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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Silvio Calabi: Acura’s RDX is the Goldilocks crossover

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  • GateHouse News Service Five days after getting into Acura’s mid-size, 5-passenger crossover SUV, it dawned on me. The RDX is not too big, not too small. It’s eager, but not aggressive. The ride is neither squishy nor hard. It’s not bad-looking, though no knockout. The cabin is quite nice, but not so plush you wouldn’t put the dog in it.
    This is Goldilocks’s car: not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
    Furthermore, the RDX is put together with traditional Japanese attention to fit, finish and detail, and it is a modern Honda, so undoubtedly it will last years longer than anyone can possibly stand to look at it.
    Forgive me, but the RDX is a crashing bore. Oops, shouldn’t say “crashing” about a car. Especially this one, which Acura (i.e., Honda) says is a “top safety pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Insurance companies have only our best interests at heart, so try to stay focused here: They say the RDX has earned its “highest possible score of ‘good’ in all four Institute tests” –– including, you’ll be happy to know, “the rigorous roof-strength test.” So presumably we can carry an Ariel Atom or a Caterham Superlight up there on a rack, to offload and roar away in when the boredom becomes terminal.
    No, it’s not rental-car boring, but ... if the RDX were a male human, it would be the sort you’d want your daughter to marry. Staunch, dependable, good through all sorts of heavy weather and in it for the long haul.
    Bo-ring. Let’s hope she doesn’t run off with an Alfa Romeo.
    The six-cylinder, 3.5-liter motor in the RDX makes 273 horsepower and 251 pounds of torque, and it feels refined, in that low-friction kind of way. The engine is hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission that shifts itself with perfect competence. One may choose “sport mode” for a bit more zing.
    Most of the time, all the power goes to the front wheels. Hit the gas hard, though, in this loaded $39,000 AWD model, and 25 percent of it gets shunted automatically to the rear wheels, just in case. On a slippery road, the computer may decide to split the power 50/50, front and rear. Go into a corner too hot, and the machine tracks sure and true, with no sense of nose-heaviness. This is what Honda means by AWDIC: all-wheel drive with intelligent control.
    The suspension plays a big role in this, too. I could bore you with the details, but never mind. It works. Again, the near-perfection.
    Back in the bad old days, whenever the feds announced new mileage or safety or emissions standards, Detroit would send mobs of lobbyists and lawyers to fight them tooth and nail. Honda, at the back of the room, would demurely raise its hand and say, “Oh, we did that last year.” But lately Honda seems to be just phoning it in. The CRX-Si is long gone. The fabulous mid-engine NSX is gone. Where’s the old magic? Where’s the rocket science that made Honda seem so brilliant?
    Page 2 of 2 - Oh, here it is, in the HA-420 HondaJet. Anybody in the market for an ultra-slick $5 million, six-seat personal twin-jet plane by Honda? Nope, didn’t think so.Silvio Calabi reviews the latest from Detroit, Munich, Yokohama, Gothenburg, Crewe, Seoul and wherever else interesting cars are born. Silvio is a member of the International Motor Press Association. He is the former publisher of Speedway Illustrated magazine and an author. Contact him at calabi.silvio@gmail.com, silvio.calabi@nempa.org or 207-592-2619.

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