Full 2013 Acura RDX Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Acura RDX is fully redesigned, getting a new look, a new engine, a roomier interior, improved fuel economy and a revised all-wheel-drive system.
The 2013 Acura RDX gets a complete overhaul in an effort to provide wider appeal and better efficiency. A naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine replaces the former turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder, and it provides more power along with improved fuel economy. Although the old turbo-4 was a spirited performer -- it made 240 horsepower -- it didn't provide the fuel economy and refinement one might expect.
By contrast, the new V6 version makes 273 hp, yet earns EPA estimates of 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined (front-wheel-drive version), compared to the 19/24/21 ratings of last year's RDX with the smaller engine. The roomier, more powerful and better-performing RDX accomplishes this impressive feat via various fuel-saving measures such as cylinder deactivation while cruising and a new six-speed automatic that replaces the old five-gear unit.
The all-wheel-drive version of the new RDX uses the system from Honda's CR-V, retuned by Acura for better performance. Acura says the new AWD system is lighter and costs less than the outgoing SH-AWD system offered in the previous RDX. It's probably a smart move on Acura's part, although the enhanced handling capabilities provided by SH-AWD that helped the RDX stand out in this segment might be missed by more serious driving enthusiasts.
That switch to a simpler AWD system is another indication of the different tack the 2013 Acura RDX takes. Though the newer RDX loses some sporty flavor in terms of ultimate cornering prowess, it gains significantly more in the way of ride refinement, cabin ambience and luxury features. The new styling strikes us as an improvement over its more generic predecessor, with a cleaner grille and a more sculpted body that's highlighted by a slightly tapered greenhouse. Our previous gripe that the RDX lacked a few key luxury features has been largely addressed, as keyless ignition/entry and a power liftgate, for example, are now available.
Thanks to this shift in focus that brought so many key improvements along with a pleasant driving demeanor, the 2013 Acura RDX finds itself in good standing in a very competitive segment. There's a lot of traditional Acura value here, too, with the RDX providing more cargo space along with some standard luxury features -- such as a power sunroof, heated front seats and keyless ignition/entry -- that cost extra on more expensive rivals. But if the RDX's suite of talents doesn't quite match your desires, we also highly recommend the stylish Audi Q5, the sporty BMW X3, the feature-packed Cadillac SRX and the family-friendly Volvo XC60.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Acura RDX small luxury crossover SUV is available in two trim levels; base and base with Technology package. Each is available with front- or all-wheel drive.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), heated front seats, leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, Pandora radio interface, an iPod/USB audio interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Technology package adds xenon headlights, foglights, a power liftgate, a navigation system (with real-time traffic and weather), GPS-linked and solar-sensing automatic climate control, and a 10-speaker Acura/ELS surround-sound audio system with 15GB of music storage.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2013 Acura RDX is a 3.5-liter V6 with 273 hp and 251 pound-feet of torque. Power comes through a six-speed automatic transmission, and there is a choice between standard front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive.
In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive RDX accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which is quick for cars in this class. In terms of fuel economy, the RDX is quite good for its class, with the EPA rating the front-drive RDX at 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. The AWD version drops slightly to 19/27/22.
The 2013 Acura RDX comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. A rearview camera is standard as well. In Edmunds brake testing, an all-wheel-drive RDX came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, a few feet longer than average for this class.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the RDX the highest possible score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the latest RDX is a notable improvement over the previous generation. A dual-cockpit dash design along with the use of higher-quality materials and two-tone dash/upholstery color schemes spices things up considerably. The RDX's various high-tech convenience features, including the navigation system, are user-friendly, while the powerful uplevel sound system should please most audiophiles with its clarity and separation.
Seat comfort front and rear is very good, with firm, supportive cushions and plenty of head- and legroom. At 38.3 inches, rear legroom is impressive and more like what you'd find in a larger crossover. In terms of cargo capacity, the RDX provides 26 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats. Folding them down affords 61 cubic feet. Both capacities are about average for this class.
Along with its stronger performance (about a half-second quicker to 60 mph) and higher fuel economy, the V6 in the 2013 Acura RDX also provides smoother, more linear response than the old turbo-4 setup. Fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation technology, which can shut down two or even three cylinders while cruising under light load conditions, is seamless in action -- we never heard or felt it during our time with the RDX.
Though it's not quite as sharp on a twisty road as its sometimes rough-riding forebear, the latest RDX still changes direction in fine fashion with minimal body roll and a precise, if light, feel to the steering. Indeed, despite the loss of SH-AWD and the freakish agility it conferred, the new RDX still handles with ample alertness and composure. On the open highway, the increased refinement is obvious in the lower levels of road and wind noise and its relaxed demeanor.