It doesn’t seem that long ago when this 1963 Lincoln Continental was the definition of pure luxury. It was the cutting edge of style and technology for its day. But as the years pass, so do the automobiles. Now when we think of luxury vehicles, our sights are just as likely to fall on posh SUVs like Acura’s first compact utility, the 2007 RDX. But, does this new luxury crossover also break new ground?
Part urban warrior, part weekend speedster, the 2007 Acura RDX crossover utility vehicle brings much more to the table than old-school luxury ideals. Joining BMW’s X3, and Land Rover’s upcoming LR2, the RDX is on the ground floor of a growing citified all-weather niche, the compact luxury utility.
Turning heads with its muscular physique, the RDX exudes ultra confidence. A brawny MDX-like “snout”, accented by HID headlights, leads to aggressively raked body sides. 18-inch alloy wheels punctuate the powerful posture. Aimed at younger, first-time premium buyers, the 5-passenger RDX is based on Honda’s latest global light truck platform.
But what really changes the small luxury utility equation lies within; Honda’s first turbocharged production vehicle engine. A 2.3 liter double overhead cam, 16-valve in-line four cylinder with i-VTEC variable valve timing, with an innovative variable flow intercooled turbocharger. At low rpm’s it spins up quickly like a small capacity turbo for minimal lag. Above 2000 rpm’s a valve opens for top end reserve.
Output is impressive at 240 horsepower and 260 pound feet of torque. That’s more torque than any other Acura. Firing on all-cylinders, we watched the RDX pull from 0 to 60 in a utility quick 7.1 seconds. The quarter mile dusted the track in 15.6 seconds at 91 miles per hour. This CUV sprints hard from launch to finish, using a 5-speed automatic with Sequential Sportshift and F1-style paddle shifters. Shifts are tightly spaced and nearly seamless.
On our track we were impressed with the overall balance and stability, and with the minimal body roll. With the RDX clearly aimed at city dwellers, a compliant, all independent suspension was a must. The results are MacPherson struts up front and multi-links in the rear. They uphold the most progressive feature of the RDX, Acura’s first use of its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system on a utility. While a simpler system than used on the flagship RL sedan, the results are the same. SH-AWD raises cornering prowess by shifting torque to the outside rear wheel to help reduce understeer and push the RDX through corners.
About the only thing not up to sport sedan standards were brakes. Even with all-discs, ABS, and Brake Assist, average track stops of 136 feet were on the long side. Back on the streets, we were pleased at how well the RDX soaked up serious pot-holes without body shudder.
Beyond its long front doors, a stylish and roomy cabin awaits. Combining the themes of performance driving and superior technology, the leather-splashed cockpit features bright, deeply binnacled gauges, and a well-conceived dash where the focal point is a large Multi-Informational Display. The RDX comes loaded. Standards include eight-way power driver’s seat, seat heat, dual-zone solar sensing automatic climate control, and power moonroof.
The Technology Package brings home an upgraded 410-watt surround sound system, wireless phone interface, Acuralink with real time traffic, satellite navigation, and a rear-view camera. That’s enough to keep any gadget hound happy. Occupant safety comes in the name of six airbags, including side curtains with rollover sensor.
Rear seating will accommodate two adults comfortably and three in a pinch. While the 60/40 split folding seat adds a good level of versatility. Behind the traditional hatch is ample cargo space of 27.8 cubic feet seats up, and par-for-its class 60.6 cubic feet seats down.
Also right on par with other similar CUVs are government fuel economy ratings of 19 city/24 highway. Our tester’s mileage loop came in about as expected at 21 using premium grade gas.
Pricing for the very complete RDX starts at $33,610. Add the Technology Package and the sticker comes to $37,110. That is right up there with the BMW X3. But, you can buy sporty, well equipped CUV’s like the Mazda CX-7 for many thousands less.
Clearly, the classic formula for luxury is out the window, and premium utilities like the 2007 Acura RDX are in. It’s embodiment of ‘technology meets performance’ clearly brings something new to the equation. And we think yields a solution that will have street-savvy urbanites vying to get behind the wheel.
Engine: 2.3 Liter Double Overhead Cam, 16-valve In-line Four Cylinder
Torque: 260 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 7.1 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.6 Seconds @ 91 MPH
EPA: 19 MPG City/ 24 MPG Highway
Mixed Loop: 21 MPG