2013 Acura RDX

2013 Acura RDX - sideBy Barbara & Bill Schaffer

When it debuted in 2007, the Acura RDX opened up a new dimension for Honda?s premium brand by offering a more compact or ?personal size? crossover SUV.? The timing was perfect as consumers started looking for smaller, more luxurious vehicles.? The utilitarian attributes of these petite crossovers turned out to be just what the market wanted and they become one of the hottest vehicle categories with a variety of new entries and remakes.

For 2013, Acura has taken a very good SUV and made it even better while making some surprising changes in the process.? The body is more distinguished looking, with crisp new lines, a sleek roofline and more graceful front and rear fascia.

A longer wheelbase provides more people room inside in both the front and rear seats, along with more cargo space. ?With the rear seat backs lowered, the RDX now has 103.5 cubic feet of cargo space, making it the best in class.

2013 Acura RDX - DashboardThe new dash and instrument panel works well with the array of large buttons easily at hand on the high-mounted center stack and surrounding the inside hub of the steering wheel.? Large tachometer and speedometer gauges are prominent in the cluster behind the wheel and models equipped with Acura?s best in class (in our opinion) navigation display get an eight-inch screen mounted in the center of the dash under a large visor. Models without the Tech packages have a five-inch multi-function display. ??The controls and instruments work great, but they look cluttered.

The biggest surprise was Acura dropping the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, in favor of a much larger, more powerful V-6.? Lately most manufacturers have been going the opposite direction, dropping V-6 engines in favor of turbocharged four-cylinders.? In addition to more power, it?s smoother and quieter than the old four-cylinder.

The 273-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine has Acura?s first application of Variable Cylinder Management? (VCM).? The engine will run on six, four or three cylinders depending on the driving conditions.? ?The other change was a new six-speed automatic transmission (replacing a five-speed automatic) with paddle shifters and a new All-Wheel Drive with Intelligent Control, which is simpler, lighter and more efficient than the previous AWD system.? The new system has a front wheel-bias that only sends power to the rear wheels when slippage occurs.

Combined, the new engine, transmission and AWD system produce an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.? This is an improvement of five mpg for the AWD version during highway driving.

2013 Acura RDX - Dashboard2The engineers didn?t skimp on the suspension system, which is four-wheel independent with MacPherson struts in the front and multilink in the rear.? The Acura RDX stays flat in the corners, and provides a flat ride well balanced between handling and ride.

Standard features on the RDX are amazing including leather seating with heated front seats, push-button start, HomeLink, moonroof and 18-inch alloy wheels.

In addition, we think the $3,700 Tech Package is a bargain, adding the hard disk drive based navigation system with sharp eight-inch screen, voice commands, audiophile-style Acura/ELS Surround? system, XM? Radio, Bluetooth? and AcuraLink Communications which gives you real time traffic and weather information.? The package also includes hard disk drive storage for up to 3,500 songs, Xenon HID headlights, power tailgate, fog lights and GPS-linked dual zone climate control.? RDX pricing starts at $35,215, with the AWD adding $1,400.? Other than colors, AWD and the Tech Package, the RDX has no options.

2013 Acura RDX - RearviewCombined, all the changes have made a significant improvement in the drivability of the Acura RDX.? It is more responsive, more comfortable and we liked the high level of available technologies.? In addition, it has a boatload of standard safety features.? Acura has done a great job of making a very good SUV much better.