There's definitely a good and a bad to the performance of the 2012 Acura RDX. The good is that the turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter VTEC four-cylinder makes 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque--and that the engine feels like the powertrain of a sport coupe, capable of moving this utility wagon with gusto. The bad is that the spastic character (read: somewhat peaky, with turbo lag) character of the engine has never managed to fit in well with the somewhat slow-witted five-speed automatic transmission. The transmission will make a decision that, it often feels, isn't completely what the engine is ready for.
When the turbo does kick in, it comes on strong, making it difficult to modulate the power; on the other hand, that can be quite fun. It's an interesting engine personality for Honda, and while it can be somewhat coarse-sounding when revved it idles with an isolated, distant luxury-car purr. Also, 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).
No matter which model you choose--the front-wheel-drive version or the all-wheel drive model--the RDX has excellent handling for a taller wagon, with steering that's quick, light, and well-weighted. But we do 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.
In all, the RDX can feel very nimble, ride quality can be on the harsh side. Brakes are perfectly boosted, too, with a nice, firm feel.