For about two decades now, Acura has been slowly growing and expanding its stable of upscale vehicles. Of course, some of these vehicles have been better than others. But on the whole, we've been pretty impressed with the combination of sophistication, performance and value that these cars and SUVs have offered. Now for 2007, Acura is adding another member to its family -- the RDX small luxury SUV.
The Acura RDX is representative of a relatively new market segment. Having filled out their lineups with midsize and large SUVs, luxury automakers are now turning their attention to making premium SUVs of a more modest size. The idea, should you follow Acura's marketing logic, is that younger buyers interested in an entry-level luxury-brand vehicle might want something more versatile or stylish than a regular coupe or sedan.
As part of the relatively new small luxury SUV segment, it competes against vehicles like the BMW X3 and Land Rover LR2. Mechanically, it features a car-based body structure, a fully independent suspension, an advanced all-wheel-drive system and, a first for an Acura product, a powerful turbocharged engine. Inside, there's the typical small SUV seating (any adult in the center backseat position is going to be grumpy), but the features and high-tech ambiance are all Acura.
The Acura RDX pays little homage to the traditional SUV. It's not meant for going off-road or towing heavy loads. Its second-row seat doesn't slide fore or aft, and there's just 60.6 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats lowered. But it is fun to drive -- surprisingly so -- and will certainly be a better choice than a sedan or coupe for, say, frequent trips with friends to the mountains for skiing or mountain biking.
Considering that most small-SUV owners rarely use their vehicles for towing or leaving the pavement, the new RDX's emphasis on performance should be an attraction. Plus, it's priced lower than much of its luxury-brand competition and comes standard with nearly every luxury feature one could desire. As long as you're OK with its mediocre utility, the RDX should be a smart choice.