Fast and sure-footed
Driving the RDX is fun--much more fun than we would expect from a pseudo-SUV. The fun comes from the car's responsiveness. It jumps forward with the throttle down, and Acura's Super Handling all-wheel-drive system makes it extremely maneuverable. The RDX's peppiness comes from its 240-horsepower, 2.3-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, a good amount of power for the size of this car. The engine is pretty advanced, with variable timing and valve lift, an intercooler, and a uniquely designed variable-flow turbocharger, which is supposed to reduce lag. In our driving, we didn't feel lag when accelerating from stop, but the car did show some turbo weirdness of slight power surges when we tried to hold a steady speed.
The engine's 260 pounds per foot of torque comes in at 4,500rpm, which helped the car keep strong acceleration up to freeway speeds when we held the throttle down. The 5-speed automatic works well, though a lot of the competition has gone to six gears. We found the Sport mode worked well for city and mountain driving, maintaining power for coming out of turns or cutting through traffic. We didn't get much use out of the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, which control the transmission's manual gear selection. The paddles came in handy while going down a long, steep hill, but we didn't find them that great for sport driving.
Acura's Super Handling all-wheel-drive system inspires confidence while cornering. The system gives the car neutral handling, making it go where we pointed it. The system distributes power between the front and back axles, and between the left and right rear wheels. An informational real-time diagram on the instrument cluster shows the power distribution. It's kind of fascinating, but dangerous to look at when the car is put into maneuvers that make the all-wheel-drive system work.
The EPA rates the RDX at 19mpg in the city and 23mpg on the highway. In our mixed freeway and city driving we observed 16.4mpg, lower than the EPA tests but not unexpected due to the turbo. The California Air Resources Board rates emissions for the RDX at ULEV II, a good score.
The RDX protects its occupants with front and side air bags for both front seats, and curtain air bags along both sides of the cabin. It also has side-impact door beams. The car gets five stars in front and side-impact crash tests, and four stars for roll-over. Road holding is helped by the Super Handling all-wheel-drive system, along with 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution. The RDX also includes a vehicle stability program.
Although it has a back-up camera, there are no distance or path indicators overlaid on the display. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard. Acura's warranty on the RDX is four years or 50,000 miles. In addition, Acura gives the powertrain a six year or 70,000-mile warranty.
Acura makes pricing on the RDX simple, selling it for a base price of $32,995, or, with the Technology package, $36,495. Our review car was the latter, with no other options. Notable tech options are Acura MusicLink ($189), an iPod adaptor, and an auto-dimming, rear-view mirror ($225).
We like the 2007 Acura RDX for its sporty, quick handling and its excellent stereo. All of its other tech toys are fun, and few other cars have live traffic integrated with navigation control. We can learn to live with its mixed-up interface. Its price is pretty reasonable considering all it has to offer. It would be a hard choice between the Mazda CX-7 and the Acura RDX, but the RDX has superior features that would make us lean toward it.