25. June 2014
One of the things that Acura has been battling against for the past few years is the criticism that the styling of some of its vehicles is just too bizarre. Much of the shots have been taken at the front ends of the cars and SUVs, with “beak-like” being the nicest characterization coming from pundits.
So it seems as though Acura designers have scaled things back, minimized their gestures.
And it is a case, at least so far as the RDX goes, of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Because from a design point of view, it seems to me that the vehicle has become far too innocuous. In fact, in the office parking lot, where there are fewer than 100 vehicles parked on any given day, I had a hard time picking out the RDX from the other compact crossovers that were there. As it was the newest vehicle in the lot, you’d think that it would be outstanding, but when it comes to exterior appearance, it blends in.
It should be noted that the people at Honda East Liberty, Ohio, plant where the RDX is produced are superbly skilled at shaping sheet metal, so it’s not like there isn’t the wherewithal to make something more expressive.
The RDX competes in the “entry premium SUV” market with the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GLK, and now the Lincoln MKC, so it’s not like it isn’t in a space where the level of challenge isn’t particularly high. That said, from a sales standpoint it is holding its own, so apparently there are a sufficient number of people in the market who aren’t as uninspired by the exterior as I am, which leads to another thought:
When you are driving a car, it is about (1) how it performs and (2) the comfort, features and amenities that are there with you in the vehicle.
That is, you aren’t looking at the vehicle, you are operating it.
And it is in the driving performance and the comparative high level of comfort and content that the RDX does well with.
The car is powered by a 273-hp 3.5-liter V6 that’s mated to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters on the steering wheel (something that puzzles me, because I have doubt that people who are in the market for a vehicle like this: According to Acura, for this, the second-generation RDX, the “target buyer has shifted to a slightly older (early 30s versus late 20s) driver that is married and soon approaching parenthood. In addition, the target buyer will likely be well into their career and have a higher household income ($125,000 versus $100,000) than the previous RDX target buyer. The RDX target buyer still values a sport minded driving character but also prioritizes increased comfort (with strong emphasis on premium interior appointments) and increased utility.” So doing quick shifts on the way to Target may be fun for the first few times, but those paddles are likely to atrophy over time due to lack of use.). Know that the RDX with the AWD (the car is front-wheel-drive biased, with 100% to the front in normal conditions, but then 25% to the rear when there is wheel slip detected or hard acceleration, and a 50/50 split should this really get slick) and the Tech Package (which means navigation with voice recognition, real-time traffic and weather, ELS Surround audio, xenon hid low-beam headlights, and more) results in a vehicle with a curb weight of 3,852 lb., which is a power-to-weight ratio of 14.1, which is good, though not head-snapping-during-acceleration, nor should it be.
The suspension has MacPherson struts in the front and a multilink arrangement in the rear. It features what they call “Amplitude Reactive Dampers,” which are essentially two-valve shock absorbers that help mitigate jarring on bumpy surfaces.
The leather seats are nicely bolstered and comfortable; yes, the driver has 10-way adjustability, which seems to be the sort of thing that one apparently needs in the category of vehicle.
The descriptor of the target buyer includes a desire for cargo utility. The tailgate opens 48.8-in. across, which means ready access. Behind the rear seats there is 26.1-cu. ft. of storage; flip the handles on either side of the cargo area and the 60/40 rear seats can be indexed downward so that a capacious 76.9-cu. ft. of storage is available.
Full marks go to the engineers on the project. The poor Acura designers, however, really need to change their game.
Engine: 3.5-liter SOHC V6
Horsepower: 273 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 251 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Materials: Aluminum block and heads
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with Sequential Sport Shift
Steering: Rack and pinion, electric power
Wheelbase: 105.7 in.
Length: 183.5 in.
Width: 73.7 in.
Height: 66.1 in.
Passenger volume: 103.5-cu.ft.
EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 19/27/22 mpg