2013 Acura RDX Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes
CUV Buyer's Guide - RTM's Top 10 Picks for 2013
When technology goodies on cars was an emerging trend, a junior technology buff complained it all went on “older people's cars.” Well yes. They were the ones who could afford it at that time. Fast forward a score or so and biting edge technology is now the domain of the brash and under-aged Twilight genre. It's been softened a bit for the rest of us, if the newly redesigned 2013 Acura RDX crossover is any indication.
At Road & Travel Magazine, we remember our first turn around the block in the original RDX a half-dozen years ago, fast, agile and unapologetic; its lux credentials muted enough to balance its turbo-charged performance gusto. That was something we loved as driving geeks. But RDX buyers were hinting they wanted something more, like enhanced ride quality, more pampering, better fuel economy and maybe a shade less in- your-face on the technology side.
Back to the drawing board.
For 2013 the Acura RDX has re-emerged with thoughtful revision we think will successfully woo any doubters of the past. We're not suggesting the RDX has lost anything in the mix. It's just rounded the edges, smoothed the bristle, added oomph without angst.
As before, this remains a five-seat, front-drive crossover, never forgetting its aim of genteel utility in a handsome, tripped out, purposeful package.
Appearances do change as years pass. And the RDX has undergone enough visual nips and tucks to garner a fresh, new audience. Our crystal red test model (actually leaning more toward burgundy) danced at a standstill as sunlight glanced off its softened, more supple molded lines and shaped indentions. Its inherent usefulness is disguised by a flowing line rearward to encompass enough carrying space to classify it as an adaptable cargo hauler.
Inside we felt pampered, with comfortable leather seating and a handsome dash with pewter toned horizontal trim adding a sweep of motion. The centered navigation with voice recognition and radar image maps that fed back real time data was easy to follow day or night since an overhead brim blocked any glare. A minor complaint: the center console placement of seat heater controls that left us overly warm one sunny day when accidentally activated. Acura has paid attention to the removal of jarring or unfriendly noises allowing one to appreciate a Pandora audio selection via Acura's ELS surround sound. Door entries are slightly larger for this second generation model (undoubtedly to accommodate more comfort-cushioned next generation bodies getting in and out).
The driving experience was what we would expect from Acura's 3.5-liter V-6
engine that makes the former, turbocharged 2.3-liter inline 4 of the first generation version a footnote in RDX history. That's a tradeoff of smoothness for spunk without losing power in the equation. Besides being more sophisticated in presentation, it allows for the improved mileage that's become the Mantra of any auto maker that plans on a future in the U.S. It handled well with authority and plenty of accelerating punch when needed without teasing us into wanting anything as déclassé as two-wheel cornering.
The tale of horsepower proves the point -- with a gain of 33 to 273 that feeds off an all-new, six-speed transmission with new lock-up torque converter. The package keeps its performance credentials while improving fuel economy to 20 city/28 highway/23 combined with front-drive or 19/27/22 mpg with all-wheel drive. Both are aided by improved braking technology that lessens brake drag for reduced rolling resistance.
Active and passive safety systems, enhanced with standard Vehicle Stability Assist, improve collision avoidance capability. The exterior design is maximized to improve safety in a collision with a vehicle of a different height, size or weight. Front seat knee bolsters offer added protection.
RDX pricing ranges from $34,320 for the front drive base to the $39,420 for our test model AWD model with technology package. That's on a par with the Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Volvo and Lexus models it competes with.
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