An all-new model, the Acura RDX is Acura’s entry-level SUV and features the company’s first turbocharged engine, the first application of its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) on an SUV, and the first standard 18-inch wheels.

Available as the RDX or RDX Tech Package, the new model uses a turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 240 hp and uses a drive-by-wire throttle system; its variable flow turbo produces a broad powerband with virtually no turbo lag. Its five-speed automatic transmission includes a manual shift mode with F1-style wheel-mounted paddles.

The SH-AWD system differs mechanically from that used on the RL sedan,
but is similar in principle: it distributes torque between the front and rear axles, and also between the left and right rear wheels. While it runs primarily in front-wheel drive on straight high-speed driving, it will transfer up to 45 per cent of torque to the rear on hard acceleration, and can send up to 100 per cent of rear-axle torque to either rear wheel for improved cornering.

The RDX includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights, heated mirrors with passenger side tilt-down, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leather seats, ten-way power driver’s seat, power sunroof, 60/40 folding rear seat, garage door opener, six-CD stereo with auxiliary jack, tire pressure monitoring system, leather-wrapped wheel and trip computer.

The Tech Package adds a premium ten-speaker sound system with six-disc DVD changer, wireless telephone interface, navigation system with bilingual voice recognition, rearview camera, and a GPS-linked, solar-sensing, dual-zone automatic climate control system.

The RDX is a very well done vehicle that Acura has aimed at vehicles like the BMW X3. Its interior is finished in quality materials, and includes a deep, lockable centre console box that will hold a laptop or a briefcase. Its turbocharged engine returns the power of a V6, with immediate throttle response, and it feels fully planted and controlled, even on unpaved or broken roads. The cargo area is huge, and the rear seats easily flip and fold to form a flat floor.

On the down side, while gizmo fans will love it, some will find the Acura too busy, with the Tech Package’s overwhelming multitude of small controls, joystick and 13-button steering wheel. The seats are comfortable and rear passengers have plenty of head- and legroom, but only after they squeeze through the narrow rear doors.

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