Ever been on a blind date where your friends tell you all about your date’s personality? Yes – many of us have been there. Hell, sometimes I was the date people tried to push on others based on charm and not my appearance. It kind of sucks to be in that position.
One of the things that many automotive journalists do when reviewing a vehicle is view other criticisms of that vehicle to find common, or uncommon ground. I have found the latter with the 2011 Acura RDX, for it is better than they say it is. Okay, it does share components with the unexciting Honda CR-V… it’s true. Remember this: These are HONDA components we’re talking about, so it’s not that much of a crime. You could do a lot worse than Honda.
I admit, it’s not the best looking small, crossover out there – at least it’s not as generic looking as so many others. Best of all, the 2011 Acura RDX has a stunning power-plant and drive-train. Now, THAT’S something worthwhile. The 240 horsepower, 2.3-liter, turbocharged makes a respectable 260 pound-feet of torque. There is a FWD version of the RDX that saves about two grand – but its buyer’s folly to get one. The lauded super-handling all-wheel-drive (SH-AWD) is the best way to appreciate a vehicle like this as it is supposed to be a crossover.
Even at high altitude, I was able to get consistent 0 to 60 mph times of 6.8 seconds. That falls right in line with other reviewer’s times. Turbo lag (the time it takes the turbo turbine to spool up and increase power) is not too bad. If you’re hard on the gas and let the RDX coast – THEN slam on the accelerator, the lag is noticeable. Otherwise, it’s a zippy machine that provides fun acceleration.
I averaged about 20 mpg for mixed driving. That’s about average for the class and not horrible considering the size of my lead-foot. Unfortunately, based on its turbocharged innards, the 2011 Acura RDX requires premium fuel.
Adding to my stamp of approval is the SH-AWD system. It actually helps keep the high bodied crossover balanced on all but the most challenging roads. At a certain point, when I become too enthusiastic, the traction control works with the entire vehicle and mellows me out before I know it.
I deliberately took the 2011 Acura RDX on to a dirt and gravel road. I tried my damndest to get the RDX to do a four wheel power/rally slide. It does not like loosing traction and freewheeling, abusive drivers will find little to rejoice about off the beaten path. On the other hand, when driven enthusiastically on tarmac, the RDX is well poised, balanced and responsive. Steering feel is damn good for a crossover and the brakes work very well. It’s a very sporting ride.
Interior space is on the small side for the class, but not terrible. My family of four (including the two rugrats) were very comfortable. A small gripe is how tight the cargo space is. Once again, it’s not too bad, but our full sized stroller was very difficult to fit with all of our other accessories.
The driving position is excellent and front seat comfort is outstanding. The Honda derived multimedia knob is not my favorite contraption, but it works better than most of the German competitor’s systems. There is just enough room for a rear-facing baby seat, provided the front passenger is not too tall. Load in height is ideal while the overall height was no challenge for our 1st grader to surmount.
Add to all of that a plethora of electronic goodies and a top-notch sound system and you have the makings of a great family car. Uh, an expensive family car that is. Prices start at about $32,000 and can easily crest $42,000. That’s a bit high for a vehicle that isn’t really a true competitor with the likes of Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW, Volvo and Lexus. It feels more competitive with the Mazda CX7, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Kia Sportage and Subaru Forester. I guess it’s between those two levels.
If you transplanted this type of power-train sophistication with – say – the Kia Sportage’s good looks – it would be a true winner.
For now, like an ugly prom date that has a great soul and a good sense of humor, the Acura RDX is judged too harshly on its looks and not enough on its feel. Still, it’s too bloody expensive and sucks on premium fuel only – so there are some internal issues too.
All in all, it’s a good natured vehicle for expensive, non (visually) judgmental tastes.
On the TFLcar.com recommendation scale of:
– Buy it
– Lease it
– Rent it or
I give the 2011 Acura RDX a TFLcar.com rating of
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com page HERE.