Acura’s small RDX crossover utility vehicle enters 2010 with a styling refresh, cabin upgrades and more available technology. But, the biggest news for RDX is that a new, front-wheel drive version now takes its place alongside the traditional all-wheel drive RDX.
All-wheel drive is a mainstay of most crossovers; a byproduct of their lineage as part station wagon, part SUV. By minimizing understeer, Acura’s AWD system boosts the RDX’s cornering capability to a level rarely found in vehicles of this type. But even so, the extra grip that AWD provides when road conditions deteriorate is the largest part of the appeal of SUVs and crossovers in Snow Belt states. Even though the increase in traction comes with added cost and a decrease in gas mileage, many drivers find it a tradeoff worth making.
A large portion of the U.S. population, however, doesn’t have to deal with snowy weather. For them, the new, front-wheel drive version offers the promise of RDX luxury in a lighter (about 200 pounds less) package, with a lighter (about $2,000) price tag to boot. Pricing for the 2010 RDX with FWD starts at $32,520. The AWD version of the RDX starts at $34,520.
Front- or all-wheel drive, the RDX powertrain remains the same: a turbocharged, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission. Rated at 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, the turbo four is unusually responsive. It’s capable of making the trip from 0-60 mph in about 6.5 seconds, and the power flow is smooth and lag-free, with a slight amount of torque steer evident on hard launches. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 17 mpg city, 22 highway on all-wheel drive models. Front drive versions fare slightly better, at 19/24 mpg.
Underpinning the drivetrain is a fully independent suspension, with MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar up front, and a multi-link setup in back. While front drive versions don’t have quite the road gripping bite of AWD equipped Acuras, the RDX feels stable, with good-for-the-breed handling, and a very comfortable road ride. Visibility is clear in all directions, with minimal blind spots.
Both exterior and interior come in for a mid-cycle freshening in 2010. The RDX cabin has a well-put together look and feel. Between the standard and optional equipment list, it packs a prodigious amount of technology on board.
Considered an entry-level, premium SUV, the list of RDX standard features includes comfortable, leather trimmed, heated, power front seats, and a power moonroof. The seven-speaker sound system has a six-disc changer, AM/FM tuner, XM radio receiver, a USB port, auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth connectivity. The dash display is LED backlit, and the locking, covered, center console is large enough to hold a laptop.
The driver’s seat is eight-way power adjustable, with lumbar support, and a tilt/telescoping steering column to customize your fit behind the wheel. A rearview camera screen is integrated into the inside mirror (it migrates to the center screen on nav-equipped models).
The 2010 RDX caters to an electronics savvy clientele, and a popular option group amongst RDX buyers is the $3,100 Technology Package. It adds a navigation system with 8-inch screen and voice recognition, real-time traffic and weather information, a multi-information screen with steering wheel controls, a rear camera and a fine sounding, 10-speaker ELS surround sound system with AM/FM/XM and multi-format DVD audio.
The RDX seats four comfortably, five in a pinch. While the split, rear seatbacks don’t fold completely flat, the RDX has plenty of storage area in back. Cargo capacity ranges from 27.8 cubic feet to 60.6 cubic feet. Liftover height is comfortably low and the top-hinged liftgate swings high and out of the way. The RDX has a modest towing capacity of 1,500 pounds.
The introduction of a front-wheel drive version of the RDX for 2010 figures to be a plus on many levels. Snow Belters cherish their all-wheel drive, but Sun Belters don’t need it, and now, they don’t have to pay for it. The lower price tag (and slightly better mileage) should bring more buyers to the table. Once they’re there, RDX figures to make many converts. — Dan Lyons, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009