The Urban DINK: Acura RDX

Rdx1_2

There probably isn’t a better first vehicle to take through the DINK treatment than the new 2007 Acura RDX. The compact SUV isn’t overly manly, but it’s not at all feminine, either. That’s a tough line to walk in the cute-ute segment. I found myself admiring it quite a bit when it was stationed out on the parkway in front of our place. If you’re interested, here’s what it looks like covered in snow.

Now, let’s get the important stuff out of the way first, before we get to the even more important details. The RDX actually fulfills the promise of an SUV that handles like a car, and a sporty car at that. The suspension is tuned for tight turning and sportiness, but the ride suffers a bit over rough surfaces. None of that really holds a candle to the turbocharged engine, which gives bursts of thrills on demand.

If I weren’t enthralled enough by driving the RDX, the fact that my wife was also impressed really says something. Courtney especially liked the riding position, which has turned her off to other cute-utes we’ve driven; this was the first smaller SUV she’s even remotely enjoyed compared to her larger Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Rdxprofile

Besides the driving experience, the RDX has some of the essentials every Urban DINK couple needs. The auxiliary input for MP3 players is at the bottom of the center stack of controls amid other stereo buttons. It’s perfectly placed, but the small cubby next to it for the player itself will only fit something the size of an iPod Nano or smaller. My Zune — or a video iPod — will definitely not fit. Sound quality is amazing as well with the surround setup.

Mp3player

My solution was to either rest it on the closed cupholder next to the shifter or drop it into the center console. There’s a gap where the lid closes that allows the cord to fit underneath without crunching it. The center console is simply gigantic, with a divider that opens deep enough to fit a laptop computer and bag. A large purse would also fit, but if it’s anything like my wife’s it’s the wrong proportions.   

Cupholders are another big deal to DINKs. The RDX only has two up front, but at least they fit skinny water bottles and a grande carmel macchiato perfectly. We'd both like an extra place in the door for a spare water bottle, a feature many other cars have these days.

Rdxcupholder

The test RDX came with the optional Technology Package, which has an upgraded stereo and navigation system that uses a complex interface; I think we’d pass on it if ever purchasing an RDX. In bright sunlight the menu screen was almost entirely unreadable.

Rdxnavunit

A small display at the top of the dashboard shows stereo and environmental settings, and that was clear in the morning sunshine.

With the rear seats in place, the cargo area was huge and quite deep, accommodating a healthy trip to the grocery store. The seats fold flat in a two-step process — the seat bottoms have to fold out and forward for the backs to fold flat. It’s the same setup as the Jeep, but here it works in two fluid motions you can do with one hand, compared to the Jeep’s much tougher two-hand-needed process. This is a huge bonus, and at a quick glance it doesn't look like we'd lose a lot of usable cargo space.

Rdxcargo_1

Base price for the RDX is $32,995, but like most Acuras that means you get leather, moonroof, plentiful safety features and, with the RDX, all-wheel drive. The Technology Package costs $3,500 and is the only available option. Again, I’d forego that.

A side story to the DINK series will be our hunt for a new car come June. Not every car that shows up in the series will be considered because we’re looking for an all-wheel-drive wagon or SUV. Here’s the list so far with the vehicles we’ve crossed off and the ones still in the running. Any other suggestions are welcome. 

  • 2007 Acura RDX: Top of the list.
  • 2007 Mazda CX-7: Need a refresher and have to check blind spots, more affordable.
  • 2007 Ford Edge: Haven’t fully tested.
  • 2007 Toyota RAV4: Courtney was uncomfortable driving it.
  • 2007 Honda CR-V: Rear seats fold forward, not dog-friendly.
  • 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander: Same seat problem.
  • 2007 BMW 328xi wagon: A bit pricey when optioned right, but still in the running.
  • 2007 Audi A4 Avant: Same problem as the BMW.
  • 2007 Subaru Outback: Courtney hasn’t driven.

Related:
The Urban DINK: 2007 Audi S6

By David Thomas | January 23, 2007 | Comments (20)

Comments 

Questions

In your review, you say that the rear seats fold flat, but from the pictures, it looks like they are not flat, but are angled up towards the front. This is the same problem that automotive journalists hagle GM SUVs for in the past, but now you let it go because its an Acura. What gives?

There are a few different methods of doing the seat thing.
The type you're talking about with the GM SUVs is the entire seat sits above the floor and fold in half - like a clam, then move forward. Leaving a rather large bulky seat or closed clamshell separating the cargo area from the seating area.

The Honda CR-V and Mitsubishi Outlander do it in a similar fashion but because they're smaller SUVs the bulk isn't quite so bad.

The Mazda CX-7 and Toyota RAV4 have seats that fold flat so the cargo area is immediately expanded but these usually aren't seamlessly flat.

The RDX's seats are part of a hybrid version where the seat bottom flips up towards the front seats pretty securely and flat. The seat backs then fold flat into the floor area to create a completely flat cargo area.

There is no bias here we're just pointing out how things work best we can and hope the discussion in the comments explains things further.

Tor

Passat? It still comes AWD right?

Passat Wagon has AWD in the top of the line wagon.

Tummy

I'm very happy with our Infiniti FX45, though it is a little too fast for most situations.

End of year 2006 FX45s are being discounted $10-11k. In the price range you're looking at, you can probably get a loaded 2006 FX35.

V Lopez

where is the chevy equinox/ pontiac torrent on that list?

Ken L.

The Acura RDX is an excellent choice, but have you considered the 2nd generation MDX? Or perhaps my favorite, a black 2007 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 Sport Edition with the V6 engine...a perfect replacement for the GC.

Lil'Tom

Uggh,
Dave, you own a Zune!

There goes all your indie cred.

How are we supposed to take your opinions seriously knowing you use a Zune?

Questions

Dave T. - My Trailblazer seats look like the fold the same way the ones in this RDX do. Pull the seat bottom up and pull the lever on the seat and the headrest tumbles and the back folds forward...no complaints just don't think that it is flat into the floor as they would have you think.

Adam

The reason there's no Equinox/Torrent is because... wait... are you seriously saying that the Equinox keeps up with the RDX!?

btw that speaker in the trunk looks huge how big is that?

J

I wondered why would Dave list the Outback, but not the Legacy GT Wagon?

About the cupholder's problem, how about putting them into the "gigantic" center console??

I get enough jokes around the office about the Zune already thanks!
Seriously, it's not that bad! I just don't like the iPod clickwheel. I'm anti-clickwheel.
While we're not considering the current Equinox platform the new Saturn Vue hopefully will be out in time to make our deadline.
The seats into the floor are about as flat as you get without having them do the clamshell thing. I prefer this method as a good compromise.
MDX and 4Runners, Highlanders et al are a bit too big for what we're looking for. We do live in the city and I find the Grand Cherokee slightly too big.

We should have an FX45 in the fleet soon. I'll keep an eye out. A lot more cars will get the Dink treatment other than the ones on our shopping list. An Audi S6 this week, G35 etc etc.

Tom

well if your looking at the Inifiniti why not the Murano? That to me is the ultimate DINKmobile.

There's also the BMW X3 or even an Audi A3.

Those are just some ideas to check out.

John

ISTR a Canadian review of the SH-AWD that said it really didn't work very well in snow. Incorrect?

Murano I think is out simply because I'd like a semi-new on the market vehicle. We actually almost got a Murano instead of the jeep but the lease deal wasn't as good.

John,
I've driven in only light snow but it is 19 degrees F here and the roads are icy in spots and I've noticed not a flaw in the AWD. It's a solid driving feel even taking twisting roads in sub freezing weather. The turbo doesn't love the cold though.

RaslDasl

Ah...the Dave Thomas shopping trip photo made famous at Autoblog. Glad to see it again!

Hey rasldasl,
I don't remember your name from the AB days but I guess this is a compliment. I actually always got really positive feedback on the "grocery" shots and the old school garage features. This is a reinvisioned version with the Suburban Dad sounding off on life with the kids in the burbs, and me with married life without in the city. Two vital demos for the carmakers. Glad to have you aboard.

Karl

Curisous why the Audi A4 wagon is on the list, but the Passat AWD wagon is not. I think the Passat specs out nicely compared to the RDX.

Karl,
Both the Audi and VW would probably fall off the list once I factor in the reliability factor. Also I wasn't a fan of the Passat when it was in the test fleet.

Tim

This is a good review. Just curious, have you bought a car yet? I currently own an Acura TSX and am looking at the RDX. I liked the Rav4 Sport v-6, but the interior was too econo-car for me. I am moving to Colorado in June (mountains) and want AWD.

I will likely buy once I move this summer, to have a dealer in the area that I know. Although, the VW Tiguan is coming out this summer. So, I will likely base my decision on these two (RDX and Tiguan). unless Toyota happens to surprise everyone and introduce an updated RAV4 Sport this summer.

Did you drive the RDX in any deep snow? I've read conflicting experiences about its abilities in snow. Also, I know VW has a terrible past in terms of reliability. Any issues with their 2.0T engine? My concern with the RDX is the awesome SH-AWD system. Will it still work just as well in 5 years? All that technology scares me. I might just want a simple AWD system.

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