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    Personal Style in Crossovers

    By Philip Ruth–

    It’s over: tall wagons and crossovers have bypassed sedans to become the top choice for car buyers.

    This shift dates back to the 1980s, when early SUVs graduated from the practical to prestige. Along the way, drivers appreciated the high driving positions they never knew that they wanted, and the butch and utilitarian SUV image became the default for exerting your vehicular power.

    Momentum continued toward truck-based SUVs and the budding car-based crossover market until the 2008 economic crash. Chastened consumers filtered back to sedans for lower cost and higher fuel mileage. But that, in terms of sedans, probably won’t happen again. Crossovers have narrowed the efficiency gap, and while prices are still higher, their broad proliferation makes good deals more likely.

    That’s where we pick up with this issue’s crossovers—the Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec and the Ford Edge Titanium. The tested Acura is all-wheel drive, and the Ford is driven just by the fronts. Their prices are closely aligned in the mid-$40K range. Adding all-wheel drive to the Ford hikes its bottom line $1,995 and brings it within $110 of the Acura; close competitors indeed.

    You’d get even closer if you matched up the tested RDX SH-AWD A-Spec, the sportiest RDX there is, with the amped-up Edge ST. The ST plugs in a performance suspension, sport seats and other upgrades to give its handling more of, well, an edge. You’d know that these trims compete directly by their use of trendy blackout wheels, for a serious look.

    As closely as the RDX and Edge compete, they do feel different. Acura’s image emphasizes driving fun, and the tested SH-AWD A-Spec impressed from the first step on the accelerator. Its 272-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The combo bursts this Acura off the line and through holes in traffic. The tested RDX’s nimbleness absolutely belies its two-ton curb weight.

    The Edge Titanium also has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four. The transmission has two fewer gears, and it makes 22 less horsepower, so it feels a bit milder than the tested RDX but is still robust. The Edge ST settles this argument by stomping both evaluation cars with a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 with 335 horses.

    The Edge is an inch thicker than the RDX, and it feels it, particularly with the flared-up ends of the hood accenting the Edge’s 75.9-inch width. The Edge is just under three inches taller as well, so it’s not surprising that the Edge has more head, shoulder and hip room than the RDX.

    What the RDX gives up in volume, the thoroughly-equipped SH-AWD A-Spec tester gave back in gadgetry, with a center-screen controller that has you poking rather than swiping and the newest thing in audio systems—independently-adjusted ceiling speakers. The poking has a learning curve, and the stereo sounds fantastic.

    Good feelings flowed through both of these crossovers. For those looking for vehicles with personal style, the Edge and RDX are set up to complement your own.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant ( ). Check out his automotive staging service at