2011 Acura RDX Review

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
See the nominees and vote »
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 27, 2011

The 2011 Acura RDX is delightfully frisky and nimble, but it doesn't feel as lavish as other luxury crossovers.

When it was new in the 2007 model year, the Acura RDX was Honda's first turbocharged vehicle, and one of the first compact luxury crossovers to have a performance emphasis. While it hasn't changed much since, and it doesn't have quite the feature set of some rival models, it still delivers in driver satisfaction with a nimble, responsive feel behind the wheel.

 

The Acura RDX carries into 2011 with its styling and details essentially unchanged--and that's not a bad thing at all. The RDX has been on sale un the U.S. for four years and has received only a few updates along the way, last year, but it still manages to look fresh.

Review continues below

 

The RDX remains related to the Honda CR-V, but it's a very different vehicle in many ways--styling included. The design is sportier, with a more sloping rear end that sacrifices some cargo room for a sleek look. The interior is focused and crisp, though a tad conservative. From a designer eye, the dash is beautifully sculpted, with a two-tiered look complemented with well-placed brightwork and accents, along with the deep, hooded gauge cluster.

 

The 2011 Acura RDX gets a powertrain that strays from the usual. In this case it's a whizzy 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder developing 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, teamed to a 5-speed automatic and paddle shift controls. The energetic feel of the powertrain hasn't changed--it's still spastic with turbo lag, and a handful when full turbo power engages. 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 AWD 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 the ride can be a little harsh.

 

In front, most will be happy with the seating and driving position. There's good headroom all around, but in back the cushions are rather hard and flat and only wide enough for two adults. Also, the backs of the front seats are finished in hard plastic, which adult knees will likely be up against. The downward sloping roofline cuts into the cargo area a bit, but fold the back seats forward for larger items and you're golden.

 

The Acura RDX has a plethora of handy storage places for things--and not only the small stuff. There's a false bottom to the center console [shhh...] with space enough for a purse, while the main compartment is lockable and large enough for a laptop. At the top there's a shallower tray that can be removed. In addition, there are smaller cubbies in the middle and side of the dash, and the doors have lidded compartments for other small items. Fit and finish in the RDX is excellent, and 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.

 

With a vehicle like the 2011 RDX, which has a suspension tuned for crisp handling, ride quality usually suffers somewhat. That's not so much the case here with the RDX. It feels quite firmly damped but moderately sprung, so while it turns in with relative crispness, it's designed to keep it safe yet satisfying for any sane driver's needs on a curvy road while also absorbing major heaves quite well. The downside is that the RDX's ride is busy; it's not jarring, but it gets thrown around by pitchy surfaces and there can be a fair amount of road noise

 

Standard features on the RDX 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, and ambient footwell lighting, a compass, a pull handle for the hatch, and automatic headlamps are included. But while the RDX is lavishly equipped to some, others might be disappointed in the lack of safety-tech features, such as a blind-spot system, lane-departure, or active headlamps. Rear heated seats and a heated steering wheel also aren't on the list.

7

2011 Acura RDX

Styling

The 2011 Acura RDX looks athletic and attractive, albeit a bit conservative.

The Acura RDX carries into 2011 with its styling and details essentially unchanged--and that's not a bad thing at all. The RDX has been on sale in the U.S. for four years and has received only a few updates along the way, last year, but it still manages to look fresh.

 

The RDX still is a cousin of Honda's CR-V, but styling is just one way in which it's considerably different. It's more sporty, with a more sloping rear end that sacrifices cargo space for the sleek bod. Acura touched up the RDX last year with a new grille, bumpers, new headlights and taillights, new exhaust tips, and metallic trim, as well as 18-inch wheels.

 

The interior is crisp and focused, though a bit conservative. The driver-focused cockpit of the RDX gets new climate controls, ambient lighting, and more metallic trim to accent its high-tech look and complement its leather seats. The instrument panel is sculpted nicely, and has a tiered appearance that's trimmed off with metallic trim and accents that frame a hooded gauge cluster.

8

2011 Acura RDX

Performance

With 240 turbocharged horsepower, along with deft steering and braking and a lighter, more agile feel, the RDX is a great performer.

The 2011 Acura RDX is considerably more fun to drive than most compact crossovers. The engine--a 2.3-liter i-VTEC turbocharged four-cylinder, making 240 horsepower--initially gives no hints (except if you spot the boost gauge in the dash) that it's the only turbocharged one in Honda/Acura's U.S. lineup, and the first for the automaker to ever bring to this market. It settles into an isolated, distant purr that's worthy of a luxury vehicle. Only when you take off the road at a moderate pace are you alerted to the fact that power delivery isn't quite as measured and predictable as you might have guessed. Since torque off the line isn't stupendous, you'll find yourself stepping on the gas a little too hard from stoplights or out of corners, only having to back off when the engine really comes alive and the boost arrives. The transmission--or rather, the way the transmission coordinates with the engine--can be a little balky and adds up to drivability that isn't up to the standards of V-6 crossovers, even if it's as quick. Lumpy first-to-second shifts, and an unrefined torque-converter shudder at highway speeds. From Drive, you can manually select a gear with the paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but it will hold that gear for just a few seconds unless you have the selector in 'S' (Sport).

 

Steering feel in the RDX is way better than you'd probably expect in a crossover vehicle--even one with a performance edge. The RDX's steering wheel feels very naturally weighted, actually gives some feedback of the road surfaces, and returns to center without ever feeling artificial. On-center feel is quite light, without that artificial heft you find in some newer vehicles, yet it doesn't require frequent adjustments. Brakes are perfectly boosted, too, with a nice, firm feel.

 

The RDX is now offered in front-wheel guise, but we strongly recommend the all-wheel-drive models, which don't cost much more. The RDX's SH-AWD system expertly sends more power to the wheels that can use it the most. It's very helpful on wet roads. It's all-weather confidence inspiring, and more fun than you'd expect in a crossover.

8

2011 Acura RDX

Comfort & Quality

Comfort in the 2011 Acura RDX doesn't suffer much for its sporty tuning, but adults won't like the back seat for long trips.

The 2011 RDX is a sportier alternative, yet it doesn't sacrifice much utility or comfort--especially compared to curvier sporty crossovers like the Infiniti EX. In front, most will be happy with the seating and driving position. There's good headroom all around, but in back the cushions are rather hard and flat and only wide enough for two adults. Also, the backs of the front seats are finished in hard plastic, which adult knees will likely be up against. The downward sloping roofline cuts into the cargo area a bit, but fold the back seats forward for larger items and you're golden.

 

The Acura RDX has a plethora of handy storage places for things--and not only the small stuff. There's a false bottom to the center console [shhh...] with space enough for a purse, while the main compartment is lockable and large enough for a laptop. At the top there's a shallower tray that can be removed. In addition, there are smaller cubbies in the middle and side of the dash, and the doors have lidded compartments for other small items.

 

Fit and finish in the RDX is excellent, and 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. Seats are upholstered in rather soft ventilated leather, controls nearly all have a pleasant tactility, and there's no looseness in the door panels or center console. Furthermore, visibility isn't the issue it is with many other crossovers, thanks to the rather low beltline that carries throughout the vehicle.

 

With a vehicle like the 2011 RDX, which has a suspension tuned for crisp handling, ride quality usually suffers somewhat. That not so much the case here with the RDX. It feels quite firmly damped but moderately sprung, so while it turns in with relative crispness, it's designed to keep it safe yet satisfying for any sane driver's needs on a curvy road while also absorbing major heaves quite well. The downside is that the RDX's ride is busy; it's not jarring, but it gets thrown around by pitchy surfaces and there can be a fair amount of road noise.

8

2011 Acura RDX

Safety

Those who put the priority on safety should keep the 2011 Acura RDX near the top of the list.

With a good list of safety equipment and impressive (though not perfect) safety ratings, the 2011 Acura RDX is among the safer ranks in its class. The RDX earns top 'good' ratings in frontal and side impact from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), though since the agency hasn't yet tested it for roof strength it hasn't yet garnered the Top Safety Accolade this year. The 2011 Acura RDX still hasn't been tested in the tougher, revised 2011 New Car Assessment Program, the federal government's crash-test program run by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Under the former NHTSA tests, the RDX earned top five-star ratings, while in the new, revised test, the CR-V, which is still structurally related to the RDX, has earned four stars across the board.

 

The list of standard safety features lend further peace of mind. Traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, active head restraints, and side and curtain airbags and a rearview camera are standard.

 

Although a few of the top-tech options, such as lane-departure warning systems or blind-spot detection systems-features that are becoming more common on high-end vehicles, aren't offered in the RDX.

8

2011 Acura RDX

Features

While the 2011 Acura RDX offers an impressive list of audio and connectivity related features, though active safety features are still missing from the lineup.

The 2011 Acura RDX has more high-end audio features than many homes-and a savvy list of standard luxury items, too. Standard features on the RDX 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, and ambient footwell lighting, a compass, a pull handle for the hatch, and automatic headlamps are included.

 

But we've found, as we have on other Acuras, the control layout--especially for audio--to be cluttered and needlessly complex. The climate and sound system display right up against the base of the windshield, but thought that the display didn't have enough characters to handle satellite radio, let alone MP3s. The nav system's display screen was prone to reflections but we liked its menu system as well as integrated real-time traffic and weather (part of the Tech Package).

 

While the RDX is lavishly equipped to some, others might be disappointed in the lack of safety-tech features, such as a blind-spot system, lane-departure, or active headlamps. Rear heated seats and a heated steering wheel also aren't on the list.

6

2011 Acura RDX

Fuel Economy

The Acura RDX isn't very impressive, from a green standpoint.

Fuel economy ratings for the 2011 Acura RDX are unimpressive, and its ratings with all-wheel-drive, of 17 mpg city, 22 highway, are on par with luxury crossovers one size larger.

Last year the RDX was first offered in a front-wheel drive model—which costs $2,000 less and gets 2 mpg better both in the city and on the highway, for EPA estimates of 19/24 mpg.

Our editors averaged 20 mpg in a mix of driving, in an all-wheel-drive model, so real-world mileage might be somewhat better than the numbers suggest. But pricier premium fuel is strongly recommended.

Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
USED PRICE RANGE
$12,327 - $20,995
Browse Used Listings
in your area
7.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy 6.0
Compare the 2011 Acura RDX against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Acura RDX?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used