By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/1/2012
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.What's New for 2012
With an all-new model on the way, the 2012 Acura RDX remains unchanged from the 2011 model.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, 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!Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.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: 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.