By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
The 2013 model year marks the second generation for Acura's RDX, and it feels akin to a rebirth for this 5-passenger SUV that made its debut six years prior. Now slightly bigger and more powerful – yet lighter and more fuel efficient – the new RDX is better refined and more mature than its predecessor. Among the biggest and best news is that the RDX is now propelled by a powerful-yet-efficient V6 engine instead of the smaller, fuel-thirsty turbocharged 4-cylinder of old. The RDX doesn't have the road-carving dynamics or towing power of some in this category, but its jack-of-all-trades character and overall good nature make it a welcome competitor to rivals like the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK and Cadillac SRX.
If you're looking for a smaller, premium SUV with plenty of comfort, value, performance, and predicted reliability, put the RDX on your shopping list. In those latter aspects, as well as some styling cues, the RDX may remind you of an upscale CR-V – not surprising, since Acura is Honda's luxury division.
Plan to tow with the RDX? Plan light. The Acura RDX's maximum towing capacity is just 1,500 pounds. The Audi Q5, on the other hand, can lug 4,400 pounds. If fleetness of foot is more your forte, the sportier BMW X3 edges the Acura.
Outside and in, from the curvy sheet metal to the soft leather interior, to the engine and even transmission, the RDX is all new for 2013. Acura's goal was to make the RDX a more viable choice for professionals in their early 30s who value comfort over sportiness, and who will eventually need extra room for the baby seats.
Driving Impressions A comfortable, quiet ride was paramount for the 2013 RDX, and the Acura delivers. To our welcome surprise, this small SUV went above and beyond, also proving itself a capable...performer in initial acceleration and passing power. The new V6 is quite smooth and more powerful than we anticipated. For those rare times when more oomph is required, the RDX has a sport mode for speedier acceleration and passing. It doesn't take a whole lot of work to get comfortable in the 10-way power driver's seat, but front passengers might feel like they're riding low, as that seat does not adjust for height.
Power Tailgate/One-touch Folding Rear Seats
These conveniences, with the power tailgate as part of the Technology Package, are super helpful for loading cargo – then getting it to fit.
No more digging a key out of your pocket or purse to start or stop the car. Like more and more new vehicles, the driver need only push a button to turn the RDX on or off. That may not sound like a big deal, but over the course of years it will be something to appreciate thousands of times.
The 2013 Acura RDX's cabin is a good example of form meeting function. Yet the RDX still boasts a commendable amount of soft-touch materials, giving this SUV the premium feel (literally) its price warrants. Numerous buttons populate the dash and steering wheel, but they are relatively easy to use and identify, and are more straightforward than the center-console-mounted rotary dials used in the Mercedes GLK, BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Unlike past RDX models – and current CR-Vs – the Acura no longer features tumble-forward rear seats to create a flat floor. But they do fold in a 60/40 split to accommodate larger items. Rear-seat legroom has been improved over the first-generation RDX, and also betters rivals like the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Volvo XC60, Infiniti EX, and even the Cadillac SRX, whose total length is over half a foot longer.Exterior
With the RDX's newly refined powertrain also come more grown-up looks. Acura learned from some of its past, shall we say, design controversies with the ZDX and TL, opting to play it safe with the 2013 RDX. On the whole it works, though with its sloping rear roof and teardrop windows, you wouldn't be blamed for confusing the RDX with the CR-V if glancing at the Acura from the side or rear. Thankfully, the RDX's nose signals a different, classier car, as do its prominent fender arches. In addition to being longer than the old RDX, the 2013 model is taller and offers more ground clearance, further giving this revamped vehicle a larger, stronger stance.
All 2013 Acura RDX models come with a V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, leather seating, rear-view camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a keyless entry, and a 360-watt, 8-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD system with USB and MP3-player inputs. Also standard are six airbags and a security system.
Major options for the RDX are bundled in the $3,700 Technology Package that can be added to either front-drive or all-wheel-drive RDX models. The package includes a navigation system that is spruced up with features like real-time traffic, Zagat Survey ratings and weather forecasting. The tech package also adds a power liftgate and 410-watt premium radio/CD/DVD system with hard-drive storage. A voice-recognition feature allows you to issue over 600 commands for the audio, climate and nav systems – and may just make feel like you're never traveling alone. For those desiring further customization, a la carte options include a wood steering wheel, and roof mounts for sports gear.
In addition to being the first V6 offered in an RDX, the vehicle's 3.5-liter, naturally aspirated engine boasts another first for Acura: Variable Cylinder Management. The purpose of this system is to save fuel by deactivating cylinders when they're not needed. A V6 uses six of them – hence the name – but this system enables the engine to run on four or even three, essentially making it a smaller, more fuel-efficient power plant. Cylinder-deactivation systems have had a rather tainted past, but today's computer-assisted engine management systems make for a smoother application. How smooth? You probably won't even be aware that cylinder deactivation is taking place in the 2013 RDX.
273 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
251 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (front-wheel drive), 19/27 mpg (all-wheel drive)
A base, front-wheel-drive 2013 Acura RDX begins at $35,215, including destination. Adding all-wheel drive (AWD) is an additional $1,400. A top-of-the-line RDX AWD with the Technology Package costs just over $40,000. Although the 2013 RDX's starting price is $1,425 higher than the outgoing 2012 model, it's still lower than the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Lexus RX, Infiniti EX, Cadillac SRX, Lincoln MKX and Land Rover LR2. In this class, the RDX is only undercut in price by the Volvo XC60. Before buying, be sure to check KBB's Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for the 2013 RDX in your area. As for long-term investment, the RDX has good resale value, as do most of its rivals.
By Rob on Saturday, February 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nimble ride, smooth power"
Cons: "Fit and finish, sound system, nav system."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car is nimble and smooth. But for $40,000, it should be so much more. It barely started when the weather got cold. That's when you need it to start the most. First time through the car wash, the sunroof leaked, spraying me with water. So much for fit and finish. It has a sound system that was designed to link with Blackberrys. Who has those anymore? I have an iPhone, and the thing will not consistently sync. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It has a hard drive that you can load CDs onto, but not MP3 files. CDs? Who uses those things anymore? I guess people who use Blackberrys do. And the Nav system? It's so bad it should be fraudulent for them to sell it. So as long as you're driving around and you know where you're going, listening to an FM radio station (or Sirius), and it doesn't rain, you'll like this car."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By TraverseCity on Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,085overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought a 2014 RDX. After approximatley 500 miles noticed a major vibration. Took the unit into the dealership, and they informed us of a service bulletin that the drive shaft should be replaced to take care of the problem. Problem is still present after the replacement of the driveshaft. I then contacted Acura. After several days the Client Relationship Manager stated the following: -Dealer ran the vehicle without the VCM connected,and the vibration went away -Vibration is within tolerance -Nothing more that Acura can do -The Variable Cylinder Management is the cause of the vibration"
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By RDX Owner on Tuesday, December 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks, performance, nav system, audio system,"
Cons: "Noise at high speed, and (VCM) vibration issue"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I owned the 2014 RDX since June of this year. This is my first Acura and I loved the features and handling of the RDX. I chose the RDX because it cheaper and looks classier than the Q5 and X3. There had been a problem with vibration since mid November. This is the exact same vibration problem by reviewer "Disappointed So Far". I took it to the dealer and they've confirmed that the vibration is due to the (VCM) variable cylinder management system. When the system is engaged it caused vibration in the front end and you can feel it. The dealer told me Acura is working on a dampening system which won't be ready until February."
21 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By DT on Thursday, December 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Rear leg room, sound system, driver's seat comfort"
Cons: "Vibration, road noise, rear suspension"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought this car to replace my Audi Q5. I thought it represented a good value - similar options and performance for about $5000 less. Soon after I bought it, I noticed an annoying vibration in the drive train at certain speeds and 1500 RPM. Checking various websites, I found other owners had the same complaint. Yesterday I took the car back to the dealer. They contacted Acura and were told that the vibration is within manufacturer specs but that Acura is working on a vibration dampening system to remedy the problem. If you do a lot driving between 35-50 mph I would not buy this car until the problem is fixed."
19 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Paul on Thursday, October 31, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Driver experience--handling, acceleration, etc."
Cons: "A bit spartan in/out."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I previously owned a 2005 Acura TL and a 2005 BMW X5. This vehicle gives me the advantages of both. Easier in/out than the low slung TL but just as good driver experience. All the advantages of the heavier BMW X5 without the maintenance worries and far better fuel economy. Faster, too. I wish it were a little more luxury appointed."
24 people out of 27 found this review helpful
By Scrowman on Saturday, October 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "good gas mileage, reliable, comfort"
Cons: "no passenger seat height adjustment"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Have owned the RDX for a year,- Have tech package. Driven over 30k miles. Driver's seat comfortable, good visibility. Mostly hiway miles- 25mpg. Wish vehicle had blind spot indicators and alerts when backing up (despite having camera). Needs passenger seat height adjustment-only goes front to back. Overall- very happy with vehicle- would purchase again"
14 people out of 20 found this review helpful