With so many new small luxury crossovers on the road these days, it's easy to lose sight of the Acura RDX, now entering its fourth year of production. It would be a mistake for crossover shoppers to do so, however, because the 2010 RDX is one of the most entertaining compact luxury crossovers on the market. Dimensionally similar to the Honda CR-V, the RDX features available all-wheel drive, a long list of standard amenities, trendy interior styling and a unique feature in this segment -- a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This is one CUV that doesn't deserve to get lost in the shuffle.
That turbo-4 is an interesting story. Acura's engineers considered using the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine from the TSX sedan, but they decided (wisely, we'd say) that the RDX's extra mass called for more torque. Acura's stable of V6s provided additional candidates, but curb weight played a decisive role here, too -- a V6 would add pounds relative to a four, and that's the last thing the RDX needed. So the RDX ended up with a turbocharged 2.3-liter version of the TSX's four. With 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, this engine isn't the brawniest on the block, but its turbocharged nature could be an additional draw for people living at higher elevations as it helps compensate for horsepower loss.
For 2010, the RDX also features a host of changes designed to keep it fresh. For better or worse, the RDX has been treated to styling updates that include Acura's bionic beak of a corporate grille. A front-wheel-drive version is newly available, just in time to compete with front-drive rivals like the Cadillac SRX and Volvo XC60 3.2. There are new standard features, among them ambient interior lighting and a back-up camera. And as ever, the RDX offers competitive passenger and cargo space along with the availability of "Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive" (SH-AWD), a sport-biased system aimed at those who want an extra dose of driving entertainment.
As noted, the competition in this segment just keeps getting better. Notable rivals include the Audi Q5, Infiniti EX35, Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and the abovementioned XC60; indeed, the similarly conceived BMW X3 isn't a class leader anymore, a casualty of inflated pricing and an aging design. We wouldn't count the engaging 2010 Acura RDX out, though. It's more than just another face in this capable crowd.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Acura RDX is a small five-passenger luxury crossover SUV available in one well-equipped trim level. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, a sunroof, ambient interior lighting, full power accessories, heated front seats, a tilt-telescoping steering column, a power driver seat with memory, a power passenger seat, a back-up camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio connectivity, leather upholstery and dual-zone automatic climate control. A seven-speaker audio system with a six-disc CD/MP3 changer, satellite radio, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a USB connection is also standard.
The RDX's available Technology package adds a navigation system with real-time traffic, solar-sensing and GPS-linking features for the climate control and a 10-speaker Panasonic/ELS premium surround-sound audio system.
Powertrains and Performance
The RDX is available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Both RDX versions are powered by a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic with manual shift control is the only available transmission. Notably, the SH-AWD system distributes power not only between the front and rear axles, but also between the left and right wheels, ensuring optimal traction in all conditions.
In performance testing, we clocked an all-wheel-drive RDX at 6.8 seconds from zero to 60 mph, one of the quickest times among compact luxury crossovers. Fuel economy is below average, however, with EPA estimates of 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for front-wheel-drive models, and 17/22/19 for the SH-AWD.