I am pleased to see how well the new RDX is doing. And I think it offers some instructive lessons as to what Honda and Acura should be focusing on going forward.
Remember that when the RDX was first launched, Jeff (and others) on these forums brought up two things. First, that the market for these compact luxo-utes really wasn't there yet and second, that for this sort of market, a J-series V6 would have been a better choice.
Now, personally, I loved the concept of a turbo SH-AWD powertrain. While I agree that it isn't the best choice for a CUV (if for no other reason than sport is not the primary purchase driver in this class), I had high hopes that Honda would refine and transfer this powertrain to some cars (TSX for example).
Of course, that didn't happen, and while the RDX sold decently and developed a loyal following, it wasn't the sort of success that Honda wanted or needed. So someone at Honda/Acura clearly looked at the market and made the appropriate changes and look where it got them. It's still early, but I'm betting the RDX will be to the CUV market as the MDX is to the SUV segment - the smart, high value, moderate luxury entry that offers enough sport to entertain, but enough of everything else to attract female and older buyers. The sweet spot if you will.
Which brings me to the real point of my post which is - The FMC RDX is a perfect example of making the appropriate choices and compromises for the class/target market. Old RDX = unique engine, expensive SH-AWD. New RDX = generic Honda V6 and cheaper RT4WD setup. Percentage of buyers who will view this negatively (or even notice in the case of the AWD change)? About 2% in my estimation.
This was a good use of existing corporate materials and platforms. It makes sense and it will pay off for Honda.
By the same token, you do not want to go this way with sports type or high end luxury models. You need bespoke powertrain options, unique looks, manual transmissions, etc. These offerings need to be special, and make the owner feel special. They are not profit centers, they are brand builders and halo vehicles. Not everything has to be unique, but you have to offer enough difference to make the offering stand out. If the looks are going to be generic to the model, you had better make sure the powertrain and performance stand out. If you give it unique looks/sheetmetal, then consumers will accept a carryover powertrain more readily. But if you try and add some gingerbread in the looks department and throw in a generic corporate powerplant, buyers aren't going to be happy. Parts-bin cars are fine, as long as people don't feel like, or are not reminded that they are driving one.
Maybe the RDX is a sign of hope at Honda. I'm pessimistic, but time will tell.