2013 Acura RDX
By Nauman Farooq
It is generally perceived that technology and engineering moves forward, but that is not always the case.
There are plenty of examples like such in the automotive industry. Look at all the new Volkswagen products for instance, none of which are anywhere near as good as the ones they replaced, and Subaru has pretty much ruined the new Impreza for those who buy automatics, because its CVT auto (instead of a conventional auto) is nowhere near as good as the old gearbox was.
So progress is not always in the right direction, and I was a little hesitant as I approached the new 2013 Acura RDX.
I was hesitant because the first generation of the RDX has been my favorite SUV since its launch. Its turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine with active all-wheel drive made it a lot of fun to drive, and its comfortable ride, excellent sound-proofing and plenty of tech gadgets made it a relaxing vehicle to be in too.
So has the new 2013 RDX taken a step in the right direction? Let’s find out.
From a styling point of view, I’d say it’s a step sideways, but thankfully not backwards. I like the look of the new RDX, and while I am not blown away with its looks, I do like its new sleek sheet-metal. It is a smart-looking SUV and I think it will manage to attract many buyers.
If the exterior doesn’t do it for the buyers, the interior surely will. From an aesthetic point of view, the interior is not a big leap forward compared to the older model, but it is now a lot more spacious, and is now an even more comfortable place to spend time in. During my week with the RDX, I took it on plenty of long distance drives, and it never felt uncomfortable. From a technology point of view, there is no new gadget we’ve never seen, but most gadgets are there.
So the interior is bigger and hence more practical, so we’ll call this a step forward.
The main change is with the powertrain. Gone is the old 2.3-liter, four-cylinder, turbo-charged motor that produced 240-hp. The new motor is 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 273-hp and 251-lb/ft of torque. So, it’s not as sophisticated as the old motor, but more powerful. You now also get a six-speed automatic over the old five-speed autobox, and not only is the new transmission smoother than the older system, the extra gear allows this motor to relax more on highway speeds, which also improves its fuel economy. I averaged 10.2-liters/100km during my week, whereas in the old RDX I managed 12.8-liters/100km. So there’s a progress in fuel economy for sure.
But the reason I liked the old RDX so much was because it was easily the most fun to drive SUV on the market for under $50K. So did the new RDX please me just as much when behind the wheel?
The short simple answer is no. The new RDX is not as keen and exciting to drive as the older model, but thankfully, it is still good enough, and more importantly, much better than most other SUVs in this category.
The steering feel, which I had always loved about the old RDX is still present in the new model. This vehicle just feels good in your hands and turns even a long, boring highway jaunt feel exciting. Not sure how Acura manages this, but I’m glad someone in the auto industry understands steering feel.
They also understand gear-ratios, as this new RDX uses its torque band very effectively. Trust me, this is a smooth and rapid vehicle, which just happens to have room for the family, including the family dog.
So while the old RDX was a tad bit more exciting to drive, I am not complaining about the new RDX one bit. I quite like it, and would still put one of these at the top of my shopping list for entry-level luxury SUVs.
If you like what you read, then head over to your Acura dealer to test drive one yourself. Prices start at $40,990. The only option, a “Technology Package” which gives you satellite navigation and a few other goodies is only $3000 extra.
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