First Drive: 2011 Acura RDX

#Acura, #RDX

A Hot Hatch In Disguise?
The four-cylinder's output may lead buyers to think the RDX is a sport compact on stilts, but that impression quickly disappears when the crossover is driven briskly. Dampers are stiff enough to help curtail body roll, but the ride quality suffers greatly as a result, even with the stock 18-inch wheels (we'd avoid the 19-inch wheels -- available through dealers -- for this reason altogether). Steering is dead on center, and steering assist will likely prove a tad too much for true enthusiasts.

In our tester, mashing the go pedal is literally an all-hands-on-deck affair. Sending 240 horsepower through the front wheels is a recipe for torque steer and, the RDX exhibits plenty -- all while simultaneously taxing the traction control system in an attempt to transform torque into forward motion.

Thankfully, there's a solution: all-wheel-drive RDX models are fitted with Acura's ubiquitous SH-AWD driveline. Not only is this system capable of sending 70 percent of the engine's power to the rear axle (this aids greatly during launches), but it's also capable of channeling that power to the outside rear wheel in turns. A short drive in an RDX SH-AWD revealed none of the torque steer exhibited by our front-wheel-drive tester, and thanks to the trick rear diff, the CUV felt much more agile in tight corners.

The Matter of Cost
Despite being positioned as an introduction to the Acura brand, the RDX isn't wanting for content. Base front-wheel-drive models, which start at $33,480, include high-intensity discharge headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, leather seating with heated front seats, a 360-watt audio system with a USB audio input, a moonroof, and six airbags as standard equipment.

Buyers seeking extra content have few additional options to choose from before hitting the list of dealer-installed accessories. Adding the aforementioned SH-AWD system bumps the MSRP up by $2000. An optional Technology Package, which adds navigation, programmable features, and the superb ELS surround sound system, tacks on an extra $3000. Add both features, and the base price for an RDX SH-AWD with the Tech package reaches a stout $38,580.

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