2007 Acura RDX Review

2007 Acura RDX - Bridging the gap.


You once could get upscale sports sedans, but not premium compact crossover vehicles that offered lots of sportiness and utility.

No longer. Explosive growth is forecast for the new breed of compact upscale crossover vehicles with sports sedan performance and above-average utility. Sales are expected to grow fivefold in the next few years.

The newest example of such a vehicle is the RDX -- the first premium entry crossover from Honda's Acura division. The RDX combines sports sedan performance with the roominess of the new car-based crossover vehicles that have SUV attributes without truck-based SUV drawbacks. It's loosely based on Honda's redesigned compact CR-V SUV.

Acura says the RDX is aimed mainly at high-energy urbanites -- "young, upwardly mobile city-dwelling professionals who work and play hard." In other words, quite a dream audience for an automaker.

The RDX is the first Acura with a turbocharged engine. It also has the first adaptation of the Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system from Acura's top-line RL flagship sedan. That system provides above-average grip on wet or dry roads, compared with many conventional AWD systems.

The system distributes torque not only between the front axles, but also between the left and right rear wheels for better handling in curves and during quick lane changes. And the RDX has enough ground clearance to use the system to tackle deeply rutted roads.

The RDX was designed to compete primarily with BMW's similar-size X3 crossover. The X3 is smaller than BMW's redesigned 2007 X5 SUV and the RDX is smaller than Acura's redone 2007 MDX SUV.

Besides the X3, the RDX is up against a small but growing number of sporty premium crossovers, including the Infiniti FX35.

The new Acura's styling breaks no new ground, but it is sleek. The RDX is priced at $32,995 but costs $36,495 with its optional Technology Package.

That package contains features including a navigation system, rearview camera for help with parking, premium 10-speaker sound system and solar-sensing dual-zone automatic climate control system.

The standard RDX is loaded with comfort, convenience and safety features. They include air conditioning with automatic dual-zone climate controls, leather upholstery with heated front seats and cruise control.

There's also a premium seven-speaker sound system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer, split/folding rear seats, an eight-way power driver's seat and power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry. A dashboard screen displays audio and climate information.

Safety items include anti-lock brakes with brake assist for surer emergency stops, front- and side-curtain air bags and traction/anti-skid control.

A potent V-6 engine reportedly wouldn't fit in the RDX, so Acura did the next best thing and gave the RDX a turbocharged, intercooled 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower and an impressive 260 pound-feet of torque.

The sophisticated dual-overhead-camshaft, 16-valve engine propels the RDX from a standing start to 60 mph in 6.3 to 7.5 seconds, depending on how hard you stand on the throttle, and it allows quick merges and highway passes. Power delivery is linear, with virtually no turbocharger lag (a slight delay between the time you press the accelerator and the engine responds.)

The RDX is quick, despite weighing 3,924 pounds. Acura wanted V-6 performance and four-cylinder fuel economy with the turbocharged four-cylinder. But the RDX weight results in so-so fuel economy: an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway. Premium fuel is required.

The smooth engine is linked to a responsive five-speed automatic transmission with an easily used manual shift feature.

Steering is quick but rather heavy. Handling is sharp, enhanced by large 18-inch wheels. Although firm, the ride is supple and more comfortable than that of the BMW X3. The brakes provide powerful stopping power.

Four tall adults fit comfortably in the quiet, upscale, futuristic-looking interior, which has supportive front bucket seats and easily read backlit gauges. Controls are handy, although some are undersized. A large central knob and dashboard screen are used for audio and other functions, complicating tasks. The front console has a large, covered storage bin.

Five tall occupants could fit because there is especially good rear-seat room, but the center of the back seat is too hard for comfort. It's best to fold down the wide rear armrest, which contains dual cupholders.

The spacious cargo area has a low, wide opening and a unique rear hatch with a replaceable panel to reduce the cost of accident repair. Rear seatbacks fold flat to enlarge that area without the need to remove their headrests.

Few vehicle owners look under the hood, but the RDX has a heavy one held open by a prop rod instead of a more convenient hydraulic strut.

The RDX is a good blend of technology, performance and function. You need not be a high-energy urbanite to appreciate it. 


PRICE: $32,995

LIKES: Handsome new model. Fast. Sharp handling. Roomy. Standard all-wheel drive.

DISLIKES: Some overly complicated controls. Marginal fuel economy.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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