By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.5
At its introduction in 2007, few could have imagined that Acura's foray into the compact luxury SUV segment would - within a few short years - essentially define that segment. Combining a car-like platform with upright bodywork, 5-door flexibility and all-wheel drive is a near-luxury framework now used by Audi, Infiniti, Mercedes, Volvo and BMW; only BMW's X3 was in production prior to the RDX launch. Notably, of these mentioned the only ones sharing their platforms with more affordable donors are Acura and Audi, whose main architectures are also used by Honda's CR-V and VW's Tiguan, respectively.
If you enjoy the smaller - albeit practical - footprint of a compact SUV, Acura's take offers Honda's reputation for service, reliability and resale value, wrapped in a package significantly more upscale than its CR-V stablemate. Add the benefits of Acura's SH-AWD, and the RDX is truly an SUV for all seasons.
Given its compact exterior dimensions and - when compared to a traditional sport sedan - excessive weight, the RDX may not provide enough sport, utility or efficiency to those looking for (approximately) equal measures of all three.
With a freshened look, interior upgrades and available 2WD, the 2010 model year was a significant "freshening" for Acura's compact SUV. In 2011 those changes stay in place as the platform moves toward an eventual redesign.
Driving Impressions Given its all-independent suspension, turbocharged powertrain and available sport-tuned all-wheel drive, the RDX provides a reasonable take on a sport sedan within its SUV-like, two-box profile. It won't, however, mimic...those compact SUVs with a rear-wheel drive bias, or - for that matter - standard rear-wheel drive. Opt for a 2WD RDX and you have - at its root - a Honda CR-V with approximately 50 percent more power and a more refined ride/handling balance. The RDX is perfectly proportioned - with an overall length of just over fifteen feet - for running around town. And if traffic allows, with its 240 horses you can actually run!
Super Handling All-Wheel Drive
The availability of Acura's SH-AWD is what separates Acura's RDX (and larger MDX) from the others in its compact SUV category. Not only does SH-AWD augment traction in low-traction situations; it also effectively balances the platform by optimizing torque not only between front and rear axles, but also side to side. In the drizzle it's the shizzle.
GPS-linked, Solar-Sensing Dual-Zone A/C
In the Technology Package, the system's GPS capabilities will track the sun's position and adjust the climate control system accordingly.
Acura describes the RDX interior as a "direct expression of the vehicle's sports car lineage." If "sports car" conveys an interior more personal than expansive, they hit the nail on the head. Seating is comfortable for four, tightly drawn for five. And those relegated to the backseat should be no larger than football players; make that European football players. The (standard) leather seating is comfortable and well-constructed, outward visibility is very good from most seating positions, and the available Acura/ELS Surround premium audio is designed to simulate the experience of a studio environment. And with that one feature, you can now sing somewhere other than your shower.Exterior
Although its skin - especially after the '10 refresh - is all Acura, there's no denying the Honda roots. When examining the smallish Acura proportions it's very close to the CR-V, from the significant front overhang to cowl height to its two-box profile. What Acura describes as "bold" 18-inch rims give the RDX a more aggressive stance than its Honda sibling, while the aggressive front fascia, HID front headlights and sculpted bodywork provide a more substantial presence than at the time of the RDX's intro.
With a well-equipped window sticker of around $33K, the Acura RDX is appropriately furnished, offering in its standard spec a glass moonroof, HID headlamps, perforated leather-trimmed seating, racing-inspired paddle shifters, a rear view camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, multi-information display, USB port and AUX input jack. A host of safety features includes a full complement of airbags, vehicle stability assist with traction control, and theft-deterrent system with electronic immobilizer.
As is typical in both Honda and Acura vehicles, the RDX is easy to order, with a comprehensive list of standard equipment and only two factory options: Technology and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. The technology option includes AcuraLink Satellite Communication System; navigation with voice recognition; real-time traffic and weather; a 10-speaker surround sound system with 6-disc changer and XM Radio; and rear view camera with 8-inch color viewing screen. And the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive isn't only for those living in the snowbelt; it gives the RDX a handling balance simply not available in the FWD variant.
The Acura's 2.3 liter DOHC in-line four is effectively the RDX's centerpiece, and is the most singular reason for choosing the RDX over its CR-V stablemate. A Variable Flow Turbocharger delivers an unusually broad powerband - and 260 pound-feet of torque - with minimal lag. And when combined with the available SH-AWD, the combo makes for nimble handling in-town, and composed, secure handling on the open road - in any season. Regrettably, despite the RDX's performance orientation, the RDX is not available with a manual transmission. And while responsive, the EPA ratings for both 2WD and AWD are - at best - middle-of-the-road.
2.3-liter in-line four-cylinder Turbocharged
240 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/24 (2WD), 17/22 (AWD)
By John J. on Thursday, October 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 82,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "well built and quiet"
Cons: "the rough ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Everything about the 2009 RDX is first rate- except- and this is a big except- the ride. It is the worst riding car/suv I have ever owned. You feel every road bump and every road ripple. Concrete roadways with expansion joints every 50 yards is actually comical. "Thump...thump...thump..." I bought new tires to see if that helped but to no avail. Kinda a shame, because we love the car's feel, look , the cargo space and the roomy back seats."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Gman on Tuesday, July 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "A lot of car for the money and very fun to drive"
Cons: "Could be better gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car drives like a sport car and handles wonderfully in traffic and the open road. Its not a economy car, however if driven normally I get 20mpg in town and 24 on the road at a steady 75mph. Plenty of cargo room with 61 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded flat."
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Dave on Saturday, May 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Paint, outer and interior looks, quickness."
Cons: "Premium gas, audio (radio )"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"My only beef is the audio and having to use premium gas. I understand on the newer cars this has been solved."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Dave on Thursday, May 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 58,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Cons: "GAS PREMIUM."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"My one problem is, this year rdx (first ) needs to run on premium gas and gets expensive, other than that it runs strong and is very quick. visual is great ( windows ). Yes, I would buy another Acura, this is my second."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By acuragirl on Thursday, May 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, reliability, excellent resale value"
Cons: "Cup holders, no trunk/hatch release"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The older model Acura RDXs are excellent cars and Acuras are always a great investment. Even after leasing for 3 years, followed by a 4-year loan, I have more than $10K in equity in the car. Having the turbo and paddle shifters is a blast and the handling is more like a smooth sedan than an SUV. My only complaints about this model are the cup-holders - pretty lame - and the fact that there is no trunk/hatch release. Other than that this is a fantastic car."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Angiepants on Thursday, April 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Luxury car, all the fancy things"
Cons: "Bad turbo, bad mpg"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"HORRIBLE GAS MILEAGE. The overall design of theis car is great. All the bells and whistles at a great price. The engine design is horrible. A turbo on a 2.0 liter 4 cyl enginer is fine....if it were a car. The RDX is a rather heavy SUV, and the turbo gets used a lot to haul around such car. The turbo burns out very fast. I have already replaced the turbo and A/C. The turbo was 4k. The weight sitribution is mostly in the back, wo when you have a car full of people it drags and you can feel it. Therefore, turbo kicks in. I hear the newer models are 6 cyl and i am sure they have fixed the other flaws. However, this isn't acuras first rodeo, so I expected more. The gas mileage is horrible. I average 12 mpg. 19 if its downhil and someone is pushing."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful