter 4-cylinder engine pushing nearly 13.5 PSI of boost. Does the absence of the AWD make it a poser? Not at all; it’s almost 200 pounds lighter than its AWD counterpart. So while the AWD might be quicker off the line, I‘d bet the 2WD is quicker everywhere else. As a bonus, fuel economy is improved due to the reduced weight – 19 city/24 highway versus 17/22 for the AWD. Observed gas mileage during our enthusiastic week with the RDX was 19 mpg overall.
Yes, wheel-spin can be an issue if you are not careful. Also, the engine power output is fairly peaky. So off the line, you give it maybe 50% throttle, but then you have to back down to maybe 25% throttle as the RPMs creep up and turbo boost kicks in. It took a little getting used to but it was livable.
This is a good place to point out Acura’s Vehicle Stability Assist. I was unfortunate (or fortunate) to get some rain when I had the RDX. I must say that Acura has done a commendable job controlling torque steer. I am not sure how they did it, but their traction control was not intrusive like some cars. At some points in the wet, under hard acceleration, I knew the tires were struggling for traction but the wheel held straight and true and power was still sent to the wheels, but at just the right amount not to cause wheel-spin.
Build Quality What can I say? It’s a Honda/Acura. Build is top-notch. Every piece seems solid, all panels match up very nicely, and there are no squeaks or rattles.
The 10-speaker stereo included in The Technology package is noteworthy. A center speaker up front and DVD-Audio capability are pretty impressive. With 410 watts and a powered 8–inch subwoofer in the trunk, sound quality adds up to pure listening joy. The sub plays with authority down to 30 Hz. There’s just nothing in this car that Acura did not over-engineer. I really don’t know how they kept the MSRP down.
The 2WD RDX starts at $32,520. Add the technology package (worth every penny!) and you’re looking at $35,620. As well-appointed as this car is, and if it were sporting a Bavarian propeller/sky badge, it would cost you closer to $50k.
The RDX has got to be the best bang for the buck crossover available today.
Who should buy it? This is a great car for an enthusiast with a young family. If you are considering selling your sportscar or just want to start with something more practical, the RDX is the hot-ticket. Keep in mind it’s a small crossover, but you’ll be happy with the compact proportions when you are maneuvering around town in tight spaces.
I really enjoyed my time with the 2010 RDX. Before spending some quality time with the RDX, I never thought I’d use words like fun and dynamic in the same sentence as crossover. Now I’m totally convinced that there is hope in crossover segment. The RDX has won me over with its powerful engine and responsive handling. Given enough time I can write a book on the voice-activated navigation. If Acura could put all of these features and performance into a sporty car, I’d be all over it. If I had to buy a crossover, this would be on the top of my list by a wide margin with the technology package just being the icing on an already delicious cake.
Trying to stand out in the blizzard of CUVs currently on the market isn’t that easy, but the 2010 Acura RDX compact CUV is one that does just that.
Acura RDX is different in that it is one of only two current CUVs using a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the other being the Mazda CX-7.
The RDX has an intercooled 2.3-litre twincam inline unit producing 240 horsepower, a strong 260 pound-feet of torque with multi-point fuel injection and a variable flow rate turbo that work together to give a respectable fuel rating of 11.7L/100 km city and 8.7L/100 km highway.
On a recent round trip of 505 kilometres, I started out with the instant fuel-economy readout showing 14.1L/100 km.
By doing 90 per cent of the trip on cruise, I got it down to 10.4L/100 km by the time.
Filling up at $1.15/L out in the country was, however, sobering.
There is one transmission, a five-speed automatic with grade logic control that selects the gear that is most efficient when climbing.
A transmission cooler is standard on RDX.
The RDX can tow 680 kilograms.
Backing this up is the Honda-derived super handling all-wheel-drive (SH-AWD) that goes beyond simple “slip and grip” AWD.
What this system does is move torque back and forth but also side to side seamlessly during normal driving.
But, when accelerating hard, up to 45 per cent of the torque goes to the back wheels.
In a mild turn, the system sends a balancing amount of torque to the outside real wheel to keep the RDX planted.
When exiting the corner and accelerating, up to 100 per cent of torque to the rear wheels is split, so the outside wheel rotates faster than the inside rear wheel, greatly shortening the turning arc, as well as lessening the effort needed by the driver.
You can see all this happening by touching the “i” tab on the steering wheel, which turns on the driver information display.
One of the modes gives a graphic of the SH-AWD as it is operating in real time.
As the torque moves around, bars to each wheel grow and diminish.
I had a lot of fun with it as I drove along a long, rutted and heavily puddled lane to a friend’s farm.
As each wheel hit water or mud or snow-covered gravel, the graphic danced around wildly but the RDX just sailed on through.
Bottom line — SH-AWD is a treat on dry pavement spirited driving and is there to improve your grip in sloppy weather.
Front suspension is MacPherson struts while the rear is a trailing arm double wishbone set up with stabilizer bar.
Acura and Honda have been one of the few to go with double wishbones and they’ve been doing it for a long time.
Besides being more compliant, not having shock towers intruding on the cargo area markedly increases volume, in this case a full 788 litres.
Safety is a Honda/Acura hallmark that begins with Honda’s patented advanced compatibility engineering (ACE) body architecture.
Simply put, it consists of different strength steels that not only absorb kinetic energy in a crash, but also re-distributes the energy throughout the body away from the point of impact.
Active front headrests are standard.
Compared to airbags, these don’t cost a lot, but I feel they do far more in a crash.
They cup the head during an impact and that means far less chance of a neck or spinal cord injury.
Vehicle stability assist (stability control) with traction control is standard, as is four-wheel anti-lock braking with electronic brake-force distribution.
A nice addition is the standard tire-pressure monitor that alerts the driver if a tire starts going flat.
There are two choices of backup camera, which you really need in any SUV/CUV, as far as I am concerned.
On the standard RDX, the camera display is built into the rearview mirror.
On the RDX Technology, as tested, it is part of the Acura satellite-linked navigation system.
Here, the image is shown on the centre of the dash monitor and has the added bonus of lines that arc to show the best path to take when reversing.
While the RDX gets a seven-speaker, 360-watt sound system, the RDX Technology gets no less than 10 speakers and 410 watts of sound.
There is really no comparison to the turbos of today and the ones that were around 20 years ago, when I started writing about cars.
Turbo lag (the time is take for the turbo to spool up and start producing power) is a thing of the past — and that’s true of the RDX.
Using variable-flow technology, the power, when you need it, is right there, right now.
Leaving a traffic light and, thanks to SH-AWD, there is no torque steer and no dramatics.
Even when one of the wheels under load hits a patch of water, grip is not lost.
On the highway at cruising speed, look down to your left and the turbo boost gauge confirms that there is no forced induction pressure, meaning the turbo is not robbing power and wasting gas.
Give the pedal on the right a prod to pass and the boost gauge needle snaps up instantly as you feel the power burst to the wheels, and again, with no lurid lurch forward like there used to be in Saabs.
On the trip noted above and on cruise control, the RDX was pleasant except for the noise of the aggressive tires and winter-worn pavement.
Swaddled in leather and with the XM satellite radio there to entertain, my good wife and I just enjoyed the scenery of southwestern Ontario shedding off winter in the first days of pre-spring sun.
And that’s just what the RDX was designed to go
In the tsunami of CUVs on the market, making a decision of what suits your needs best is often confusing because so many are so much alike.
With an as tested price of $42,990, the Acura RDX Technology may not be the cheapest CUV out there but it is just that much different to rate a long look.
If you appreciate luxury in a compact CUV package, the RDX is certainly worth consideration.
It’s not that you really want to stretch yourself to the point of having to eat mac and cheese for the rest of your life, but some things just feel better when you pay a bit more for what you want.
Case in point: the Acura RDX — essentially a Honda CRV with all the higher end stuff you’d want without asking for it. And it’s nice not to have to ask for want you really want.
And there’s where my train of thought goes pfft.
The thing that kind of gets me is that even though the RDX is a higher-end SUV, you still have to pay more for a technology package that includes a navigation system, surround sound and Bluetooth.
And considering there are laws in certain places banning the use of hand-held cell phones, and more jurisdictions are looking at it, shouldn’t it just be a standard feature? And especially in a vehicle that pushes nearly 43 grand. Maybe I’m just missing something.
Techie stuff aside, the RDX is still a really good little SUV.
Under the hood is my favourite little item - a powerful little 2.3-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine that is more than willing to let out all of its available 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. There is a good bit of turbo lag if you hammer the gas from a dead stop but once you’re going, the RDX is a rocket.
Mated to a five-speed automatic — complete with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters — the RDX hums though the gears quickly and has plenty of mustard left for passing.
Keeping all four wheels on the road isn’t a big issue either, thanks to an all-wheel-drive system that Acura like to tag as Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive. Acura could pretty much call it what ever it wants ... the system just flat out works. The rubber sticks to the road and you get a kick out of pushing the RDX through some tight corners.
The ride is a little on the stiff side, but does maintain a sporty feel ... even with two kids sitting in the back bench. And you get some comfy seats, covered in leather, which is always good. Plus power heated seats in front and 60/40 split rear seats in back.
Leg room is decent for average folks, but I found that my legs attached to my six-foot frame were pointed in all sorts of directions, with my right leg leaning up against the hard centre console. It would have been fine if I wore knee pads all the time, but they don’t always coordinate with what I’m wearing.
Leg room in back can also be an issue if you carry anyone larger than a munchkin — so my pair didn’t complain one bit. Larger passengers just have to ask nicely and you can easily make a bit more room, but things are a bit tight for everyone to be totally comfortable.
The audio system comes complete with satellite radio, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, integrated audio-device connectivity and an optional nav system screen that also doubles as a back up camera monitor.
The rear cargo space is a decent size and a hard plastic cover will keep things out of sight. The only thing missing is a power lift gate. Ok, I might be spoiled, but I think RDX drivers would want that. Heck, non-RDX drivers would want that!
You do pay a premium for having the Acura name attached to the RDX, but the amenities supplied and the fun you have driving it, are good trade-offs.
2010 Acura RDX
Price as tested
Technology pkg ($3,000) includes navigation system, surround sound system; voice control module, Bluetooth.
EnerGuide fuel economy ratings
11.7L/100km city; 8.7L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy
13.2 L/100 km combined
4 years/ 80,000 km
5 years/ 100,000 km
Chevrolet Equinox; Infiniti EX35; Nissan Rogue; Toyota Rav4 Strong Points
* - Dad liked the good performance
* - mom liked the comfy seats
* - kids loved going fast
* - Dad disliked the leg room
* - mom disliked the non-existent power lift-gate
* - kids disliked not having a DVD system
Fuel consumption 3*The turbo makes the gas disappear if you're not careful
Value for price 3* Premium priced
Styling 4* Sharp lines
Comfort 3* Comfortable bums, uncomfortable legs
Performance 3.5* Will easily put a smile on your face
overall 3.5* Cute, sporty SUV
Acura's RDX got a mini-facelift for 2010. Just a nip here and a tuck there and this luxury SUV is ready to face the world.
I liked the 2009 RDX; I thought it was cute and fun to drive, if not exactly economical. For 2010, the folks at Acura decided they'd had enough with the cute and sharpened the RDX's exterior. They also made a few changes on the inside to make life easier, and for that, I thank them. They added a couple of mpg's to the engine and a standard backup camera that works like a charm. With all of the changes, the RDX is still fun to drive and offers just enough luxury at a reasonable price.
The RDX isn't the kind of vehicle that you drive mindlessly. Its turbo engine and tight suspension make sure that you're focused on your driving. I found that I had to be extra cautious when accelerating since there are two parts to the RDX's get-up-and-go. First, it goes and then it really goes. That's a turbo for you. It's most useful when you are merging onto a freeway or passing another vehicle. It's less useful in city driving. It always seemed a bit jumpy to me. Although never out of control or scary, stepping on the gas in the RDX is always exciting. Driving around in my mountainous hometown, I liked having the firm, sporty suspension, but when I was in the city, I felt every bump in the road. I also remembered how much I hate speed bumps.
The RDX starts at $32,520, but my test car, which came with the Technology Package, cost $36,460.
When I say that the RDX got a facelift, I mean literally. Acura lifted the five-seater's face up, and now the RDX has a better "entry angle," so you won't scrape the front fender when entering a steep driveway. The headlights are bigger, as is the brushed-metal grille. It's bolder and stronger looking than before, but oddly, the whole effect is to make the RDX's front end look more like a happy face.
What made me smile was the RDX's 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four-cylinder engine. I was a less happy to learn that it gets an EPA-estimated 17/22 mpg city/highway and uses premium gas.
Getting in and out was pretty easy for everyone since the RDX sits a bit higher than a sedan, but not as high as a full-sized SUV. My kids had no issues opening or closing their doors, and in the rear, the liftgate has a new inset handle to make closing it easier for the less statuesque among us.
During my daily adventures, I though the RDX had plenty of cargo room, and I liked the removable hard cargo cover that kept my stuff out of sight. But when we took the RDX on the road for a weeklong trip to Grandma's house, getting all our gear in was a squeeze. Even though we weren't bringing a stroller or anything bulky, I had to remove the cargo cover to get it all to fit in the RDX. Fortunately, the cover fits perfectly on the cargo area floor, so it wasn't much of an issue.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The inside of the RDX doesn't exactly measure up to other luxury SUVs, but neither does its moderate price tag, so I can't complain. Honestly, the RDX is perfectly comfortable and has all the luxury this mom needs.
There's plenty of storage in the front seat for all the necessities, with deep door bins and a smaller covered bin in the door's armrest. The center console has a top tray and a deep bin that can swallow a full pack of wipes, a big ol' camera and various cords and chargers. Or you can put your purse in it. I went with the first method. There are two covered cupholders for the front row and two in the backseat's armrest.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel felt good in my hands, although I had to put more effort into steering than I'm used to. I suppose that's intended to increase the sporty feel of the drive, but I wish it were a bit easier.
My test car was equipped with the Technology Package, which includes a navigation system, dual-zone automatic climate control and a great 10-speaker audio system with XM Satellite Radio. The USB interface let me navigate my iPod's music through the stereo's controls. The navigation system was easy to use, either with the central control knob or voice control. The AcuraLink system put traffic and weather information right on the screen. Once I set it up the Bluetooth connection, it worked perfectly. Connecting my cell phone was a long process, but definitely worth it since I live in a "hands-free" state.
Even though there's no rear entertainment system in the RDX, my kids were as happy in the backseat as I was in the front. The backseat is roomy enough for three. My kids had plenty of legroom, but they're still young. While it's not exactly a squeeze, teens and adults might like a bit more space.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On
As much fun as the RDX is to drive, its safety features are no less impressive. There's an optional all-wheel-drive RDX that has Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, which improves this compact SUV's handling and response. I tested the front-wheel-drive version; it held the road beautifully in rainy weather, party due to its standard traction control and electronic stability control. The RDX also has standard antilock brakes with brake assist and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows.
The RDX has two sets of Latch connectors, which aren't immediately visible. However, they are easy enough to find and reach. The backseat is wide and mostly flat, which makes installing child-safety seats and booster seats a breeze. There's enough room to fit a rear-facing convertible or infant-safety seat. The seat belt receptors are firm, not floppy, and sit up high, so no one had to search or scoot their boosters around to get buckled.
I also appreciated that there were three-point seatbelts for all. The center rear seat belt comes out of the top of the seat, so there's nothing to impede the view out of the rear window.
The AutoGuide.com network consists of the largest network of enthusiast-owned enthusiast-operated automotive communities.
AutoGuide.com provides the latest car reviews, auto show coverage, new car prices, and automotive news. The AutoGuide network operates more than 100 automotive forums where our users consult peers for shopping information and advice, and share opinions as a community.