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STIFF COMPETITION

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Mar 31, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

STIFF COMPETITION By Harvey Schwartz

When you drive the new 2009 Acura RDX SH-AWD crossover, you are not only piloting a versatile sport utility, you are also driving a high-performing sedan. The evolution of the luxury performance SUV crossover took a significant leap forward with the arrival of the Acura RDX turbocharged crossover vehicle. The immediate response of power from Acura's first-ever turbocharged engine, combined with the breakthrough technology of Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), delivers adrenaline-pumping performance in an efficient SUV package. It is a unique blend of performance and superior handling for buyers looking for more than just the status quo from a SUV. The RDX was conceived as the ideal vehicle for drivers with active lifestyles who are in search of a compact, sporty and responsive weekday ride, and a weekend getaway vehicle with the versatility to match their active recreational lifestyles.

The RDX comes with a turbocharged 2.3 liter DOHC 16-valve in-line four-cylinder engine incorporating computer-controlled i-VTEC 'intelligent intake/exhaust valve actuation system that delivers enhanced performance across a broad powerband while still delivering superior fuel mileage and reduced exhaust emissions. The heart of the RDX's performance is its Variable Flow Turbo (VFT) that delivers an unusually broad powerband with virtually no lag in throttle response. The VFT works in concert with i-VTEC to deliver outstanding acceleration, 0-60mph in just 7sec., and while driving at a variety of speeds. The rated output of the RDX engine is 240 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. This sporty compact crossover gets a respectable EPA-rated 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. It also meets the stringent EPA TIER 2-BIN 5 and CARB LEV-2 ULEV exhaust emissions standards. The potent four-banger engine is mated to a performance-minded five-speed automatic transmission with sequential sport shift. An electronically-controlled Drive-by-Wire throttle system works with the transmission to execute exceptionally quick and smooth gear changes. The transmission can be used as a conventional automatic or, at your pleasure, be controlled manually via steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Also adding to the exciting ride is Acura's exclusive Super Handling AWD system (SH-AWD) that is standard on all RDX's, and helps to maximize available traction while improving handling balance and responsiveness. SH-AWD distributes optimum torque not only between the front and rear axles, but also between the left and right rear wheels while also being able to overdrive the rear wheels. The system's direct yaw control utilizes torque vectoring to help reduce understeer thus enhancing steering accuracy and adding to total cornering ability. Helping to further increase the fun and excitement behind the wheel with precise and responsive handling is the fully independent front and rear suspension systems. Up front are MacPherson struts, twin-tube gas-charged shock absorbers, coil springs and a 21 mm stabilizer bar, with a multi-link rear that includes twin-tube gas-charged shocks, coil springs and a 19 mm stabilizer bar in the rear. This sport-tuned suspension is stiff but never harsh. Adding to the controllability and grip of the RDX are standard Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control, and standard 18X8 alloy wheels wrapped with 235/55R18 high-performance all-season radial tires. On the curves, you feel as if you are riding on rails, just like a sport sedan. The torque-sensing, variable effort power-assisted rack & pinion steering adds quick and pin-point accuracy where you want the RDX to go. It has great feel for the road and boosted just right at low speeds with a heavier feel at high-speeds. Quickly slowing the RDX down from speed are four-wheel disc brakes, 11.7in. vented discs up front clamped with dual-piston calipers, and 12in. solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear. These brakes are enhanced with standard ABS, EBD and BA.

When you are behind the wheel of the RDX you feel the same power and performance of top high-performance compact sport sedans from Subaru or Mitsubishi. It is that much fun and exciting to drive. The exterior styling only adds to the sportiness of the RDX. Standard 18-inch wheels and tires, large wheel arches, aggressively raked body side moldings, steeply raked windshield A-pillars, and a short rear overhang generate a RDX with a taut and muscular presence. The front fascia is highlighted with an aggressive grille that channels air directly into the turbocharger air-intake, a center air-intake to cool the engine and a lower opening that helps with front downforce. Standard HID headlamps are cut into the sides with round foglamps at each side of the lower bumper. The unique rear hatch, finished with a replaceable panel to reduce the cost of accident repair, allows for a smooth transition of the body to the rear bumper, as well as a custom look, and ease of loading or unloading of cargo. The rear also features wraparound lamps clusters and dual exhaust tips to add to the sporty styling. Inside is sporty and comfortable with very supportive front bucket seats that feature high outward visibility 'eye point' that provides a confident field of view. The three-passenger rear seat features a fold-down armrest with dual cupholders and a 60/40 split-folding capability that when folded flat expands the load area to 60.6cu.ft. of space. The instrument cluster is easy to see and understand with three large gauges including a 160 mph speedometer, 8,000 rpm tachometer, fuel gauge and turbo boost gauge. The center stack is easy to reach for using the climate controls, audio system, etc. Some may say that it is too many buttons and switches but I say that it is better than using a large dial to make changes then having to take your eyes off the road to confirm you changes like in BMWs, M-Bs and Audis.

The RDX comes standard with an array of electronic features that set it apart from the competition and include a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a multi-information display, LED backlit gauges with progressive illumination and Bluetooth hands free link mobile telephone connectivity, an impressive 360-watt, 7-speaker premium sound system with a multi-format 6-disc changer, AM-FM tuner, XM satellite radio, and the convenience of an AUX input jack for the easy connection of MP3 audio devices such as an iPod. Also coming standard are power windows/door locks, self-dimming rearview mirror, two-person memory, cargo cover, door entry guards, power-remote/heated sideview mirrors, power adjustable front sport seats with perforated leather trim, leather wrapped/tilting steering wheel with audio/cruise control/Bluetooth buttons, leather shift knob, thick-cut pile carpeting, floor mats, grab handles above each door, dual map lamps, sunglass holder, HomeLink system, power moonroof, variable intermittent wipers/washers, rear wiper/washer and trip computer. Multiple storage compartments are positioned throughout the interior, including a lockable dual-level center console that is large enough to accommodate a briefcase, and dual cupholders. Just one option package - the Technology Package - is offered on the 2009 RDX. The Tech Package heightens the RDX's appeal with tech-savvy customers through a range of advanced features. The centerpiece is a 10-speaker Acura/ELS Surround Sound Premium Audio System designed by six-time Grammy award-winning sound engineer Elliot Scheiner. When playing DVD-Audio discs (DVD-A is 500 times clearer than traditional CD), this advanced 410-watt system delivers eight discreet audio channels (up from the usual two channels) to create an exceptionally accurate listening experience. With its multi-format six-disc DVD-Audio Changer, AM-FM tuner and XM satellite radio, along with AUX jack connectivity, the Acura/ELS Surround system is exceptionally versatile and powerful.

The Technology Package also incorporates numerous information and communications features including Acura Navigation System and AcuraLink Satellite Communication System with Real-time traffic. Furthermore, AcuraLink allows for 2-way communication between Acura and the vehicle, thus providing customers with the latest information and service requirements specific to their vehicle. The Real-Time traffic feature of the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition can display up-to-the-minute traffic information including flow, accident and construction on freeways in 77 metropolitan areas. When the transmission is placed in reverse, the Navigation screen displays a video image from the rearview camera to make parking easier and safer. Speaking of safety, the RDX comes with a full compliment of safety features including Driver & front passenger dual-stage airbags, drive & front passenger side airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover sensors, three-point seat belts, active front head restraints, side impact door beams, ACE body structure with front/rear crush zones, remote entry with security system, tire pressure monitoring system, immobilizer theft-deterrent system and LATCH system for child seats. The new Acura RDX SH-AWD compact sport utility crossover is not for everyone. On the other hand, if you're looking for the versatility of a sport utility vehicle but want a crossover with more excitement and fun behind the wheel and don't mind a stiffer than normal suspension, the RDX may be just what the doctor ordered.

© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT The crossover SUV for The Fast and the Furious. For more information about Acura products, go to www.acura.com  More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2009 Acura RDX SH-AWD Technology Package Price: $37,955.00, as tested EPA mileage: 17mpg/city, 22mpg/highway Engine type: 2.3 liter, DOHC 16-valve i-VTEC turbocharged 4-cylinder engine Horsepower: 240 at 6,000 rpm Torque: 260 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/all-wheel-drive Transmission: 5-speed automatic with sequential paddle shifters Front suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts, twin-tube gas-charged shocks, coil springs, 21mm stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Independent, multi-link with twin-tube gas-charged shocks, coil springs, 19mm stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: 18X8 alloy wheels/235/55R18 all-season tires Brakes: Front: 11.7in. vented discs with dual-piston calipers Rear: 12in. solid discs with single-piston calipers ABS, EBD, BA Total length: 180.7 in. Total width: 73.6 in. Total height: 65.2 in. Curb weight: 3,942 lbs as tested

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