Acura’s tagline “Precision Crafted Performance” rings true for its current lineup as the newly revised TLX is currying favor with the crowds and the Type-S moniker will soon be making a comeback. But that tagline isn’t just fitting for the current models in the brand’s lineup as one specific model comes to mind when we hear it: the Acura RDX. No, not the current one, but the first one that debuted in 2007, which was unique and innovative at the time.
The first-generation Acura RDX was a hodgepodge
It’s not every day that we use the term “hodgepodge,” but if you know anything about the first-generation Acura RDX, then you might actually agree. Back then, the compact crossover segment was ruled by the BMW X3 and Acura was looking to make a splash in that pond by introducing an SUV that was smaller than an MDX with some sporting driving characteristics in order to compete. And with the RDX, they succeeded in doing so, however, it was vastly different than the other vehicles in the lineup.
For starters, the 2007 Acura RDX was powered by a unique turbocharged 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that produced 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and was mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. It was an odd combination not only because it was the first turbocharged engine that Honda had debuted in an SUV but it was also a far cry from the 3.2 and 3.5-liter V6 engines that came under the hood of other Acura models.
Also, it’s power delivery wasn’t as smooth as today’s turbocharged engines as you were met with a slight pause in the power band followed by a massive pull from the engine as the boost built up. It was fun, but it wasn’t very fuel-efficient. According to the EPA, the 2007 RDX was able to get up to 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, which was terrible back then and even more terrible by today’s standards.
It drove like a sports car
On top of having a potent powertrain setup, the 2007 RDX also utilized the brand’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system, which is able to transfer up to 70% of the car’s power to the rear wheels and even transfer up to 100% of the car’s torque between the rear outside wheels for better rotation through a corner. What resulted was sportscar-like handling, which was very uncharacteristic of compact SUVs at the time.
But with the immense power and handling came an immensely stiff suspension. So much so that the editors at MotorTrend were comparing it to the kidney-busting 2006 Mitsubishi Evo at the time. But if you have never ridden in an EVO, but you have ridden on a wooden rollercoaster, then you’ll kind of get the idea. And if you never experienced either of those, then just be thankful.
It was like a sports car, but not really
What was somewhat confusing about the Acura RDX at the time was that it drove and handled like a sports car, but it was still an SUV. In some ways, it almost seemed like an engineer’s plaything to an extent, after all, who would buy a compact SUV that had a lot of power, but also had terrible fuel economy and could only seat five people? Well, apparently, many consumers did as Acura managed to sell over 23,000 units in its first year on the market, but sales dropped a little in the subsequent years.
The rest is history
What’s interesting is that they picked back up again after the 2012 model year when Acura decided to soften up the RDX’s look and suspension while throwing in the more-familiar V6 powertrain, and the rest is history. However, if you want a small crossover that will put a smile on your face as you stomp on the gas pedal and take it through your local twisty roads, then try finding a first-generation Acura RDX, it rides stiff but pulls hard. If anything, it’ll be the most comfortable wooden rollercoaster that you have ever ridden in.