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2013 Acura RDX Review

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2013 Acura RDX

2013 Acura RDX Review
By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

This month (July 2012) both Honda and Acura were among the top five performers in the category of percentage increase in sales over the previous year. Amazing? Yes. The auto industry in the U.S. is recovering nicely but these two Asian brands are helping lead the way. They’re also nearly 100% recovered from the earthquake and tsunami that temporarily interfered with Japanese manufacturing last year.

This week we’re testing the new Acura RDX, a premium 5-passenger compact CUV with front- or all-wheel drive that competes directly with the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Lexus RX 350 and others. In fact, most luxury brands have an entry in this category and the non-luxury brands are there as well with products continually moving upscale. This is a mighty competitive class of vehicles because they've been able to combine style and panache with practical comfort and spaciousness.

Our lovely and refined RDX makes a striking first impression, both visually and ergonomically. Having just reviewed the all-new, similar-in-size Mazda CX5 a few weeks earlier, the contrasts jumped out at me vividly. While the Mazda is simple, efficient and attractive, this RDX is luxurious, sophisticated and beautiful.

Pulling myself into the luscious leather seats and gazing around offered the first hint that this is a vehicle quite special. Before even starting the engine I could sense the quietness and serenity within. Flowing shapes surround the controls, gauges and ventilation outlets. The materials all suggest quality and class and the fit of the multitude of pieces is impeccable. We certainly wouldn’t describe it all as simple since it relies on some unusual controls but we had no problem figuring everything out without going to the manual.

Exterior styling breaks no new ground and shares a profile with just about all its competitors. The tall wagon shape with a few graceful creases and defined large wheel wells fits right into the genre. The distinctive Acura trapezoidal grille with chrome insert and Acura logo makes the branding very clear. The rear view is quite conventional as well, with a brow shading the rear window. Fairly large wheels and dual chrome-tipped exhaust outlets dress it up nicely.

RDX is not a heavyweight at about 3800 pounds, but from the first moments behind the wheel we get the feeling of heft - a smooth, tight, upscale luxury car. The ergonomics of the controls and the admirably quiet cabin add to this feel.

The CUV design means ingress and egress are easy in both front and rear seats. Front seats are firm and generous, leather of course, and adjustable ten ways for the driver but only four ways for the passenger. Side bolsters are generous and seat bolsters less so but enough to keep us feeling secure when we drive with some enthusiasm. Total passenger volume of 103.5 cubic-feet means it’s between a compact and midsize vehicle and comparable with most of its competition. Our rear seat passengers were comfortable. Behind the 60/40 split rear seat is a good 26.1 cubic-feet of cargo area and with seat backs folded we have almost 80 square-feet - again, not much different than the competition.

Powering the RDX is only one engine/transmission combination, the 3.5-liter V6, 273 horsepower, 251 pound-feet of torque with variable cylinder management (this engine replaces the 2.3-liter turbo 4 in the last generation RDX) mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Performance is excellent with strong acceleration, quick shifting and tight ergonomics in controlling it all. In spite of drive-by-wire throttle, and electric power steering we always felt like we had a physical connection with the car and road.

The EPA rates the RDX at 20-mpg in the city, 28 on the highway and 23 mpg combined for the front-wheel drive version and only 1-mpg lower for the all-wheel drive. With our all-wheel drive test car we were easily within that range. With a 16-gallon fuel tank we could count on well over 300 miles per fill. Premium fuel is recommended but not required. Often fuel mileage will be enough better with premium that it pays to go that way.

Suspension design is conventional with McPherson strut and stabilizer bar in front and double wishbone with trailing arm and stabilizer bar in the rear. Standard P235/60R18 all-season tires come on beautiful 18”X7.5” alloy wheels. Handling is great with suspension tuning well balanced.

Acura’s warranty covers the whole car for 4-yr 50,000 miles and the powertrain for 6-years or 70,000 miles.

RDX prices start at $34,320 for the front-wheel drive version and with all-wheel drive $35,720. The Tech Package adds about $3,700. Standard are V6 with six-peed automatic, perforated leather, 10-way power driver’s seat, 4-way power passenger seat, automatic dual-zone HVAC with air filter, multi-view rearview camera, keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, 360-watt, 8-speaker audio w/ CD, USB, Audio Interface and iPod integration, XM radio, Bluetooth Hands-free link wireless telephone interface

The Tech Package includes: navigation with Acura’s real-time traffic and traffic routing, real time weather and automated appointments, 410-watt Acura/ELS Surround Sound, HDD media storage, MP3, voice recognition for navigation and audio controls, power tailgate, GPS-linked and solar-sensing climate control, Xenon HID low-beam headlamps and fog lights.

The Acura RDX distinguishes itself in the small, luxury CUV market with great style, excellent performance and a quiet, comfortable interior. Its price is competitive with the others in that densely populated segment of the market and is well worth considering.

ęSteve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved