The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2013 Acura RDX Ride and Review By Larry Nutson

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

An all-around win

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Acura RDX crossover SUV is all-new for 2013. The production version made its world debut at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show in February. As a continuum of the intro in Chicago, Acura wanted to have an RDX on hand for auto writers to test drive at the recent Spring Rally held by the Midwest Automotive Media Association, (MAMA), of which I am a member, in beautiful Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

There were about ninety different vehicles from nearly every manufacturer that needed to be transported to Elkhart Lake. Some are trucked and some are driven. Well, yours truly was asked to be of help and drive a vehicle the 145 miles north from Chicago to Elkhart Lake. As it turned out the new RDX was my ride…for the return also.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

When the RDX showed up at my door I only had time for a brief familiarization and would have to learn as I drove. The 2013 RDX rides on a longer wheelbase with a wider track and has a lower center of gravity. I noticed the comfortable and refined ride right off the bat in maneuvering Chicago’s city streets. Standard on the new RDX is a much-needed 3.5 liter V6 producing 273 horsepower. That’s up 33 horsepower from the previous models 4-cylinder that was first introduced in 2007. So, if you have any experience or familiarization with older RDXs things have changed quite a bit.

The RDX now has an all-new 6-speed automatic transmission with a new lock-up torque converter. The RDX also gets a new, lighter weight all-wheel-drive system and the two together help to deliver higher fuel economy. EPA estimated fuel economy ratings are 20 city mpg and 28 highway mpg for the front-wheel-drive version and 19 city mpg and 27 highway mpg for the all-wheel-drive model. I was driving an all-wheel-drive RDX and was pleasantly surprised at the 28.1 mostly-highway trip mpg, beating the EPA rating.

The 2013 RDX has electric power steering and 4-wheel disc brakes that incorporate improvements to lessen brake drag for reduced rolling resistance. Both features help to improve fuel economy.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

So, yes, the 5-passenger 2013 RDX comes in front-drive and all-wheel-drive. The only engine is the V6 mated to the 6-speed automatic. Prices start at $34,320. All-Wheel-Drive is $1400 more. A Technology Package costs $3700 and the destination charge is $885. I was driving an RDX with AWD and Technology Package with an MSRP of $39,420.

The Technology Package includes AcuraLink® Satellite Communication System, Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™, a hard disk drive (HDD) with 60 gigabytes of storage capacity, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting™, AcuraLink Real-Time Weather™, a GPS-linked solar-sensing, dual-zone automatic climate control system, Acura/ELS Surround® Premium Sound System, a power actuated rear tailgate, projector beam headlights with Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs and front fog lights.

On the outside the redesigned RDX carries the Acura face and is fairly sleek and sporty in its looks along with a certain level of elegance. Wheels are 18-inch 5-spoke alloys. The longer wheelbase and wider track have yielded more passenger and cargo space.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The leather covered seats offered good support and were very comfortable on my highway drive. Noteworthy is the quietness of the cabin making conversation with my driving partner very comfortable. Acura did a good job of managing tire and wind noise through the use of more insulation and overall vehicle noise using what Acura calls Active Noise Control that helps eliminate low decibel booming noise entering the cabin and also helps decrease unwanted high frequency noise.

The Active Noise Control is linked to throttle position and engine rpm to provide a quieter cockpit during normal cruising. It operates whenever the car is running and uses two microphones mounted in the headliner that capture low-end drivetrain frequencies entering the cabin, and send a signal to the Active Noise Control unit. A precisely timed reverse phase audio signal is created and sent to an amplifier, which powers the door speakers and the subwoofer positioned on the rear deck.

If this all sounds too complicated, trust me that it works. Acura claims a 10dB reduction in noise level. Another detail I liked is the red color of the engine start/stop button. The red color makes it very easy to locate compared to some vehicles that have black buttons on a black dash.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Behind the rear seats, there is 26.1 cubic feet of storage that is easily accessible via a power-actuated rear tailgate. The rear opening is 48.8 inches wide- 6.5 inches wider than the 2012 RDX. A big benefit of most any crossover SUV is the ability to switch from people-hauling to cargo-hauling. Acura has a new "one touch" activation of the 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks that opens up a 61.3 cubic feet load floor space, plus there is some below-floor storage.

The RDX has a rear view camera that is a nice safety feature to aid in backing. With the Technology Package, the camera can show one of three different rear view images on the 8-inch color monitor used for the navigation system. The "Normal View" delivers 130-degrees of rearward visibility, a "Wide View" delivers 175-degrees of rearward visibility and a "Top View" generates a straight-down look at the trailer hitch area or parking area- thus greatly easing alignment of the trailer or helping when maneuvering in tight parking spaces.

Not surprisingly, the all-new 2013 Acura RDX has received the highest possible safety rating of TOP SAFETY PICK from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The 2013 RDX is produced using U.S. and globally sourced parts exclusively by the company's East Liberty, Ohio plant.

I’m personally a big fan of station wagons because they are car-based and yet offer versatility. That said, and even though Acura offers a station wagon in its TSX sport wagon, I was very impressed by the refinement of the 2013 RDX. It’s quiet, comfortable, versatile, offers excellent fuel economy in its class, all in an elegant package.

It was a win for me to drive the RDX to Elkhart Lake and a win for Acura to have it there.

© Larry Nutson