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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
We even let go of the steering wheel during a couple of full-throttle launches—something we would never do in a Saab 9-3 or even Acura’s own front-wheel-drive TSX V-6—and found little tugging to the right
Car and Driver
Acceleration is quite snappy once the turbo kicks in, but there is quite a bit of lag before that happens.
While this may not offer the most refined driving experience, it's definitely the reason many car buyers fell in love with turbo engines.
handling is almost carlike; cornering, stopping and starting are smooth without much body roll
good steering feel from its hydraulic power assist
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.
The 2012 Acura RDX has the deft steering and braking and lighter, more agile feel that you want in a sporty crossover; but the powertrain doesn't always have its act together.