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AutoNews


The redesigned RDX reflects lessons Acura has learned in the fledgling entry-premium crossover segment, which other luxury brands are only now entering.

The new RDX is larger than the 1st generation, and the turbo-4has been replaced with a V-6. The price has also been jacked up by nearly $1,500, even though the RDX is built in East Liberty, Ohio, and somewhat immune to the effects of the strong yen.

The basics: Acura customers gave a lot of pushback about driving a jerky turbo-4, especially those who had downsized from larger vehicles with smooth V-6 engines. So for this model change, Acura dropped in a V-6 with 33 more horsepower and better fuel economy, thanks to variable cylinder management. Its 0-to-60 mph time is 0.3 seconds quicker, at 7.3 seconds for front-wheel-drive models.

The new RDX adds a 6th gear ratio. The 5 lower gear ratios are much shorter, for quicker acceleration, but 6th gear is taller for freeway cruising.
PHP:
2013 vs. 2012 Acura RDX
 	2013 Acura RDX	2012 Acura RDX
Wheelbase	105.7 in.	104.3
Length	183.5 in.	182.5
Width	73.7 in.	73.6
Height	66.1 in.	65.1
Engine	3.5-liter V-6	2.3-liter turbo-4
Horsepower	273 hp at 6,200 rpm	240 @ 6000 rpm
Torque, lbs.-ft.	251 lb-ft at 5,000 rpm	260 @ 4500 rpm
Fuel economy	20/28/23	19/24/21
Curb weight	3717 lbs.	3743 lbs.
Base price	$35,205*	$33,780*
* incl. destination charges
Notable features: The electric power steering and some front suspension pieces like the torsion bar and lower A-arm are shared with the Honda CR-V. But the shock absorber pistons have secondary reactive dampers for a better ride than the CR-V.

Little else is common between the 2 similar-sized vehicles. Besides the engine, the front subframe, rear subframe and suspension also are different.

The instrument panel and center console follow the Acura design ethos: technical, smartly laid out, with a premium feel in the stalks and buttons.

Standard features include a moonroof, 18-inch wheels, keyless access, heated leather power seats, SMS text messaging and a 360-watt CD stereo with USB link and Pandora Internet radio. The back-up camera display is now integrated into the monitor, rather than the rear-view mirror.


The instrument panel and center console follow the Acura design ethos: technical, smartly laid out, with a premium feel in the stalks and buttons.​

What Acura says: "Empty-nest MDX owners don't want to go back to a 4-cylinder engine," said Ichiro Sasaki, the RDX large project leader. "The turbo-4 and 5-speed transmission meant lag and slippage in the torque converter, which hurt fuel economy. A V-6 with variable cylinder management is much better suited for this car."

Compromises and shortcomings: The V-6 has less torque than the turbo-4— made obvious in the V-6 torque curve's flat spot between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm, which was implemented for fuel economy. Also, this is an old V-6, shared with the Odyssey minivan. A new-generation V-6 arrives later this year with the Honda Accord, and executives said a midcycle freshening may include the new engine family.

The market: Acura predicts the entry-premium crossover segment will grow from 186,000 units this year to 337,000 units by 2017. The RDX, an established nameplate, will be well-positioned to take advantage of this growth.

Acura will aim for young couples without children, as well as empty-nesters. But Acura missed the mark with its 1st-generation RDX, aiming for "urban achievers" in their 30s but instead attracting suburban baby boomers.

Acura hopes to sell 30,000 units a year, up from 15,196 last year and a peak of 23,356 in 2007. The new RDX goes on sale today, April 2.

The skinny: Despite some shared components, it doesn't feel like a CR-V. The doors close with a reassuring thunk. 2nd-row legroom is surprisingly spacious for a compact crossover, without sacrificing a commodious rear cargo area. The navigation system has a weather-warning overlay, which came in handy as the test group drove smack into a spring snowstorm. Driving both front- and all-wheel-drive versions in the snow, the RDX performed capably. This is a strong effort and a good sign for a brand needing a home run.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
AutoGuide


Turn the key in the ignition and the crude powerplant comes to life like the firewall has all the sound deadening of a cardboard box. It's engaging but rather unrefined for a luxury machine. It is, however, a hoot to drive with a sophisticated all-wheel drive system and plenty of thrust from its turbocharged engine.

FAST FACTS
1. All-new RDX trades its turbo 2.3L 4-cylinder for a more powerful, efficient and refined 3.5L V6..

2. Gone is SH-AWD in favor of a lighter, lower-tech solution.

3. Standard equipment includes leather, heated seats, a backup camera and keyless access with a push button ignition.

4. Pricing starts at $34,320 for front-drive or $35,720 for AWD.​

But this is not the 2013 Acura RDX. Rather, it's the car's predecessor, a 2012 model provided to journalists to gauge the level of improvement made to the all-new 2nd generation compact luxury crossover during a launch event held in Scottsdale, AZ. A bold move by Acura, it's not unusual for an automaker to bring along a few competitive vehicles (in this case a BMW X3 and Audi Q5) to a drive event like this, but almost never is there a previous generation model, lest the improvements prove to be less than dramatic, or the previous generation car is better.

But "better" is a relative term. Acura targeted the 1st-generation at young urban males with a focus on performance and much less concern for fuel economy or ride quality - both of which the premium sport-cross lacked considerably. On sale for half a decade Acura's sales figures for the car reflect the fact that the folks in product planning got it all wrong. As a result, the RDX has done an about-face.


CAN COMPROMISE BE A GOOD THING?

Compromise may be valued in diplomacy, but in the auto industry it's a 4-letter word. Still, every car is full of compromises, with success determined by a careful balance between opposing factors. The RDX is no different, although the creative minds at Acura prefer to replace "compromise" with what they call a "high contrast" philosophy.

Exactly what is being contrasted in the RDX? For starters there's the juxtaposition between fuel economy and performance, not to mention agile handling and ride quality, a dramatic design vs. a timeless 1, and let's not forget compact size versus interior space - an area Honda brand vehicles (ZDX aside) always excel in.


Starting on the outside, the RDX, like all modern Acuras, has moved away from the brand's controversial styling cues of recent memory. Its lines are unlikely to wow anyone, just as they're also designed not to offend, with far too much CR-V in the window design. Larger than its predecessor, it's now much harder to distinguish it from the MDX. That perception of exterior size will, likely, help sell a few extra units. If the RDX does have a best angle, like much of the rest of the Acura lineup, it's from the rear.

The proportions are misleading, however, as the RDX is no wider than before, although its wheels have been brought out by roughly an inch side to side. Less of a handling gain, this helps deliver a more stable ride on the highway. With a new shock setup, further comfort gains are made by using slightly higher profile 235/60/18 tires.

It is an inch longer overall with an extra inch and a half between the wheels, although despite a more imposing presence on the road, it's actually a touch (5mm) lower overall. As a result, the center of gravity has been improved.


LUXURY RIDE

That should help improve the overall driving dynamics of the RDX, was it not now a much softer vehicle. That's not necessarily a criticism either. Sure it's no longer something we'd take on a canyon road, but it is vastly superior as a daily driven machine that will bring you to your destination in luxurious comfort. Compared to the BMW X3, the RDX soaks up bumps easily. Acura even designed to electric power steering specifically to offer less resistance at low speeds, acknowledging this as a preference for female drivers. In low speed driving around town or on the long sweeping highways running through Arizona's Tonto National Forest the new RDX makes the old 1 feel downright crude.

Another sign that Acura has tossed aside any sporting ambitions for its crossover is the removal of the brand's impressive Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. A high-tech and heavy unit, it was axed in the name of cost and fuel economy. The "high contrast" factors being fuel economy versus performance. SH-AWD was a trend-setting technology, distributing power not just front-to-rear but up also side-to-side in the rear, allowing the car to essentially rotate on just 1 wheel. Perfect for serious performance, that's not what buyers want in this type of vehicle.

The new all-wheel drive system moves power front to rear with as much as 100% of the torque going through the front wheels for cruising, or a 50/50 split for under certain low traction circumstances.

Dropping SH-AWD has helped reduce the car's AWD weight by 100 lbs. That diet also helps in the fuel economy department, with the new RDX climbing in fuel economy by 5-mpg highway and 3-mpg combined for a total 19/27 or a combined 22 mpg rating. Front-drive models are also up to 20/28 and 23 mpg combined.


GOOD BYE TURBO, HELLO FUEL ECONOMY

Of course the biggest factor in improving fuel economy is the engine. While most automakers are trading 6-cylinders for turbocharged 4-bangers, Acura is, oddly, doing the opposite. Apart from what are likely some financial constraints behind building an all-new engine for just one model, there's the fact that Acura's turbo 4 is the opposite of efficient - though it is incredibly fun

In its place now is a new 3.5-liter V6 making 273 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. Acura boasts a 23 hp improvement, though doesn't like to mention it's also down 29 lb-ft of torque. Lacking in that turbo thrust, it's still more than enough power for a vehicle like this. No acceleration times have been announced but an engineer present at the launch did tell us it will do the sprint to 60 quicker than the old motor.

Helping make the engine so efficient is Honda's cylinder deactivation system that allows the V6 to run on 4 or even 3 cylinders when possible. The use of a 6-speed automatic over a 5-speed doesn't hurt either.


VASTLY IMPROVED AND WELL-EQUIPPED INTERIOR

Another of Acura's buzz phrases is a "man-machine synergy", which conjures up ideas of a well-balanced and intuitive sports sedan - something you won't feel when driving the RDX. Sitting behind the wheel, however, it's hard to deny the brand's "smart luxury" mantra with a handsome and modern interior, that's ergonomically sound and quieter than the X3. With standard leather, as well as heated front seats with a memory function the interior hits all the premium benchmarks. A sign of the car's change in identity, however, there's little in the way of side bolstering on the seats.

Other standard goodies include a moonroof, a multiview backup camera, Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity, a 360 watt audio system and perhaps best of all, the Keyless Access system with a push button ignition - a shiny red button too.

Keeping it simple, Acura offers front or all-wheel drive and the choice of a Tech Package on either, which adds a 410-watt 10 speaker audio system, HID headlights, a power tailgate, Acuralink traffic and weather updates plus a navigation system on a big and bright 8-inch monitor - not the old pixilated system used before.

As for functionality, the added space between the wheels translates into the best front and rear legroom and shoulder room in the segment. A wide rear opening allows access to the plentiful 26.1 cu-ft of rear cargo space, which expands to 61.3 cu-ft with the rear seats down.

A package to rival the best in the business, Acura sticks it to the Germans in the pricing department. Roughly $1,500 more than last year's model, the 2013 RDX starts at $34,320 or $35,720 for the all-wheel drive version. Models equipped with the tech-package are $38,020 (FWD) and $39,420 (AWD).


THE VERDICT

Acura discovered with the 1st-generation RDX that young males aren't buying these cars. Instead, couples are, both pre and post family. As a result, gone is the turbo and high-tech all-wheel drive. In essence, gone is the fun. In its place, however, the car has gained, well, more of everything else. It's lighter and more fuel-efficient. It's also significantly more refined. There's less of what people didn't really use and more of what they want.

With segment growth pegged at 12.6 percent through 2017, the RDX is poised to capture much more of that pie. A more mainstream option than in the past, about the only thing holding the RDX back is a more compelling design.

The folks at Acura can call it "high contrast" if they like; the RDX proves that as far a compact premium crossovers go, when it comes to the balance between performance and luxury, compromise isn't always a bad thing.


LOVE IT
Quit, calm, smooth ride
V6 delivers plenty of thrust
Premium interior
Attractive pricing


LEAVE IT
Mediocre styling
Much less fun
 

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Discussion Starter #4
MotorAuthority


If you've driven the previous Acura RDX, you know the definition of compromise. While it was, in many ways, ahead of its time, the RDX was rough, balky, and awkward as much as it was peppy, fun, and high-tech. Times have changed.

The 2013 Acura RDX doesn't look all that much different from the last on 1st glance. Nonetheless, it's all new, with different exterior and interior styling, a new powertrain, and a vastly different character--and it's aiming at a new target market.

As a member of the previous RDX's target market, I understand why it didn't succeed. Late 20s and early 30s professional men with a taste for both luxury and sport sound like good buyers. We're not. We buy modern classics gently used, we buy sport and forsake luxury, or we buy above our means and cut corners elsewhere. We don't make the compromise the last RDX required.

Disclaimer: Acura flew me out to a pretty sweet resort in Scottsdale for this drive, put me up for a couple of nights, and fed me surprisingly well. Despite all of that, I managed to keep my wits about me.​

The new RDX may succeed where the last did not, as it requires far fewer compromises. In maturing into a more complete vehicle, it has also set its sights on younger pre-children couples, older empty-nesters, and those between that don't need as much kid-and-gear-wrangling capacity.


But how does it drive?


Not having a chance to really live with the RDX in our short stint with it in Phoenix on Acura's dime, we can't speak well to its longer-term qualities. On the road, both canyon and highway, however, it's surprisingly good.

I should note that I dont like crossovers much, as they seem like needlessly tall and tippy hatchbacks. I'm not a normal person in that regard. But the Acura RDX rises above that simple epithet to deliver something more akin to a cross between a luxury sedan and an SUV, much like the BMW X6, though not quite so large or nice. The exterior design even mimics the X6, in a way, with a more coupe-like top and a more SUV-like bottom.

Powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 273 horsepower, the 2013 RDX is anything but slow. It's not exactly quick either, and the 240-horsepower 2.3-liter turbo it replaces actually has considerably more torque--more area under the curve--until about 4,500 rpm. The new engine is more efficient, rating 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway in FWD trim, and 19/27 mpg in AWD. Acceleration, however, is quick and relatively effortless. Part of this comes from the RDX's less-than-portly 3,700-3,900-pound weight, depending on equipment and choice of front- or all-wheel drive, and part comes from lower gear ratios through fifth, with a taller sixth for gas mileage. Thanks to this combo, it'll reel off 0-60 mph times conservatively claimed in the 7-second range, per Acura.

At each corner, a trick new damper helps even out ride quality while providing more firmness in sportier moments. It does it through a curious spring-and-piston arrangement, and it mostly succeeds.

2 pistons ride in the damper, 1 for normal duty, handling smaller displacement bumps and dips. A 2nd, tethered to it by a light spring, comes into action when the shaft moves farther. This 2nd piston greatly increases damping forces, essentially doubling them, to provide the firm, settled handling most of us associate with sportiness. A secondary spring, more powerful, resides within the damper as well, aiding rebound forces.


The problem with the system, however, is that it relies not on the speed of the damper's movement--the frequency, as it were--but on the amplitude. This means a certain amount of body roll is required before the secondary piston engages, taming the soft and comfortable ride into sporty submission. The result is a crossover that will, ultimately, handle very well approaching the limit, but provides little in the way of confidence-inspiring feedback at initial turn-in.

Fortunately for most, it's the comfortable mode that functions 99 percent of the time, ironing out even rather impressive bumps with ease. The well-weighted electric power steering's lack of sensory feedback will further discourage any sport sedan-imitating histrionics.

The 6-speed automatic transmission functions as another minor deterrent to truly sporty behavior, despite its paddle shifters. When giving it a solid boot, whether merging onto the freeway or attempting to slingshot out of a tight corner, in sport mode or regular, there's a momentary hesitation--not major, but enough to feel the deceleration briefly--before it kicks down a gear or three and takes off with proper gusto and a fair howl from the V-6 under the hood.

All of the drawbacks aside, driven back-to-back with the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, we might find most of these faults to be compact crossover traits, rather than flaws specific to the RDX. In fact, after nearly wearing out the event's support staff, the RDX proved to be tied with the X3 for most fun-to-drive.


So it's fun, but is it any good?

Inside, the RDX, like many other of the sub-TL portions of the Acura range, comes off as a very, very well-done mainstream car, and less so as an entry-level luxury car. Contrasted with the Audi Q5's interior, the difference is stark.

While the Q5 offers few materials improvements, the design, fit, and finish of the same raw matter is miles better, at least to my eye. It's like the difference between a higher-end off-the-rack suit (the RDX), and an entry-level custom tailored alternative (the Q5). Both are nice, but you'll pick the tailored suit from your closet first every time.

That said, the Q5, and the BMW X3 for that matter, are quite a bit more expensive than the RDX, which roams around in the $35,000-$40,000 range--about 10 to 20 percent more expensive, depending on the equipment chosen. And at similar price points, the RDX offers some things standard, or as part of the Technology Package, that the X3 and Q5 lack, like sunroofs, higher-end audio systems, or GPS-linked climate control.

On the other hand, the X3 and Q5 have truly high-end technology that's simply not available on the RDX: things like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and parking assitance.

At the end of our day with the RDX, I'd come to the conclusion that while it wasn't fully into the luxury realm, it was competitive with the entry-level players, not just on the spec sheets, but in the real world.

Driving down the road, listening to a truly excellent Acura/ELS sound system in utter quiet, occasionaly dicing a curve a bit faster than the posted limit, then backing off and cruising in comfort, I was happy. Happy as I was in the X3 or the Q5. Perhaps not as full of myself when I had the German badges at my compass points, or when I glanced down to the controls, but eyes up, out the windshield, soaking in the saguaro and the sunshine, happy.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
CarConnection


All-new for 2013, the Acura RDX takes what was good about the previous model--its just-right size, nimble handling, and attractive design--and makes them better, while working on the rough spots. Those rough spots included a slightly too-rough ride, laggy power delivery paired with a balky transmission, and somewhat lackluster gas mileage. They're mostly smoothed over in the 2013 RDX.

It's not often that a car manufacturer gets so far out ahead of the curve that it's forced to retrace its steps, but in some ways, that's exactly what happened to the Acura RDX. Offered in turbo 4-cylinder form well before that was the happening thing in luxury vehicles, let alone crossovers, many eschewed the smaller Acura for the MDX or went to rival brands offering 6-cylinder models.


Fast forward a few years, and those rival brands are now bringing out their own turbocharged 4-cylinders and Acura has moved to a 273-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine. While that might seem like a step backward, it's actually more fuel efficient, slightly more powerful (at peak) and noticeably smoother in its power delivery. All of those things make the move away from turbocharged small-displacement engines back to V-6 territory a sensible one, despite the shifting sands of the rest of the market. Fuel economy of the new V-6 picks up as much as 5 mpg highway over the previous 2012 RDX.

Behind the wheel, the new RDX feels nearly as peppy as the previous model off the line, though the surge of the 2012 model's turbo added some excitement that's not present in the linear power delivery of the new V-6--though that's not really a criticism. Under full throttle, the RDX willingly merges with speedy freeway traffic, readily passes 50-mph 2-lane slow pokes, and generally zips around like you'd expect a luxury crossover to do. It also handles the road well, absorbing big bumps with ease while remaining composed in windy sections. It owes this behavior to its new 2-stage dampers, which include a secondary floating piston that activates in certain driving conditions to control body motion and improve handling without sacrificing ride comfort.


The transmission, on the other hand, lags slightly behind driver inputs, particularly when a 2- or 3-gear downshift is required (hard acceleration from moderate speeds, as in passing), balking for just a moment before grabbing the gear and accelerating as desired. The issue was noticed in both all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive models, indicating it's not a problem of the on-demand distribution of torque to the rear wheels.

Exterior design of the 2013 RDX is slightly changed from the 2012 model, though not markedly so; the prominent grille is made slightly less noticeable, the fender arches are slightly more pronounced, and the overall design is smoother and more mature. Inside, the interior is all-new, with characteristic Acura high-tech style, but thankfully less reliance on bright, hard plastic elements and more soft-touch, matte-finish items. A preponderance of bright-finish chrome in the center stack is eye-catching, but clashes slightly with the look and makes sunny days a chore of avoiding reflected glare, seemingly catching the sun from every angle.


The cabin itself is quiet--very, quiet, in fact, and comfortable. Front-seat space is ample for even those over 6 feet tall, yet an 8-way power adjustable seat and tilt/telescoping steering column offer adjustability for most heights and body types.

Technology abounds, as you expect with Acura, undercutting the competition on the equipment available for the price--though you won't find some of the higher-end features BMW and Mercedes-Benz offer on the list of available upgrades, such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and parking assistance. What you will find, however, is standard dual-zone climate control, cruise control, keyless entry with push-button start, ambient lighting, a 7-speaker sound system with USB/MP3/Auxiliary support, Bluetooth handsfree calling, and more--all standard. An available Technology Package adds navigation with voice controls, real-time traffic and weather, a 10-speaker Acura/ELS audio system, GPS-linked climate control, SMS texting support, and Pandora app functionality.


Most of this technology comes off well, notably the excellent Acura/ELS audio system, which produces clear, enveloping sound even at very low volumes. The navigation system is relatively easy to use, and functions well, but the display--though high-resolution--looks a bit dated in comparison to the large, wide-aspect screens in BMWs and the sharp, color-coordinated displays from Audi.

As a crossover, it's not all about passenger comfort and tech goodies, however. There's also the matter of cargo space and utility--that's what sets it apart from an equivalently-priced sedan, after all. Here, the RDX is right in the zone for its compact crossover class, with 26.1 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, 61.3 cubic feet with the seats folded flat, and 76.9 cubic feet including under-floor storage. Even so, it's aimed at younger pre-children couples and slightly older couples with children off to college, not so much at families, kids, and the attendant gear.

 

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Discussion Starter #6
WindingRoad


The current, now outgoing, Acura RDX was a pretty rad small crossover for car enthusiasts that mostly care about a vehicle being fun to drive. With a punchy, roaring, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, stickum and grace thanks to Super Handling-All Wheel Drive, and the sort of puggish good looks than only a fanboy could really love, it was a crossover that largely defied the standard formula.

That all sounds like high praise to us, whose Involvement Index-flavored outlook on life generally finds us lukewarm about “standard” crossovers. But the truth is that Acura had aimed the 1st RDX at a young, hip, male demographic, but found that most actual buyers were older, empty-nest Boomers. With that information clear, and a next-generation RDX due up, the automaker set its sights on a vehicle that was a bit larger, more comfortable, and far more traditional than the punk-rock first-gen car.

With that as background, it would be difficult to rate this 2013 RDX as anything but a direct bullseye for Acura’s development team. This new crossover sort of “joins the herd” in terms of overall character and performance, and then immediately attempts to gain separation in the more traditional arenas of ride quality, content, fuel economy, and price.

Apart from the alteration of the exterior appearance—we’re guessing that the new RDX will probably be more loved for its looks than the last 1, but you can judge that for yourselves—the most obvious revision to the RDX formula lies with its 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The larger V-6 puts out 273 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque, which is a gain of 33 horses relative to the old 2.3-liter turbo, and a loss of some 9 pound-feet of torque.

Perhaps the biggest difference between old and new, though, is character. The turbo motor felt punchier and harder-worked than the new 6, and seemed, especially in the middle of the rev range, to be more responsive. Much of that feeling is undoubtedly due to the old car’s louder, more visceral power delivery, because the truth of the matter is that the 2013 RDX is a match for the old in terms of Acura-measured 0-60 time (just under seven seconds).

In our drive from suburban Scottsdale, through some meandering (if not exactly winding) roads, and with lots of time on the freeway, we generally enjoyed the smooth and laidback V-6 powertrain. The RDX feels rather fleet for this class of SUV, the 6-speed auto transmission unobtrusive, and our monitoring of the fuel economy gauge over around 40 highway miles led us to believe that the speculated 28 miles per gallon (highway) for the front-drive version will be easy to achieve in real life. For those keeping score on the econ front, RDX’s 20/28 city/highway mpg numbers are about as good as it gets in this segment, as long as you leave the hybrids out of the equation (which we’re happy to do).

It seems a good time to mention that, while we did get some miles in in the AWD version of the RDX, the bulk of our test drive was spent in the front-drive car. Now that Acura has moved away from the performance-oriented, torque-vectoring SH-AWD system in favor of a less complex AWD setup, our general impression is that the all-wheels-driven car simply feels more “front-drivery” than did the last car. Acura has tuned this system to be just as competent in low-traction situations, but without as much dynamic grip in the dry. We’ll be sure to test out that last part when we get the AWD version in our office and on a good road, and that 1st part if we’re able to drive the new RDX come next winter. Stay tuned.

With the power and speed quotient about the same in this new Acura, it’s fair to say that the suspension tuning and attendant ride quality is the biggest single dynamic change to the RDX. The engineers have gone all-in on the feeling of luxury here, and the result is a glass-smooth ride that aids overall comfort in a massive way. Surface imperfections from the road, even big cracks and bumps, were dialed out almost completely. Even still, the softer RDX didn’t seem to “float” overly much when cresting larger bumps and small hills at speed. When cornering effort is ramped up, there’s plenty of softness in the suspension, as well as a CUV-standard amount of roll. You won’t be confused into thinking you’ve slipped behind the wheel of an NSX, that’s for sure. The RDX is well-suited to smoothing out the rough places of the world—if not driving through them aggressively.

Steering feel is lacking overall, which matches the rest of the ride/handling balance from a character standpoint. The tiller has a good amount of heft to it, even if the dead-ahead and on-lock feedback is very minimal. The oft-used but accurate phrase “video game-like” is very apt here. Despite this dynamic deficit, and noting that turn-in and response are both pretty lethargic, we’re forced to admit that the tuning strategy here fits well with the car as a whole.

Seriously complementing this ultra-smooth ride and relaxed steering is an ultra-quiet cabin for the RDX. Road, wind, and engine noise have all been banished from the cabin in large measure, creating a vehicle that should compete with the best of the segment here.

The feeling from the driver’s seat is a kind of “smart-luxury” vibe that is typical of Acura. The company has streamlined its HVAC/entertainment interface relative to other new products in the lineup, and materials quality generally feels up to snuff in the segment. As always, those looking for outright plushness will prefer the confines of a BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLK, but will pay more, feature to feature, than will the Acura buyer. Moreover, we’d put the optional ELS sound system up against the up-sale offering from any other high-end crossover peddler—the stereo sounds great, and we can’t wait to get 1 into the shop for a full audio test.

In short: while we’re a little sad to lose the quirky RDX of the last few years, there’s no question that this new, plushy version is set to do serious damage in the premium crossover world. We think that Acura is poised to do very well with this 2013 RDX, even if the enthusiast buyer is left to ponder other options.

VS: Lexus RX350

Somehow, despite the RDX having smaller dimensions overall (it’s more than 4 inches shorter in total length), Acura claims to have almost exactly as much room for passengers, and even more useable cargo space than does the RX350. A neat trick, to be certain.

Answering the space issue is a great start for the Acura, which absolutely faces the stiffest in-segment competition from its Lexus rival.

A base RX350 FWD carries an MSRP of $39,075, while an RDX with all-wheel drive and Acura’s technology package is expected to start at $39,420 (the base Acura has an MSRP of $34,320). That means an awful lot of content for the RDX versus its primary competitor, even though the Acura’s price has jumped up by a few grand versus the outgoing version.

We also think that the RX comparison is especially apt, because it’s very clear that the new thinking and engineering of the Acura has been geared toward a Lexus audience (i.e., a comfort-seeking rather than excitement-seeking driver).

Cost of ownership, residual value, and overall satisfaction may still trend in favor of the dominant RX, but the RDX at last poses a realistic cross-shop for this buyer.

VS: BMW X3 xDrive28i

The X3 with the 35i engine is more of a straightforward comparison, in terms of power, for the newly V-6-equipped RDX, but the slightly slower BMW still offers a more engaging driving dynamic.

For a bit less than the asking price of the new RDX, the X3 offers a willing engine, nice handling, and faster, more responsive steering. Of course the BMW is smaller, less frugal, less capacious, and a bit heavier, too.

A straight comparison test would be needed to iron out exactly which 1 is more compelling overall, but on paper the RDX presents 1 hell of an argument here.

2013 Acura RDX FWD
Engine: V-6, 3.5 liters, 24v
Output: 273 hp/251 lb-ft
Fuel Economy, City/Hwy: 20/28 mpg
Cargo Capacity: 61.3 cu ft
Base Price: $34,320
On Sale: April 2, 2012​
 

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Received notice from my acura dealer in PA today showing a
2013 white rdx they have now.
 

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Price, drive is great, but some premium features are missing

After spending a couple days in the Sonoran Desert with the 2013 Acura RDX I had reached 2 key conclusions.

1st, the new RDX is a big turnaround for Acura, taking a relatively boring under-performer and transforming it into a vehicle that is both fun to drive and refined in a new-money sort of way. 2nd, I could not help but feel that despite how impressive the vehicle's performance is -- compared to some of its competitors comparables -- Honda Motor Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7267) is going about things in the hardest way possible, in some cases, tech-wise. This is interesting to note, but generally does not detract from the vehicle given its strong performance.


I. Looks and Features

The 2013 Acura RDX is the 2nd generation of Acura's entry-level luxury crossover SUV (2 rows of seats, seats 5). The vehicle is being produced domestically in East Liberty, Ohio and goes on sale on April 2, 2012.

Price-wise Acura has taken an approach similar to Ford Motor Comp. (F) offering standard features that its competitors typically offer as options, such as standard USB iPod comptability, SMS text messaging, premium audio, power moonroof, power seats, and hands-free voice commands, among others.

Acura also offers one of the best backup cameras in the industry, standard. I'm a staunch critic of most backup cameras in their current state, as I feel they create more accidents, than they prevent. As most cameras cover a narrow strip of view, they do prevent running over things directly behind/beneath your vehicle (such as a family pet), however, staring forward when you're backing up is an instant ticket to hitting objects to the rear-back sides of your vehicle. So with traditional backup cams Fido will be safe, but your neighbor, not so much.

By contrast Acura's backup cam is "multi-view", meaning it covers a much broader stretch of view. It's a bit wild at 1st -- the human eyes are not used to having that much perspective -- we're not a deer. But ultimately, multi-view generally offers what traditional backup cams do not -- a safe way to backup up while looking at your display.

In terms of looks, the exterior is slightly more aggressively styled than its predecessor, though nothing earth-shattering. Where as the previous generation screamed mundane luxury, the new version features a bolder front (think Cadillac), sharper lines, and larger wheels (which also add to the performance -- more on that later). Acura describes its design approach as "sleek upper, strong lower" (translated).

Curiously some features -- rain-sensing wipers, Active Park Assist (APS), Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), dimming mirrors, adaptive cruise control -- were notably absent. There's a small possibility that these features could be unmentioned options, but they were not in the vehicles we tested.

II. Price

Jeff Conrad, Acura VP pitches the vehicle stating that the RDX gives you, "The good feeeling of buying something better, not because you have to, but because you want to and because you can."

But if that sounds a bit aloof, be aware that Acura's RDX is an entry level luxury vehicle, hence it is being marketed heavily at increasingly affluent Generation Y byers. If I had a dollar for every time Acura mentioned "Gen. Y" or DINK (dual-income no kids) in the presentation I'd be a rich man. But looking at the styling it's clear this is a vehicle that is design specifically to appeal to this segment (though Acura says it's also targeting empty-nester couples).

Acura's vehicle is aggressively priced at about $8k beneath Audi's Q5 crossover and BMW's X3 xDrive28i crossover. While these were Acura's selected comparison points, some other points of reference (based on current pricing) are seen below:


As most manufacturers' typically clumped options in a way that made it impossible to get a direct comparable, I picked an optionless version (comparable-) with only matching options, and a more-optioned version with packages that included overlapping options and options not found in the Acura RDX (comparable+). While they're not luxury vehicles I threw in the 7-seat Dodge Durango CUV and the 2013 Ford Explorer as examples of a mid- and high-range consumer CUVs.

Of course, the number from Acura was direct from their presentation, so that figure may or may not see a small change when the pricing goes live online.

Ultimately the pricing reveals that Acura's new RDX may be marketed as a luxury vehicle, but it's priced like a high-end mainstream vehicle. It fact, it appears to narrowly beat some high-end consumer vehicles (such as Ford's 2013 Explorer) in price, though not in features for well-equipped models.


III. Driving Impressions


a. NVH

Compared to the 1st generation RDX, the Audi Q5 (V6), and BMW X3 xDrive28i, which Acura provided for comparisons, the NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) was quite good. The front row was noticeably quieter than its predecessor, and matched the Q5. The BMW had a great deal of unpleasant engine noise (among other issues) -- basically a high pitch whir that sounded like an overactive gerbil on a wheel (the vehicle was brand new, so I'm not sure where the X3's problems came from).

Acura's front-of-the-pack performance NVH-wise comes thanks to a major revamp of the suspension system. Overall the vehicle frame was made 25% more vertically rigid and 142% (Acura's number) more laterally rigid. A new input-separating mounting design dampener, which spreads upwards force in 2 directions was also added. The spring rigidity was cut down 15% and compensated by a larger 60R18 tire, up from the 1st generations 55R18 tire.

I drove over some slightly rugged terrain, but nothing too extreme. Overall the vehicle's ride was relatively silent, with tire noise dominating more than motor noise. Granted this wasn't exactly a streets of Detroit (aka pothole city USA) torture test, but it did give a rough idea that NVH was a strength


b. Handling

Handling was another strength of the vehicle. Here comes the part where Acura made life a bit difficult for itself.

It scrapped the thrust-vectoring, which allowed the computer to drive each wheel at different speeds. In its place motion adaptive electronic power steering (EPS), which compensates for oversteering and understeering. It also lowered the center of gravity, widened the wheelbase, lengthened the wheelbase, bumped the wheel size, and lowered the vehicle.

Together this grab bag of tweaks made the 2013 RDX feel much more responsive than the 1st generation base models for both the front wheel drive and all wheel drive models. We were taking steep, curvy hill descents at 65-75 mph, and the handling performed beautifully.

Granted on the most extreme curves we did have to reduce speed slightly. Thus if there's a weakness based on the lack of super handling/vector thrust, you'll probably see it only on the sharpest corners -- the kind rarely encountered during standard driving.


c. Acceleration

Again, here seemingly Acura made life difficult for itself by going the unusual route of variable cylinder management (VCM) rather than the prevailing industry approach of direct injection+turbocharging, with many also opting for hybrid variants [1][2].

It scrapped the turboed I4 of the 1st generation model and adopting Honda's 6-speed 3.5L i-VTEC engine, with variable cylinders management. The engine puts out 273 hp at 6,2000 RPMs, bumping horsepower approximately 33 hp.

While the engine is rather old hat, Acura invested substantial time into perfecting the shifting mechanism for hill ascent, descent, and flat travel under all kinds of acceleration/deceleration scenarios.


The result is a 19/27/22 mpg AWD (city/hwy/combined) and a 20/28/23 mpg FWD vehicle. But while that lean performance comes from liberal deactivation of cylinders down to 3 or 4 cylinder mode, Honda's new code ensures that when you demand performance all 6 cylinders come blazing into full effect.

Acceleration was on par with the also-quite-good V6 Audi Q5. Passing cars was a joy and remarkably easy.

When driving the 1st generation model, the difference in acceleration was substantial.

By contrast the BMW X3 xDrive28i felt heavy and underpowered. The accelerator pedal fought you (versus the Q5 and RDX which could be smoothly floored) every step of the way and the engine took painfully long to respond to flooring the pedal. Also when backing off after flooring the pedal, the new RDX and Audi Q5 both responded appropriately downshifting and decreasing the RPM, noticeable by the quickly quieted engine noise. By contrast the BMW X3 28i continued to rev well after it should have toned down, a painful noise to listen to.

Fortunately, BMW is replacing this engine, but it definitely was a head-scratcher.

By contrast the second-gen RDX performed wonderfully, much better than its predecessor, placing itself in the league of the Audi Q5. Again, I can't help but feel that Honda/Acura is taking the most difficult road (pun) possible here. Looking ahead Acura looks to switch its lineup largely to direct injected and turbocharged engines, by all indications.

That said, in the long run Honda/Acura's experience VCM-wise could allow it to merge VCM with GDI, turbocharging, and possibly even a hybrid system. While incredibly complicated, such a system arguably may be the goal of every automaker, and Honda/Acura -- along with Chrysler and Volkswagen, have the VCM part of the experience equation, at least.


iv. In-Car Electronics

The iPod connecting system worked without fuss. The sound system's quality was okay, but did not really wow. The voice commands were actually quite good -- Acura has a great help system for its "SYNC-like" system -- better than Ford, arguably, although the functionality in interface trail well behind Ford.

Acura made the wise choice of not-overhyping its infotainment system, a mistake made by Toyota Motor Comp. (TYO:7203). My expectations were low, but I came away pleasantly surprised.

2 gripes about the system, though. 1st there's this horrible navigation scroll wheel that prominently juts out of the center vertical stack. It's by far the most prominent feature in the middle of the car. And you should never touch it while you're driving. That's right, the most prominent feature is unusuable to the driver.

To me this is a very poor design choice. If only that were the volume knob, my hands were happy (that's what I thought it would be, and found myself unconciously trying to use it like a volume knob several times). Instead, I was greeted with an unusable (while driving) massive navigation knob.

Secondly, the optional navigation system does not allow you to enter addresses by voice while driving -- and it doesn't even allow your passenger to enter them via the interface (for safety reasons -- the assumption is presumably the driver might try to do this solo). In short, this dramatically reduces the usefulness of the nav system, and make it so you're better off skipping it and tossing in a portable GPS or smartphone with turn-by-turn.


IV. Conclusions

The RDX is an interesting vehicle, not quite the traditional premium luxury, yet not quite a mass-market SUV. It's good at what it does and stacks up favorably against some vehicles.

That said, there's substantial threats from the mass market (the Ford Explorer) and from the luxury market (e.g. the Range Rover Evoque). Acura is clearly targeting younger luxury buyers, which may help it somewhat given that many of its competitors (e.g. BMW, Volvo) skew towards an older demographic.

The RDX did things the tough way, dropping super handling and turbocharging in favor of a major body/suspension rework and VCM with new engine controller code. The result is impressive -- Acura more than broke even. But the question remains whether Acura could have gone even farther had it chosen to simply improve SH, improve its turbo I-4.

The RDX is well priced for a buyer that wants a brand traditionally viewed as entry-level luxury, but doesn't have the means to reach into the higher end (e.g. Land Rover Evoque).

The RDX is a fun ride. The vehicle has no glaring flaws.

On the other hand, while it's a big step forward for Acura (who admits they were behind their luxury competitors), it's only a small step forward over the competitors' previous generation models. In that regard it's not a vehicle for all luxury buyers -- though it might be the right one for some.


(We'll bring you our impression on the 2013 Acura ILX standard and hybrid sedans [more coverage: 1, 2] next month, we currently can't disclose them and are awaiting final details.)

(All Images property of Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC)

(Special thanks to my SLR photography "guru" John Cottone, for helping improve my amateur photography skills.)​

 

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Sometimes in life, you hit the nail right on the head, sink a hole-in-one or strike a perfect bullseye. It happens in all walks of life – from the original Star Wars trilogy to the Apple iPod. It even happens from time to time in the automotive realm. Take, for instance, the 1965 Ford Mustang or the original Acura Legend.

Other times, we're not so lucky. Like the ill-begotten Star Wars prequel trilogy, the automotive world has played host to a long line of underwhelming encores. The Mustang II comes to mind, and so does the Acura RL.

Of course, every so often, automakers release a car to market that's just isn't quite fully baked, like the ill-timed and poorly received Edsel from Ford. Though not nearly as obvious, the 1st-generation Acura RDX falls into this unfortunate camp.

Originally marketed to the upwardly mobile male Gen-X population – a guy Acura named Jason back in 2006 – it turns out that well-to-do, tech-savvy men aren't actually all that interested in an entry-level premium crossover from Honda's luxury division. And that's why, for 2013, the Acura RDX is being re-aimed at the heart of the market: namely, baby boomers and young couples – defined by Acura as DINKS – "Dual-Income, No Kids" – who prefer quiet, comfortable and composed to quick, nimble and raucous.



The transformation of the Acura RDX begins with its exterior. In place of the pug-nosed look of the original – made necessary in part by the inclusion of an intercooler and its assorted plumbing – is a more refined, upscale appearance. There's still no mistaking the RDX for anything but an Acura, due primarily to the large metallic fascia up front and the crisply angular styling down its flanks and hind quarters. A faux spoiler of sorts is formed by the shape of the D-pillar and the top of the liftback, lending an air of sportiness missing in much of this segment.

Growing an inch or so in every direction, the 2013 Acura RDX's cabin is endowed with more space for passengers and cargo. At 103.5 cubic feet of total volume, the RDX offers more room than any of its closest competitors, who are, as defined by Acura, the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac SRX and Mercedes-Benz GLK. We'd add the Lexus RX 350 to that list, and it also has less overall room inside.

1 notable change to the RDX formula is a redesigned cargo opening. At 48.8 inches, it's a full 6.5 inches wider than before, and without any odd contours or shapes, it's much easier to load large and bulky items into the rear cargo area where there's 26.1 cubic feet of storage with the 2nd row up, and 76.9 cubic feet with it stowed.



Acura has redesigned the interior of the new RDX to feel more open and spacious, utilizing deep cutouts in the dash in front of both the driver and passenger. The ploy works; after sitting in a previous-gen RDX for a few minutes, it is clear that the new model offers an overall impression of airiness that its predecessor lacked. Acura has also designed in a lot of cubby space in the new RDX, including spaces up front to store phones and electronics near their associated auxiliary and USB inputs ahead of the shifter and in the center console.

Acura has loaded a lot of technology into the 2013 RDX, too, including keyless entry and push-button start, Pandora internet radio (with pause and skip buttons) and Bluetooth connectivity that can display SMS text messages via the in-dash display. Also new is a so-called Multiview rear camera system that offers three distinct viewing modes – wide view, normal view and top view – each of which gives a useful look at what's lurking behind the car's rear bumper. Wide view in particular is a nice touch, offering a 180-degree field of view.

Opt for the Technology Package and you'll get a hooded eight-inch screen in the center of the dash with VGA resolution. A 60-gigabyte hard drive is used to store map data, leaving 15 gigs free for media storage. Buyers who opt for this package will also get an upgraded 410-watt ELS surround sound audio system and a power liftgate.



Just as notable, however, are the technologies that the RDX is missing. For instance, there's no blind-spot warning system, no adaptive cruise control, no parking assist, no lane-departure warning and no rain-sensing windshield wipers, though there is a provision to turn the headlights on when the wipers are activated. Some buyers won't care about high-tech features such as these, but in many cases, they come as standard equipment or are optional on comparable models from competitors.

It's also worth noting that there's only one engine available: a 3.5-liter V6 with 273 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque in lieu of the last RDX's turbocharged 4-cylinder. While enthusiasts (ourselves included) may initially bemoan the absence of Honda's high-output turbo mill, after piloting the RDX, we can safely say the V6 route was their best course of action. Not only is acceleration to 60 miles per hour kept the same (timed just under 7 seconds, according to Acura), but the 6 is smoother, quieter and more refined than the engine it replaces.

Gone, too, is the Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system that received so much positive fanfare in the original RDX. All-wheel drive is still available, but it's a much more plebeian on-demand system that can send as much as 50 percent of the engine's torque to the rear wheels. Sure, it works as intended, but it's not very exciting, and it doesn't assert itself when driving like the SH-AWD technology did. We miss it, but Acura contends that its new system is lighter and less expensive, leading to increased fuel economy and a more attractive price point. Plus, it will still help the RDX through inclement weather in snowy climes.


Also helping save fuel is Acura's Variable Cylinder Management, which is capable of operating the 3.5-liter engine on 3, 4 or all 6 of its cylinders. Even when the driver is paying rapt attention, there's no discernible change in engine feel or sound from inside the cabin, but, with estimated ratings of 20 city, 28 highway and 23 combined (19/27/22 with all-wheel drive), this tech pays big dividends when it comes time to fill up. Those figures are 2 mpg higher in the city and 5 mpg higher on the highway than the last RDX with 2 less cylinders, and they put the RDX at the top of its class in fuel mileage. Unfortunately, despite the loss of forced induction, Acura still recommends premium fuel.

Driven back-to-back, the 2013 RDX is quieter and smoother in operation than the model it replaces, though there's definitely less torque when accelerating from a standstill. We checked the spec sheet to verify our feeling behind the wheel, and sure enough, the old engine offered up 260 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm – that's 9 more torques at 500 fewer rpm than the new V6. Once moving, however, there is abundant passing power. We don't think any of its target buyers are going to miss the rush of turbocharged torque provided by the old 240-hp 2.3-liter 4.

For 2013, Acura has finally fitted the RDX with a 6-speed automatic transmission, replacing the aging 5-speed of its predecessor. The 1st 5 ratios of the new transmission are lower than before, while the 6th gear is 16% higher than the top gear of the old unit. This keeps the engine spinning at a lower speed on the highway while keeping it in its higher-rpm powerband everywhere else.



RDX buyers will also appreciate the 2013 model's newfound smooth ride. While the suspension remains MacPherson struts up front with multi-link trailing arms at the rear, Acura has employed new Amplitude Reactive Dampers that offer a more compliant ride (the main damper spring is 15% softer) while lessening body roll in the corners. The trick shocks use twin valves and integrated rebound springs to keep up and down movement in check. Plus, they attach to a stiffer body structure using new mounts that improve ride and handling. 18-inch alloy wheels are fitted with 235/60 Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires, making for a track that's 1.3 inches wider up front and .8 inches wider at the rear.

We definitely noticed the improved ride of the 2013 RDX, but were unimpressed with the feel of its electronic power steering. Despite the fact that Acura has included a more rigid steering shaft to cut down on unwanted vibration, the variable-speed steering setup feels much less natural than the old model's hydraulic system. Acura's engineers lessened the force required to turn the wheel at low speeds, but all we noticed was that finding and locking in on straight ahead required much more thought, and we never quite came to grips with how much effort it took on the wheel to execute a change of direction. Add it all up and what you're left with is a smooth operator that doesn't beg to be hustled like the last RDX.


Considering the added refinement and the increase in size and additional standard equipment, Acura has managed to keep pricing mostly in check for 2013. Base price is $34,320 plus $885 in destination charges, and an RDX outfitted with the Technology Package begins at $38,020, while all-wheel drive adds $1,400. For the record, these prices are about $1,400 more than the 2012 RDX, but it's still several thousand dollars less than competitors such as the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.

Judging by the new demographic Acura is aiming at, the brand has managed to craft exactly the machine they decided their customers wanted. When you consider that the sales leader of the segment is the Lexus RX, it's easy to understand why Acura chose to soften the edge of its entry-level crossover. It's not going to light many fires in the hearts of driving enthusiasts, but it's not supposed to anymore. As a somewhat lower-cost alternative to its European rivals, the 2013 Acura RDX ought to make plenty of sense to the sizable segment at which it's directed.
 

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Summary Rating: 	Complete Rating
 	 
Styling (80%) 	
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SCOTTSDALE, Arizona - Straying off the beaten path can occasionally yield interesting if not fantastic results. The opposite can also be very true.

Quite likely the most evident example of success while trying something new is Chrysler's Magic Wagon. Today, minivans are dying a slow death, but Mr Iaccoca created something. On the other hand, the Pontiac Aztek was nothing if, well, nothing good.

Acura, in Honda's image, started off 25 years ago to the beat of their own drum. In no time flat, they had established themselves as the cool Japanese alternative to the German and American luxury brands. Success was at hand. Being original was paying off. Then, things went sour.


The blended breed
Acura resisted as long as they could to the SUV now CUV trend, but eventually caved in. The MDX knocked the socks off its competition and so, they returned with a compact version and dubbed it RDX. If the MDX was mainstream, the RDX wasn't.

Powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with an emphasis on handling, the compact CUV's turbo lag and stiff ride did not win over as many buyers as it should have. Commercials like the 1 showing the Acura RDX cornering with the help of a grappling hook left shoppers perplex but not the media which quickly fell for the RDX's charm and attributes.

5 years ago, the concept may have been foreign to potential buyers; Acura was ahead of the curve. It's a strange thing that as the old RDX's competitors are closing in on it, the new 2013 Acura RDX is off in a different direction.

For 2013, fortunately or unfortunately, in an effort to get back into luxury CUV buyers' good books, the new RDX has gone mainstream.


Old is new
That reads wrong, but the point is that the new RDX looks more like a slightly shrunken MDX than its distinct predecessor. As I noted, the MDX recipe has been a smash hit with consumers, so hopefully this is a good move.

Acura, Japan's 1st luxury car brand (were you aware?) is predicting a near 50% increase in deliveries in North America in 2012. They must have done their homework with the 2013 Acura RDX (and the ILX - review coming April 20th) to present such an audacious forecast.

There's no doubt that Acura was searching to create a more mature RDX when I stand near it and study its body lines. The looks are clean and pretty much what the next-generation MDX could have been. Beyond that, there's no flash and no pizzazz and somehow it works. Admittedly, the subtle very-Acura styling is growing on me.


Familiar territory
The cabin is also familiar Acura territory. In other words, the sombre, serious environment is very tekkie, all business and extraordinarily crafted. I, for 1, like the dark monochromatic presentation while I know that others feel as though they are stepping into a funeral home.

As always, Acura offers up some excellent seats, fore and aft. Acura may be coming out of an exterior-design warzone but they've always been able to put together passenger quarters that were appealing, comfortable and luxurious. The 2013 Acura RDX has it all plus a sizable trunk.


No mo' turbo

While many manufacturers are moving towards turbocharged 4-pots, Acura has decided to move away from theirs. It's a strange move as BMW and Audi have clearly caught on to the trend. My gut feeling says that it was far too expensive to build the 2.3T for only 1 vehicle. The new V6, on the other hand, is everywhere.

The 3.5L V6 is not new (from the Accord to the Pilot and on to the TL) but it is good and well established. The horsepower rating is of 273 which is a significant bump up from the 240 generated by the 2.3L turbo-4. Torque is down by 9 to 251. The end result is a vehicle that is slightly quicker in most respects than the old.

Despite the power increase, the 2013 Acura RDX's fuel consumption drops slightly. The V6 benefits from the 2nd generation of Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) and from an MDX and TL-sourced 6-speed automatic transmission. Now rated at 10.7L/100km city and 7.3L/100km highway, the Acura-dubbed sexy CUV consumes 1L and 1.4L less fuel, respectively. Yup, the V6 guzzles less petrol than the 4-pot...

Fuel consumption improvements also come from low rolling-resistance tires, a revised braking system that reduces pad-disc drag, electric power steering and improved aerodynamics.

About the brakes, pedal feel and response is nothing short of amazing. The required effort is minimal as is pedal travel but without affecting the entire system's smooth operation. Steering is equally good precision-wise; however, the driver is completely isolated from the road.


Keyword: refinement
Without a doubt, the achieved result of all of Acura's efforts related to the new 2013 RDX is refinement.

The RDX's ride is improved to a more sedan-like quality. The RDX gets amplitude reactive dampers that not only "smoothen" out the road but do little to negatively affect handling. What the 15% softer damper springs have done is generate more roll on turn-in than with the previous RDX. Nothing to worry about.

The RDX's track is now wider and the wheelbase is longer. As well, portions of the chassis have gained in rigidity and layers of sound-deadening materials have been added everywhere. This thing is quiet, smooth are very comfortable.

I enquired about Acura's primary target in redesigning the RDX and the answer I got was the Audi Q5. I managed a quick tour in the Q5 and although it seems as though Acura is on right track, I found that they've actually put a bulls-eye on the Lexus RX.

To capture a more youthful market, or so says their proposed marketing efforts, I think they may have overshot the younger crowds and landed in the laps of the empty-nesters, the secondary target of the 2013 Acura RDX.


No more SH-AWD

Decidedly, Acura has chosen to put performance and handling off the front burner, as they have replaced their famed SH-AWD with a more conventional AWD with Intelligent Control.

The system is good, as my driving partner and I did wander off the beaten path on a few occasions and noticed first-hand that the new AWD demonstrates a fine balance between capability, traction and all-weather performance. Torque split can go as far as 50/50, which is more than sufficient for this type of urban family vehicle.


Smart solution
The 2013 Acura RDX has become "more" to or for a broader audience. It's got appreciable styling, decent fuel economy and, what Acura calls "high density packaging" or lots of stuff in a compact package.

The issue I maintain for the new RDX is that, despite Acura's desire to once again want to be an object of desire, as it once was, it stirs no emotions. It does nothing especially well, far from bad, is not striking aesthetically nor is it exhilarating to drive. The NSX, still roughly 3 years away, won't do any good for the brand in the short run...

I like the new RDX, but I can't say that I'd pick it over an Audi Q5 and BMW X3. I would consider it if I was in the market for a Lexus RX only because of Acura's perceived youthfulness that Toyota's luxury brand does not nor will ever have.

Prices are up for 2013 but content is up further. There is no "base" model for 2013; starting price is of $40,990 and the Tech package adds an extra $3,000. Acura expects that the Tech version should represent 60% of the total take. The 2013 Acura RDX will go on sale on April 2, 2012. It is built at East Liberty, Ohio and Acura Canada expects sales of 4,500 units in the next year.


Key Competitors
Audi
Q5

Infiniti
EX 35

Mercedes-Benz
GLK-Class​
 

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The 1st-generation RDX definitely had its fans with its entertaining turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. With 260 lb-ft of torque, once the turbo came up to boost, it made for 1 lively-driving crossover.


But the on-or-off boost response was a turn-off for many potential customers that valued refinement and smoothness over the juvenile thrill of the turbo coming on-boost. As Acura discovered, fun-to-drive isn't always the most valued attribute among entry-premium crossover shoppers. Owners of the previous RDX didn't care much for its sporty dynamics -- they just wanted a handsome, comfortable, fuel-efficient, and practical crossover for their daily commute. And that's essentially what Acura has delivered for 2013.


Gone is the turbo-4, replaced with a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 273 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. The 5-speed automatic is out too, exchanged for a more fuel-efficient 6-speed unit (the paddle shifters remain), and the advanced SH-AWD torque-shifting system is replaced with a standard AWD unit from the RDX's platform-mate, the Honda CR-V. Maximum rear torque bias decreases from 70% to 50%. Those changes, along with improved aerodynamics and new Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires, have improved fuel economy to 20/28 mpg 19/27 mpg city/highway for the FWD and AWD versions, respectively.


Other changes have made the RDX a little easier to live with. The suspension has been retuned with new amplitude reactive dampers that contain a 2-valve design, allowing for softer spring rates and a more relaxed ride. The RDX is the 1st to receive the new dampers, which will ultimately see duty across much of the Acura lineup, including the new compact ILX sedan. Structural rigidity is also improved with the increased use of high-strength steel, while the overall vehicle size has grown slightly to accommodate the 1.4-inch-longer wheelbase and wider track. This increase has also borne slight improvements in front and rear passenger shoulder and legroom, and Acura says rear cargo space is still among the largest in the CUV class, at 26.1 cu ft with the rear seats up and 61.3 cu ft with them folded down.


From an aesthetic perspective, the RDX has been smoothed some here and there -- the front end in particular appears much cleaner -- but its overall appearance is similar to the previous generation's. We've never found the RDX's styling to be particularly exciting, and that hasn't changed with the 2013 version. Inside, the RDX has gotten more mature-looking; gone is the sporty 3-dial instrument cluster, replaced with a single housing for all gauges. The center stack is rounder and a little more cluttered, and the display has been moved higher for improved visibility. Standard equipment includes heated leather seats, a moonroof, iPod compatibility, Bluetooth, and 18-inch alloy wheels.


On the road, although the new RDX is up 33 horsepower on the 2012 version, it's down 9 lb-ft of torque, which leaves the new car feeling about the same in terms of grunt, but lacking pesky turbo lag and gaining smoother, more linear acceleration. The engine is quieter than the old turbo unit (especially with the taller 6th gear), and road and wind noise have also been improved, making for a quiet, relaxed freeway cruiser. New electric power steering is efficient but light and dead-feeling, and the ride is much improved, as the new dampers keep good body control while smoothing out most of the road imperfections you would have felt in your kidneys with the previous RDX.


Much of what made the original RDX feel special -- the firm ride, turbo antics, and crisp handling -- are gone from this 2013 version, but don't despair. The new RDX is more mature for a more mature buyer, and ultimately that will pay dividends in both customer satisfaction and Acura's profit margins.


2013 Acura RDX AWD
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front engine, AWD
ENGINE TYPE 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN SOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 211.8 cu in/3471 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.5:1
POWER (SAE NET) 273 hp @ 6200 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 251 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
REDLINE 6800 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 14.1 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 4.25:1/2.36:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 15.0:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.8
BRAKES, F;R 12.3-in vented disc; 12.0-in disc, ABS
WHEELS 7.5 x 18-in, cast aluminum
TIRES P235/60R18 102V Michelin Primacy MXM4 M+S
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 105.7 in
TRACK, F/R 63.1/63.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 183.5 x 73.7 x 66.1 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 8.1 in
APPRCH/DEPEART ANGLE 17.2/22.0 deg
TURNING CIRCLE 39.0 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3839 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R 59/41 %
TOWING CAPACITY 1500 lb
SEATING CAPACITY 5
HEADROOM, F/R 38.7/38.1 in
LEGROOM, F/R 42.0/38.3 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 58.6/57.2 in
CARGO VOLUME 00.0 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.4 sec
0-40 3.5
0-50 4.8
0-60 6.2
0-70 8.2
0-80 10.3
0-90 13.1
0-100 16.5
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.1
QUARTER MILE 14.8 sec @ 95.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1700 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $36,605
PRICE AS TESTED $40,305
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 6 yrs/70,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 4 yrs/50,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY 16.0 gal
EPA CITY/HWY ECON 19/27 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 177/125 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.88 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium

 

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Discussion Starter #12
InsideLine


Musicians will tell you that the sophomore album effort is always the most challenging to tackle. When faced with the task of creating the 2013 Acura RDX, the 2nd generation of the company's entry-level compact crossover, the company decided to tweak its genre from modern rock to something that takes a step toward smooth jazz.

The move makes sense, as the original RDX didn't quite resonate with the demographic for which it was intended. With the luxury of this hindsight, Acura is aiming the 2013 RDX at a more mature and mainstream buyer.


6 Cylinders Instead of 4
For starters, the powertrain has been completely overhauled. The outgoing RDX's 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder has been binned in favor of a normally aspirated 3.5-liter V6. Considering that many other automakers these days are going in the exact opposite direction with their powertrain strategy, this may sound like a curious move on Acura's part.

Fuel economy and drivability were the driving forces behind the decision. The turbo-4 lacked the direct-injection fuel system that would have enhanced its fuel-sipping potential, and its laggy-then-abrupt torque delivery conflicted with the 2013 RDX's mission of increased maturity. Though more frugal with fuel, the V6 still generates a healthy 251 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm and 273 horsepower at 6,200 rpm. For those keeping tabs, the new V6 gains 33 hp while giving up a slice of midrange torque to the turbo-4.

In our testing the 2013 Acura RDX ran to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds (6.2 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and completed the quarter-mile sprint in 14.7 seconds at 94.0 mph. This is robust thrust that places the RDX among the fleeter crossovers in its class. What's more, its speed is now accompanied by a crisp linearity at part-throttle that the previous turbo engine never exhibited. It's more natural-feeling, more... mature. There's that word again.


Improved Fuel Economy
The V6 packs some fuel-saving tricks that help earn the 2013 Acura RDX a provisional 20/28 mpg for FWD models and 19/27 for AWD variants, figures that are up from 19/24 and 17/22 respectively. One of those tricks is cylinder deactivation — the V6 will shut down 2 or 3 cylinders depending on driving conditions.

In practice the system is seamless, something you never hear or feel while driving, probably because the RDX's active engine mount and the cabin's active noise cancellation system are doing their jobs. We put a few tankfuls of fuel through our tester and netted 22 mpg in mixed driving, which is dead-smack on its combined EPA number.

Another fuel-saving move that also improves drivability is the additional cog in the automatic transmission, bringing the total to 6. The new 6-speed autobox allowed the powertrain engineers more flexibility in gear ratio selection and spread. Notably, the steering wheel has sprouted paddle shifters, which are useful devices even in everyday driving — like when you want to summon engine braking.

Further fuel economy improvement was gleaned by the switch from hydraulic power steering to electric power steering. A bit of heft has been lost in the transition, but that's probably the right move considering the RDX's shift in mission. Nevertheless, the 2013 RDX's tiller is still sharp, and it helps make the wagon drive more nimbly than its 3,821-pound curb weight suggests.


Simpler All-Wheel-Drive System
Gone is the outgoing RDX's handling-enhancing SH-AWD system, replaced with a simpler AWD system that's lighter and cheaper — AWD is now a $1,400 option rather than $2,000. The new system — largely carried over from the Honda CR-V — may be more pedestrian, but it, too, provides strides on the fuel economy front by decoupling drive to the rear wheels when it's not needed.

Despite the loss of SH-AWD and the freakish agility it conferred, the new RDX still handles with alertness and composure. In the slalom the 2013 Acura RDX turned out a tidy 64.6-mph result despite moderate 0.79g grip from its 235/60 all-season Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires. In our braking tests the RDX reached a halt from 60 mph in 128 feet.

The new RDX's ride quality is noticeably less busy than that of the outgoing trucklet, while still doing a fine job of controlling body roll. Acura credits new dual-piston dampers with integrated rebound springs that mechanically provide travel-dependent damper force — the idea here is to skew both ends of the age-old ride-handling trade-off, making both better. You know, to make it more capable. Bet you thought we were going to say "mature," right?


Quite Pleasant, Really
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. There's a greater sense of space in the cabin, too, though the actual dimensional gains are rather modest. Still, airiness is welcome whether it's illusory or not.

Its face adopts a corporate, mini-MDX look that's more cohesive than the, uh, amphibious first-gen RDX. The proportions are balanced and the styling clean, if on the anonymous side, which is no bad thing considering some of the truly odd styling flourishes we've seen come out of Acura's design studio in recent years.

Acura didn't quite hold the line on pricing, of course, as base prices rise slightly over the outgoing model. Front-wheel-drive versions of the 2013 model increase by $1,425 to $35,215 with destination, while AWD models start at $36,615, an increase of $825. Notable standard features include a back-up camera, heated seats and keyless entry.

At the pointy end of the pricing spectrum is our fully loaded all-wheel-drive tester equipped with the Technology package at $40,315. Crossing the $40K threshold with an entry-level compact SUV is a bold psychological move on Acura's part, but at least there's a comprehensive list of equipment in the deal — the Technology package grants access to nav, a power liftgate, HID headlights, premium sound and a few other items.


Targets Hit
The new RDX successfully achieves its objectives. From its improved fuel economy to the smoother ride quality, enhanced refinement and linear power delivery, the 2013 Acura RDX is far better equipped to take on its crossover rivals.

It may be fashionable to poo-poo any decision involving the de-sport-ification of a vehicle, but it is hard to find fault with the logic behind Acura's alterations to the RDX formula. Better still is that the end product, the 2013 RDX, is a wholly accomplished and enjoyable result.

Growing up isn't so hard after all. Keep the Kenny G to yourself, though.


Specs & Performance
Vehicle
Year Make Model 2013 Acura RDX 4dr SUV With Technology Package (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Vehicle Type AWD 4dr 5-passenger 4dr SUV
Base MSRP $39,420
Options on test vehicle Technology Package ($0 -- includes Acura navigation system with voice recognition, AcuraLink real-time traffic with traffic rerouting, AcuraLink real-time weather, Acura/ELS Surround premium audio system with 410-watt digital sound-processor amplifier, 10 speakers, DVD-Audio, CD player, MP3, WMA and DTS player, Dolby ProLogic II, XM radio with note function music reminder, USB port and aux jack connectivity, and 15GB of hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, Pandora Internet radio interface, SMS text messaging feature, GPS-linked, solar-sensing, dual-zone automatic climate control system)
As-tested MSRP $40,315
Assembly location East Liberty, Ohio

Drivetrain
Configuration Transverse, front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine type Naturally aspirated, port-injected V6, gasoline with cylinder deactivation
Displacement (cc/cu-in) 3,471/212
Block/head material Aluminum/aluminum
Valvetrain SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing and lift
Compression ratio (x:1) 10.5
Redline, indicated (rpm) 6,800
Horsepower (hp @ rpm) 273 @ 6,200
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm) 251 @ 5,000
Fuel type Premium unleaded (recommended)
Transmission type Six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddles
Transmission ratios (x:1) I = 3.36, II = 2.09, III = 1.48, IV = 1.07, V = 0.75, VI = 0.56, R = 2.27
Final-drive ratio (x:1) 4.25
Chassis
Suspension, front Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rear Independent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Steering type Electric-assist, speed-proportional, rack-and-pinion steering
Steering ratio (x:1) 15.0
Turning circle (ft.) 39.0
Tire make and model Michelin Primacy MXM4
Tire type All-season front and rear
Tire size, front P235/60R18 102V
Tire size, rear P235/60R18 102V
Wheel size 18-by-7.5 inches front and rear
Wheel material Cast aluminum
Brakes, front 12.3-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding cast-iron calipers
Brakes, rear 12-inch one-piece solid cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding cast-iron calipers

Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.) 2.7
0-45 mph (sec.) 4.3
0-60 mph (sec.) 6.5
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.) 6.2
0-75 mph (sec.) 9.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph) 14.7 @ 94.0
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.) 2.9
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.) 4.7
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.) 6.9
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.) 6.5
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.) 7.8
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph) 15.0 @ 93.9
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.) 33
60-0 mph (ft.) 128
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) 64.6
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON 62.1
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) 0.79
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON 0.78
Sound level @ idle (dB) 42.6
@ Full throttle (dB) 73.5
@ 70 mph cruise (dB) 66.2
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm) 1,900

Test Driver Ratings & Comments

Acceleration comments: There's about a tenth or three to be gained with generous pedal overlap and the front tires even bark a little bit. Upshifts at WOT (in both D or S) are smooth and reasonably quick and exactly at redline, hence no need for Manual. I didn't sense (feel or hear) any telltale VTEC cam changeover - odd, no?
Braking comments: In "normal" driving, the brake jump-in is pretty abrupt with only a small amount of pedal travel. In "panic stops," the pedal feels softer with more travel. Tire and ABS both make an audible protest. Straight, fade-resistant brakes.
Handling comments: "Skid pad: Very little ESC intervention if any. Very communicative steering that isn't unnecessarily heavy or light. Very nice. Steady moderate understeer on the limit.

Testing Conditions
Test date 4/3/2012
Test location California Speedway
Elevation (ft.) 1,121
Temperature (°F) 78.1
Relative humidity (%) 14.1
Barometric pressure (in. Hg) 28.74
Wind (mph, direction) 1.4 headwind
Odometer (mi.) 2,113
Fuel used for test 91-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi) 33/33
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg) 19 city/27 highway/22 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg) 22
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.) 16.0
Driving range (mi.) 448
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.) 3,732
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.) 3,821
Length (in.) 183.5
Width (in.) 73.7
Height (in.) 66.1
Wheelbase (in.) 105.7
Track, front (in.) 63.1
Track, rear (in.) 63.4
Legroom, front (in.) 42.1
Legroom, rear (in.) 38.3
Headroom, front (in.) 38.7
Headroom, rear (in.) 38.2
Shoulder room, front (in.) 58.7
Shoulder room, rear (in.) 57.2
Seating capacity 5
Tow capacity, mfr. claim (lbs.) 1,500
Ground clearance (in.) 8.1
Approach angle (degrees) 17.2
Departure angle (degrees) 22.0
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper 4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain 6 years/70,000 miles
Corrosion 5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance 4 years/50,000 miles​

 

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Discussion Starter #14
King 5


There are 2 kinds of people reading this review of the 2013 Acura RDX. The 1st would be mainstream buyers thinking about a RX350, Q5, SRX, GLK, FX35, XC60, or any other luxury crossover with no vowels in the name. The others are car geeks that devour everything they can about the automotive world. You know who you are.

Car geeks loved the original RDX. It was light weight, had a powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive that overspun the outside rear wheel to give it a handling advantage. Very cool stuff and mucho fun to drive. Mainstream buyers just didn’t get it though and headed off to buy more Lexus RX350s.

The new RDX is aimed directly at the mainstream. In some ways it follows the predictable path redesigned vehicles often take -- slightly larger inside and out, more fuel efficient too. But it isn’t trying to capture the edgy design and personality of the outgoing model. I have to believe the changes they’ve made to the personality will make it the most popular model Acura sells, even though it’s missing features the other brands have had for years.

Back to the Future

That outgoing turbo 4-cylinder is what many automakers consider to be the engine of the future because they’re powerful, lightweight and fuel efficient. So it’s a bit of a surprise that under the hood of the 2013 MDX you’ll find… a V6? I’m not complaining. The classic 3.5-liter unit has 273 horses on tap, up by 33 horsepower. It’s smoother than the turbo and it sounds good. Between the 2 motors, the V6 will be an instant crowd pleaser on test drives.

The automatic transmission adds an extra gear, for 6-speeds now. Shift manually if you want with paddle shifter on the steering wheel.

The good news is that fuel economy is up substantially. The AWD tester I’m driving is EPA rated at 19 mpg city, 27 highway. That’s a 5 mpg increase in highway fuel economy versus the previous RDX and Acura says it’s now best in class. On a long drive to Forks, WA to visit Evil Twin (where else would he live?) I saw 29 mpg. Front drive models are rated at 20/28. There’s variable cylinder management at work here. In other words RDX can run on as few as 3 pistons, depending on how much power is needed.

No Lack Of Power

0-60 spools up in just under 7 seconds. There’s a big improvement in the ride quality, sharp bumps are soaked up quite nicely but it doesn’t roll like an old Cadillac in hard cornering. Steering effort feels hefty and European. The composed RDX handles very well though it’s not as crisp, nimble and flingable as before. Car geeks (who probably never bought the 1st 1) may grouse about this but the harsh reality is that most buyers will prefer the substantial and comfortable dynamic of the 2013 model. It’s very balanced.

There is much less road noise now, very little wind noise gets though at high speeds, making it an excellent road trip vehicle. When it comes time to stop and take a photo of a scenic vista, RDX is very capable and secure.

Mudfest Winner

Not very many people are going to head off-road with this rig but at the 2012 Mudfest SUV competition, I and 24 other auto writers beat the snot out of it on a rough course at Dirt Fish Rally School. RDX has no problem handling rugged forest service roads and moderate pool of water. It’s doubtful owners will ever punish their cars to the degree we did. In the end it won the title of Best Family SUV and received high praise from every writer emerging from its mud caked doors.

I’m driving the very 1 used at Mudfest. It’s a testament to the RDX that after the punishment, there are no squeaks, groans or rattles. None

Car geeks will groan because RDX no longer uses Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. It now uses AWD with Intelligent Control, which is very similar to the system in Honda’s new CR-V. Mainstream buyers will probably never know or care, as long as they don’t get stuck in snow or mud. In normal steady driving, all power is sent to the front wheels. It automatically sends power to the tires with the most grip.

Go With The Flow

There’s a new approach to the interior. Hard angles are replaced with flowing and inviting lines. All the expected stuff is here- soft touch materials, phone and iPod integration, and contoured heated leather chairs. Hit reverse and the mirrors swing down to show wheel scraping curbs. The rear view camera is adjustable, it shoots straight down to help when hooking up a trailer hitch alone, or switched to a ultra wide mode to get the big picture.

The center stack has less of the swarm of buttons normally found on Honda products. There is dual-zone auto climate control and keyless ignition to make life easier. Lots of places to stash stuff too.

Using the tech means turning, nudging and pushing the familiar Honda interface. Personally, I prefer touch screens but the familiar knob works just fine. There are voice commands too but they system doesn’t seem to like my voice. The optional nav system offers up traffic information and weather forecasts. Hook up a smartphone and there’s Pandora streaming music. It can also read incoming text messages depending on your phone.

Acura ELS sound systems have always been among my favorites and this one is no different. It doesn’t color the sound, bass is tight and accurate. Play DVD audio disks and the surround sound stage is mesmerizing. The hard disk has 15 gigs dedicated to music storage, plus there’s Bluetooth audio streaming. XM satellite radio continues to sound grainy and thin.

Space In The Back

Moving to the rear, there’s plenty of leg and foot room for average sized adults. The floor is flat, the bench is wide enough for 3 adults, 2 if they’re large or using the folding armrests with cupholders. There’s 2 seat pockets and storage in the doors too. Too bad the seat doesn’t slide fore and aft to max out leg or cargo room.

And this is where my gripes begin. A premium brand like Acura should include surprise and delight features like heated seats in the back. Also, the rear seat backs should recline and have side impact airbags. There’s no power port or adjustable air vents either. It smacks of cost cutting.

Other misses? The interior windshield pillars are plastic, not wrapped in cloth. It’s fine that my tester does not have a panoramic roof, blind spot warning system, ventilated seats, or radar assisted cruise control, but in this class they should at least be offered. And they’re not.

Better Cargo Access

At least there’s a power hatch on the new MDX. The folks at Acura say the cargo hold is larger now and the trunk opening is significantly wider. Hefty handles on the side make it very easy to drop the seat backs. No power port or storage under the load floor. Good to see a spare tire, crossovers do end up on remote forest roads far away from roadside assistance. As far as cargo room goes, a Honda CR-V holds 12 bundles, the RDX with its sleeker silhouette takes on eight. And if you’ve watched the video and are wondering of there’s any way another can wedge in, it won’t. I’m a professional.

The 2013 model is an attractive rig with less severe lines. Acura has toned down the bionic beak across the board and it works well here, instantly announcing an Acura is heading your way without looking like an angry robot. It looks and feels like a smaller MDX, which is a good thing.

About the only major option left to buy on this Tech Package RDX are roof rails and cross bars (which will set you back $900).

And The Price Is…

RDX starts at $35,215 including destination for a front-drive model. This AWD Tech Package rig is $40,305. That’s a good deal. Comparably equipped, that’s thousands less than other luxury crossovers though remember, it doesn’t offer some of the super fancy tech the others get.

The 2013 RDX is a well done crossover that hits a broad sweet spot and it immediately impresses on a test drive. It’s only after a good hard look will shoppers find missing features, and that drops it from the luxury segment to the near-luxury category. While I firmly believe a lot of the doo-dads missing from the Acura’s option list are superfluous, many shoppers in this category will judge it by what’s not available. At the very least there should be an “advanced technology” package available for those who want it.

Mock overkill if you want but Acura needs more than “smart luxury”, it has to pack more wow into their cars if it wants to be seen as the equal to Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Infiniti and Cadillac. With RDX I’d settle for radar assisted cruise and panoramic roof. RDX is a very satisfying car at a good price point but without the next level of features it appears they aren’t trying as hard as the others. Modesty is an excellent quality in people, not luxury cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
CarConnection


For 2013 Acura has completely redesigned the RDX crossover to better compete with German luxury rivals. With a smoother, less bulbous design, a new engine, and better interior, the RDX is a more refined entry into this popular segment.

While the 2013 RDX uses the same platform as the 2012 model, it features all new sheet metal that looks more substantial. The hood now features a power dome, and the bulging fenders flow into the body lines. The rear tailgate has been smoothed out with some chrome trim accentuating the width of the rear. An integrated rear spoiler gives the rear end a clean, sporty look

Inside the RDX Acura has upgraded the materials with a soft touch dashboard and nice leather-like door trim. Metallic colored plastic trim and chrome help break up the cabin design and give it a bit of flair. The seats are comfortable with enough legroom in the rear for adults to sit comfortably. The cargo area is well packaged and features 2 handles to fold the rear seatbacks flat. This is definitely convenient when attempting to load larger items.

While many automakers are moving to smaller turbo 4-cylinder engines, Acura has given the 2013 RDX a 3.5-liter V-6, producing 273 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. Power is handled by a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for those who want to shift for themselves. In front-wheel drive trim, the RDX is now rated by the EPA at 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Adding all-wheel drive merely drops the fuel economy to 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Acura has finally made the RDX as fun to drive as the BMW X3, and has also increased its engine size while improving its fuel economy rating. At the end of the day the 2013 RDX is a sporty crossover with a refined ride and terrific features for a fair price.

For more information on the 2013 Acura RDX be sure to read our full review:


Overall Review: 7.4
All-new for 2013, the Acura RDX takes what was good about the previous model--its just-right size, nimble handling, and attractive design--and makes them better, while working on the rough spots. Those rough spots included a slightly too-rough ride, laggy power delivery paired with a balky transmission, and somewhat lackluster gas mileage. They're mostly smoothed over in the 2013 RDX.

It's not often that a car manufacturer gets so far out ahead of the curve that it's forced to retrace its steps, but in some ways, that's exactly what happened to the Acura RDX. Offered in turbo 4-cylinder form well before that was the happening thing in luxury vehicles, let alone crossovers, many eschewed the smaller Acura for the MDX or went to rival brands offering 6-cylinder models.

Fast forward a few years, and those rival brands are now bringing out their own turbocharged 4-cylinders and Acura has moved to a 273-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine. While that might seem like a step backward, it's actually more fuel efficient, slightly more powerful (at peak) and noticeably smoother in its power delivery. All of those things make the move away from turbocharged small-displacement engines back to V-6 territory a sensible one, despite the shifting sands of the rest of the market. Fuel economy of the new V-6 picks up as much as 5 mpg highway over the previous 2012 RDX.

Behind the wheel, the new RDX feels nearly as peppy as the previous model off the line, though the surge of the 2012 model's turbo added some excitement that's not present in the linear power delivery of the new V-6--though that's not really a criticism. Under full throttle, the RDX willingly merges with speedy freeway traffic, readily passes 50-mph 2-lane slow pokes, and generally zips around like you'd expect a luxury crossover to do. It also handles the road well, absorbing big bumps with ease while remaining composed in windy sections. It owes this behavior to its new 2-stage dampers, which include a secondary floating piston that activates in certain driving conditions to control body motion and improve handling without sacrificing ride comfort.

The transmission, on the other hand, lags slightly behind driver inputs, particularly when a 2- or 3-gear downshift is required (hard acceleration from moderate speeds, as in passing), balking for just a moment before grabbing the gear and accelerating as desired. The issue was noticed in both all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive models, indicating it's not a problem of the on-demand distribution of torque to the rear wheels.

Exterior design of the 2013 RDX is slightly changed from the 2012 model, though not markedly so; the prominent grille is made slightly less noticeable, the fender arches are slightly more pronounced, and the overall design is smoother and more mature. Inside, the interior is all-new, with characteristic Acura high-tech style, but thankfully less reliance on bright, hard plastic elements and more soft-touch, matte-finish items. A preponderance of bright-finish chrome in the center stack is eye-catching, but clashes slightly with the look and makes sunny days a chore of avoiding reflected glare, seemingly catching the sun from every angle.

The cabin itself is quiet--very, quiet, in fact, and comfortable. Front-seat space is ample for even those over 6 feet tall, yet an 8-way power adjustable seat and tilt/telescoping steering column offer adjustability for most heights and body types.

Technology abounds, as you expect with Acura, undercutting the competition on the equipment available for the price--though you won't find some of the higher-end features BMW and Mercedes-Benz offer on the list of available upgrades, such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and parking assistance. What you will find, however, is standard dual-zone climate control, cruise control, keyless entry with push-button start, ambient lighting, a 7-speaker sound system with USB/MP3/Auxiliary support, Bluetooth handsfree calling, and more--all standard. An available Technology Package adds navigation with voice controls, real-time traffic and weather, a 10-speaker Acura/ELS audio system, GPS-linked climate control, SMS texting support, and Pandora app functionality.

Most of this technology comes off well, notably the excellent Acura/ELS audio system, which produces clear, enveloping sound even at very low volumes. The navigation system is relatively easy to use, and functions well, but the display--though high-resolution--looks a bit dated in comparison to the large, wide-aspect screens in BMWs and the sharp, color-coordinated displays from Audi.

As a crossover, it's not all about passenger comfort and tech goodies, however. There's also the matter of cargo space and utility--that's what sets it apart from an equivalently-priced sedan, after all. Here, the RDX is right in the zone for its compact crossover class, with 26.1 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, 61.3 cubic feet with the seats folded flat, and 76.9 cubic feet including under-floor storage. Even so, it's aimed at younger pre-children couples and slightly older couples with children off to college, not so much at families, kids, and the attendant gear.


Interior/Exterior: 7
The Bottom Line:
While its styling will never be called bold, it will appeal to many with its understated and clean lines.

All-new for 2013, the Acura RDX has reinvented itself, with a similar but fresh exterior, a new interior, and a new purpose. No longer seeking the young professional male with a taste for a touch of sport with his crossover, the 2013 RDX is going after pre- and post-children couples.

The design reflects that, with a stylish but not flashy look that tones down the somewhat controversial bright grille. Smooth curves and sleek proportions give the RDX the look of a smaller vehicle in some ways, especially the arch of the glass along the roof line. More powerful fenders and a standard crossover ride height give a sense of off-road capability, though the RDX is no true SUV.

Inside, the RDX trades some of its flashier bits from the previous generation for more mature matte-finished items, though there's still chrome and shiny plastic to be found. The overall look is sculpted and modern, and rather car-like, without the claustrophobic wrap-around feeling some other sporty crossovers get.


Performance: 8
The Bottom Line:
The new V-6 engine replaces laggy turbo torque with smooth and linear power that highlights a well-handling chassis.

Once ahead of the game--perhaps too far ahead--with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the RDX, Acura has made an about-face, offering only a 3.5-liter V-6 engine in the 2013 model.

The new engine is actually more powerful and more efficient, despite being a larger, normally aspirated V-6. While it gives up some of the torquey low-end feel of the previous turbo engine, as well as the sudden surge as boost builds, it's a much smoother, quieter, and more luxury-oriented combination. The 6-speed automatic transmission offers slick and easy shifts, though it will hesitate on multiple-gear downshifts when sudden acceleration is requested. Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters come standard.

In the corners, the 2013 RDX is less brittle and harsh than its predecessor, but it also exhibits more initial body roll. Once that first bit of roll has started, however, an ingenious new double-piston design engages, increasing damping force and making for a surprisingly capable crossover. Steering isn't perfect, being a bit over-light and vague at lower speeds, but it weights up nicely as speeds rise.

The all-wheel drive system for 2013 is no longer of the SH-AWD variety, but a simple automatic biasing system that delivers torque to the rear as front wheel slip is sensed, or as the angle of ascent changes.

Braking force is reduced with a new system that also shortens pedal stroke, and while it makes around-town driving easier, it takes away some of the feel and modulation in sportier driving.


Quality: 8
The Bottom Line:
Though it's compact in the second row, the 2013 RDX is comfy up front, with competitive cargo room and a quality interior.
Being up against the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Lexus RX is a tough task for any vehicle--even those mentioned. All of them work to include the most technology, luxury, and quality in a compact crossover at a competitive price. Acura's RDX has its work cut out for it.

For 2013, the RDX makes some strides over the previous model in this regard, and some inroads against the competition as well, with a very competitive price. For a given dollar amount, chances are the RDX will be the best-equipped luxury crossover available. But there are some compromises.

The front seats are comfortable and relatively spacious, with enough adjustment to fit both taller and shorter passengers, though the length of the seat bottoms is a bit short for longer-legged drivers. The second row is more cramped, but still suitable for all but those in the 6-foot-plus club.

Materials are generally very good, equivalent to Lexus in most regards, and even BMW in many aspects, though plastic plays a more dominant role on the dash, and the fit and finish aren't quite as tight and tidy as the Audi Q5's. The cabin is well-laid-out, too, with cubbies and nooks for storage, ergonomically-placed controls (with the exception of the large central controller for the Acura navigation/infotainment unit on equipped models), and generally well-built, solid-feeling panels in all locations.

Ride quality has improved significantly over the previous RDX, and actually matches or exceeds even the BMW and Audi offerings, blending a smooth, comfortable ride over rougher roads with a capable and confident feeling in sportier moments. Noise, likewise, is very low--whether road, wind, or tire.


Safety: 7
The Bottom Line:
Official safety ratings haven't been released for the 2013 Acura RDX, but it offers a solid standard set of equipment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't yet tested the 2013 Acura RDX, nor has the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS did test the 2012 model, however, rating it top marks of "good" in front and side-impact tests, but only "marginal" in roof strength. It remains to be seen if the 2013 model can improve on these results.

Standard safety equipment includes front, side, and side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, daytime running lights, a backup camera, and a rollover sensor to trigger appropriate airbags.


Features: 7
The Bottom Line:
Though it lacks some of the high-tech gadgets of the competition, the 2013 RDX delivers lots of bang for the buck.

For the 2013 Acura RDX, just 2 core variants are available: front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Both share the same basic standard equipment, though an optional Technology Package can be had with either.

While the RDX misses out on some of the latest high-tech gear even with the Technology Package (things like radar adaptive cruise control, night vision, and pedestrian detection), it does offer a strong base spec and a media-centric upgrade path.

All 2013 RDX models come standard with perforated leather seats, a CD/USB/iPod/satellite radio audio system, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, pushbutton ignition, Bluetooth handsfree connectivity, and a multi-view rearview camera.

Upgrades in the Technology Package include: navigation with real-time traffic and weather, a 410-watt Acura/ELS surround sound system (which our editors highly recommend), voice recognition, remote power-operated liftgate, GPS-linked climate control, and Xenon HID headlights.


Fuel Economy/MPG: 7
The Bottom Line:
More efficient than the previous model and on par with the best in its class, the 2013 RDX is a fair choice for an efficient luxury crossover.

The EPA hasn't yet rated the 2013 Acura RDX, but Acura estimates the front-wheel drive model to achieve 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. The all-wheel drive model is estimated at 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined. Those figures put it on par with or ahead of the best luxury crossovers in its class, though still somewhat shy of a typical midsize luxury sedan.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Scripps


This time around, Acura got it right.

Its sport-oriented crossover utility vehicle, the RDX, was added to Acura's lineup just 6 years ago, complementing the upscale, full-size crossover, the MDX.

But the RDX never quite caught on. Its best year was 2007, its 1st full year on the market, when 23,356 were sold. In 2011, sales totaled just 15,196.

The RDX's driving dynamics were spot-on, at least in the eyes of enthusiasts. But in an effort to distinguish the RDX from the larger V6-engine MDX, Acura installed a 240-horsepower, 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

It had plenty of punch but in practice delivered lousy fuel economy. Also, because of its handling-oriented suspension system, the RDX transmitted a molar-rattling ride on rough road surfaces.

So of all the vehicles in the Acura portfolio, the RDX was most in need of a replacement or, at a minimum, major surgery.

That's been accomplished with the all-new 2013 model, which is so unlike its predecessor that it could have come from another manufacturer.

There's a family resemblance in the design and styling But where the earlier RDX had a punishing ride, the new 1 is almost creamy, while still retaining decent handling from a more rigid body structure and more sophisticated steering and suspension system tuning.

Where the former model had power peaks and valleys, the new V6 engine pulls strongly throughout its range, and actually delivers way better fuel economy than the original.

Depending on the circumstances, it runs on 3, 4 or 6 cylinders. The toggling back and forth among the different modes happens automatically and is unobtrusive.

The RDX gets a fuel consumption rating for the all-wheel drive model of 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while the front-drive version does slightly better at 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

The original RDX with all-wheel drive had a fuel consumption rating of 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. But that was using the EPA's earlier, more generous and unrealistic ratings, which were subsequently cut back by about 10% across the board.

Contributing to the new RDX's performance and fuel economy is a 6-speed automatic transmission. On the road, the tested RDX with the all-wheel drive had a solid, planted stance with tactile feedback through the steering wheel and good straight-line tracking. The power steering is electric, sensitive to vehicle speed and enhanced by a thicker and more rigid steering column. It also uses sensors to automatically correct the RDX's attitude in cornering.

Though not what an enthusiast would consider to be sports sedan handling, the RDX attacks twisting roads with precision. With new technologies that include a shorter pedal stroke, the brakes also deliver a confident, progressive feel.

Large and supportive front seats are particularly suited for long hours at the wheel. The back seats are similarly comfortable. Even the center-rear seating position is marginally acceptable, unlike many other vehicles.

Unaccountably, the rear seatbacks do not recline, a flaw from the original RDX.

The RDX also is remarkably quiet on the road, benefiting from a new tire tread design as well as strategically placed insulation and active noise canceling under the hood.

Acura considers the RDX's main competition to be the BMW X3 xDrive 28i and the Audi Q5 2.0T. Both are near-luxury crossovers of about the same size but with less interior room and, when comparably equipped, higher prices. They come with 8-speed automatic transmissions.

The base price of the tested all-wheel drive RDX was $36,605, which included full safety equipment plus automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power sunroof, a rear-view camera with 3 display modes, pushbutton starting with remote keyless locking, Bluetooth communications, Pandora Internet radio and 18-inch alloy wheels. Headlights turn on and off automatically with the windshield wipers.

The tested all-wheel drive RDX also had a technology package that included navigation with voice recognition, an ELS premium audio system, solar sensing climate control, satellite radio with real-time weather and traffic, and a power tailgate. It had a suggested sticker price of $40,305.

If you don't need the all-wheel drive, you can save $1,400 by ordering the otherwise identical front-drive version.

Specifications

Model: 2013 Acura RDX AWD 4-door crossover utility vehicle.

Engine: 3.5-liter V6, 273 horsepower.

Transmission: 6-speed automatic with all-wheel drive.

Overall length: 15 feet 4 inches.

EPA passenger/cargo volume: 104/26 cubic feet.

Weight: 3,852 pounds.

EPA city/highway fuel consumption: 19/27 miles to the gallon.

Base price, including destination charge: $36,605.

Price as tested: $40,305.​

(Comments or suggestions? Contact Frank Aukofer at driveways6(at)gmail.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com.)​
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Portland Tribune


Call me old-fashioned, but I've never understood the appeal of 2-wheel-drive sport utility vehciles.

If you’re going to drive something that looks like it can go off road, why not equip it to do so? After all, even car-based crossovers get worse mileage than the cars they are based on. And they usually have about the same passenger room, too, although the cargo space is larger because of the hatchback design.

So I was a little apprehensive when a 2-wheel-drive version of the 2013 Acura RDX arrived for testing. I loved the previous version of Acura’s compact crossover that I tested. Equipped with a torquey turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and the company’s excellent Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, it drove like a sports car.

And I know the all-wheel-drive version of the new RDX is getting high marks. It won the Family SUV category in the recent 2012 Mudfest competition conducted by the Northwest Automotive Press Association.

I attended that event and was duly impressed by the RDX’s on-road ride and off-road capabilities — even though the new model is significantly different than its predecessor. For starters, it is larger, which offers more interior room but less precise handling. The turbo engine has been replaced by a 3.5-liter V6 that generates more power and better economy, but is not as exciting. And the SH-AWD system has been replaced by a version from the Honda CR-V, which shifts traction as needed from front to rear but not also from side to side.

But all the driving tests at Mudfest at short and designed to quickly reveal each vehicle’s strengths and weaknesses. My regular weeklong tests are a better guage of how a vehicle will perform in the real world, including daily commutes, errands, evening excursions and weekend trips.

From this perspective, the 2-wheel-drive version of the 2013 Acura RDX is basically a large station wagon. You remember large station wagon's don't you? They were based on full-size cars but carried the roof line over where the trunk would be, creating a large amount of storage room and, occasionally, a 3rd row of seats.

Most SUVs basically have that same configuration. The newer ones, like the RDX, disguise it somewhat by having swoopy or angular styling, but the principle is the same — additional storage room and occasionally a 3rd row of seats where the trunk would be.

Look at it from this perspective, the 2013 Acura RDX is a very good large station wagon. It is roomy, comfortable, quiet, plush and powerful. It also has more ride height than a car, giving the driver better visibility and the confidence to venture a little off road, even without AWD.

All things considered, I quickly found a lot to like about the 2-wheel-drive version of the new RDX, including the crisp styling, the flexibility of its new engine, the smoothness of its six-speed automatic transmission, the way the suspension soaked up road imperfection and the cozy driver’s seat. The TECH Package also offered a lot of nice features, incuding an easy-to-use navigation system, back-up camera and upgraded 10-speaker stereo system.

There are apparently many people out there who want 2-wheel-drive SUVs. They cost less and get slightly better mileage than AWD versions. If you never go too far off the road and don’t worry about not having the additional traction in wet weather, the 2013 Acrua RDX is an excellent choice. At least it looks more adventurous than an equivalent car.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Washington Post


A modest proposal for people in the home remodeling business: Consider Acura, the luxury division of Honda Motor Co. Therein is your best example of product quality, pride in execution and genius in the matter of customer satisfaction.

You’ll find no loose fits, unfinished edges or fudged errors masquerading as a final fix. Look at the paint job on this week’s subject vehicle, the 2013 Acura RDX crossover utility wagon. The color is what Acura’s designers call “Basque Red Pearl II.”


The name is no big deal. Execution is. It’s perfect. The hue is so deep, it seems three-dimensional. It’s as if you could sink or dive into it. It glistens as if it were some pristine lake covering a red bottom. Study it. There are no drips, drops or orange-peel surfaces. It even passes the Mary Anne Test.

You all know my wife, Mary Anne. Certainly some of you workmen who have been redoing our Northern Virginia home know her. She’s the little woman — because she is a little woman — who has been raising Cain every time a seam has been left open, a molding isn’t quite right, tile pieces have been matted with the wrong grout or a new appliance has been delivered with a defect.

She broke down and cried on a ride in the RDX. Her lament: “Why can’t the people who are working on our house work like this? Look how this is done. Everything is right!”

Why?

I think I have an answer. There is something special about Acura’s parent corporation, Honda, even in rough times, which it has endured lately partly because of certain product misjudgments (the Honda Element wagon and 2011 Honda Civic come to mind) and partly because of harm done to its operations in an earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011.

What’s special is that Honda and its Acura division are fanatical about getting it right, especially after they’ve gotten it wrong or have been tripped up by circumstances beyond their control. The 2013 Acura RDX is a case in point. It is a complete redesign of the 2009-12 models, which were modest remakes of the original RDX introduced in the United States in 2006.

Those 1st RDX models, some equipped with what Acura’s engineers dubbed “Super Handling-All-Wheel-Drive” (SH-AWD) and others with front-wheel-drive, were Acura’s entries into the hotly contested market for compact crossover utility wagons. The early RDX models were okay, which was a problem. The Honda-Acura reputation wasn’t built on “okay.” It was established on unquestioned excellence. People could buy “okay” from someone somewhere else, often at a lower price, which is what many of them did.

In response, Honda-Acura did not fudge, punt, quit (or take such a long break from the job that it seemed like quitting), or offer excuses. Instead, the company brought forth a 2013 RDX that truly lives up to the term “entry-level luxury.”

The reshaped exterior is more elegant than aggressive, more of a wagon than it is a pseudo sport-utility vehicle. The power plenum, shield-shaped front grille has been softened into something that is more inviting and less offensive than its predecessor. Interior styling is simple, ergonomically sensible in terms of instrument panel layout and made comfortable with supple, leather-trimmed seating surfaces. Standard equipment includes amenities such as a power-operated glass roof with tilt feature.

And it is all put together in a way that impresses, which is important in an industry where women either directly purchase or otherwise influence 85% of sales. Again, it’s the Mary Anne Factor. If you make her happy with what she can see, feel and touch, you might be able to get away with subtle, production-cost-saving changes in certain “black box” operations, such as all-wheel-drive.

That is what Honda-Acura did with the all-wheel-drive system in the 2013 RDX. The company jettisoned the SH-AWD system that won raves for handling and precision from automotive journalists — most of them young and male, many of them unmarried and childless, which means that few, if any of them, are in the market for a wagon such as the RDX anyway. In place of SH-AWD, Honda-Acura installed a lighter weight, more fuel-efficient, less expensive all-wheel-drive system that works quite well and is shared with the popular Honda CR-V wagon.

The move makes sense. Mary Anne, for example, had no complaints with the ride and handling of the RDX. She loved the vehicle’s performance, in fact. Like most of the RDX’s buyers, families, traditional or more broadly defined, Mary Anne is more interested in what appeals to or offends her tactile senses. If the wagon satisfies those senses and does a good, safe job of moving her, her people and stuff, she’s happy with that.

It’s really simple when you think about it. Even home remodelers should be able to figure it out. It comes down to this: Fix those seams. Trim those edges. Remove grout stains where they should not be. Complete all necessary caulking and appliance repairs. Please!!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
CarSeatCheck


Acura's RDX may have lost its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine when it was redesigned for 2013, but it gained better fuel economy from a new V-6 and some family-friendly convenience features. Parents will love the RDX's huge console storage bin, easy-folding 2nd row and how well this premium compact crossover handles child-safety seats.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.


The front seats are adjusted to a comfortable position for a 6-foot driver and a 5-foot-8 passenger. The 3 child seats are installed in the 2nd row. The booster seat sits behind the driver's seat, and the infant seat and convertible seats are installed behind the passenger seat. We also install the infant seat in the 2nd row's middle seat with the booster and convertible in the outboard seats to see if 3 car seats will fit. If there's a 3rd row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.

Here's how the Acura RDX did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:


Latch system:
This 5-passenger compact crossover has 2 sets of Latch anchors in the outboard seats. They are easy to find because they’re under wide slits in the leather. Although the slits are deep, the anchors are at the top of the opening, making access a breeze.


Booster seat: The outboard seats' bottom cushions are longer than the middle seat, so the booster has plenty of room. The buckles aren’t floppy and are on stable bases, making them easy for kids to grab. They stick up high enough that a kid will be able to use them easily.


Convertible seat: The forward-facing convertible was easy to install thanks to its rigid Latch connectors and the RDX’s accessible tether anchor. There were 2 sets of tether anchors midway down the outboard seatbacks and lots of clearance between the anchor and the seatback, making it easy to connect. The tether anchor for the middle seat is in the ceiling under a hinged plastic cover. It's flimsy and we broke it. The rear-facing convertible also fit well in the roomy backseat.


Infant-safety seat: There was also plenty of room for the infant seat; the front passenger didn't need to move the seat up to accommodate this large car seat. The infant seat has traditional connectors, which were still easy to hook to the Latch anchors.


How many car seats fit in the second row? 2

Editor's note: For 3 car seats -- infant-safety seat, convertible and booster seats -- to fit in a car, our criterion is that a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Safety


The all-new 2013 Acura RDX has received the highest possible safety rating of TOP SAFETY PICK from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting vehicle occupants involved in front, side and rear crashes, plus rollover performance based on ratings in the Institute's tests.

The all-new 2013 RDX, along with the 2012 TL, MDX, and TSX sedan and Sport Wagon, have all earned IIHS 2012 TOP SAFETY PICK ratings and the highest possible score of GOOD in all 4 Institute tests, including the rigorous roof-strength test.

For 2013, a revised 4-wheel disc brake system on the RDX teams with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and Brake Assist to further enhance safety and greater driver control. To meet the federal government's new standard (FMVSS 216) for roof crush resistance, the RDX body incorporates several new structural enhancements in the roof and side pillar areas.

All models in the current Acura line up utilize the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure. ACE is an exclusive body design that enhances occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal crashes. The ACE design utilizes a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle. This enhanced frontal crash energy management helps to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment.

Standard safety equipment on all Acura models includes Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control, ABS, dual-stage/multiple-threshold front airbags, front-side airbags with passenger side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), side curtain airbags for all outboard seating positions, front seats with integrated active head restraints, front seatbelts with automatic tensioning system and load limiters, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Daytime Running Lights (DRL).

Acura's "Safety Through Innovation" initiative is based on the brand's commitment to leadership in safety— and excellent safety is a paramount element in every new vehicle that Acura builds. The initiative's goal is for all Acura models to provide a high level of safety regardless of size or price of the vehicle.
 
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