With players in the “big boy SUV” segment such as the Acura MDX, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the BMW X5, I have always found that the compact premium SUV segment was overlooked. With appealing variants such as the BMW X3, the Volvo XC60, and this 2013 Acura RDX though, this definitely seems to be changing. Even the likes of the Kia Sportage are stepping up their game.
I spent the past week with a 2013 Acura RDX, painted in a Kona Coffee Metallic. I found this colour to be especially unique (both in name and aesthetics), especially when paired with the black leather interior and all the goodies of the Technology Package. Instead of having the turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine that the previous Acura RDX was known for, the 2013 model was all new from the ground-up.
After this extensive surgery, the new RDX ended up with an all-aluminum, hollow camshaft 3.5L i-VTEC V6 putting out 273 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque. Rather than using Acura’s renowned Super-Handling-All-Wheel-Drive system, this little cute-ute comes with all-wheel-drive with an Intelligent Control system. Whatever they’ve decided to call it, it works. The new RDX can definitely hold its own around corners even with snow on the ground.
With family comfort in mind, the Acura team put in various shock absorbers to ensure the RDX has a quiet and smooth ride – something I found is especially great, making this one of the smoothest crossover/SUVs on the road today. The suspension in the RDX has seen some serious engineering – they also introduced Amplitude Reactive Dampers featuring two piston valves per shock absorber as opposed to one. The stability of the RDX is much more improved with a significantly lower center of gravity.
The 2013 RDX’s electric power steering has a traditional Honda-good feeling, with a bit more power assist at lower speeds. It firms up at highway speeds, and this works a lot better than the electric systems found in the RDX’s competitors. Handling is great, and the truck feels a lot more composed than it really should. Honda has worked their magic on this one, and it’s very, very obvious.
One of the many things I grew very fond of while driving the RDX was the climate control system. Climate control and HVAC controls are something that I find are typically overlooked, and it may seem insignificant to many shoppers (especially those in the compact SUV market). The solar-sensing dual-zone climate control that comes with the Technology Package is exceptionally good at keeping the temperature in the car consistent even with changing weather conditions. I enjoyed not having to keep fiddling with it on extended drives. I also found the audio system to be excellent – the 10-speaker Acura/ELS Surround system lets out a crisp-sounding reproduction of most types of audio, providing just the right amount of kick from the trunk-mounted powered subwoofer.
Along with the ELS Surround sound system, the Technology Package on the RDX gives buyers an 8” LED backlit display, a navigation system with voice control, the aforementioned GPS-linked solar-sensing climate control, and a power liftgate (which seemed to have a mind of its own, choosing to open only when it wanted to). The price premium for the Technology Package over the standard RDX is $3,000. The standard car comes with a sunroof, very comfortable leather seats, an intelligent key system, Bluetooth connectivity, a backup camera, and of course, all-wheel-drive. The RDX is actually a great value.
With all good comes some bad – there were, unfortunately, some things I found myself becoming quite annoyed with. When using the Bluetooth system to make phone calls, I found the call quality was not up to snuff. This is an especially blatant oversight seeing as the Ontario laws strictly prohibit use of a handheld device when driving. Although the multimedia system of the RDX is very similar through the Acura lineup, it’s starting to feel extremely dated. Navigation maps need to be of a higher resolution and the system needs a refresh. That being said, it’s still easy to use and works well. The rear liftgate would choose when to/not to open when using the button on the dashboard – in order to make it work every time I just used the button on the remote.
The Acura RDX is easily one of the most appealing compact SUVs out there. Not only is the power delivery brilliant, it actually has a lot of get-up-and-go thanks to the big V6. To my surprise, I averaged just 10.1L/100km over the course of a week. I did use the recommended premium-grade gasoline in this car. I really do like the RDX, and with its price point of just $44,190 absolutely loaded, it’s hard to say no to.
2013 Acura RDX Technology