• Sep 5th 2007 at 8:28AM
  • 35

Click the RDX for a high res gallery from the track

What's pictured above looks like a stylish, if conventional, compact crossover utility vehicle. As is so often the case, however, appearances are deceiving. While the vehicle has four doors and a tailgate, this is indeed a sports car. Acura gave us an opportunity to thoroughly flog the RDX compact CUV at the Waterford Hills racetrack and it acquitted itself astoundingly well.

The RDX is equipped with Acura's Super Handling-All Wheel Drive system which, combined with a well tuned suspension, makes for a thoroughly tossable unit. The RDX has a 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the first of its type in a North American vehicle from Honda. The responsive powerplant turns out 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque with minimal turbo lag.

The torque peak comes at 4500 rpm and a 5-speed automatic transmission manual shifting capability is the only one available. With a base curb weight of 3,924 lbs, it's no lightweight, so it doesn't leap off the line. Once underway, however, the RDX won't embarrass itself when you're getting into the throttle, and pulls well coming off the corners.

The best part of the RDX, however, is the hardware between the transmission and wheels. The SH-AWD features an electronically controlled clutch pack on either side of the rear differential. In slippery conditions the clutches transfer torque to the wheels that have the most traction. When the inertial, steering and throttle settings indicate that directional changes are in order, torque is transferred to the wheels in a way that helps it follow the drivers intended path. If understeer is detected, more torque goes to the outside rear wheel to help bring the back end around.

The end result is that a nose-heavy vehicle that would normally plow through a turn becomes much more neutral. You can do a nice four-wheel drift through a high speed corner like the one at the end of the back straight, and a right-left-right series of turns at Waterford Hills showed the RDX to have resistance to changing direction. Having the AWD pitch in for this control instead of relying so much on brake intervention meant no loss of momentum during hard driving.

Body roll was kept to a minimum and the RDX never felt like it wanted to go wheels-up. In spite of the vehicles coming into the pits at the end of each run with smoke pouring off the stock brake pads, fade was kept to a minimum. If you need seating for four or five and some storage space, but you still love to drive hard, this is definitely one to check out.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Honda needs to put that motor in the TSX, dagnabbit!
      • 8 Years Ago
      i want to see someone swap this powerplant into a early or late 90's civic dx; but with a manual transmission.

      a 4 wheel drive civic! woot.

      i wonder how this engine compares to toyota's good old 3s-gte.

      id try swapping it into my 1990 toyota celica turbo 4wd, but im a late 80's early 90's toyota fan boy.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Counting down until the next Acura puff piece. 10, 9, 8, 7, ....
      • 8 Years Ago
      As one of the few that actually own the piece, I'll tell ya it's nice and entertaining. I travel over the Santa Monica Mountains twice a day via Mulholland, and it's a blast to surprise the poseur euro car drivers thru the twisties.
      But - no auto headlights, no memory seats (corrected for 2008), no autodim rearview (also now corrected) no rain sensing wipers - all remind you daily that this is a step down from "premium".
      The Nav kicks arse & makes everyone elses' look like a joke. The ELS 5.1 DVD-A surround sound is a gimmick, but sounds OK. The seats are pretty good and support well during high-G events.
      I beat this car like a rental on a daily basis and I've had NO problems in 15k mi.

      FWIW: The RAV-4 has more HP, but is truely fugly inisde and out and handles like a pig. I'd rather complain about gas milage than a lack of HP and poor handling any day.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In a CUV costume? More like a hideous outfit you can't get rid of! That think is U-G-L-Y!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Oh! For goodness sake!

      These things are not sports cars, not are they GT cars. Let's take one out on the track against...well, the aforementioned TSX or a Subaru Legacy GT or even an Acura RS.

      CUV's don't turn, or go or stop as well. Because they are higher up in the air they give you less of a sensation of traveling at speed, which is stupid because their limits at speed are lower and their ability to recover from crossing the limit is much lower. You can add all the electro gizmos you want, but you aren't going to beat Newton (Sir Isaac) PERIOD.

      If you want a car, get one. If you like the feeling that sitting up high gives you, that's fine, but don't drive like you are in a sports car. If you want the middle ground, get an Outback and put some good VR rated tires on it.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Yep! I have. And the X3. They're great, but they are what they are.

        Have you driven an A4/ 3xi/ Legacy GT/ Mazda Speed6 or even and Acura RL in comparison...or even a turbo or 6-cyl Outback?
        • 8 Years Ago

        Sorry. I meant RL.
        • 8 Years Ago
        I have.

        The A4 was nice, but I'd never own one because the TCO over 5 years is almost double what the car costs.

        AWD on the 3 series made it feel heavy and unresponsive vs the RWD 3 series flavors. Unless you live in Coloardo and drive in the snow all the time, totally unnecessary and not worth the extra weight.

        The Legacy GT felt nice and planted, but I'm not a fan of Subaru's AWD systems. There's a lack of smoothness there... they just feel akward.

        I've never driven a Mazdaspeed 6, and would probably never buy one.

        Given the options you gave, the RL is the one I'd have (obviously - but it costs almost 2X what the others do), but you have to remember - the RDX comes from the CRV, which comes from a Civic, so technically it is a "car" chasses. The center of gravity is actually pretty low compared to other small CUVs (Ford Escape comes to mind as being one of the worst), and the SH-AWD system will push the back of the car through a lot of situations where RWD or even normal AWD would just slide.

        The SH-AWD system is actually pretty advanced system - I'd rate it much higher than Subaru's primitive AWD system, and higher than Audi's Quattro system in the A4.
        • 8 Years Ago

        Agreed on the Audi...and they are, IMHO, too front heavy.

        The xi - I agree as well and I am not a fan that "Ownership Experience"

        The Subaru - arguably the most advanced AWD around and rock solid, but they offer 3 or 4 different systems so experience may vary. They all now have the advantage of biasing torque to the rear under normal conditions, which changes the feel significantly from what they were.

        SH-AWD - great system! How 'bout puttin' it in a TSX.

        Low CG compared to others in the class is still too high a CG.

        Now, I am biased. I am on my 5th Subaru after having had Audis, BMWs (including an ix with Ferguson 4-wd) and others and the experience for me has been fantastic. I have a friend with an RL and it is a gem of a car. Needs better tires, but that AWD system is great!
        • 8 Years Ago
        I take it you've never driven an RDX before...
        • 8 Years Ago
        what is an Acura RS?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I guess since this was a track day, there was no need to log the RDX's fuel sipping? I'd dearly love to buy an RDX because I very much appreciate the design, concept and Acura's execution of the luxury compact sport-ute. Even though there's a lot less "ute" to it than its peers, except for maybe the forthcoming EX35 with an even more abbreviated cargo area.

      However, the bit that almost drives the nail into the coffin for me is its abysmal performance at the pump. Not only does it require the ingestion of premium fuel, but this should-be-fuel-thrifty-four-banger rates an abominable 17/22 and tends to get much, much less in real world driving. I've heard horror stories of half those figures sans lead foot and it definitely gives a potential buyer pause for thought.
        • 8 Years Ago
        I love how people bitch about the cost of premium gas vs regular gas. It's like $3 more per fill-up for a 15 gallon tank. Get a Speedy Rewards Card or fill up with Shell V-Power on Tuesdays and the price drops to $2 more per tank. You'll make up for that with the added mileage over a more sloppily built V6 that makes the same (or less) horsepower.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Right on, Tony.

        My wife and I have our first child on the way, are are looking around for something a bit more suitable than her Mustang. She loved the RDX...until she heard about it's fuel economy. Or lack thereof.

        Now, we're trying to decide between the BMW X3 and Honda CR-V.

        Meanwhile, the wife gripes at the lack of fuel-sipping compact luxury SUVs, and Acura loses a potential customer.
        • 8 Years Ago
        If you're going for fuel economy, a turbocharged vehicle isn't really an intelligent choice. Since when would a turbocharged engine use less fuel than a similarly sized NA one? More (forced) air = more fuel.

        Want something that gets good fuel economy? Don't get an SUV - get a sedan or a wagon... a normally aspirated one.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Yes, I know premium is only about 20 cents more a gallon, but when a COMPACT class four-cylinder sport utility gets an average of 11-12 MPG, that's a whole lot of money siphoning out of your wallet. My primary complaint was the RDX's gas guzzling abilities.

        By the way -- my 269HP, regular unleaded sipping, V6-powered RAV4 gets an average of 20-25MPG in real-world driving (EPA rated 19/26).
        • 8 Years Ago
        Mazda CX-7, turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder, 244HP, EPA rated 18/24 in AWD trim, gets a little over 20MPG in real world driving.

        Saab 9-5, turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder, 260HP, EPA rated 19/29 with an autoshifter.

        Saab 9-3, turbocharged 2.0L four, 210HP, EPA rated 21/30 with an auto.

        Subaru Forester, turbocharged 2.5L four, 224HP, EPA 18/23 with auto.

        Subaru Impreza WRX STI, turbocharged 2.5L four, 293HP, EPA 19/25.

        I haven't heard any of the same mileage concerns with the above vehicles as with the RDX.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Everything about this post smells of desperation. And since when was Autoblog on the Acura payroll?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Isn't a high ride height and center of gravity the OPPOSITE of what a sports car should have? If honda really wanted this to be sporty, shouldn't it have a car-like ground clearance? Or would it interfere with the soccer moms who go off-roading with it?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Acura's make very well balanced cars and have enough tech to make your driving experience more involved. Plus my car has a sexy voice and talks to me.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Acura is not in trouble. You WISH they were in trouble. Now GM, they're in trouble!

      Gotta love the RDX. 240 HP out of a 4 banger with sports car handling in a sexy CUV package with tech galore!

        • 8 Years Ago
        So stupid he originally went with "Ivey" League Educated...great stuff, nimrod!
        • 8 Years Ago
        All that education and still time to sit on autoblog all day...how droll.
        • 8 Years Ago
        haha, looks like someone got tired of all the jabs at his name and dropped the "e" in Ivey. You're such a tool. Proper spelling still doesn't make us believe you're an intellectual fool.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Great SUV, great engine, great features, terrible gas mileage.
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