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2011 Acura RDX

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2011 Acura RDX Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 4/1/2011


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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's Significant About This Car?

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 It 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!

Favorite Features

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.

Vehicle Details Interior

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.

Notable Standard Equipment

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.

Notable Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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)

Pricing Notes

Within the context of its immediate competition, the RDX constitutes a value-oriented package, with its MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) of approximately $34,000. Add its two available factory options - Technology and all-wheel drive - and you'll top out at under $39,000. Check kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price for what consumers are paying in your market area. And regardless of the market on the new end, expect the RDX to provide a return on investment fully competitive with the segment (which includes BMW's X3 and Audi's Q5), and several points better than the Mercedes GLK or Volvo XC60.

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