When the Acura RDX was launched in 2007, it was aimed directly at buyers that wanted a sporty CUV. Over-the-top styling, a turbocharged 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine, and Acura's Super Handling AWD system (SH-AWD meant that the RDX was definitely sporty. However, that over-the-stop styling ended up turning off more buyers than it attracted.

It didn't take Acura long to figure out that the actual buyers of the RDX didn't really care too much about sportiness. They just wanted a stylish, comfortable, affordable, safe, and fuel-efficient vehicle.

Acura has responded with the all-new 2013 Acura RDX, whose significant changes are more unseen than seen. In view of all these changes, it was natural for us to want an RDX to join our long-term test fleet.

The most significant change is the new driveline. The 2013 RDX drops its 240-hp 2.3-turbo engine, five-speed automatic, and SH-AWD, in favor of a 273-hp 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a six-speed transmission and a simpler standard AWD system poached from the RDX's cousin, the Honda CR-V. These changes hasten 0-60-mph acceleration by 0.2 second and boost EPA combined mpg by 3 to 22 at the expense of some corner-carving crispness.

It's going to be interesting to see how performance and fuel efficiency are going to be affected with the RDX's all-new drivetrain.

All those changes resulted in a 6.3-second 0-60 time, compared with the turbo's 6.5 seconds to 60 mph. The quarter mile was completed in 14.9 seconds at 93.9 mph, while the turbo RDX did the deed in 15.1 seconds at 90.7 mph. Figure-eight numbers were a bit slower and lower than the turbo RDX with SH-AWD, at 27.8 seconds at 0.58 average g with a 0.77 lateral g, compared with 27.7 seconds at 0.62 average g and a 0.83 lateral g.

Another change you don't see (but do feel) is the retuned suspension with new dampers that allow slightly softer spring rates, which makes the RDX much easier to live with on a daily basis. The softer, more compliant ride of the RDX goes hand in hand with Acura dialing back on the Sport aspect of its sport utility vehicle. The 2013 RDX has a 1.4-inch-longer wheelbase and wider track, which translates to more passenger room.

Exterior styling hasn't changed too dramatically. The essence of the original RDX is still definitely there -- it's just been softened, or, more accurately, matured. The angular lines aren't as overwhelming as they used to be, which is a good thing. Like the exterior, the interior has also matured. The sea of buttons is now more of a lake. There is some separation among navigation, radio, and HVAC controls for improved looks and ease of use. Our car has the standard Tech Package, which includes nav, a multi-view rear camera, a 10-speaker stereo system, and foglights.

Over the next year, we will discover whether Acura's changes will pay off. Is the new drivetrain better or worse? Will the restyled interior and exterior bring in new customers and satisfy existing ones? Only time will tell, and we'll let you know everything we discover along the way.


2013 Acura RDX
Base price $36,615
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
0-60 MPH 6.3 sec
Quarter Mile 14.9 sec @ 93.9 mph
Braking, 0-60 MPH 123 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.77 g (avg)
MT figure eight 27.8 sec @ 0.58 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ 19/27/22 mpg
Energy cons, city/hwy 177/125 kW-hrs/100 mi
CO2 emissions 0.88 lb/mi