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The 2012 Acura RDX is a sporty, 'personal sized' crossover utility vehicle that takes aim at younger professionals who aren't yet encumbered by family duties. That said, the RDX can make a pretty good, upscale vehicle for a growing family--one that's a little more exciting to drive than most.
While the RDX remains exciting to drive, it's no longer the market standout for design that it was when first introduced for the 2007 model year. At that time it was also the first turbocharged vehicle for Honda or Acura in the U.S. market.The RDX remains related to the outgoing (2011) version of the Honda CR-V, but it's a very different vehicle in many ways—styling included. The rakish design has a completely different personality on the outside, while inside it's crisp and focused, though a bit conservative. Purely from a style and design perspective, the instrument panel is beautiful and well sculpted, with a two-tiered look complemented with well-placed brightwork and accents, along with the deep, hooded gauge cluster.
The turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter VTEC four-cylinder makes 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It comes teamed with a five-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, and it can seem 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. The new front-wheel-drive version of the RDX doesn't feel substantially different from the all-wheel-drive model. Steering is quick and light, brakes are strong, and the RDX feels nimble, while ride quality can be on the harsh side.
In the front seats, most adults will be happy; but in back adult knees will likely be mashed up against the hard plastic backs of those front perches. The downward sloping roofline cuts into the cargo area a bit, but fold the back seats forward for larger items and you're golden. On the bright side, the Acura RDX has a plethora of handy storage places for things—and not only the small stuff. 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--a look that's sharp, but also a little tired. The only consistent disappointment within the cabin--likely to be noticed on longer trips--is that there can be quite a bit of road noise.
Depending on expectations, the 2012 Acura RDX could disappoint. Bluetooth connectivity, a seven-speaker sound system, and a USB/iPod port are on the standard-features list, while XM satellite radio, DVD-Audio capability, and real-time XM traffic info are optional. Overall, while the RDX is very well equipped with traditional comfort-and-convenience features, but on this tech-savvy, luxury-brand vehicle, safety-tech features like a blind-spot system, lane-departure, or active headlamps are lacking, and items like a heated steering wheel or heated rear seats--now offered on much more affordable vehicles--aren't to be found here.