2010 Acura RDX Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

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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2010 Acura RDX

Styling

Athletic and attractive, the 2010 Acura RDX is unmistakably an Acura.

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.Reviewers from across the Web find the 2010 Acura RDX's styling inside and out to be among the best in the compact luxury crossover segment. With high praise coming from almost all reviewers, the mildly updated 2010 RDX carries Acura's reputation for modern, tech-influenced designs. MyRide.com calls the 2010 Acura RDX "more athletic than aggressive," while Kelley Blue Book notes the "unconventional tailgate that is integrated into the rear bumper" provides a "smoother look to the rear end." MyRide.com asserts that the "designers did an excellent job of staying true to Acura's styling DNA."

Inside the RDX, Edmunds finds the interior to be "considerably more upscale than the average small SUV." Shifting gears to the dashboard, Cars.com thinks the "gauges are well-lit in a calming blue and white, and are easy to read." ConsumerGuide pans the console design by complaining the "audio and climate settings are undersized readouts in a distant dashtop slit," while Car and Driver sums up the styling by noting that, inside and out, the RDX "doesn't match the sense of occasion presented by the Mercedes-Benz GLK or Audi Q5." 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.

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8

2010 Acura RDX

Performance

Athletic moves are part of the 2010 Acura RDX's personality, but fuel economy dulls its brilliance.

With 240 turbocharged horsepower, along with deft steering and braking, the 2010 Acura RDX is a dynamic favorite of TheCarConnection.com and other respected automotive sites.The energetic feel of its powertrain hasn't changed-the 2010 Acura RDX still comes across as a little spastic, thanks to turbo lag. The 240-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Acura RDX is "slightly weaker than the less-expensive Mazda CX-7 and its turbocharged 244-hp engine," according to Car and Driver. Autoblog, however, likes the power of the Acura; 2010's RDX is fine with a "5-speed automatic transmission [with] manual shifting capability [that] is the only one available," the reviewer says. This is probably because the "260 foot-pounds of torque at 4500 rpm rival the power produced by some six-cylinder engines," ForbesAutos points out. Autoblog adds, "the torquey four still provides reasonably brisk and responsive acceleration whether you roll into the throttle or stab the long pedal."

Autoblog predicts the transmission will be upgraded to a six-speed automatic in 2011, but still approves of the current five-speed in the RDX. Cars.com initially complains "power doesn't come immediately when you're driving with the automatic transmission in standard drive," but in sport mode, the automatic's "shifts through the gears are above-average."

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, but ride quality can be a little harsh. Autoblog calls the Super Handling AWD feature the "best part of the RDX" and explains that the system sends "twist to the outside wheel to keep understeer at bay." This innovative technology means "you'll never worry about taking a turn faster than you planned," according to Cars.com. The front-drive version hasn't ruined the driving experience: "Steering feel seems mostly unfazed by the concentration of power at the turning wheels," Car and Driver reports, and the RDX still "offers an excellent balance of feel and composure while keeping body roll in check."

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. Reviewers aren't won over by fuel economy; "17 miles per gallon in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway" disappoints ForbesAutos, since it's the same rating given to the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Car and Driver mentions that the 2010 Acura RDX's "fuel economy was 3 mpg worse than the ballsier BMW [X3]'s."

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2010 Acura RDX

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Acura RDX carries two passengers and their stuff with ease, but backseat passengers will have reason to complain.

With its tidy dimensions, the 2010 Acura RDX unsurprisingly offers little in the way of backseat room. 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 some tweaks. The seats do flip and fold to expand the 27.8 cubic feet of cargo room to 60.6 cubic feet.Reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com agree that the 2010 Acura RDX's quality exceeds the price tag that comes with it-but the RDX sacrifices some comfort at the expense of snappy performance. Cars.com lists the "manageable dimensions" as a huge plus; MyRide.com says "sturdy seats hold occupants nicely," and the driver's seat, with "an eight-way power unit with lumbar and heating, is superb." But reviewers aren't as impressed with the 2010 Acura RDX from the backseat. Kelley Blue Book stays optimistic by declaring the backseat "cozy without being cramped."

Cargo gets a fairer treatment inside the RDX. Cars.com notes that "compared to other SUVs ... the RDX's cargo area is right up there with the best." ConsumerGuide also mentions "large door pockets and clever door armrest bins offer plenty of small-item storage." Completing the effective storage design is "a huge center console that's big enough to swallow a laptop computer," according to Kelley Blue Book.

With its turbo engine whizzing away, the RDX can seem a little unrefined. ForbesAutos considers the drive "a bit noisy on the front-passenger side." ConsumerGuide also brings up the sound factor, claiming the "tires are noisy even on smooth asphalt."

TheCarConnection.com's editors also note 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.

Review continues below
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2010 Acura RDX

Safety

The Acura 2010 RDX is among the safest vehicles in its class.

Safety's no major concern in the 2010 Acura RDX. Traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, and side and curtain airbags and a rearview camera are standard. The RDX earns five-star ratings in the 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).

Cars.com applauds the safety ratings in this Acura; 2010's RDX earns "the top rating of Good in both frontal and side-impact crash tests" performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety-a feat that also garners the RDX IIHS's Top Safety Pick honor.

Edmunds agrees that the Acura 2010 RDX is "very crash-worthy," with a host of standard safety features such as "front-seat side airbags, head-protecting side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, active front head restraints, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, stability control and traction control." Kelley Blue Book notes that "child door locks" and an "engine immobilizer" are also standard.

Behind the wheel of the 2010 Acura RDX, reviewers feel right at home. Auto Spectator contends the front seats provide "high outward visibility" and a "confident field of view."
Forbes Autos calls attention to the design features of the Acura 2010 RDX that improve safety: "The hood is specially designed with collapsible hinges" and "breakaway windshield wiper pivots ... lessen pedestrian injury during a crash."

Consumer Guide mentions that there are "no factory options" related to safety, such as lane-departure warning systems or blind-spot detection systems-features becoming more common on high-end vehicles.

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2010 Acura RDX

Features

The 2010 Acura RDX has more high-end audio features than many homes-and a savvy list of standard luxury items, too.

Standard equipment is "generous," according to Edmunds, and includes "18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, a moonroof, full power accessories, heated front seats, a power driver seat with memory, Bluetooth connectivity, leather upholstery and dual-zone automatic climate control."For the 2010 model year, the RDX adds a new USB port that allows the connection of (and charging of) items such as an iPhone or iPod, along with an electronic compass, automatic headlights, and better cup holders. New options include DVD-Audio and real-time XM traffic info.

The Technology Package for 2010 includes a navigation system with voice recognition; a larger screen that embeds the image of the rearview camera (otherwise, it displays in the rearview mirror); real-time traffic and weather; and the ELS audio system with DVD-Audio, XM, 10 speakers, and 410 watts of power. A new "Note" function grabs the information for songs so that drivers can identify them later for purchase. A climate-control system attuned to changes in ambient temperature is also included.

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