For about two decades now, Acura has been slowly growing and expanding its stable of upscale vehicles. Of course, some of these vehicles have been better than others. But on the whole, we’ve been pretty impressed with the combination of sophistication, performance and value that these cars and SUVs have offered. Now for 2007, Acura is adding another member to its family — the RDX small luxury SUV.The Acura RDX is representative of a relatively new market segment. Having filled out their lineups with midsize and large SUVs, luxury automakers are now turning their attention to making premium SUVs of a more modest size. The idea, should you follow Acura’s marketing logic, is that younger buyers interested in an entry-level luxury-brand car might want something more versatile or stylish than a regular coupe or sedan.As part of the relatively new small luxury SUV segment, it competes against vehicles like the BMW X3 and Land Rover LR2. Mechanically, it features a car-based body structure, a fully independent suspension, an advanced all-wheel-drive system and, a first for an Acura product, a powerful turbocharged engine. Inside, there’s the typical small SUV seating (any adult in the center backseat position is going to be grumpy), but the features and high-tech ambiance are all Acura.The Acura RDX pays little homage to the traditional SUV. It’s not meant for going off-road or towing heavy loads. Its second-row seat doesn’t slide fore or aft, and there’s just 60.6 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats lowered. But it is fun to drive — surprisingly so — and will certainly be a better choice than a sedan or coupe for, say, frequent trips with friends to the mountains for skiing or mountain biking.Considering that most small-SUV owners rarely use their vehicles for towing or leaving the pavement, the new RDX’s emphasis on performance should be an attraction. Plus, it’s priced lower than much of its luxury-brand competition and comes standard with nearly every luxury feature one could desire. As long as you’re OK with its mediocre utility, the RDX should be a smart choice.
Acura has put together some pretty sweet running gear here. Acceleration isn’t life-changing but this crossover SUV is certainly quick. The turbocharged engine seems to have been tuned to be torque-friendly down low but still somewhat “revvy” like other Acura engines. Power comes on strong after about 2000 rpm and stays there until the 6800 rpm redline. Thanks to the well-tuned suspension, SH-AWD, quick steering and 235/55-series tires, the Acura RDX can be driven hard on a canyon road with a minimum of drama and plenty of fun. On regular city streets, the drive quality is well within the limits for cozy driving and commuting.
The 2007 Acura RDX is a small SUV. Like all Acura products, a full complement of luxury features is standard. Highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, a moonroof, full power accessories, heated outside mirrors, heated front seats, a power driver seat, leather upholstery and dual-zone automatic climate control. A seven-speaker sound system with an MP3-compatible six-disc CD changer, satellite radio, steering wheel-mounted sound controls and an MP3 jack is also standard. The RDX’s Technology package adds a navigation system with real-time traffic, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and an Acura/ELS premium surround-sound sound system.
Thanks to its leather seating, metallic accents, blue illumination for the gauges and symmetrical dash design, the RDX’s interior looks considerably more upscale than the average small SUV. The center console has a storage bin large enough to hold a notebook computer, but otherwise interior storage is average. Folding down the 60/40-split rear seat reveals up to 60.6 cubic feet of cargo room.
Standard safety features for the 2007 Acura RDX include front seat-mounted side airbags, head-protecting side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, active front head restraints, antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control and a tire-pressure monitor.
Under the RDX hood is a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine. It’s capable of 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A 5-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting is standard. Power is sent to all four wheels through an all-wheel-drive system (SH-AWD) similar to the one used for the RL luxury sedan. The system is able to not only distribute torque between the front and rear axles but also between the left and right wheels. The result is a claimed improvement in steering and power response during cornering, as extra drive torque can be supplied to the outside rear tire. Towing capacity is listed at 1500 pounds.
Strong turbocharged engine, sharp handling abilities, almost all features come standard.
Thanks to its performance and value, the 2007 Acura RDX is an interesting choice for a luxury-themed small SUV. But those needing enhanced utility might want to shop the competition or other top non-luxury-brand small SUVs before making a final decision.