The 2013 RDX is the latest version of the smaller of Acura's two crossovers. The Acura RDX competes with the BMW X3, Lexus RX and Mercedes-Benz GLK.
Acura promises the 2013 RDX will be roomier, quieter and more comfortable, with the styling, power and appointments expected in a luxury SUV.
Like the Acura ILX, which made its debut at the Detroit show, the 2013 Acura RDX adopts a downsized version of the brand's controversial shield grille. No longer dominating the face of the crossover, the 2013 RDX has a more balanced and proportioned feel, and the twin, rising character lines and muscular wheel arches give the new model a more aggressive stance.
The good news is that the 2013 remake should deliver the power needed to back that design promise. If the old RDX could be faulted for anything it was the underwhelming four-cylinder turbo under its hood.
For the new RDX, Acura bucks industry trends, upsizing, rather than downsizing, the powertrain with a new 3.0-liter naturally aspirated V6. It will produce 273 horsepower, or 33 more than the old turbo four-cylinder, pushing it through a new, and lighter, all-wheel-drive system.
Expect some significantly better off-the-line and passing performance. But the story gets better. The new V6 takes regular unleaded, rather than the costlier premium demanded by the old RDX's turbo powertrain. It delivers a reasonably good 20 mpg in City testing, according to preliminary estimates, 28 in the Highway cycle. Despite the smaller displacement, the older package yielded an EPA-estimated 19 City/24 Highway in two-wheel-drive configuration and a marginal 17/22 mpg with Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive, or SH-AWD.
The 2013 Acura RDX maintains its five-seat configuration. The concept's interior, which is largely what you'll get in the production model, is more seamless, with a more swoopy design and a center stack that places all the necessary controls within easy reach.
Acura's control system is one of the better designs we have seen, with just the right number of standalone controls for things like radio tuning and volume, as well as heating and cooling. That means you don't have to drill down five levels, as you do on some recent offerings, to operate something as simple as seat heaters.
In keeping with the competition, Acura has upped the technical ante, the 2013 RDX offering a 60-gigabyte hard drive storage system, SMS text messaging capability, and the ability to access smartphone apps like Pandora. There's also a new keyless entry system, push-button start, and a rearview camera, a particularly useful feature for any utility vehicle, where it is easy to miss a tricycle hidden from view, or worse, a child riding a tricycle.
If the original RDX stood out anywhere it was in terms of handling dynamics, which should get even better with the 2013 remake thanks to its longer, wider dimensions, a new motion-adaptive power steering system and its new Amplitude Reactive Damping system.
With the new look, interior improvements, handling upgrades and all-new powertrain Acura is hoping to finally be a serious contender in the competitive compact CUV segment.