Acura's RDX: a standout in the crossover crowd

Leave it to Honda/Acura to make us look twice at a crossover (car-based SUV), that crowded category that's been spawning some ho-hum drive-alikes. The five-passenger RDX, actually built on an all-new platform, sits high without towering, handles with verve (enhanced all-wheel-drive), and offers welcoming cockpit ergonomics – deep footwells, high headrests, and an intuitive instrument array. The real kick: There's a boost gauge. RDX is Honda's first turbo-charged production car to reach America, and the innovative automaker has introduced a "variable flow" approach that effectively eliminates lag – you can break from a toll booth like Seattle Slew, if you feel the need – while also delivering passing power at high r.p.m.

RDX qualifies as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV). Still, the intercooled, 2.3-liter in-line four-cylinder – 240 h.p., 260 lb.-ft. of torque – only managed 20.2 in mixed-use driving, including cold-weather starts and creeping commutes (it burns premium). Its five-speed automatic transmission comes with steering-wheel paddle shifters. Base-priced in the low $30s, this "entry premium" vehicle is plusher than a Toyota RAV4, less flashy than a BMW X5. Logical niche, lusty ride.

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