2013 Acura RDX
Date Posted: July 19, 2012
By Zack Spencer
Acura has produced the best overall value in the luxury compact crossover segment.
Being early to any market has its advantages and drawbacks. Acura helped develop the compact luxury crossover market with the introduction of the RDX, roughly the same time that BMW introduced the X3. Since the middle of the last decade this very popular segment has exploded with entries like the Mercedes GLK, Audi Q5, Volvo XC-60, to name a few, and these products benefited from Acura and BMW's pioneering efforts. As the years marched on the RDX lost a bit of its early glory, the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine used more fuel than the competitors and the rather choppy ride was out of step with the more refined newcomers. For 2013 Acura has introduced an all-new RDX, based on the same platform as the immensely popular Honda CR-V. It offers more power, uses less fuel, caries more stuff and produces a wonderful all around luxury feel. It might just be the best compact luxury crossover, offering a lot of value for money.
One of the major knocks against the older RDX was the awkward styling. In a review, from just last year, I referred to the outgoing model as a Pug-- so ugly it's cute. With this new model and each of their new products, Acura has taken the opportunity to refine the brands look. The front grille has been toned down, the oversized fenders have been smoothed and the overall design is much more conservative and pleasing. The base of the RDX is a good one, the all-new CR-V. The longer wheelbase and wider track offer a bigger cabin and more cargo and opens up this RDX to many families who want a compact crossover but also a bit more luxury. What Acura provides over the German competition is value. It starts at roughly the same low $40,000 range but offers 18-inch alloy wheel, HID headlights, keyless entry with pushbutton start and many more features for $40,990. The $43,990 Tech model seen here includes a power lift gate and many more interior goodies.
Acura has done a great job of packaging their larger MDX crossover and now this new RDX. There are essentially two trim levels. The base model comes with standard leather seats, which are power and heated up front. The stereo has Bluetooth connectivity and can also read out incoming text messages to reduce driver distraction and a backup camera is standard. The $3000 more for the Tech package includes a larger centre screen, voice activated navigation system, a more powerful stereo and automatic climate control, along with the already mentioned power lift gate. All RDX models come with the same flip down rear seats found in the CR-V. With the pull of a button the rear-seat bottoms flip up and the seat backs fold down, making the cargo area a snap to utilize. Front passengers are welcomed by first-rate materials on the dash, with a big centre control system and extra padding compared to the less expensive CR-V. The size of the RDX is what will make this vehicle most attractive, offering more space than many of the competition with more cargo space and a big back seat.
The original RDX was equipped with a turbocharged 4-cylinder motor that had the potential to produce exhilarating performance but was burdened with turbo lag. For 2013 Acura has fitted their very versatile 3.5L V6, which makes the RDX much more drivable in day-to-day situations. Power is rated at 273hp, which is much more than the Audi Q5 (211hp), BMW X3 (258) and less than the new 302hp Mercedes GLK. Not only does this motor offer more power it also uses less fuel but still requires premium gas. The older RDX was tuned for performance, which was fun but not easy to live with. The ride was choppy; passengers felt every crack in the pavement. To improve the ride, this new more rigid RDX and fitted with a more forgiving suspension and more sound insulation. The AWD system is borrowed from the CR-V, replacing the more advanced Super Handling All Wheel Drive, which provided more aggressive cornering. This new setup still lets the driver have control they require in winter conditions but doesn't reward the pure driving enthusiast.
Acura knows who buys compact luxury crossovers. There are two camps, the more aggressive performance buyer, who will be attracted to the BMX X3 and the rest of the market. By making the RDX an easier vehicle to live with, they will sell many more. The power is an improvement, the styling is vastly updated and the space offered is at the top of the class. I've been on record, calling the larger MDX the best all around value in the mid-sized luxury crossover market. Acura has taken that same approach to this RDX, putting together a blend of comfort and luxury that will appeal to a very wide market. If you are shopping for a BMW, Audi, Infiniti or Volvo, do yourself a favour and try the RDX, it offers a lot for less.
The Good, The Bad
Great packaging, power and space
Some might find this new RDX a bit too bland.
Power: 3.5 V6with 273hp
Fill-up: 11.0L/7.0L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $40,990-$43,990