What's New for 2012
The 2012 Acura RDX is unchanged.
When it debuted a few years back, the Acura RDX was a pioneer in its segment, coming out well before other luxury-brand automakers developed small crossovers of their own. Now, five years later, the 2012 Acura RDX still has a lot going for it, though in certain cases it's starting to show its age.
For one, the RDX has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine; six cylinders is the norm for this segment. But although it's down on power compared to other compact luxury SUVs, the RDX still accelerates with surprising authority. The Acura RDX also displays uncommon athleticism in the curves, cornering with precision and confidence thanks to its sophisticated all-wheel-drive system.
Inside the cabin, the RDX features a good collection of standard features and intuitive controls for the entertainment and navigation systems. The optional Acura/ELS audio system is one of the best in its class. To top it all off, the Acura RDX's price undercuts its similarly equipped rivals by thousands of dollars.
But when it comes down to it, the RDX isn't the most appealing model out there. In terms of high-end luxury or safety features, competitors like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK and Volvo XC60 outclass the RDX. These models also have nicer (and sometimes roomier) interiors and, subjectively, more evocative styling. The RDX is still worth a look, particularly given its lower price, but overall the pioneer has been overtaken by newer rivals.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Acura RDX is a five-passenger compact luxury crossover available in a single trim level.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, automatic xenon headlamps, foglamps, a sunroof, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), heated front seats, leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Technology package adds GPS-linked and solar-sensing automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a navigation system, real-time traffic and weather, voice controls, a larger infotainment display screen and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound audio system.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2012 Acura RDX is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles is standard, but there is a choice between standard front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive. Dubbed SH-AWD, it distributes power not only between the front and rear axles as is typical, but also between the left and right wheels, ensuring optimal traction in all conditions.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive RDX accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, which is quick for cars in this class. An all-wheel-drive RDX is expected to be just a bit slower, but would still be among the quickest in its class. In terms of fuel economy, the front-drive RDX is rated at an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined, while the SH-AWD version rates 17/22/19. Both are about average for the class.
The 2012 Acura RDX comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. A rearview camera is optional. In Edmunds brake testing, a front-drive RDX came to a stop from 60 mph in a reasonable distance of 125 feet.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the RDX a perfect score of "Good" in its frontal-offset and side-impact crash testing but a second-worst rating of "Marginal" in roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Compared to the latest crop of luxury crossovers, the 2012 Acura RDX's interior will likely feel a bit dated. Besides an aging cabin design, there are also more hard plastic surfaces. Outside of this, the other materials are high quality and we're also fond of the center storage compartment that is deep enough to hold a briefcase or laptop bag. We like the audio quality of the optional ELS sound system, but in certain cases the RDX is behind the times in terms of optional features, lacking items such as Bluetooth audio streaming, keyless ignition/entry and a power liftgate.
In terms of cargo capacity, the RDX provides a class-average 28 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats. Folding down the 60/40-split rear seatback affords 61 cubic feet. Rear legroom is good, but the rear seats don't recline or slide fore and aft.
The 2012 Acura RDX's audible turbo whooshing sound is a pleasant departure from the standard six-cylinder soundtracks in this segment. Turbo lag is minimal and power plentiful enough to make you question its relatively paltry horsepower number.
On the move, the RDX has a firm ride quality -- overly so on rough city streets. However, the payoff comes around corners, where the RDX is as eager to play as any model in its class. It feels smaller than many others in the segment and has steering that is on the light side, but reassuringly precise nonetheless. With Acura's signature SH-AWD, the RDX's handling is improved further, yanking this little ute around corners with poise and tenacious grip.