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2007 ROAD & TRAVEL New Car Review: Acura RDX & MDX Review - New SUV Review, Specs, Photos
Discover Acura's 2007 SUVs: RDX and big brother MDX

by Martha Hindes

Leave the loft and what's waiting outside, perhaps parked on a rain-soaked cobblestone street near a wrought iron privacy gate? Could be Acura's new, bolder RDX, sort of an urban dweller's luxury sport utility, with an emphasis on the "sport" but a sufficient amount of utility under its belt to qualify for double duty.

2007 Acura RDX Review - Specs, Photos, Road Test

We met up with the 2007 RDX - and its bigger brother, the totally restyled MDX for '07 - on a recent, late summer day cruising the gentle hills and swales of lower Michigan's toney Oakland County with its prime automotive high tech corridor. The area, with shimmering lakes dotted with small sailboats surrounded by winterized summer cottages amid recently-constructed, gated estates, was a nice counterpoint to the locale of the trendy town dweller pinpointed by Acura as the customer to woo.

Acura has put its money where its expectations are with a pair of new brothers under the skin. Each exudes a definite Acura feel, a command of the road, a thrill of acceleration when the gas pedal is suddenly pressed firmly to the floor. But put them side by side and each departs from any suggestion of sameness with its own unique size and style and qualifications. These are Acura's new competitors in the burgeoning high-end field the auto maker classifies as a premium sport-lux category.

A heavy tap on the RDX's accelerator announced the presence of something Acura has never offered before, no apologies turbo power that spawned a longing for a wide open chunk of unhindered highway beckoning full-throttle speed, state troopers be darned. But that would have to wait. The itch to put pedal to the metal became short-spurt testing, with all indications showing it would handle the twistier, speedier stuff without a hitch.

Under the RDX, on a new light truck platform, rides Acura's unique variable flow turbo system that controls air before it enters the turbocharger for light weight and high performance where engine space is at a premium. (It's a reason for our wistful highway driving wish.) The system adds a long, strong torque curve to the 2.3-liter 16 valve inline four powerplant in the five-passenger RDX, with only a five-speed automatic. But steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual mode authority respond as instantly as any standard trans version.

2007 Acura RDX Review - Interior - Specs, Photos

In profile one might be pressed to identify the RDX as an Acura. Smaller and shorter than the revised MDX, it sports a surprisingly aggressive look with distinctive crease lines blending rearward from front fenders and melding into the rear fascia's short overhang. There a wedge-shaped cutout holds taillamps, plate, and name badge that complements a rear spoiler above the rear liftgate window. A mock rear inset extends the side window line. Inside, besides leather trim and backlit gauges with progressive illumination, there's a lockable center bin deep enough to expect an echo. Don't plan on fishing something out of the bottom while driving.

Up front, a bold, Acura-badged face hides a fresh air intake for the turbocharger between headlamp clusters. Weighty-looking, 18-inch, five spoke sport wheels add a sense of authority. It takes dead aim at BMW's X3 luxury sports activity vehicle that beat RDX out of the chute by a couple of years.

A cut above $30,000 as a base, one can add enough amenities or the optional Technology Package to bump up the price a third more, landing it solidly on the luxury vehicle's premium plateau. Such high tech adds include a 10-speaker Acura/ELS premium surround sound system that accommodates DVDs, XM Satellite radio, and pours heady vibes out through eight audio channels. Real time traffic reports come through an AcuraLink satellite communications system. There's wireless Bluetooth availability, navigation system and a parking camera to screen rearward space before backing up. A replaceable rear panel reduces repair costs if someone forgets to check. Mileage wise, a careful driver might eke out the anticipated 19/24 miles per gallon. Expect to pay more to power it with required premium-only fuel.

2007 Acura MDX Review - Exterior - Specs, Photos

Flip a page and find the latest edition of the larger, seven-seat MDX with expanded interior, around since the beginning of the decade, that won a solid place among many loyal Acura fans who might have opted for a minivan of another brand name. The MDX previous generation's styling was all Acura, but that soccer mom suggestion clearly had to go.

So Acura pulled out some muscle with more sport performance, added a solid, broad shouldered look in design, tweaked functionality with out-of-the-way rear gate hardware and trailer stability assist among features, and added interior amenities including tri-zone automatic climate control meant to appeal to either gender with progeny in the back seat. Need a treat to pacify the unruly? A dad-designed clamshell center console cover leaves the driver's elbow where it's resting, while allowing right side access to a shallow bin underneath.

Benchmarking a Japanese vehicle against top Teutonic competitors on their own turf takes some brass. Acura did it by testing the new MDX at Germany's famed Nurburgring track that sorts the have-its from the wanna-haves in quick, no-nonsense fashion. The MDX, boasts company execs, thrived. Not bad for a family-oriented utility meant to kick the traces while delivering their precious cargo in solid, safe comfort.

2007 Acura MDX Interior - Specs, Photos, Guide

You just know that anything from Honda (Acura's parent company) is going to be car-based. Even its pickup trucks shun a truck-like frame underneath. So expectations are high for comfort in both of these crossover-type SUVs, which Acura delivers. And in typical Acura fashion, with technology that includes Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, a full complement of airbags, and active front head restraints on both RDX and MDX models, the pair get superior, five-star crash ratings.

To minimize the dangers of oversteer or understeer, Acura's Super Handling All Wheel Drive (AS-AWD) system, with advanced steering and cornering control, is standard on both RDX and MDX models. It shifts torque to where it's needed most including right or left wheels in addition to front and rear axles.

Mileage estimates for the MDX are 17/22 from the all-new 3.7-liter, 300-HP V-6. With optional technology, entertainment and sport packages and available roof rack, expect a $40,000 base on up.


2007 Acura SUVs
Description:
Luxury sport utility
Model options:

RDX, MDX

Transmission:

RDX: 5-speed automatic with Sequential Shift, Paddle Shifters and Grade Logic Control
MDX: 5-speed automatic with Sequential Shift

Drive:

Both: Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive
Advanced Technology: Drive-by-Wire Throttle System

Horsepower:

RDX: 240 @ 6000 rpm
MDX: 300 @ 6000 rpm

Torque:

RDX: 260 lbs-ft @ 4500 rpm
MDX: 275 lbs-ft @ 5000 rpm

Fuel Economy:

RDX: 19/24
MDX: 17/22

MSRP:

RDX: $32,995 plus
MDX: $39,995 plus