By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
Now that the market offers a healthy variety of desirable compact luxury SUVs, one could easily overlook the segment's value-oriented veteran, the Acura RDX. Basically sharing a platform with the popular Honda CR-V, the 2012 Acura RDX outclasses its corporate stablemate with available Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (AWD), a more refined interior and a turbocharged engine with a robust 260 lb-ft of torque. Boasting the lowest starting price of its competitors and one of the highest residual values in its class makes the Acura RDX a smart choice for most small luxury SUV shoppers.
If you are searching for a small luxury SUV with an array of standard features at a value price, the Acura RDX offers Honda's legendary reputation for reliability and resale value along with an attractive sticker price.
If class-leading fuel economy tops your list of desirable attributes for your next compact SUV, the Audi Q5 or the BMW X3 might satisfy your efficiency craving.
With an all-new model on the way, the 2012 Acura RDX remains unchanged from the 2011 model.
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, 2-box profile. It won't, however, mimic...those compact SUVs with a rear-wheel-drive bias, or - for that matter - the standard rear-wheel drive found in the Mercedes Benz GLK350. Opt for a front-wheel-drive (FWD) 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 appropriately proportioned - with an overall length of just over fifteen feet - for running around town. And if traffic allows, with its 240 horsepower you can actually run!
Super Handling All-Wheel Drive
The availability of Acura's SH-AWD is what separates Acura's RDX 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 Temperature Control
Within the available Technology Package is a unique dual-zone climate control system that tracks the sun's position via GPS and adjusts the cabin temperature accordingly.
An upscale, modern character is expressed throughout the cabin of the 2012 Acura RDX, thanks to silver-painted accents and the center stack's high-tech design. The standard seating surfaces are wrapped in supple leather, as is the multifunction steering wheel. The front-seat bolsters offer ample support for spirited driving and the rear seats offer sufficient legroom and headroom for most average-sized adults. Despite its cozy cabin, the RDX features one of the biggest cargo areas in its class with over 60 cubic feet of space with the 60/40 split rear seats folded flat.Exterior
There's no mistaking an Acura vehicle for anything else these days, thanks to their prominent satin chrome-finished front grilles. The 2013 RDX's features an aggressive design defined by angular sheet metal, a muscular stance and a pair of wide, chrome-tipped exhaust outlets. The RDX rides on 18-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in 235/55R18 all-season rubber. Nighttime illumination is provided by standard xenon headlights and integrated fog lights for increased visibility in murky weather.
With a well-equipped window sticker under $34K, the 2012 Acura RDX is suitably furnished in its standard spec, offering a power moonroof, xenon headlamps, perforated leather-trimmed seats, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, dual-zone automatic climate control, multi-information display, a rear backup camera, USB port, and an auxiliary input jack for your MP3/WMA player. A host of safety features includes six airbags, whiplash-lessening active front headrests, and a theft-deterrent system with an 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: the Technology Package and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. The Technology Package includes an AcuraLink Satellite Communication System with navigation, voice recognition, real-time traffic and weather, a 10-speaker audio system, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The package also includes an 8-inch full-color display and a GPS-linked climate control system. And the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive isn't only for those living in the Snowbelt states – it gives the RDX all-season handling ability that the FWD variant simply cannot match.
Acura's 2.3-liter DOHC 4-cylinder 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 lb-ft of torque - with minimal lag. Partnered with the available SH-AWD, the combo makes for nimble handling in-town, and composed, secure handling on the open road - all year long. The turbocharged powerplant is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission with a sequential shift mode. And while the setup is responsive, the EPA ratings for both FWD and AWD are - at best - middle-of-the-road.
2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/24 mpg (FWD), 17/22 mpg (AWD)
Within the context of its immediate competition, the RDX constitutes a value-oriented package, with a starting MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) of approximately $34,000. Add its two available factory options - the Technology Package and all-wheel drive - and you'll still top out under $39,000. Check kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price in the "What should I pay for a new car" section of our homepage for what consumers are paying for their RDXs in your 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.
By Ladybug (FL) on Wednesday, May 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "I like being up higher than in a sedan."
Cons: "Would like better gas mileage."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Honda makes reliable cars. Originally I intended to buy the CRV, but did not like the gear shift placement. I test drove every cross-over I could and fell in love with the RDX. I have no regrets. At first I had reservations about a 4 cylinder, Turbo engine, but the Turbo kicks in nicely to provide the boost for passing. I had downsized from a V-6, so it took awhile to get used to the Turbo. After 5 years, there are no rattles or clunks. There is plenty of leg room and cargo space. The RDX has the feel of solidity and integrity. The leather upholstery and heated seats give that sense of luxury associated with a more costly vehicle. For many reasons, this is the perfect vehicle for me. While the car isn't a gas hog, sometimes I do envy my neighbor's Hybrid vehicle. I have taken good care of this vehicle and have had no mechanical problems at all."
By K (PA) on Wednesday, April 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks good"
Cons: "see comments below"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Gas mileage is pitiful for size of car. Over 50 mph the engine is loud and overworking, whole car is loud on the highway. The ride is too hard. Maybe the 2013 model with the V-6 is better. Couldn't get a V-6 in 2011. The AWD works seamlessly. Overall, I am disappointed."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Srob (CA) on Tuesday, March 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,900overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great sound system, reliable"
Cons: "Light rear end"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"The back end on this car is a little light and tends to skid going up hill from a standstill, but nothing dangerous. Overall this car has run great so far and the tech package is a must. The speakers are incredible."
By Patti (GA) on Friday, March 01, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth ride. Love the pick up and go that it has."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Keep in mind it has a turbo motor so it requires High test gas. Never had any issue with it. Love my service department. Great Vehicle."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By seh (CA) on Wednesday, February 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I really love to drive this thing! We looked at many other small SUVs before deciding on the RDX. We test-drove all kinds in all categories—from the X3 to the Rav4. I really enjoyed the performance and luxury of the Infiniti EX, but the cargo and passenger space is so crammed you might as well buy a sedan. The Rav4 and CRV are pretty mediocre, but great gas mileage. We kept coming back to the RDX. You really get a lot of bang for your buck with all the features. It is really fun to drive! The things about it that I love, others may not enjoy. The handling is incredible: drives like a sports sedan with better traction and SH-AWD. The others just couldn’t compare to the drive, but it isn’t for everyone. Make sure you really test drive, so you know what you are getting into! (premium gas, turbo, synthetic oil, etc) Maybe it’s just me, but the dashboard controls do not seem intuitive and the knobs are not very user-friendly—this is my first Acura and it took me awhile to figure out. Once you learn to use it, the Navigation is very helpful. The rear backup camera really helps in tight situations! The audio is great, best stock system I’ve heard, the heated seats are awesome, the dual a/c is a great feature, and the moonroof is nice to have. I really love the interior layout, comfy seats. Some complain that the center console only opens to the driver’s side, but that doesn’t bother me—the center console is really wide and deep—it can easily fit a laptop, ipad, purse, etc.—and it locks! This SUV is on the smaller side, but that’s why I love it. I don’t feel like I’m driving a boat, but I still get more cargo space than a standard sedan. Yes, the ride is rougher than you might expect from a “luxury” vehicle, but it’s not like you’re really thrashing around inside-- it’s just not super smooth. I experience a little turbo lag, but nothing to complain about. If you haven't driven a turbo before, this might be an adjustment. There isn’t much road noise, which is a nice plus. The gas mileage could be better, but that’s the trade-off of an SUV like this. I get 16-17 city in Los Angeles. If gas mileage is a huge a issue for you, go with the CRV. I wouldn't say this car is as luxurious as some of the top of the line SUVs. There is obvious evidence of Acura cheaping out in some areas--so I would say the Acura RDX fits comfortably between "Luxury SUV" and "Affordable SUV." If you want a smaller SUV that is somewhat "luxurious" yet practical and fun to drive, this is by far the best option! I would recommend and I would buy again, love it!"
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By m18e224 (CA) on Thursday, December 13, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Better build quality than 2013, fast & luxurious"
Cons: "Premium gas and frequent oil change"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car new in mid-2011. Forced to trade in a 2006 TL since my transmission died! I was weary of another Acura, but they gave me such a great deal to compensate for my 06 TL dieing. Good to know Acura stands behind their product. For this car, I was initially disappointed that it did not have a stop/start ignition or a powerlift gate option, but am over that because at the end of the day,this car drives awesome and you get some cool features for what you pay! In my opinion, best luxury SUV in its class. (The 2013 has the stop/start and powerlift gate, but the build quality on the new one is cheap and makes this model sooo much better- new one has too much hollow plastic- who cares if its green, if you pay over 30K for a premium car/SUV, it should be good quality!) This SUV is fast, a sporty look and feel for an SUV, a great hauler (seats easily fold completely flat), leather quality is better than the 2013 and very reliable. Navigation system is just ok since it's not touch screen, but once you get use to the knob- which all cars are coming out with now (why? lol)- it's not that bad. I haven't had any major problems. Minor problems I had: replace window clip on driver side and a minor door latch mechanism that failed, but all covered under warranty. Gas/Maintainence: Premium only (worth it for the performance you get); Oil change every 3500 miles since I do alot of city driving in Los Angeles- due to turbo engine requiring synthetic oil only. - Should last longer, but this car truly depends on driving habits. I had an Audi before and it was the same thing, so this is not just Acura. Lexus RX350 or this car w/Tech Package: This car!!!Because for all the features you get, this car in a Lexus would be around $45K+ and Lexus charges $150-175 for an oil change (or more depending on which model you have and level of required service) which is almost double of what Acura charges. I have the Tech package and it's the only way to go since the non-tech packages of this car or any acura for that matter has a weird look and fee (i.e. Acuras that don't have navigation have cheap looking covers to hide the space where the tech stuff should be)"
14 people out of 14 found this review helpful