By: Scott Evans
We Like: Good handling, great interior packaging, improved fuel economy.
We Don't Like: No more turbo-four, no more SH-AWD, no more unique selling proposition.
The Acura RDX entered our competition like a fish swimming upstream. Where the industry is moving toward small-displacement, forced-induction engines, Acura went the opposite way. Gone are the turbocharged four-cylinder engine and "Super Handling All-Wheel Drive," replaced with an off-the-shelf V-6 and an all-wheel-drive system borrowed from the RDX's Honda CR-V cousin. To Honda, it was a simple business decision. Customers demanded a softer ride, quieter cabin, smoother acceleration, and better fuel economy. The new RDX delivers all those things and more power to boot. While that will make it an easier sell in the showroom, it means that, in our eyes, the RDX isn't nearly the standout it once was. It's now a paint-by-numbers SUV.
Though it may not be the sporty, quirky crossover we loved, it's not bad. The updated V-6 drew strong praise, with Floyd remarking, "The first thing I noticed was its 3.5-liter. Those 273 horses moved this bad boy out in a hurry." The handling, despite the lack of SH-AWD, also earned praise. "Surprisingly fun car to drive," wrote Mortara. "The all-wheel-drive system works just fine, even though it's not SH-AWD." He and others pointed out, though, that the all-season tires had very low limits and quickly put a stop to the fun. "The all-season tires scream like 12-year-olds at a slasher-flick sleepover," quipped Loh. "You're moving pretty quickly, though, despite the howling understeer."
The RDX's interior also drew friendly comments. Markus was impressed with the rear seat room, as was Lieberman. Lieberman, Floyd, and Lassa also remarked favorably on the upscale cabin materials, and the judges agreed that the center stack design was an improvement over the previous version.
When it came to the criteria, though, the RDX just didn't measure up. No one considered the design an advancement, and while we appreciated the refinements, the loss of cutting-edge technologies under the hood and the carryover in-car technology didn't make much of a case for engineering excellence.
While no one really disliked the RDX, no one was particularly enthusiastic about it either, and its Sport/Utility of the Year chances ended there.
| 2013 Acura RDX AWD |
| BASE PRICE || $35,215 |
| PRICE AS TESTED || $40,315 |
| VEHICLE LAYOUT || Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV |
| ENGINE || 3.5L/273-hp/251-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6 |
| TRANSMISSION || 6-speed automatic |
| CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) || 3816 lb (59/41%) |
| WHEELBASE || 105.7 in |
| LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT || 183.5 x 73.7 x 66.1 in |
| 0-60 MPH || 6.3 sec |
| QUARTER MILE || 14.9 sec @ 93.9 mph |
| BRAKING, 60-0 MPH || 123 ft |
| LATERAL ACCELERATION || 0.77 g (avg) |
| MT FIGURE EIGHT || 27.8 sec @ 0.58 g (avg) |
| EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON || 19/27 mpg |
| ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY || 177/125 kW-hrs/100 miles |
| CO2 EMISSIONS || 0.88 lb/mile |