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

More Acura RDX reviews on Autos.ca

Manufacturer’s web site
Acura Canada

By Chris Chase

The Acura RDX was notable, at least for Acura, for a number of reasons. It was the brand’s first model to use a turbocharged engine, and also the first Acura SUV to get the company’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, which could apportion power between the front and rear axles, and the left and right rear wheels.

That anomalous turbocharged engine was a 2.3-litre four-cylinder (code-named K23A1 by Honda, and not shared with any other Honda or Acura model) that made 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission was a five-speed automatic. Acura’s SH-AWD setup was conceived as a handling aid, to counteract the understeer common to many front-heavy, front-engine vehicles. It sounds gimmicky, but is actually quite effective, even if its effect can only be felt in aggressive driving. It’s worth noting that the RDX runs as a front-driver in most conditions, and routes up to 45 per cent of engine torque to the rear wheels in hard acceleration, or any time the front wheels spin.

2007 Acura RDX Tech
2007 Acura RDX Tech; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge

In 2007, standard kit included 18-inch wheels (an Acura first), xenon headlights, heated outside mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leather seats, ten-way power driver’s seat, power sunroof, six-CD stereo with auxiliary input, leather-trimmed steering wheel and trip computer. An optional Tech package added an upgraded stereo, hands-free telephone interface (Bluetooth), navigation, back-up camera and a GPS-linked automatic climate control system.

For 2008, Acura added standard satellite radio, driver’s seat memory and auto-dimming rearview mirror to all models, and Bluetooth was made standard in the base model.

In 2009, the RDX got a standard powered front passenger seat.

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

The 2010 model got refreshed styling, including Acura’s then-new, and controversial, shield grille. New standard features included a back-up camera, automatic headlights, USB stereo input, compass, footwell lighting and Bluetooth.

Changes in 2011 and 2012 were limited to the addition/deletion of paint colours. (This review applies to 2012 models, but resale values weren’t available at the time of publication.)

In early models, Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption estimates were 12.5 L/100 km (city) and 9.3 L/100 km (highway). In 2010, those figures improved to 11.7/8.7 L/100 km (city/highway) and stayed there through 2012.

A completely redesigned RDX made the rounds of the auto show circuit in early 2012, and is set to go on sale as a 2013 model.

The RDX’s reliability has been strong so far. Here are a few things to watch for in a used one.

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

A groaning noise originating deep in the guts of the dashboard is likely caused by the air temperature damper.

When you test drive an RDX, check to make sure the A/C works. This Acura uses the same trouble-prone air conditioning compressor as the Honda CR-V.

Consumer Reports notes common problems with the RDX’s optional navigation system, a few details of which can be read here.

Many posters in the Problem and Fixes forum at AcuraZine.com complain of batteries going dead.

The reassuring part is that the RDX’s basics – engine, transmission and Acura’s nifty SH-AWD system – appear to be robust, at least in short- to medium term ownership. It’s worth knowing that turbocharged engines require a little bit more attention, mostly in the form of more frequent oil changes – than normally-aspirated motors. Consumer Reports gives the RDX its “much better than average” used vehicle rating, and TrueDelta.com’s data shows a below-average rate of repair, albeit for what it calls a “marginal” sample of vehicles.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash testing yielded a “good” rating for the RDX in frontal offset and side impact tests. Testers noted the possibility for pelvis fractures in side impacts, and lower leg injuries in frontal offset crashes. From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the RDX earned five stars all around, in frontal and side impact tests.

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

According to Canadian Black Book, the RDX carries among the lowest used values of any vehicle in its class (comparing 2009 models), coming in less expensive than key competitors like the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Land Rover LR2/Freelander. Compare 2010 prices (to include the Mercedes-Benz GLK, which was introduced that year), and the song stays the same.

As compact luxury crossovers go, the RDX is a bit of an oddball, mostly because of its turbocharged engine. That motor gives the car a perky, peaky character that set it apart from its competition, and whether that was good or bad was a subjective thing. The fact that the 2013 model uses a more traditional six-cylinder engine might suggest that a mainstream powertrain is the way to mainstream success in this popular segment of the marketplace. Quirks aside, the RDX is a fun little vehicle to drive, with tight handling and a firm (and sometimes uncomfortable) ride.

With warranty coverage expiration looming for many used RDXs, it might be wise to weigh the worth of the troublesome in-dash navigation system. Aside from that, a once-over by a trustworthy mechanic should ferret out any flaws caused by abuse or poor maintenance on the part of a previous owner. The RDX looks like a solid used car buy, and a good deal next to much of its direct competition.


Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) February, 2012:

Price today
Price new
RDX (base)
RDX (base)
RDX (base)
RDX (base)
RDX (base)

Online resources
  • AcuraZine.com and VTEC.net have busy RDX communities. AcuraForum.net and AcuraWorld.com dedicate forum sections to the RDX, but neither is quite as busy as the sites at the top of the list.

  • Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006317; Units affected: 38

    2007: On certain vehicles, the dealer-installed accessory trailer hitch was not welded properly during manufacturing process. Hitch failure could allow the towed unit to separate from the towing vehicle. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if required, replace the hitch assembly.

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

    For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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