Acura's RDX got a mini-facelift for 2010. Just a nip here and a tuck there and this luxury SUV is ready to face the world.

I liked the 2009 RDX; I thought it was cute and fun to drive, if not exactly economical. For 2010, the folks at Acura decided they'd had enough with the cute and sharpened the RDX's exterior. They also made a few changes on the inside to make life easier, and for that, I thank them. They added a couple of mpg's to the engine and a standard backup camera that works like a charm. With all of the changes, the RDX is still fun to drive and offers just enough luxury at a reasonable price.

The RDX isn't the kind of vehicle that you drive mindlessly. Its turbo engine and tight suspension make sure that you're focused on your driving. I found that I had to be extra cautious when accelerating since there are two parts to the RDX's get-up-and-go. First, it goes and then it really goes. That's a turbo for you. It's most useful when you are merging onto a freeway or passing another vehicle. It's less useful in city driving. It always seemed a bit jumpy to me. Although never out of control or scary, stepping on the gas in the RDX is always exciting. Driving around in my mountainous hometown, I liked having the firm, sporty suspension, but when I was in the city, I felt every bump in the road. I also remembered how much I hate speed bumps.

The RDX starts at $32,520, but my test car, which came with the Technology Package, cost $36,460.


EXTERIOR


When I say that the RDX got a facelift, I mean literally. Acura lifted the five-seater's face up, and now the RDX has a better "entry angle," so you won't scrape the front fender when entering a steep driveway. The headlights are bigger, as is the brushed-metal grille. It's bolder and stronger looking than before, but oddly, the whole effect is to make the RDX's front end look more like a happy face.

2010 Acura RDX

What made me smile was the RDX's 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four-cylinder engine. I was a less happy to learn that it gets an EPA-estimated 17/22 mpg city/highway and uses premium gas.

Getting in and out was pretty easy for everyone since the RDX sits a bit higher than a sedan, but not as high as a full-sized SUV. My kids had no issues opening or closing their doors, and in the rear, the liftgate has a new inset handle to make closing it easier for the less statuesque among us.

During my daily adventures, I though the RDX had plenty of cargo room, and I liked the removable hard cargo cover that kept my stuff out of sight. But when we took the RDX on the road for a weeklong trip to Grandma's house, getting all our gear in was a squeeze. Even though we weren't bringing a stroller or anything bulky, I had to remove the cargo cover to get it all to fit in the RDX. Fortunately, the cover fits perfectly on the cargo area floor, so it wasn't much of an issue.


2010 Acura RDX

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair


INTERIOR


The inside of the RDX doesn't exactly measure up to other luxury SUVs, but neither does its moderate price tag, so I can't complain. Honestly, the RDX is perfectly comfortable and has all the luxury this mom needs.

2010 Acura RDX

There's plenty of storage in the front seat for all the necessities, with deep door bins and a smaller covered bin in the door's armrest. The center console has a top tray and a deep bin that can swallow a full pack of wipes, a big ol' camera and various cords and chargers. Or you can put your purse in it. I went with the first method. There are two covered cupholders for the front row and two in the backseat's armrest.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel felt good in my hands, although I had to put more effort into steering than I'm used to. I suppose that's intended to increase the sporty feel of the drive, but I wish it were a bit easier.

My test car was equipped with the Technology Package, which includes a navigation system, dual-zone automatic climate control and a great 10-speaker audio system with XM Satellite Radio. The USB interface let me navigate my iPod's music through the stereo's controls. The navigation system was easy to use, either with the central control knob or voice control. The AcuraLink system put traffic and weather information right on the screen. Once I set it up the Bluetooth connection, it worked perfectly. Connecting my cell phone was a long process, but definitely worth it since I live in a "hands-free" state.

Even though there's no rear entertainment system in the RDX, my kids were as happy in the backseat as I was in the front. The backseat is roomy enough for three. My kids had plenty of legroom, but they're still young. While it's not exactly a squeeze, teens and adults might like a bit more space.


SENSE AND STYLE


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On


SAFETY


As much fun as the RDX is to drive, its safety features are no less impressive. There's an optional all-wheel-drive RDX that has Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, which improves this compact SUV's handling and response. I tested the front-wheel-drive version; it held the road beautifully in rainy weather, party due to its standard traction control and electronic stability control. The RDX also has standard antilock brakes with brake assist and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows.

The RDX has two sets of Latch connectors, which aren't immediately visible. However, they are easy enough to find and reach. The backseat is wide and mostly flat, which makes installing child-safety seats and booster seats a breeze. There's enough room to fit a rear-facing convertible or infant-safety seat. The seat belt receptors are firm, not floppy, and sit up high, so no one had to search or scoot their boosters around to get buckled.

I also appreciated that there were three-point seatbelts for all. The center rear seat belt comes out of the top of the seat, so there's nothing to impede the view out of the rear window.

Get more safety information about the 2010 Acura RDX here.


2010 Acura RDX