2010 Acura RDX Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 23, 2009

The 2010 Acura RDX keeps its energetic personality intact-along with its slightly nervous feel-and gets a more fuel-frugal front-drive edition that's worth considering on price and gas mileage.

The editors at TheCarConnection.com drove the newly revamped 2010 Acura RDX to write this hands-on road test. Editors also drove competitive vehicles to provide the best shopping and comparison information possible for those interested in the RDX. For the accompanying full review, researchers studied reviews from other respected sources to provide you with the spectrum of opinions about the 2010 Acura RDX. TheCarConnection accepted travel and hotel expenses to New York City to be among the first to drive the 2010 Acura RDX.

Part crossover vehicle and part tall wagon, the 2010 Acura RDX was Honda’s first turbocharged vehicle when it was introduced for the 2007 model year. While it’s no off-road vehicle, the RDX does blend some all-weather capability with engaging handling and a versatile cargo and rear-seat area. This year, Acura adds a front-wheel-drive RDX to its lineup to bring the base price down somewhat. The 2010 RDX stickers for $32,520 with front-wheel drive, and at $34,520 for all-wheel-drive versions, making it the least-expensive compact luxury crossover vehicle, Acura claims.

While it’s similar to the Honda CR-V in duty, the 2010 Acura RDX develops quite a different personality from its relative. The styling is sportier, with a more sloping rear end that sacrifices some cargo room for a sleek look. This year, the RDX adopts a new Acura corporate grille that debuted on other vehicles to a mixed reception—but it works fairly well on this compact ute. It also adopts new 18-inch wheels, front and rear bumpers, and taillights. The driver-focused cockpit of the RDX gets new climate controls, ambient lighting, and more metallic trim to accent its high-tech look and to complement its leather seats.

In its fourth year, the 2010 Acura RDX carries on with a sole engine and transmission: a turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter VTEC four-cylinder developing 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, teamed with a five-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The energetic feel of the powertrain hasn’t changed—it still seems a little spastic, thanks to turbo lag, and when the turbo does kick in, it comes on strong, making it difficult to modulate the power. However, Acura has tweaked some exhaust settings to tone down the engine’s whizzy, dizzy feel. A new front-drive version doesn’t feel substantially different from the all-wheel-drive model available last year and carried over for 2010; both are a joy to drive, compared to the more family-oriented crossovers in other auto lineups. Strong brakes are a part of the package, as is light, quick steering that cues up the least SUV-like driving experience in the class, though ride quality can be a little harsh. Fuel economy is much improved for the front-drive model at 19/24 mpg, while the AWD version still lags at 17/22 mpg—about the same as the turbocharged, seven-seat, 4,800-pound Lincoln MKT.

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The RDX’s interior spaces are fitted with lots of finely grained and silver-painted plastic. It’s a look shared with lots of portable electronics, and it fits the brand’s image well enough, though at the price point some shoppers will want lusher trim. Seating is comfortable up front for adults, but the second-row bench doesn’t sport the head- or legroom that those same adults will tolerate. It’s a kid-sized space that’s marginally quieter this year thanks to those exhaust tweaks. The seats do flip and fold to expand the 27.8 cubic feet of cargo room to 60.6 cubic feet.

Safety’s no major concern in the 2010 Acura RDX. Traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, and a rearview camera are standard. The RDX earns five-star ratings in NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) front and side crash tests, as well as a four-star rating for rollover risk. It also has been named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

The mid-life RDX adds new features for the 2010 model year. Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-speaker sound system, and a new USB port that allows the connection of (and charging of) items such as an iPhone or iPod. Acura also picks up standard CD changer and XM hardware, with DVD-Audio and real-time XM traffic info as options. An electronic compass, automatic headlights, and better cup holders have been added.

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