What a quick little crossover! Honda’s first-ever U.S.-market turbo is a pretty good one, generating gobs of mid-range torque and providing a swift kick in the back when taking off from a light. I’m not so fond of the RDX’s inability to put down all this power, as evidenced by frequent wheel spin at launch accompanied by a bit of torque steer. Opting for SH-AWD would likely render this complaint moot, and would put the price of this loaded Acura at $38,430 – about the same as a base Audi Q5 lacking features like navigation and Xenon headlights.
Honestly though, I’d have liked to have seen Acura forego its value advantage and finish off this vehicle a little better. Most of the extra money would go to the interior, which has far too many hard plastics, not to mention a navigation interface in dire need of an update. The RDX is also a bit fidgety on the highway for a luxury vehicle. All of this conspires to make the RDX feel more like a really nice, handsome CR-V than a downsized MDX.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
The RDX is aging only okay, I’d say. As David Zenlea points out, the interior is not exactly plush, and the navigation system interface is not great. I’m especially put off by our particular test vehicle because it’s front-wheel drive, not all-wheel drive. When you’re selling a premium crossover, to my mind all-wheel drive should be standard. Hit the accelerator when you’re at an intersection in a $36,000 crossover, and you really don’t want torque steer. The lack of all-wheel drive was exacerbated during the time we had the RDX because we had a lot of fresh snow in Ann Arbor.
On the plus side, I was struck this morning, when I opened the center console that’s between the front seats, to see how absolutely huge it is. It’s easily big enough for a laptop, and there are two flip-down trays mounted about two-thirds of the way down into the console cavity that allow you to, effectively, raise the floor of the bin. So you can store some stuff at the bottom, flip down the little trays, and then pile in even more stuff into your double-layer bin. Clever storage solutions like this make a vehicle easier to live with on a daily basis.
We’ve got the typical Acura cockpit here, with the alien-head steering wheel, the somewhat inscrutable array of buttons for climate and sound, and attractive blue-trimmed gauges. As for the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it’s not impressing me as much as it did when it debuted: it sounds okay but it lacks linear response.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
I didn’t spend much time driving the RDX, so I’ll take this opportunity to register my complaint about Acura’s stereo interface – in particular the convoluted operation of the channel selector (the same as in the ZDX we recently test drove). I’m a huge fan of dials, one for the volume, and one to select the radio station I desire. In the Acura, you have to first select the audio button so that the screen shows you the audio information. Then you have to scroll to one submenu, then to another submenu, and then select a button before the big dial in the center of the console can be used as to change stations. It may not sound so horrible in print, but in practice it’s a pain, and it means you’re your eyes are off the road as you’re attempting to perform these maneuvers, which is never a good thing.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
The Acura RDX‘s turbo four is still a bit of an anomaly in the small luxury SUV/crossover segment. It’s peppy but it certainly isn’t as fast as it’s V-6 equipped competitors. This is an acceptable trade-off for the much higher fuel economy returned by a four-cylinder engine, right? Well, not in this case. Despite being much lighter, having far fewer horses, and having a significantly lower engine capacity than the V-6-equipped competition, the RDX manages only marginally better fuel economy. The Acura’s combined average is 24; a number matched by the BMW X3 and the Lexus RX350 and only missed by 1 mpg by the Infiniti EX35 and the Audi Q5.
Once you remove fuel economy from the “positives” column, the only thing the Acura RDX does better is undercut the price of the other vehicles in its segment. Unfortunately, the hard plastics throughout the interior will be a constant reminder of the money you’ve saved.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
2010 Acura RDX Tech
Base price (with destination): $36,430
Price as tested: $36,430
2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
5-speed automatic transmission
Vehicle stability assist
Electronic brake distribution
Active front head restraints
XM satellite radio
MP3/auxillary input jack
USB audio interface
Heated front seats
Auto dimming rearview mirror
Power moonroof with tilt feature
Xenon HID headlights
Heated power door mirrors
Acura navigation system with voice recognition
Real-Time traffic and weather
ELS surround sound with 10-speakers
AM/FM/6-disc DVD/CD Dolby Pro logic II
Dual zone auto climate control
Options on this vehicle:
Key options not on vehicle:
SH-AWD system — $2000
19 / 24 / 21 mpg
Size: 2.3L Turbocharged In-line 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 240 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
5-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Curb weight: 3743 lb
18 x 7.5-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
P235/55R18 Michelin Pilot 4X MXM4 all-season tires