Friday, April 20, 2012

Better late than never: RDX a star luxo SUV

Sacramento, California – Car reviewers rarely admit it, but they sometimes get lost amid the blizzard of motor vehicles they drive.

And when the models are distinguished by alphabet soup – instead of old-school standards like Mustang, Regal or Impala – well, then it really gets interesting.

Enter Acura. Honda’s luxury label has an ILX, MDX, RDX, TSX and ZDX in its stable.

Got that? Good, you’re ahead of me.

So, when I recently took delivery of a 2012 Acrua RDX SH-AWD with “Tech Package” sport-utility vehicle, I asked, “Didn’t I just have this vehicle?”

No dummy, that was the ZDX, the one that looks like a stealth fighter jet. Oh, yeah, right.

But something else nagged, and it took me a few more minutes of glacier-slow thought to figure out: Acura is rolling out its 2013 RDX! So, what the bleep? I’m a little late to the game with the 2012 offering, right?

They say everything happens for a reason, and they’re right. I was grateful for my week in the top-line 2012 RDX, and here’s why:

The RDX is a pretty nice steal in the luxury, five-passenger SUV segment. Even my top-line tester had a comparatively affordable starting price of $37,995.

For that, I got a truckload of spoil-me-rotten comfort/convenience features, safety installments enough to please Ralph Nader on a grumpy day and a tech package produced an interior cabin of glorious comfort and entertainment.

The turbo-4 engine dished up a saucy 240 horses that felt good off the line, and I had a blast playing with the paddle shifters. Four-wheel disc brakes performed like champs. The all-wheel-drive hardware made for a sweet-handling machine.

Nice bonus: The RDX has practical crossover size, but it can transport big passengers and cargo with ease.

By week’s end I was asking the tester, “Where have you been all my life?”

To which it replied: “Right down the street at the Acura lot, you moron. But now I’m driving off into the sunset to make way for the all-new 2013 version of me.”

And the new RDX is a serious upgrade, with a sleeker body, a new engine, a new transmission and even a new all-wheel-drive system.

A top-of-the-line 2013 RDX with the tech package and AWD starts at just a tick under $40,000. That’s still not a bad deal in this luxo segment, in my view.

But here’s where timing and opportunity collide folks. Acura lots might be willing to deal on the outgoing, but still sweet 2012 RDX. Worth a test drive and a few sharp questions directed at the sales rep? I should say so.

Just let them know I knew it was a quality SUV all along.

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