New & Used Acura RDX: In Depth
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The Acura RDX is a spin-off of the Honda CR-V. A five-seat crossover, the compact RDX is equipped with a distinctive powertrain to differentiate it from its sibling.
With the RDX, Acura has a rival for vehicles like the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, and Range Rover Evoque.
MORE: Read our 2015 Acura RDX reviewFor its first three years (2007-2009), the first-generation RDX only offered one powertrain. The 2.3-liter four had a single turbocharger, letting it blast out 240 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque--remarkable numbers for such a small engine. The resulting vehicle was peaky and whizzy and sounded like a turbo all the time, even if buyers might occasionally want a quieter engine. Paddle shifters gave the five-speed automatic in the RDX a sporty feel, and the taut ride made it among the most athletic, edgy performers in its class.
That first RDX also shared the "Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive" system that puts power to all four wheels in the larger Acura MDX. For the 2010 model year, Acura added a front-drive RDX to the order sheet, significantly boosting its fuel-economy numbers (at 19/24 mpg, versus 17/22 mpg)--though it was still as thirsty as vehicles like the massive Lincoln MKT.
Today's Acura RDX
Just when other makers are replacing large V-6 engines with smaller turbocharged fours, Acura has taken the RDX in the other direction. The Acura RDX introduced for the 2013 model year is powered by a 273-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The new powertrain maintains the prodigious power of the earlier model while making it easier to drive. It also delivers better fuel efficiency, with a combined EPA rating of 23 mpg for front-wheel drive models and 21 mpg for all-wheel drive versions--both improvements on the prior model.Also, the earlier model's sporting SH-AWD system has been replaced in 2013 models by a more ordinary front-biased all-wheel-drive system.
The new RDX's V-6 provides plenty of power without the lag the original's turbo four had. The longer wheelbase helps provide a smoother ride, opening up the RDX to a wider audience. The interior is still relatively small, especially for second-row occupants, although Acura has upped its game in regards to cabin materials and design, with good differentiation between the RDX and CR-V.
Inside the RDX, the cabin is tight if you aren't one of the front passengers. The back seat is notably small for adults, with leg and head room at a premium. The rear seat folds forward to create a 60-cubic-foot cargo area, and still there's about 27 cubic feet of space with the seat raised.
The RDX doesn't have the sense of luxury applied to other crossovers in the class but the dashboard and console are handsome, with ample electronic goodies. Those include satellite radio, along with Bluetooth and USB connectivity for music players. Its safety scores have made the RDX one of the best in its segment, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) has repeatedly named it a Top Safety Pick.
The newest RDX aims more toward families than sporting enthusiastic drivers. Leather seating, heated/power front seats, a power moonroof, and a 360-watt audio system are on the standard-features list, while the top Tech Package includes navigation with real-time traffic and rerouting; a power rear tailgate; and an Acura/ELS surround sound system. All that equipment will cost you, though; the top RDX all-wheel-drive model with the Tech Package now totals more than $40k.
The Acura RDX carried over from the 2013 model year into 2014 and 2015 with no significant changes.