I am not sure just exactly who coined the phrase “sport utility vehicle” but I feel they were a bit remiss in the target segment they were identifying. Most of those giant grocery-getters of the past decade-and-a-half were anything BUT sporty.
Fast forward to the 21st century and we have seen an entire new breed of SUVs, yet most have been redefined as crossover utility vehicles given the nature of configuring some form of cargo box on top of a car-based platform.
We recently spent some time behind the wheel of the latest Acura RDX, junior sibling to the MDX which was given a model-line makeover at the same time a couple of years back.
The new RDX offers plenty of Acura’s sporty attitude in a package better suited for many given today’s active lifestyles. A turbocharged powerplant under the hood blends excitement with the function afforded by the RDX’s cargo box and a host of technology keeps occupants safe and entertained.
The 2.3-liter i-VTEC inline four-cylinder engine is boosted to 240hp thanks to that turbo I mentioned and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift as standard. Acura even throws in paddle shifters on the steering wheel for more fun and excitement.
Keeping things on the road is the inclusion of Acura’s SH-AWD system designed to optimize maximum available traction at all four corners while improving handling balance and responsiveness. Torque can be proportioned not only front to rear but left to right as well, and a cool digital gauge on the instrument panel lets you know where power is going instantaneously.
A front-wheel-drive only model is new for 2010 and offers improved fuel economy and lower entry price point. Also helping keep things on the road is standard vehicle stability assist with traction control, standard across all models.
And should worst come to worst, a host of safety equipment is onboard to provide assistance including front and side airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover sensors and active from head restraints. RDX also includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist and tire pressure monitoring system.
Inside is a cool new environment that bathes occupants in Acura comfort and craftsmanship along with some of the latest technology automakers have to offer. If the standard dual-zone automatic climate control, multi-information display, LED backlit gauges and 360-watt premium audio sound system with XM Satellite radio are not enough to tempt your senses you can spring for the technology package that adds navigation with voice recognition and real time traffic information, HandsFreeLink wireless telephone interface and eight-channel/10-speaker premium surround sound audio upgrade.
The new Acura RDX is rated at 19mpg city and 24mpg highway for FWD models (17/22 for SH-AWD) and rides on standard 18-inch wheels and tires. Pricing begins at $32,520 and climbs to the mid-$37K range with the technology package and SH-AWD that our tester featured. Another noteworthy item is that the RDX is assembled in Ohio using some 65 percent American parts – plus it gets a perfect five-star crash test rating.