NEW YORK, NY
2010 is a big year for Acura's Advance campaign, regardless of whether or not the economy decides to cooperate. Acura has five significant updates to the lineup on tap this year, and the TOV was fortunate enough to check out three of them at a recent press event hosted in New York City. The three vehicles that were featured at this event included the 2010 MDX, 2010 RDX, and 2010 TSX V6. We've already shared our impressions of the 2010 MDX in Part I, now we'll move on to the RDX.
Apart from the most obvious changes for 2010 (namely, the addition of the Power Plenum), the RDX is now offered in a more affordable "2WD" model. By lopping off Acura's advanced SH-AWD system, the new-for-2010 2WD RDX is less expensive, lighter in weight, and more fuel efficient (by 2mpg city AND highway). Otherwise, the changes are pretty subtle, and pretty typical if you've been paying attention to recent Honda and Acura mid-cycle model changes (MMCs).
When I say "typical", I'm talking about the addition of features like a standard rear-view camera (with the display integrated into the rear-view mirror for non-Tech models), electronic compass, iPod USB port, restyled wheels, and similar category II updates. Category III updates that may not be immediately apparent include new auto-function headlights, improved cupholders (with "better grip"), a "Note" function on the XM Radio, braking system updates (for improved feel). The HVAC controls have been redesigned to be friendlier. The Navi system has received an update and now matches the rest of the Acura lineup in offering Real-Time Weather updates and Real-Time Traffic with rerouting. And if you have the occasion to take a close gander at the headlights, you may notice that they now "incorporate a 'smoke style' chrome plating treatment for improved looks while the inner lens of the HID unit glitters, making the headlights more distinctive." The text contained within the preceding quotes comes directly from the press kit. After reading it, I wish I had the time to pay closer attention because I want to know what this glittering is all about.
Underhood, the changes are also relatively minor, and strictly related to NVH. First, the turbo inlet tubing has been made slightly thicker; this is done in an effort to shave a few decibels of turbo noise while boosting. And secondly, a new 2-mode radiator cooling fan is designed to keep things quieter than the turboprop that was previously fitted.
I was really looking forward to checking out the 2WD version of the RDX, but unfortunately all that was available for us to drive were SH-AWD models. I say "unfortunate" not because I dislike driving the SH-AWD RDX, but simply because I was hoping to try something that was truly new from a mechanical standpoint. With our compressed drive schedule, I decided to take the RDX on the abbreviated drive loops that were set up for us during our lunch break, leaving the TSX V6 for the (longer) drive back into Manhattan. This drive loop was roughly 10 miles in total; most of it being bendy county roads, with a mile or two of "ah crap, where's my V1" Connecticut town action for good measure. To be honest, I didn't learn much about the 2010 RDX on this particular loop. The test roads didn't vary much, but my impression was that the RDX I drove that day felt a bit more sprightly than the test vehicles I've driven in the past. The engine felt a bit more robust, with slightly less turbo lag than what I remember from the last RDX I drove (it's been over 2 years). The other thing I took away from the drive was that the RDX's suspension is still pretty stiff and has an overtly sporty flair to it. This is ultimately good for performance, but a big part of me thinks that the mainstream RDX buyer would prefer a more compliant ride, while an "Alpha Dog" trim level could be offered with the stiff setup. A 6MT with the current suspension, SH-AWD, and potentially some stickier tires would make it damn near irresistable.
The RDX is a solid vehicle and it is currently leading the entry premium CUV segment with 34% of market share, but the bottom line is that it has struggled to meet Acura's initial sales targets. The fundamental business case for entry premium CUVs is that they are ostensibly more affordable, sportier, and more efficient than larger CUVs and SUVs, while providing more utility than a comparably priced sedan or coupe. In reality, it turns out that this category of vehicles hasn't fully delivered on all of these promises. Thus, the market for entry premium CUVs has been stuck in an embryonic state for longer than anticipated. Given these factors, the extent of the RDX's mid-cycle model change probably makes good business sense. Apart from the less expensive 2WD trim level and the refreshed front and rear clips, the RDX offers essentially the same sporty driving experience as it has all along. The 2010 RDX starts at $32,520 for the base 2WD model. SH-AWD runs another $2000, and the Technology Package bumps the price $3100, so the top of the range RDX SH-AWD Tech settles at $37,620. Both models are already on sale.
See more photos on the next page