Acura's corporate frontal motif has evolved into something more subtle and less bombastic than before.
||2013 Acura RDX Tech package
||Four-door crossover wagon
||3.5L-V6 (273 HP)
|Price as tested
||$43,990 ($3000 Tech package)
|Observed overall fuel consumption
This second-generation RDX was released in the spring of 2012 as an early 2013 model. Unable to house a V6, the previous RDX employed a turbocharged four to develop competitive levels of horsepower. The turbo four delivered on power but was almost as heavy on gas as the best six cylinder engines and not as smooth. The V6 that powers the new, bigger (midway between a CR-V and a Pilot), RDX delivers better performance and fuel economy than its predecessor. Acura dropped the Super-handling All-wheel Drive (Sh-AWD) system, which can overpower a rear outside wheel to improve handling, on the new RDX, in favour of an all-wheel drive system that operates in front-wheel drive unless slip is detected, when it will send torque to the rear wheels.
The Nissan Murano is closest to the RDX is size, price and concept. Though similarly sized, European competitors like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK are far more expensive than the RDX when equipped to the same level.
Sharp window detailing highlights how small the actual glazed area is
The RDX's eager, sweet-sounding 3.5L V6 delivers swift acceleration, impressive flexibility and relaxed cruising.
With a smooth engine and surprisingly good road noise suppression for an Acura, the RDX is refined overall, though wind noise is higher than expected on the highway. The six-speed automatic transmission is very well matched to the V6, and delivers imperceptible upshifts and downshifts.
The electric power steering is nicely weighted and geared, has little centre play and tracks straight on the highway, but it's numb. The suspension copes with minor road imperfections with a resilient firmness. However, the vehicle loses its composure on larger bumps, literally falling into them followed by a sharp upward rebound. The RDX's suspension also exhibits some side-to-side rocking under certain conditions. The rear suspension is overly stiff and seems at odds with what is going on in the front of the car. There is also significant impact noise from the rear suspension when large road imperfections are encountered. In partial compensation for the choppy ride, handling is very steady, and the RDX tackles corners with very little lean for such a big, tall machine.
The progressive, powerful brakes feel overly boosted initially but weighting feels ideal after some acclimatization. The high window line limits outward visibility for lane changes, and leaves what is beyond the passenger side doors of the car a mystery.
While the air-conditioner is powerful, it's temperature varied annoyingly according to loads placed on the engine by the driver. Very good audio system. The navigation system features an intuitive control set-up and functions very well. The RDX's Bluetooth system readily connects to an iPhone but would not hook up to cell phones using older technology.
A towing capacity of 680 kg (1500 lbs.) is much lower than the 1588 kg (3500 lbs.) most mid-size V6 CUVs can handle.
The cabin is fronted by a dashboard featuring big, crisply-marked gauges. The plethora of buttons on the dash centre stack causes some initial angst but its controls are quite logical and easy to manipulate after a brief habituation.
The large, comfortable front seats locate occupants well without confining them. The driver’s seat is multi-adjustable, but the low-mounted, fixed-height front passenger seat left some occupants feeling buried in a vehicle with a high dash cowl and high window line. The rear seat is comfortable for two and holds three in a pinch. Rear legroom is ample and the rear floor is flat.
While the cabin features abundant padded surfaces, matte finishes, attractive leather seating and is carefully assembled, it looks a bit downmarket for a vehicle with such a lofty price tag. Like the previous RDX, the faux-alloy trim hue is a bit grim and the trim itself looks cheap
Despite a high cargo deck, cargo space is ample below the window line and the trunk is both wide and long. The 60/40 split rear seat can be folded by pulling release handles conveniently located near the wide-opening rear tailgate. Though the rear seats don’t lay flat, the RDX still has a substantial cargo hold when they are folded.
The exterior styling breaks no new ground, but is uncluttered and has some nice detailing like the bright side window trim. Acura’s corporate grille has evolved from bombastic clutter to something that more subtly identifies the vehicle as an Acura. Excellent exterior paint and panel fit.
Large, crisply marked gauges
Dash centre stack is more logically arranged and less button-festooned than the previous RDX
Wide tailgate opening
Ample cargo space with the rear seatbacks raised to accept passengers
Cargo bed with 60 portion of the 60/40 split rear seat folded. The seat backrest does not fold flush and the stepped cargo floor affects loading somewhat.
New model, not rated. The previous RDX was very reliable and other Honda/Acura vehicles using the same components as the RDX are rated above average for reliability. Servicing costs are generally the same as they are for mid-size Japanese-branded vehicles. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.
At $40,990, the base RDX is comprehensively equipped for the price. The Tech package, which features a navigation system, upgraded audio equipment and a power tailgate, contains roughly $4500 worth of equipment for $3000. Leasing represents compelling value on the new RDX. The Tech package RDX is priced virtually the same as a better-equipped, more luxurious, better-riding and arguably more stylish Nissan Murano LE Platinum. The Acura is cheaper to lease but the Nissan costs less to finance. The Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK are all similar in concept to the RDX, but are vastly more expensive when equipped with the leather seating, navigation and metallic paint that are all standard on the RDX Tech. That said, the German vehicles do have a certain cachet and driving feel buyers seem happy to pay extra for.
The RDX is equipped with two front airbags, two seat-mounted side airbags as well as side-curtain airbags. The RDX is a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, and was rated Good in the IIHS's frontal, side, rear and roof strength tests.
Elegant chrome detailing on the rear of the RDX. The bumper and lower tailgate look vulnerable to impact damage