When Acura sent the RDX out in 2007 to battle the Lexus RX and Infiniti EX—both V6-powered—it chose to go with a turbocharged four-cylinder. It was willing and eager, but not as smooth and refined as those rival V6s.
Now comes this 2013 Acura RDX with a slicker body, a new six-speed automatic, a new all-wheel-drive system and, yes, a standard 273-hp 3.5-liter V6. It also boasts a longer wheelbase, increased track widths, new Amplitude Reactive Dampers, and more energy-efficient motion-adaptive electronic power steering.
Smoother front and rear fascias, a toned-down Acura bird-beak grille, wider wheel flares and a more tapered rear roofline improve the RDX’s look and make it more aerodynamically slick, while new underbody panels significantly smooth airflow underneath. The redesigned cabin is more upscale and luxurious and Active Noise Control makes it a quieter environment. There’s more leg- and shoulder room, more cargo capacity, larger door and rear hatch openings, a new (available) power liftgate and a host of upscale features.
The 2013 Acura RDX rides on four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts front and multi-links in back. Its longer wheelbase, increased track widths, a lower center of gravity and new Amplitude Reactive Dampers help provide both better handling and a more supple ride, while new motion adaptive electronic power steering replace the previous hydraulic system.
The new 3.5-liter V6 engine gives provides much more power and better fuel economy than the outgoing turbo four. It benefits from Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system, which temporarily deactivates two, and sometimes even three, of its six cylinders to save fuel during light-load conditions, and iVTEC variable valve timing, which electronically manages timing and lift of both intake and exhaust valves.
Also adding performance as well as fuel efficiency is the new Sequential SportShift six-speed automatic transmission (replacing the previous five-speed) and a multi-clutch torque converter. This combo delivers EPA-estimated city/highway/combined economy of 20/28/23 mpg with front-wheel drive and 19/27/22 mpg with available “intelligent” all-wheel drive.
We liked the somewhat stiffly sprung, fun-to-drive previous-generation RDX, but this new $34-40K V6-powered version will compete better against the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti EX35, Mercedes-Benz GLK350, VW Tiguan, and Volvo XC60 in the “entry premium” crossover SUV class.
We drove the new Acura RDX around town, on freeways and on a fair amount of twisty two-lanes, and found much to like and little to criticize. It’s a bit softer, quieter and more civilized than the previous model, but nearly as capable in corners, even when driven fairly aggressively. Compared to the 2012 RDX’s more precise hydraulic system, the new, more energy-efficient electric power steering is not the industry’s best in feel and feedback, but far from the worst. On the other hand, the ride is smoother, the performance stronger and the brakes more sure and powerful.
As more and more buyers gravitate to compact crossover-utility vehicles (CUV) at all price levels for their happy balance of utility, drivability and fuel efficiency, the competition for them keeps heating up. And Acura now seems much better positioned to capture its share with this new V6-powered 2013 RDX.