Acura RDX, 2013: Sleek new design, more power for upscale SUV

James Raia

The second generation Acura RDX, the manufacturer's smallest sport utility vehicle, debuted earlier this year as one of several new models in Honda’s upscale line.

The 2013 edition has a 3.5-liter engine producing 273 horsepower with a six-speed automatic transmission and a new all-wheel drive system. It replaces a turbo-charged four-cylinder engine.

The engine update improves gas mileage estimates to 20 mpg (city) and 28 mpg (highway). Additional changes include a small, efficient convenience upgrade. Easy-to-use pull handles behind the second row seat backs release the seats and they automatically fold flat.

Acura RDX, 2013: Sleek new design, more power for upscale SUV 1

The navigation system has been upgraded to a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) system, which also increases music storage capacity. A multi-view back-up camera now is standard, as well as a keyless access and a push button start. Pandora music can now be streamed wirelessly throughout the sound system. When upgrading to the technology package, a power lift tailgate is now included.

Others new features are subtle, but important. The new Acura RDX is 2.8 inches longer, .10 inches wider, .90 inches taller as well as 26 pounds lighter in the front-wheel drive edition and 93 pounds lighter with the all-wheel drive option.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

With some exception, SUVs seem like they've all morphed into the same vehicle. The word utility is keen, but many SUVs are practical and versatile in name only.

Not the new Acura RDX. It's among the small fraternity of diverse cars — $15,000 entry-level sedans to $100,000 sedans — I've felt like I already owned my first time in the car.

The interior design belies the vehicle's description as a compact SUV. There are 26.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up and 61.3 cubic feed with the seats folded down.

Driver and front passenger have ample head and legroom. Like many vehicles categorized with five-passenger capacity, the RDX is more suited for four adults or five passengers if younger children are part of the mix.

The newly designed console includes magnified, circular odometer and tachometer readouts for easy reading, and the remainder of the dials — the sound system to the heater and air conditioner are intuitive, well positioned and easy to use. The navigation screen and back-up camera clarity are superior.

With its increase to a V6 and additional horsepower, the RDX is powerful and quick, particularly for its so-called compact SUV designation. Steady speed increases are smooth, and the only concern was a slight lag during a few occasions when a quick lane change or a short freeway entrance ramp required an a near-instant burst of speed.


Automatic tailgate is efficient and quick.

Comfortable leather seats.

Acceleration. One of the quickest small SUVs I've driven.

Superior sound system.


Odd interplay between accessory and engine on-off modes.

Premium grade fuel recommended.

Facts & Figures: 2013 Acura RDX

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.5 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard.
Airbags (6): Dual front, front side, and front side curtain
First aid kit: Not available.
Fuel economy: 20 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: Unavailable.
Horsepower: 273
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $39,420.
Manufacturer's Web site: www.acura.com.
Price As tested: Unavailable.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,0000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/60,00 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

"Strides in refinement are evident when you slide into the seat. From the low levels of road and wind noise to the glove-soft leather on the seats and steering wheel, the RDX is an eminently pleasant place in which to spend time." — InsideLane/Edmunds.com.

"We suspect most RDX shoppers will appreciate the new refinement on the road. The interior is quiet, thanks in part to additional noise insulation and a new active noise cancellation system. Engine noise is kept to a minimum, leaving faint wind noise near the B-pillars and mild tire noise as the only intrusions into the cabin." — AutomobileMagazine.

"It’s not difficult to rationalize the changes Acura implemented in the 2nd generation RDX that better targets the needs of real buyers." — CarandDriver.com

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

"Many sport utility vehicles seem the same today. But the new Acura RDX has its own traits, most notably, it's quick, comfortable and well designed. That adds up to an SUV that stands out in a traffic jam or anywhere else."

The Weekly Driver has a new sister site, visit it here: Hyundai Buying Tips

Article Last Updated: May 3, 2012.

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