2013 Acura RDX First Review: All-new and Much Improved

By KBB.com Editors on March 28, 2012 6:20 PM
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Up until today, the RDX wasn't quite the Acura of compact luxury SUVs. As of today, with the debut of the all-new 2013 Acura RDX, that's no longer the case. Maybe the previous-generation RDX's fuel-thirsty turbocharged 4-cylinder or its ear-rattling interior were to blame. Most likely, the blame lies with those things plus a dozen other "not-quite-there" elements that added up to an RDX SUV that the U. S. wasn't buying.

The 2013 RDX, on the other hand, possesses many more things about it that are quite there. It's always a treat to report that a new car's engine — in this case, a 3.5-liter V6 — enjoys more power and better fuel economy than the model it replaces. It's also kind of fun to tell you that the new RDX, which is about an inch longer and taller, and just a whisper wider than the previous RDX, feels significantly larger inside. With two rows of seating for five passengers, the 2013 RDX allows me — I'm 6-feet-plus — to ride comfortably behind myself. And the headroom is so plentiful, I almost felt like I could ride comfortably sitting on my own shoulders, too.

While there's nothing breathtaking about the interior styling, every seen and unseen surface of the RDX cabin is beautifully finished. The big bonus comes in the form of quietude: Even at highway speeds, wind and road noise are very well isolated for an SUV. This affords you the peace to enjoy the luxury of the standard heated front seats and leather upholstery, the indulgence of the standard power moonroof, and the backing-up confidence of the standard rear-view camera.

The 2013 Acura RDX exterior is a pleasant melody that's dead-easy to forget once it's out of earshot. Your subjective opinion may vary, but we'd recommend it in lighter colors. The all-star-SUV element out back is the wide-mouthed opening of the rear liftgate and the generous access it gives you to the equally generous, flat-floored cargo area. Checking in at 61.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, the RDX can out-carry the trio of compact-hauler competition from Germany: Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK.

Out on the road, the new RDX — which comes in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive — is a cinch to drive. The outward visibility is good from all sides and the 273-horsepower V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission supply excellent highway pick-up for passing. It isn't the most relaxed suspension in the segment, but that helps RDX confidently holds its own in corners as a driver's SUV. Acura's new "Motion-Adaptive" electric power steering system provides quick response to steering inputs and works with the RDX's traction-and-stability system to prompt — yes, prompt — the driver to correct his steering in order to successfully negotiate a turn, say, on a slippery road. All this, plus 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway? Not bad at all.

The new (and improved) 2013 Acura RDX SUV starts at $35,205 in front-drive form, with a $1,400 premium for all-wheel drive, which makes it a bit of a bargain in its class. The RDX is well equipped at its starting price, but if you get the urge to splurge, the Technology Package adds navigation, a killer audio system, a power liftgate, and a few other extra style and convenience way-up upgrades. Check with your local dealer, because the new RDXs will be arriving sometime in the next month.