More power, better fuel economy and a fresh look make the 2013 Acura RDX a solid choice for a premium small crossover.
The 2013 Acura RDX gets a complete overhaul in an effort to provide wider appeal and better efficiency. A naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine replaces the former turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder, and it provides more power along with improved fuel economy. Although the old turbo-4 was a spirited performer -- it made 240 horsepower -- it didn't provide the fuel economy and refinement one might expect.
By contrast, the new V6 version makes 273 hp, yet earns EPA estimates of 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined (front-wheel-drive version), compared to the 19/24/21 ratings of last year's RDX with the smaller engine. The roomier, more powerful and better-performing RDX accomplishes this impressive feat via various fuel-saving measures such as cylinder deactivation while cruising and a new six-speed automatic that replaces the old five-gear unit.
The all-wheel-drive version of the new RDX uses the system from Honda's CR-V, retuned by Acura for better performance. Acura says the new AWD system is lighter and costs less than the outgoing SH-AWD system offered in the previous RDX. It's probably a smart move on Acura's part, although the enhanced handling capabilities provided by SH-AWD that helped the RDX stand out in this segment might be missed by more serious driving enthusiasts.
That switch to a simpler AWD system is another indication of the different tack the 2013 Acura RDX takes. Though the newer RDX loses some sporty flavor in terms of ultimate cornering prowess, it gains significantly more in the way of ride refinement, cabin ambience and luxury features. The new styling strikes us as an improvement over its more generic predecessor, with a cleaner grille and a more sculpted body that's highlighted by a slightly tapered greenhouse. Our previous gripe that the RDX lacked a few key luxury features has been largely addressed, as keyless ignition/entry and a power liftgate, for example, are now available.