Combining sport utility with sports sedan handling and performance, RDX features an innovative 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine, Acura’s exclusive Super Handling All-Wheel Drive(TM) (SH-AWD(TM)), and is designed to redefine the entry premium SUV segment. This near-production prototype provides an advance preview of the all-new RDX that will go on sale this summer.
By Kevin “Crash” Corrigan
Have you ever noticed that the Acura logo looks somewhat similar to that of Star Trek? Of course, this could be just pure coincidence, but is it?
Just take a look at their new 2007 Acura RDX entry-luxury SUV/Crossover vehicle. I think that there might be one or two sci-fi enthusiasts behind this design.
The exterior styling of the RDX could be described as somewhat similar to the MDX model, yet it appears to have a much more futuristic look about it. The distinctive and slightly pointed front end idea has now been carried to the rear which makes it instantly recognizable from any angle. The vehicle also appears altogether more streamline and car-like than the MDX and Acura say that they envision the RDX as more of an SUV version of their TSX sedan.
There appears to be a certain “X factor” to their nameplates. In fact, out of the six models that the company has on offer, four of them end with the letter X.
Then there is the vehicle’s power plant to consider. Acura has boldly taking the RDX where no other North American Acura has gone before, into the world of the Turbocharged vehicle. Underneath the hood lies an all-new 2.3 L double-overhead-cam turbocharged inline four with i-VTEC. Devel oped in conjunction with Mitsubishi , this variable-flow turbo combines the best qualities of both small and large turbo units. The end result is 240 hp at 6000 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm.
For Honda die-hards, this might appear as if the company has gone out of orbit. According to the folks at Acura, they ventured this route because of the new technologies now available to them which made the turbo-four a better design choice than the normally aspirated V6. This was no small step for the company to take, but it could certainly be deemed a giant leap in combined performance and fuel economy.
Now this small turbo-four might not be able to reach warp-speed, or indeed transport you from place to place in a blink of an eye like Captain Kirk’s ride. It is however, more than capable of setting your pulses racing, especially when compared to most SUV-style vehicles and it can even give one or two sports sedans a run for their money.
On the road, power is sent through a five speed auto transmission with modern paddle shift controls behind the steering wheel, to an all-wheel-drive system similar to that found on the companies RL model. The RDX comes with a fully independent suspension system, MacPherson struts are fitted to the front and the rear utilizes a multi-link design. I would call the ride firm but friendly and I found the handling characteristics of the vehicle to be exceptionally good. The package is finished off with some nice looking 18 inch rims and tires which not only add to the looks but further enhance its road handling capabilities.
We now get to the interior and this is where the new RDX pilots take a big leap into the future. The first thing that you notice is the distinctive steering wheel, which has an ultra-modern look to it and seems to carry the familiar logo as its spokes. The dashboard layout is equally impressive and appears extremely well put together. Its three pod instrument design makes the reading of the gauges simple and the controls fall readily to hand.
The vehicle boasts a whole host of state of the art technical features like Satellite navigation and blue-tooth connectivity. The 6.5 inch LCD display screen (8 inch if upgraded) dominates the center dash and is controlled by a large knob which first appeared on their RL model. This controls all of the screen menus and I found it extremely easy to use, especially when trying to input street names into the navigation system.
There is comfortable leather seating for five and, although the cargo area is not as large as some of its competitors, Acura have made good use of additional storage sites. The centre console is truly worthy of note as it appears to be of normal size, except that it can hold a notebook computer, possibly even two. It has been well thought out as there are flaps inside which fold up so the box can be made as deep as you wish. That’s clever!
Acura states that this vehicle is aimed at the young professionals and I’d say that they have their sights bang on. It boasts stylish good looks, coupled with above average performance and more than enough room for most people’s requirements. It has all the modern technical features that buyers are seeking and wraps the whole package up nicely in an up-market wrapper.
I found the RDX to be a very forward thinking and futuristic design. Although I love the retro-look vehicles that we are seeing nowadays, this blast into the future approach is also cool. If this is what the future holds for car manufacturing, I say great. Now if I could only find that teleport button!
"The RDX Prototype represents the forward thinking that will be seen in the next generation of Acura light trucks," said John Mendel, senior vice president, Auto Operations. "It is loaded with leading edge technology and it exemplifies what we call intelligent performance: a sporty, luxurious and functional SUV that has outstanding performance yet is also fuel efficient."
The Acura RDX features an all-new 2.3-liter i-VTEC(R) four-cylinder turbocharged engine that generates 240 horsepower and 260 lbs-ft of torque. This is the first application of forced induction technology in Acura history. The revolutionary i-VTEC Turbo technology uses a variable flow turbocharger, which is exclusive to the RDX, and provides dramatic performance benefits while maintaining excellent fuel efficiency. To complement the all-aluminum high-performance engine, the RDX utilizes Acura’s steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to manually operate the 5-speed sequential SportShift automatic transmission.
Acura’s Super Handling-AWD system is tuned specifically for the new RDX platform. SH-AWD’s sophisticated electronic controls automatically distribute torque fore and aft, as well as splitting the rear torque left to right. The result is dramatically enhanced handling, traction and stability during sporty driving as well as in inclement weather. A sophisticated chassis with fully independent front and rear suspension complement the SH-AWD. Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA(R)) combines with large disc brakes and ABS to enhance control.
The RDX is built on an all-new global light truck platform. Reflecting Acura’s commitment to safety through innovation, the Acura RDX is equipped with the Advanced Compatibility Engineering(TM) (ACE(TM)) body structure and additional state-of-the-art safety features. The ACE structure helps to disperse collision forces over a larger frontal area. The system also helps to provide enhanced protection for vehicle occupants while at the same time increasing compatibility with other vehicles in a frontal collision. Front, side and side curtain airbags, in addition to rollover sensors add an extra measure of safety.
The chiseled exterior styling combines with a generous greenhouse to provide excellent visibility for driving in city traffic or on twisty mountain roads. RDX employs a compact upper body with an aggressively raked belt line, sporty wheel flares and a substantial hood that flows down from the windshield to an aggressive Acura signature five-sided grill. Custom 19-inch alloy wheels give the RDX Prototype an aggressive stance. Dual exhaust tips, HID headlights, and a rear spoiler add to the sporty appearance of the vehicle.
Inside, the Acura RDX combines richly appointed materials with a sporty, driver-oriented cockpit. The center console features an innovative storage system, which allows for hidden and lockable storage of a briefcase or laptop computer. The prototype’s interior features an assortment of leading-edge technologies, such as the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition(TM), AcuraLink(TM) satellite communication system with real time traffic and HandsFreeLink(TM) wireless telephone interface. A premium Acura/ELS(TM) DVD-Audio system is tuned to deliver rich surround sound to the cabin.
The RDX offers seating for five and a versatile rear cargo hatch allows for easy load-in and storage. The second row seats split and fold flat into the floor, providing ample cargo space for an active, on-the-go lifestyle.
The RDX will be assembled at Honda of America Manufacturing in Marysville, Ohio and will go on-sale in the summer of 2006. Pricing has not been determined.