2010 Acura RDX Tech
2010 Acura RDX Tech. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

Second opinion by Peter Bleakney

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2010 Acura RDX

The Acura RDX is an odd duck: not only is it the single Honda/Acura vehicle to use a turbocharged engine, it’s also the only luxury crossover with four-cylinder power. This is a class of vehicle where the number of cylinders seems to be perceived as a selling point: if it doesn’t have six or eight of them under the hood, then it must be somehow inadequate.

The 2.3-litre turbo motor, which is unique to the RDX, makes 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the same numbers it sported at the RDX’s introduction in 2007. In 2010, that put it near the back of the pack, specs-wise, against competition like the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK 350 and Infiniti EX, whose base models all have horsepower ratings ranging from 268 to nearly 300. More competitive is the RDX’s standard use of Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, a capable setup that can not only split power between the front and rear axles, but also between the left and right rear wheels, in order to enhance the car’s high-speed handling. Notable is the availability of a front-drive RDX in the U.S. for 2010, but we don’t get that model here.

2010 Acura RDX Tech
2010 Acura RDX Tech
2010 Acura RDX Tech
2010 Acura RDX Tech
2010 Acura RDX Tech. Click image to enlarge

What we do get is a mid-cycle refresh that brings new front and rear end styling, including the brand’s new trademark grille, and a few new standard features, including a backup camera (which used to be part of the optional Technology Package), automatic headlights, USB connector for the stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, compass and ambient footwell lighting. Pricing starts at $39,900; my tester had the only upgrade, the Technology Package of navigation and a premium stereo, which bumps the price tag to $42,900.

In spite of its horsepower disadvantage, the RDX moves smartly enough when asked to boogie, but drivers used to the smooth refinement of six-pot power might be put off by this car’s slightly buzzy four-cylinder. It’s not that there’s much engine noise (there isn’t), but more of an issue is the motor’s turbo lag, a phenomenon that affects some turbocharged engines in which there’s a delay between throttle application and boosted acceleration. When the turbo does spool up, an audible whooshing sound (created by the pressurized air being forced into the engine by the turbo) makes it into the cabin; this, in spite of a new, thicker air inlet pipe (according to Acura) designed to reduce that very sound.

Get past the turbo lag, and the engine rewards lead-foot drivers with brisk acceleration that belies the fact that this Acura is two cylinders short compared to its competition. According to Acura’s specs, the engine’s 260 lb-ft of torque peaks at 4,500 rpm, but when the turbo is spinning, there’s loads of it available from well under 3,000 rpm, so you’ll never hurt for squirt when you need to merge or pass in highway traffic. Natural Resources Canada’s official fuel consumption figures are 11.7/8.7 L/100 km; my well-broken-in tester (it had almost 9,000 km on the clock when I picked it up) averaged 12.0 in a warm spring week in which I spent almost half my driving time on Ottawa’s Highway 417. Acura claims that the RDX’s four-cylinder engine aims to provide six-cylinder power without the fuel consumption penalty, but my real-world result wasn’t much better, if at all, than I’d expect from a small, six-cylinder crossover. In fact, a Nissan Murano I drove last summer averaged 12.5 L/100 km in my hands.

The RDX comes with just one transmission, a five-speed automatic with a manual shift mode and paddle shifters.

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