2014 RDX New Car Test Drive
For 2013, Acura introduced the second generation of its smallest SUV. Considered all-new for 2013, the RDX was a bit bigger and heavier than before. Most notably, a 3.5-liter V6 engine replaced the original RDX's turbocharged 4-cylinder. The redesigned model was considerably more powerful, nearly as nimble, and significantly more fuel-efficient. Clearly, it was a win-win-win deal.
Except for one new body-color choice, the Acura RDX is unchanged for the 2014 model year. Acura's 3.5-liter V6 engine makes 273 horsepower, mating with a 6-speed automatic transmission (which incorporates manual control). The engine and transmission are both so smooth, they feel flawless. Fuel mileage is an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg City/Highway, for an EPA Combined 23 miles per gallon with front-wheel drive.
All-wheel drive is available as an option. Simpler and lighter than Acura's SH-AWD setup, which is used in other models, the RDX's AWD system is designed for greater fuel mileage. In about 400 miles of driving in our RDX AWD, mostly at 72 mph on the freeway but with some hilly city runs, we averaged 21.6 mpg. The EPA rates the 2014 RDX AWD at 19/27 mpg City/Highway.
The sheetmetal was reshaped for 2013 to be sleek and aerodynamic, looking more like the larger Acura MDX. The hood is longer and sculpted than in the first generation, the grille tidier, sides cleaner, and roofline way more elegant. The wheelbase is 1.4 inches longer than the pre-2013 RDX and the track (distance between left and right wheels) was widened a bit. Handling remains taut and precise. The center of gravity is lower than in the original RDX, despite the roof being 1 inch higher.
The suspension was thoroughly redesigned on the 2013 RDX, with 18-inch wheels standard. Acura engineers in Japan worked hard to make the second-generation RDX ride and handle well, and it does: maybe even better than the smaller and sportier 2012 RDX.
Steering technology in the ILX broke new ground, with what Acura calls Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering, which goes to the next step beyond speed-sensitive power steering. It increases or reduces the amount of effort needed to turn the wheel in either direction, based on the same sort of traction measurements that stability-control sensors receive. By instantaneously weighting the steering wheel, the system makes it harder for the driver to over-correct.
Acura's RDX suspension also features something called Amplitude Reactive Dampers: sophisticated shock absorbers designed to offer the best of all worlds. They got most of the worlds, but the dampers transmitted too many sharp bumps to our spine.
The 2014 Acura RDX interior has sweeping lines and uses rich materials. It's very quiet in the cabin; over harsh freeway surfaces in particular, you can't hear the tire buzz thanks to ample sound-deadening materials. Door openings are large, and the rear seats fold down with one touch. Leather seating surfaces are standard, along with heated front seats, a power moonroof, 360-watt audio system, and Multi-Angle rearview camera. Keyless Access with pushbutton start is standard, along with an Active Noise Control system. An optional Technology Package has all the tricks, including a power liftgate and HID (high-intensity-discharge) headlamps.
Competitors for the Acura RDX, which is manufactured in Ohio, include the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class.
The 2014 Acura RDX comes in just two models: RDX front-wheel drive ($34,520) and RDX all-wheel drive ($35,920). Either way, RDX is powered by a 3.5-liter V6, driving a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
Standard equipment includes leather-trimmed sport seats, satellite radio, driver's 10-way power seat, heated front seats and sideview mirrors, Bluetooth, remote entry, power moonroof, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The optional Technology Package ($3,700) adds navigation with voice recognition, real-time traffic with rerouting, dual zone climate control, ELS premier sound system, 60GB hard drive, power liftgate, projector beam HID headlamps, and foglamps.
Safety equipment on all models includes six airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake distribution and brake assist, and tire pressure monitor. Optional all-wheel drive can improve handling stability in slippery conditions.