The new RDX is a smaller, five-passenger alternative to Acura's MDX. It is based on the Honda CR-V platform and features the same Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system offered in the larger MDX crossover. It rides on a fully independent front and rear suspension for better handling than a traditional, truck-based SUV.
The standard engine is a turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter VTEC four-cylinder developing 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque; it's the first application of a turbocharged engine in an Acura vehicle. It is teamed with a five-speed automatic transmission with F1-style Sequential SportShift Paddle Shifters. The engine gives the crossover an energetic feel--sometimes even nervous, since strong turbo impulses kick in even when you need just a little power. The sole gearbox is a paddle-shifted five-speed automatic--and together with the occasionally frenetic four, it helps deliver 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway.
The AWD setup works in concert with a typical Honda front MacPherson suspension and multilink rear. The ride isn't as harsh as the BMW X3, despite the big 18-inch tires that come standard. But it is pretty taut, and anyone used to the plush response of a big American-style ute might be turned off by the RDX's disdain for lots of ride motions. The RDX's strong brakes are anti-lock controlled and quick to bite. Add in steering control that's quick and light and this is one of the least SUV-like driving experiences in the class.
The exterior style is a little more angular than a traditional SUV, but pleasing. Inside, the Acura RDX pushes the envelope more with a high-tech look, lots of metallic trim, and in our test car, black leather. The front seats are the place to ride; the rears don't have a lot of extra knee room for adults. Along with standard CD changer and XM Satellite Radio hardware, the Acura RDX also has standard Bluetooth, a power driver seat, and an iPod input. DVD-Audio and real-time traffic information through XM are options.
Traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, and side and curtain airbags are standard. The 2008 Acura RDX gets five-star ratings for front and side crash tests, as well as a four-star rating for rollover risk.
The Bottom Line:
The 2008 Acura RDX gets its edge from turbo power and crisp handling, but it can feel a little nervous and cramped.