The Acura RDX has long been one of the more fun-to-drive small crossovers. For 2013, it has been redesigned both in appearance and under the hood to give it a more premium bearing and mainstream appeal. But at what cost? Satisfied 2007 RDX owner Lyra has her 2 cents.
Appearance: The RDX now resembles even more its big sibling, the MDX, with more chiseled sheet metal and slightly less body cladding. It looks sleeker, with a lower stance. The upswept headlights are narrow and flank Acura's more subtle (thankfully) front "shield" grille. Overall, the RDX is slightly longer and taller (by about an inch) and wider (1/10 of an inch) than its predecessor. The rear hatch gets a wider opening (48.8 inches across).
Performance: Gone is the feisty 240-horsepower turbocharged 4 cylinder and the "whoosh" that came with its acceleration. It is replaced by a 273-horsepower V-6. Our tester had front-wheel drive, but there's a new AWD system that sends power to all wheels when needed. We miss the former-generation RDX's full-time Super Handling-All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), which made for sportier cornering. The 2013 RDX does improve in the transmission department, upgrading to a 6-speed automatic (with Drive and Sport modes) over a 5-speed gearbox. In Sport mode, you can go completely manual if you use the paddles to shift. So, more horsepower, a better transmission but a simpler all-wheel-drive system. Not a bad tradeoff, right? Let's ask Lyra: "Big disappointment. Acura took the extraordinary out of the RDX and made it just like other vanilla crossovers." Ouch. Peter liked the performance of the new RDX, but will concede there's a certain fun factor missing from the more engaged and spirited driving feel of the previous model. Then again, even with a V-6, the MPG (with premium fuel) improves to 20 city and 28 highway (19/27 for AWD).
Interior: We like the upgrades to the quiet and roomy cabin, where the fit and finish is first-rate. The perforated leather seats are soft and comfortable, and Acura has made a backup camera standard. There's also a power tailgate — part of our tester's Tech package — push-button start and a neat GPS-linked solar sensor that monitors and adjusts cabin temperatures. There's voice command for navigation and climate controls, as well as "song by voice" for music. The cargo space of this five-seater has improved to a large 76.9 cubic feet (from 60.6), and the rear seats fold easily with the pull of a handle. One nit: Lyra misses the large, lockable armrest bin to store a laptop or purse.
Our 3 favorites
Appearance: I like the new grille and a more refined look.
Cabin: More head room, and it's much quieter.
Ride: I like the more composed and comfortable ride, even if some of the handling fun has been toned down.
Quiet cabin: Sound insulation and noise cancellation technology that's borrowed from the Acura RL.
Power tailgate: Easy to close the rear hatch.
MPG: Up to 28 mpg for the FWD.
The bottom line: If you like Honda's CR-V but want a little more power, or you have no strong allegiances to the previous-generation RDX, then the 2013 is for you.