I first saw the RDX at the Toronto International Auto Show last February and thought it was a little odd-looking, but that it would be popular amongst the SUV/CUV buying public. Acura seem to be reaching out from the traditional SUV look with sharp lines and angles. The RDX will no doubt be compared to another breakout design – the Mazda CX-7. This vehicle is certainly not boxy like the majority of SUV’s on the roads today, and it definitely looks more Sporty than Utility for sure.
From the front, the RDX looks like it’s designed to flatten pedestrians instead of throw them up and onto the hood. To me that’s a more logical option – why should I have to pay for damage on my car when some moron walks out in front of me without looking? His legs will get better eventually and he’ll remember to look the next time – won’t he?
Once you get past the unique styling and sharp lines of the RDX from the front, a trip around to the back is just as interesting. It’s very angular any way you look at it. I wouldn’t call it Nissan Murano ugly, but it certainly doesn’t get my heart palpitating.
Opening the door reveals a very tasteful and sporty interior with a black bumpy carbon fiber look to it on the upper part of the dash. Getting in and out is very easy, but the seat is just a bit higher than a regular car. For most people it shouldn’t be an issue. The leather heated seats are very easy to adjust and get comfortable in. The driver’s 8-way power and front passenger 4-way manual seats are very comfortable and offer plenty of support. Power-operated lumbar adjustment for the driver is provided, but no lumbar adjustment is offered for the front passenger.
The fat steering wheel of the RDX tilts, telescopes and also incorporates the audio and cruise control buttons on the spokes. Behind the wheel within finger reach are the paddle shifters (left hand to down-shift, right for up-shift). Directly in front of the driver is the speedometer that incorporates the information centre (outside temperature, mpg, odometer and trip meter as well as a tiny horizontal temperature gauge for the engine). The tachometer to the left has the turbo gauge within it. The fuel gauge and the transmission gear numbers are located to the right of the speedometer. It’s all very aesthetically pleasing, and the dials glow ice-blue in color.
In the center of the dashboard is large screen that upon first inspection of the RDX I thought was the SatNav screen. However, the test vehicle didn’t come with SatNav, and as it turns out, the screen is actually the information centre for the audio and climate controls. Because of its size, the letters and numbers on the control panel are likewise very legible. Below the screen are the controls for the audio system which is flanked by vents and climate control buttons. At first glance the climate control appears user-friendly -it wasn’t until I was barreling down the highway and needed to adjust the cabin temperature that I realized otherwise! I got the temperature adjusted, but where is the fan speed button? Oh, there – over by the passenger – why wouldn’t I think that was a logical place to put it?! This may be a dual-zone climate control system, but the passenger gets to control the fan speed and the air conditioning. Below the climate control mess is the 6-disc CD changer with an auxiliary input plug for MP3 players. Further down are the 2-stage bum warmer buttons, a small cubby hole and a power outlet for said MP3 player – the small cubby actually a perfect place and size for my mobile phone. Between the front seats sits the gear lever and a covered compartment that houses two very large beverage holders.
The arm rest/centre storage area between the front seats is huge and lockable (nice touch), and according to Acura “for storage of items of various sizes, up to about the size of a briefcase.” I don’t know about that, but it is HUGE! The maximum dimensions according to the manual are: 16.9” x 12.2” x 5.5”. If you don’t need to store a briefcase (let’s face it we’re not all diamond dealers area we?) then the two shelves can be folded down to create two separate storage areas – a little one and a huge one. Unfortunately, this huge storage bin comes with a similarly sized annoyance (at least for my wife and I) – we didn’t like the fact that the large lid opens toward the passenger and not toward the rear as is the case in most applications with a rear-mounted hinge. This made it extremely awkward for the front passenger to access the storage space, since the door/lid was so large it became a major obstruction. The glove box is very small – ridiculously small for an SUV/CUV. That being said however, there are the very useful door map pockets and small compartments with lids located on the door handle area that pick up the slack where the glove box leaves off.
With the 2.3L 4-cylinder turbo engine pumping out 240 horsepower, combined with 260 lb-ft of torque, the RDX is within 4 hp and 2 lb-ft of torque of the Mazda CX-7. This comparison test is going to be interesting! The Acura’s torque comes to life at 4,500 rpm whereas the CX-7 starts at a very low 2,500 rpm. The Acura uses a 5-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift® paddle-shifters versus a 6-speed Tiptronic transmission in the Mazda. These two vehicles are just so close I think I’ll have to have a head to head comparison of them sometime later in the year. Coming Soon to PaddockTalk: 2 Vehicles, 1 Week, 1 Winner. Watch this space in the months ahead!
Taking a quick trip around the parking lot on the way home, the first thing I noticed about the RDX was the suspension. It’s as tight as a sports car. The steering is equally tight – I started to grin – this wasn’t going to be just any boring road test – this was going to be a lot of fun! I goosed the gas pedal – oh yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about -F-U-N! Out on the road I timidly pushed the pedal waiting for the galloping horses, and gallop they did! Uh oh, this is bad, I’m getting a speeding ticket this week – I just know it!
The steering input is perfectly matched to the go pedal – instant response, no waiting. I thought this was a turbo? There’s instant reaction to my right foot though – not turbo lag! Unlike some of the more annoying paddle shifter gearboxes, the RDX’s can be used without having to shift into the sport mode to get the flappy paddles to work. You just have to flick them at any time to activate the semi-automatic gearbox – very handy, especially when going up or down hills. If you hold the throttle at a constant level, it resumes full automatic mode. I really like this set up because you don’t have to plan ahead, sometimes you just want it to shift NOW, and the RDX setup makes it possible. I found it worked perfectly when going down hill, but while going up a steep grade it always shifted into the higher gear by itself. Whether in full automatic or using the SportShift, the response from the transmission was immediate, making over taking maneuvers quick and effortless. The RDX is definitely built as a sports car with the looks and usefulness of a utility vehicle. The rack and pinion steering and suspension are perfectly matched in the RDX, making it an all-round perfect Crossover/SUV. I loved the very taut suspension that’s tuned for very aggressive driving. Some people however may have a problem with the bouncy feeling you get with such a short wheel base and tightly sprung suspension.
Wind and road noise were very good, especially during the particularly blustery week we had the RDX. There was noise coming from the side mirrors during freeway driving at speeds above 60 mph, but it wasn’t overly obtrusive in the otherwise quiet cabin. To be fair, we didn’t have the stereo on at the time, so even turning it up a little completely drown out the wind noise.
The rear doors are bit smaller than those on the front, and that combined with the seats being a little bit higher made rear-seat entry/exit a little cumbersome. In addition, the small openings at the bottom of the door make it a challenge for those with larger feet. Once inside though, rear passengers have an abundance of head and shoulder room. Leg and knee room was average with the driver’s seat forward for my short legs. The fold-down centre armrest in the rear includes two cup holders. There’s a small bump on the floor of the rear passenger compartment, but this would not interfere in any way with the comfort of a third passenger utilizing the middle seat. The 60/40 seatback folds perfectly flat after flipping the seat cushion forward and resting it against the front seats. The rear cargo area is a surprisingly large 27.8 cu/ft with the seats up and 60.6 cu/ft. with them folded flat. Just like the Mazda CX-7, the RDX doesn’t look anywhere near as spacious as it is in reality. To give you an example, when the seats are upright the cargo area is the same size as the much larger Toyota Highlander! Both the Acura and Mazda are within 2 cu/ft of each other with the RDX winning out. The rear cargo cover is a solid hardcover, but Acura have designed it so that if the entire cargo area needs to be used, it can stow flat on the floor of the cargo area without interfering with space – nice touch!
On the audio front, Acura didn’t hold back. The audio system is a 360-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA 6-disc in-dash CD changer with 7 speakers, an MP3 auxiliary input jack, and an anti-theft feature. The sound quality is outstanding, and is very easy to use. The volume button is obvious, sitting right in the middle of the deck. The controls on the steering wheel are clearly marked so there was no mistake as to whether you are adjusting the volume or changing the station.
The Acura RDX comes in two versions: with or without the SatNav system. As expected, standard equipment on the RDX is extensive and the highlights include: dual-zone, dual-mode automatic climate control system with Micron air filtration system, the aforementioned audio system and a power moonroof.
The only available option is the Technology Package $3,500 ($4,000 Cdn) which consists of: Acura Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition, off-road tracking, rearview camera and steering wheel-mounted controls, HandsFreeLink – Bluetooth® wireless telephone interface with steering wheel-mounted controls, 410-watt Acura/ELS Surround AM/FM/6-disc in-dash CD changer premium audio system with 10 speakers, DVD-Audio, MP3, WMA and Dolby Pro Logic II® & a Multi-Information Display.
For more information visit: http://www.acura.com or http://www.acura.ca
As is the case with most of today’s vehicles, the RDX is full of safety features that come standard, such as: Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, Drive-by-Wire Throttle System, Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) with Traction Control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution), BA (Brake Assist), active front seat head restraints etc, etc.
The warranty is: Bumper to bumper 4-years/50,000-miles [5-years/100,000 kms in Canada] with a 6-years/70,000 mile [5-years/100,000 kms in Canada] powertrain warranty. Road side assistance is 4-years/50,000-miles [4-years/unlimited kms in Canada].
Towing capacity is a maximum of 1,500 lbs.
I loved the RDX right from the moment I jumped into it and turned the key. It’s a blast to drive and the tight steering and suspension add to the fun of the fantastic engine. It has one of the best paddle-shifting gearboxes available at the moment and I think this is the first time I can actually say I loved it. Unfortunately,the weather didn’t cooperate, as I had hoped to experience plenty of snow to test out the full-time SH-AWD system – alas, pontoons would have been a better option for our week with the RDX. The cargo capacity is quite good with no intrusions to limit its usefulness. Being an Acura you expect the ride, fit and finish to be superb, and the RDX doesn’t disappoint. I like the fact that it comes fully loaded with all the key ingredients to make it an outstanding SUV/CUV.
Pricing for the 2007 Acura RDX:
Base and as tested: $32,995 [$41,000 Cdn]
Fuel Consumption: [Premium Fuel – 91 Octane]
The 4-cylinder turbo-charged RDX is listed at 19 mpg City [12.5L/100 km] and 23 mpg Highway [9.3 L/100 km]
I averaged 18 mpg [13.5 L/100km] in mostly highway driving
Excellent build quality
Fantastic engine/transmission/suspension combination
Poor-ish fuel economy.
Would I Spend My Money On It?:
No. The poor fuel economy was very surprising. The V-8 Mustang GT got better mpg!!
Back Seat Driver Test: 8.5 out of 10
It is reasonably easy to get in and out, but because the bottom edge of the door is a little on the narrow side, those with size 14 feet might get tangled up with the opening. Once inside it was very comfortable with plenty of headroom, and the seat back angle was perfect.
BMW X3, Mazda CX-7 and Volvo XC90 2.5
By The Numbers:
Powertrain: 2.3 Litre, turbo-charged 4-cylinder i-VTEC engine, 5-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift® paddle-shifters and Grade Logic Control; Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD)
Horsepower: 240 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 260 @ 4,500 rpm
0 – 60 mph: 7.5 seconds
10 – Quality
10 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
9 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
9 – Special Features (Climate Control/Moonroof/SatNav, etc)
9 – Ease of Entry/Exit
10 – Front Roominess
8 – Rear Roominess
10 – Driving Position/Controls
8 – Drool Factor
10 – Fit & Finish
10 – Engine
10 – Transmission
10 – Ride & Handling
9 – Bang for the $$
6 – Fuel Economy
139 Total / 150
Copyright © 2007 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text / Images: Iain Shankland
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