Yes, Acura officials took a bold move by tossing out a four-cylinder turbo powerplant in place since the RDX debuted in 2006.
As part of its redesign, a rugged V6 now moves the 3,700-pound small luxury SUV. Horsepower has increased from 240 to 273, and fuel economy also improved by 1-3 miles per gallon for city and highway driving according to EPA estimates. An impressive result.
Acura says the higher fuel efficiency numbers are due to innovative engine tuning and a cylinder deactivation system that shuts down up to three cylinders at cruising speeds. The new engine is mated to a retooled six-speed automatic replacing last year’s five-speed gearbox.
The SH-AWD system borrowed from sibling Honda CR-V and re-tuned for the Acura has been scrapped too in favor of a newer lightweight system. The new version supplies more power to the front wheels than before and will only provide a 50/50 split in severe weather when slippage is detected; otherwise, power is split 75/25.
For the spirited driver, there are paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel that perform shifting maneuvers on the fly when the gearshift is set to manual operation.
The all-new RDX has curb appeal with a tweaked front grille assembly and body styling flares. The test car I drove for a week was perched on18-inch alloys included in the AWD Tech Package.
With a refined interior and more available luxury features, the new RDX takes closer aim at its main competitors, the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Cadillac SRX. It has more power and features than most and costs significantly less than the BMW so Acura officials hope their new RDX can gain ground.
Seating surfaces front and rear are exceedingly roomy, comfortable and provide the type of head and legroom found in larger SUVs.
For cargo space, the RDX falls behind the competition for space behind the rear seats. However, by folding the seats flat the playing field is much closer.
Acura makes good use of interior space. A handy compartment inside the center console contains the USB input and can hold a Smartphone, wallet, glasses and keys while under cover, a convenient storage place.
On the road, I found that the new RDX performs more Lexus-like with a softer refined drive and less BMW like with slightly more roll and softer suspension. Depending upon your point of view and driving preference, the new RDX is either a step forward or a step back.
Regardless of direction, the new RDX is faster than its predecessor is. In the zero to 60 mile per hour sprint, the new RDX clocked 6.5 seconds compared with 6.9 for last year’s model.
On the price side, the RDX remains a solid choice and below the competition with models ranging in price from the mid $30s to mid $40s.
The RDX is available in two well-equipped trim levels, base and base with technology package. Both are available with front or all-wheel drive.
Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
2013 Acura RDX AWD Tech
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
EPA mileage per gallon of fuel: 19 city, 27 highway, 22 combined
Base price: $39,420
Model as tested: $40,315
Assembled: East Liberty, Ohio. Parts content – U. S. / Canadian parts – 65 percent; major source of foreign parts – Japan – 15 percent. Country of origin, engine and transmission – U. S.
Crash test ratings: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Acura RDX its highest rating of “Good” for side impact, frontal offset rollover crash protection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the RDX.
Warranty: 4 year/50,000 mile bumper to bumper; 6 year/70,000 mile drivetrain.
The all-new 2013 Acura RDX has a bolder, more aggressive look and a new more powerful engine. (Photo by Len Ingrassia)
Upscale interior featuring soft leather and a roomy center console with extra compartments highlight the new RDX. (Photo by Len Ingrassia)