December 14, 2012
It all works well, but the engine’s 273 horsepower and 251 lb-ft, and the way that power is delivered, seems rather ordinary. Even a relatively puny 2.0L turbo engine is capable of similar horsepower, but with more impressive torque, which translates into seemingly effortless low-rev power. This V6 is strong and smooth, but if Acura was looking to hold on to any of the first-generation RDX’s sporty demeanour, sticking with turbocharging would have been the way to do it.
2013 Acura RDX Tech. Click image to enlarge
This new RDX sticks with the old car’s firm ride. A few of my peers say this one is softer than the first-gen model, but I’m not so sure. If other crossovers may (that being the operate word) manage better fuel economy, some of them definitely go down the road more quietly; the RDX’s interior noise levels are notably higher than the Hyundai Santa Fe’s, for example. That said, the RDX is a more satisfying vehicle to drive, with communicative steering and strong brakes connected to a firm, responsive pedal. The only thing out of place about how the RDX goes down the road is a noisy rear suspension that clunked loudly over broken pavement.
If the suspension verges on uncomfortable, the interior helps to make up for it, with firm but supportive front seats. The cushy rear bench coddles two passengers, and offers more legroom than the old car, but that measurement still isn’t terribly generous. Naturally, there’s less comfort for three, but the RDX’s rear quarters proved wide enough for a pair of adults and a toddler in a car seat. The 739L cargo area is handy, but my favourite feature of the RDX’s way-back is the remote rear seatback release handles borrowed from the Honda CR-V. These are located just inside the tailgate, on either side of the trunk, and a single tug flops the seatbacks down to a not-flat fold, expanding cargo volume to 2,178L.
Acura’s trademark button-intensive dash appears here, but either the brand’s designers have somehow refined its layout or I’m simply getting used to it, as I was surprised by how little it annoyed me.
For the driver, the standard HID headlights are brilliant, both literally and figuratively. They’re aimed too high, however, and couldn’t have been anything less than blinding for oncoming drivers, or those who got a rearview mirror full at night.
Acura asks $40,990 for the base RDX, which comes standard with sunroof, HID headlights, intelligent keyless entry and leather seating, Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and a backup camera. My Tech tester costs $43,990, and adds navigation, a fabulous-sounding 410-watt surround-sound stereo, power tailgate and an upgraded solar-sensing, GPS-linked climate control system.
If the move away from forced induction just as it has begun to find favour with other carmakers seems strange, it’s one that contributes greatly to the RDX’s newly grown-up attitude. This car’s predecessor was never quite right for mass consumption, and Acura’s only problem now is that this new car will almost certainly steal sales from the brand’s larger MDX crossover. I suppose that’s a good problem to have, and one that points to an even larger, more upscale MDX in the future. Ironically, how much do you want to bet it will use a turbocharged engine?
Pricing: 2013 Acura RDX
Base price: $40,990
Options: $3,000 (Tech package)
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $46,035