I haven't driven an Acura RDX for probably four years, and I can't say I've missed it in that time. The small premium crossover market has been inundated with newer offerings from Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes, Volvo, and others since Acura brought out the RDX. And each of those competitors has brought with it more technology, better powertrain choices, or better interior execution (if not all three).
I didn't have any issues with the performance of the five-speed automatic transmission, but the power delivery of Acura's turbo four-cylinder isn't nearly as linear or as refined as I'd like. It's not so much that Acura's engine is bad, it's that the Audi 2.0T is amazing and comes with an eight-speed automatic that enhances the experience even more. Oh, and thanks to the more advanced direct injection and wider gear-ratio spread on the Audi, the 20/27 mpg city/highway ratings for a Q5 2.0T absolutely trounce the RDX's 17/22 mpg figures when equipped with SH-AWD.
Acura's biggest problem with the RDX is that it is the oldest offering in a suddenly very competitive segment. The RDX isn't so far behind the other small luxury crossovers that it isn't worth a test drive, though. As much as we all like the Audi Q5, I'm willing to bet that an Acura dealer has a lot more wiggle room on price than Audi does right now.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
Phil hit the nail on the head, I think: the RDX is a good vehicle that has simply been outclassed by all the competition that has flooded its segment in the past several years.
What I want to know, though, is why Honda has not installed the RDX's feisty turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder all across its lineup? This company normally does things in a very calculated, careful manner, but it seems very strange to me that it would go through the expense of developing this engine -- which, despite a lack of refinement, is a lot of fun to drive -- for use in only one model. This engine would probably need to be detuned a bit for duty in the Acura TSX, the Honda Civic, or other front-wheel-drive applications, however. It's already putting out more power than the RDX's front wheels can handle. Thankfully, Acura's excellent SH-AWD system is available in the RDX.
Potential buyers would have a harder time equipping an RDX to avoid the ultra-stiff dampening in our test car. The RDX does have very sporty handling, but other manufacturers are able to deliver similar sportiness without such a harsh ride. In SH-AWD form, the RDX could be a nice option for people living in snowbelt states where the roads aren't too bad. But is it the best choice on the market? Probably not.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor