First Drive: 2011 Acura RDX

#Acura, #RDX

Five years. That may not seem like a long time, but in the automotive industry, it's almost an eternity -- especially if a model sees no revisions in that period. Mid-cycle refreshes usually occur two or three years after an initial product launch. Double that timeframe and automakers are typically in the throes of replacing the previous model with a significantly new product.

The Acura RDX appears immune to that pattern. When it launched in late 2006, we praised the brand's premium compact crossover for its frenetic energy, but it's now approaching its fifth year on the market without any significant modifications or updates. That's worrisome, considering a number of competitors have launched revised or all-new competitors that directly target the RDX. Does Acura's crossover continue to hold its own in the increasingly combative segment, or is it in dire need of a refresh?

This One's For The Kids
The RDX may be one of the oldest models in Acura's portfolio (other lines have received mild enhancements in recent years), but ironically, it's designed to target younger buyers. In a nutshell, the RDX is to the larger MDX crossover what the TSX sedan is to the TL: a smaller, sportier, entry-level model designed to draw new customers into the Acura portfolio

Certainly, the exterior aesthetic shouts young and athletic. Acura's design language mandates plenty of razor-sharp edges and unusual, planar surfaces, but flared fenders, a curved roofline, and a long hood help convey some athleticism.

Although the sheetmetal doesn't suggest such, the RDX actually shares its basic underpinnings with the third-generation Honda CR-V. The Acura's wheelbase is an inch longer than the CR-V, and its overall length -- 182.5 inches -- is actually closer to larger competitors like the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Infiniti EX35.

Aggressive Exterior, Conservative Interior
That extra length doesn't adversely affect the RDX's maneuverability in parking garages and urban jungles, but it does provide a little additional space within. Front legroom measures a commendable 41.8 inches but rear seat passengers will likely appreciate the 37.7 inches of space they're treated to -- nearly double the rear legroom offered by the EX. When those seats are in use, the MDX offers nearly 27.8 cubic feet of cargo space, besting the EX, X3, and almost equaling the volume offered by the Q5. Fold 'em flat, and that figure swells to a best-in-class 60.6 cubic feet.

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