2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX front 3/4 view

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX rear 3/4 view

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX front 3/4 view

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX rear 3/4 view

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX side view

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX front view

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX rear view

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX grille

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX grille

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX headlight

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX wheel

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX wheel

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX side mirror

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX taillight

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX taillight

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX badge

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX engine

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX engine

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX interior

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX interior

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX front seats

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX steering wheel

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX steering wheel

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX steering wheel controls

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX steering wheel controls

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX gauges

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX speedometer

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX tachometer

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX multimedia display

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX instrument panel

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX audio controls

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX multimedia system controls

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX dash

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX shifter

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX sill plate

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX door

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX door speaker

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX rear seats

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX rear seat lever

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX rear cargo area

  • 2013 Acura RDX
  • 2013 Acura RDX rear cargo area

The Softening Of A Sharp-Edged CUV



If you had asked us back in 2006 if the then-brand-new Acura RDX would be a success, our answer would have been yes. And why not? The Acura brand was still in demand, buyers were increasingly clamoring for luxury crossovers and the economy appeared to be in solid shape. And don't forget that the RDX was seemingly ahead of its time, pairing together a turbocharger and inline four-cylinder engine before it became de rigueur among engine choices.

If you had asked us that question six years ago, we would've been dead wrong, because the RDX proved to be anything but a sure bet. The compact luxury crossover stumbled along with woeful sales over the past half-decade, with 2007 being its best year with a meager 23,356 units sold. As it turns out, American luxury car buyers weren't ready for a boosted CUV with a stiff ride, limited cargo-hauling capabilities and lousy fuel economy.

While the first RDX was a box office flop, Acura feels like it has an appropriate sequel for the 2013 model year. Gone is that performance-oriented turbo-four that was so out of place. Honda's luxury arm has instead gone with the company's tried and true 3.5-liter V6, placed it in a new larger platform, and added a raft of much-needed refinement.
2013 Acura RDX side view2013 Acura RDX front view2013 Acura RDX rear view

What we see is a well-executed styling evolution.

The 2013 RDX went under the knife in search of a softer shape, and what we see is a well-executed styling evolution that includes smoother lines, a more distinct greenhouse profile and more palatable mug shot. Acura designers streamlined the front end of the RDX with a new grille that loses the chunky proportions of the outgoing model. The fog lamp housings have also been transformed, with over-the-top brightwork replaced by understated simplicity. The headlight assemblies have also been re-imagined, now tapering off into the front wheel wells. Out back the D-pillar is a bit more pronounced as it tapers off toward the beltline. The taillights have also been tweaked, losing their demonic hawk eyes in favor of assemblies that better match the headlights.

The RDX definitely looks more grown-up on the outside, and similar progress takes place within the cabin. The previous model featured a more compartmentalized dash, but the 2013 receives a total makeover with flowing lines that taper off into the center instrument panel. The dash continues to feature soft-touch materials, but faux nickel accents have been added to provide more visual appeal. The steering wheel is mostly unchanged, with a great, leathery grip and multitude of buttons. The gauge cluster also has been reworked, swapping out individual housings for each gauge for a centrally enclosed area with an LED display resting in the middle. Another big change is a new housing for the 8.5-inch LCD screen, which now rests higher and settles deeper into its own cove. We really liked this modification since it blocks out sunlight and makes the screen much easier to read.

2013 Acura RDX interior2013 Acura RDX front seats2013 Acura RDX rear seats2013 Acura RDX rear cargo area

This Silver Moon tester tipped the fiscal scales at $40,315 including an $895 destination charge.

The RDX also scores points for its very comfortable front seats, which offer useful side bolstering and terrific thigh support. The back seats offer plenty of real estate as well, with 38.3 inches of legroom. That number compares favorably to the BMW X3 (36.8 cubic inches) and blows away the similarly sized Infiniti EX (28.5 cubic inches). The RDX manages a cargo draw when compared to the Audi Q5, with 26.1 cubic feet of space behind the second row seats and 61.3 cubes when they're folded flat. The Q5 wins with 29.1 cubic feet when the second row seat are upright but comes up short with 57.3 cubic feet when they're stowed. It's worth noting that the second row seat of the RDX doesn't fold completely flat, which can be a problem when sliding larger items in through the hatch.

Our positive impression of the RDX's interior was aided by the fact that our model is completely loaded. This Silver Moon tester tipped the fiscal scales at $40,315 including an $895 destination charge. Acura deserves credit for streamlining the ordering process while also providing a slew of standard features right out of the gate. This RDX arrived with all-wheel drive ($1,400 option) and the Technology Package ($3,700), or essentially every option that this Acura offers. The tech adds ELS Surround Sound, navigation with voice commands, solar-sensing climate control, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps and a very clear and easy-to-utilize multi-view rear camera. Each RDX also comes standard with a 10-way power driver's seat, moonroof, leather seating surfaces, Bluetooth, USB and more.

2013 Acura RDX engine

It helps that the 2013 model is 93 pounds lighter than the last RDX; an impressive number considering the addition of the 3.5-liter V6.

As mentioned earlier, one change for 2013 that will likely break a few enthusiasts' hearts is the loss of the turbocharged 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine in favor of Honda's excellent 3.5-liter V6. (Click here to read more about why Honda killed this engine.) Worry not, we say, because the 273-horsepower V6 offers 33 more horsepower and its 251 pound-feet of torque is within nine lb-ft of the boosted four. The big six feels very powerful and refined, with excellent off-the-line acceleration and prodigious passing power on the highway. The new six-speed automatic transmission is glass-smooth with its seamless shifts, and paddle shifters are available on the steering wheel for the DIY crowd. We're not always proponents of combining paddles with traditional automatics, but in this case the shifts are reasonably fast and the paddles fun to use.

Acura has also put a lot of work into the RDX's chassis to smooth out the rough ride that characterized the last-generation model, which makes sense given that U.S. buyers' in this segment typically demand comfort over performance. Since the MacPherson struts and multi-link rear suspension are carryover, the big change is Acura's Amplitude Reactive Dampers. The dampers are 15-percent softer, yet at the same time offer increased structural rigidity and reduced body-roll. We felt the difference on the street, as bumps and potholes were far less perturbing to our kidneys, and at the same time, this crossover still doesn't mind being tossed around. It helps that the 2013 model is 93 pounds lighter than the last RDX; an impressive number considering the addition of the 3.5-liter V6. It helps that Acura opted for attractive 18-inch wheels mated to 235/60R Michelin rubber, instead of going with heavier and costlier 19s or 20s.

2013 Acura RDX rear 3/4 view2013 Acura RDX grille2013 Acura RDX headlight2013 Acura RDX wheel

One source of disappointment is the loss of Acura's dynamic SH-AWD. That system could route 70 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels, while the new, simpler on-demand setup can only manage a 50/50 power split. Steering feel has also been dumbed down a bit, as this new electronic unit feels numb and light compared to the old model's hydraulic steering.

The 2013 Acura RDX does succeed where the last-generation model failed.

Both the steering and the Honda CR-V-sourced AWD system aren't as engaging as we'd like, but those new additions to the RDX help improve fuel efficiency greatly. The 2013 AWD RDX boasts EPA-estimated fuel economy of 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Despite firing on two fewer cylinders, the 2012 model managed only 17/22, giving the new RDX a substantial advantage. And those numbers translate into terrific real-world fuel economy, as we managed an impressive 24.2 mpg in mixed driving.

In the end, the "mainstreaming" of Acura's RDX means the succeeds where it once failed. It is now more refined and more comfortable, while continuing to offer plenty of get up and go. Some will miss the edgier dynamic handling of the last model, but far more will likely appreciate this kinder, gentler RDX. Best of all, the RDX now delivers sedan-like fuel economy with improved aesthetics and a more user-friendly interior, all of which should translate into the only thing that really matters to Acura: more sales.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 114 Comments
      Puggo
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's true the RDX does not photograph well. It looks much more refined in person, and the interior is sublime. Picking up mine tomorrow in white pearl. "Adult" as it may be (I'm in my early 40s after all), I'm looking forward to the solid, quiet, smoothness.
      Avinash Machado
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks better than the previous model.
      kyle
      • 3 Years Ago
      im glad they redesigned the RDX, the old 2.3 turbo had no business in a jacked up shoe on wheels. now why the hell is honda not utilizing that stellar powerplant along with one of their slick shifting manual gearboxes in a new hot hatch/performance sedan/s2000 successor/integra successor? so dumb.
      whitewashed44
      • 2 Years Ago
      I own an '09 RDX. I love the sporty and more sophisticated SH-AWD system compared to the '13 with the CRV awd system. Fits my lifestyle perfectly. Fun to drive AND practical. Only thing that would've made it perfection would've been a 6 speed auto and/or a factory ecu tune that wasn't in flood mode in EVERY SINGLE RPM. Engine chugs gas like an alcoholic at Oktoberfest.
      pickles
      • 3 Years Ago
      I was tickled to read the writer's words regarding the old fog lights. It's petty, but were they not the most gangly, fake meshy, jowly messes of a light frame? (Yes, they were). The latest model looks gobs better. Kind of refined -though the interior looks just fine, it's hardly luxe, in my opinion. What I'm waiting for is the 'worst cars to repair after gettin' rear-ended' article. This rig is likely to be at the top. It is firmly from the age when bumpers are NOT designed to be bumped- and these will protect nothing. Otherwise, it's nice. I'd never drive it but I wouldn't diss someone who did.
        piggybox
        • 3 Years Ago
        @pickles
        Where do you get the idea these bumpers protect nothing? Did it fail at any rear crashing test?
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Calvin L Miller Jr
        • 3 Years Ago
        what you didn't like the rdx because there's no vents in the back? So where you sitting in the drivers seat or the second row? Anyways the xc60 is more of an enthusiast model(driving wise) anyway. Just admit it wasn't your type vehicle instead of coming online and firing cheap shots.
          piggybox
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Calvin L Miller Jr
          @WMB I'm not sure about the new RDX. The 1st gen they had rear vents hidden under front seats. It was a weird design but in return the center storage was huge.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Calvin L Miller Jr
          [blocked]
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Calvin L Miller Jr
          [blocked]
          carguy1701
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Calvin L Miller Jr
          piggybox: most cars do have vents UNDER the rear seats. What WMB is referring to is vents in the back of the center console that can be aimed at the rear seat passengers. It is common on higher priced cars, but it is trickling down to less expensive cars (the Golf has them).
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Calvin L Miller Jr
          [blocked]
      Maddoxx
      • 3 Years Ago
      Infiniti EX35 is a much better car
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Maddoxx
        [blocked]
          Justin Campanale
          • 3 Years Ago
          The EX's rear seat and cargo capacity are SLIGHTLY below average, but it makes up for it with pretty much everything else. Of course, anything which isn't Honda is junk to you, since you are a Hond employee.
          PeterScott
          • 3 Years Ago
          ?? The EX 35 is 182" long and has a 297 HP V6 engine. How is that Sub compact?
        carguy1701
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Maddoxx
        From a drivers standpoint, yeah, but it isn't selling very well.
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      Congratultions, Honda. You managed to take everything that was fun out of the old RDX and turn it into another blandmobile crossoer. Now, before I get called a Honda hater (which happens to me quite a bit around here), let me say that I LIKED the last RDX. Seriously. Mileage and looks aside, it was easily one of the top 3 small luxury SUVs out there. The SH-AWD worked beautifully, the handling and performance were up to BMW X3 standard, the thing was fun to drive (for a CUV),the car had a decent interior, and it was extremely roomy. Acura, in the name of attracting a few more customers, took everything fun out of the RDX. What we have here is basically an Acura RX350. Top 3 picks in this class would be the Q5, EX, and XC60. Honorable mention, the X3.
      sniperhunter2001
      • 3 Years Ago
      I know this may sound nit-picky...but the taillight housings are straight out of the 90s. No LEDs, no intriguing lighting pattern or design...just a flat rose/red tail that isn't much different than what you'd see on a Ford Tempo. And I despite rose colored reverse lights.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @sniperhunter2001
        [blocked]
      MiddleClassMotoring
      • 3 Years Ago
      I understand what Honda is doing here. I appreciate their efforts too. It's about creating the volume model that people will buy and give them lots of revenue. CR-V based AWD instead of SH-AWD because most owners don't give a damn or even understand the difference. Honda can then use this revenue earned to make more niche market, cool products like....the NSX. By the number of these new RDX's I see around Boston these days, I'd say the strategy is working....
      Amco
      • 3 Years Ago
      Top car in class. Best ride, Best engine, Best interior, most features for thousands less. Oh and best fuel econ. OWNED! Finally Honda is back. This segment is over. X3 and Q5 and GLK are pure crap compared to this. If it was the old RDX i'd pick the germans for sure!!!
      MacProMan
      • 3 Years Ago
      sounds like a huge improvement over the last one which I used to sell... the re-design is surprisingly an improvement considering Honda's latest designs... there's light at the end of the Honda/Acura tunnel!
    • Load More Comments