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2012 Acura RDX: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2012

Pros: Peppy turbocharged four-cylinder engine; competitive sticker price

Cons: Low ground clearance; low miles-per-gallon rating; outdated technology

When it first appeared in 2006 as a 2007 model, the RDX filled the compact-SUV void in the Acura lineup. Sharing a platform with the Honda CR-V, the RDX brought some much needed sport-infused luxury to the marketplace.

Starting at $32,895, the RDX is priced competitively in its class. However, when optioned with Acura's SH-AWD all-wheel-drive system and a must-have technology package, the RDX jumps to $37,995.

Comfort and Utility

Every RDX is trimmed with leather seats. The seats in the RDX sit high in the cabin, delivering good outward visibility and an excellent view of the terrain ahead.

The RDX has multiple storage compartments, including a locking double-level center console large enough to fit a laptop. Within the center console is a movable tray, a coin holder and a place for credit cards.

The RDX has blue low-level ambient lighting in the footwell as well as in the ceiling to illuminate the front center console area. The three-passenger rear seat has 60/40 split-folding capability. When folded flat, total cargo volume is 60.6 cubic feet.

Technology

Acura's optional Technology Package for the RDX, which includes a navigation system and AcuraLink real-time traffic monitoring, makes it easy to navigate busy freeways. The navigation system also includes Traffic Rerouting, for automatic rerouting around congestion, and AcuraLink real-time weather tracking that makes use of weather radar image maps.

The standard audio system on the RDX has 360 watts and seven speakers. The optional system, bundled as part of the Technology Package, includes a 410-watt premium audio system with 10 speakers, a six-disc DVD/audio player and satellite radio and a GPS-linked, solar-sensing dual-zone climate control system.

Performance & Fuel Economy

Powered by a peppy 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 240 horsepower, the RDX is ahead of the turbo-charging curve. Since its introduction, many automakers including Ford, BMW and Volkswagen have introduced turbochargers into their new compact SUVs.

Although the turbocharger adds some much-needed power to a small four-cylinder engine, its accelerative properties are addictive. Once a driver plants his or her foot on the accelerator and engages the turbo, fuel economy drops dramatically. EPA rated at 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, the RDX isn't as fuel efficient as many of its competitors.

Safety

Like its cousin, the Acura ZDX, the RDX implements Acura's Safety through Innovation initiative, beginning with its construction. The RDX employs Acura's new Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure. In addition to this high-strength and innovative body structure, Acura has added a special frame member below the front bumper designed to engage the front bumper of a lower vehicle, allowing the bumper systems of both vehicles to disperse energy more efficiently in a crash.

Inside the RDX, customers will find a full complement of passive safety features including the latest generation of dual-stage, multiple-threshold airbags for the driver and front passenger, side airbags for the driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor for all outboard occupants.

Driving Impressions

The RDX drives a lot like its cousin the Honda CR-V, but it's peppier with a firmer suspension. The turbocharger on the RDX is addictive. The RDX is so smooth and quiet, it's hard to notice how quickly it's accelerating.

The RDX is good at most tasks: passing on the freeway, tooling around town or hauling kids and groceries. Its biggest downfall is its low ride height. Faced with more than five inches of snow accumulation, the RDX will high-center, lose traction and get stuck. Aside from winter adventures, the RDX is nearly foolproof.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW X3 - Starting at $37,100, the X3 is priced similarly to the all-wheel-drive version of the RDX. The BMW has the advantage of having been refreshed for 2012, whereas the RDX has remained unchanged since its inception.

Volvo XC60 - Starting at $33,300, a base front-wheel-drive model with an RDX-comparable 240 horsepower, the Volvo XC60 has several advantages over the Acura: it's newer, it handles better and we think it's far better-looking.

Lexus RX350 - With a base front-wheel-drive model starting at $37,625, the RX350 is significantly pricier than the RDX with little to show for it. However, the RX350 does have 35 more horsepower and one extra gear in its automatic transmission.

AutoTrader Recommendations

Wait for the 2013 model year, when the RDX will be better-looking, bigger and more powerful. Or look to pick up the old one at a significant discount.

What do you think of the 2012 RDX Model? Let us know in the comments below.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Acura RDX: New Car Review - Autotrader