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2013 Acura RDX: Profound Directions

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The entry level premium CUV segment is currently in a strong growth trend, so it’s only logical that Acura’s popular RDX CUV has taken on the position of going in a different direction in a an effort to capture an even bigger piece of the pie. Acura, Honda’s luxury division’s truck lineup consists of their flagship ZDX, followed by their highest volume luxury and performance MDX, and lastly, the sporty and youthful entry model, the RDX.

The segment growth through 2017 for the entry premium CUV category is expected to be 12.6 percent, which is higher than the projected growth for entry and mid-level premium sedan categories combined.

The RDX through last year was powered by a 2.3-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged i-VTEC inline 4-cylinder engine with electronic multi-point fuel injection and a Drive-by-Wire throttle system. The transversely mounted front engine produced 240 horsepower at 6,000 rpm along with 260 pound feet of torque at 4,500 rpm that was delivered to all four wheels as needed via Acura’s Super Handling- All Wheel Drive, through a 5-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift manual shift capability and Grade Logic Control System.

Aiming for a smarter solution in the development of the Acura RDX for 2013, the Acura team opted to focus on the synergy of man and machine by increasing both the value and sustainability, with high contrast styling, top fuel economy and driving performance characteristics.

The power of choice for the 2013 Acura RDX is a 3.5-liter SOHC, 16-valve V-6 engine with Multi-Point fuel injection, Drive-by-Wire™ throttle system, featuring a Variable Cylinder Management and Variable Valve Timing and Lift Control. The naturally aspirated V6 makes 33 more horsepower (273 at 6,200 rpm) along with 251 pound feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. The engine is positioned up front in an East/west orientation, and connects to a six-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control that transfers motive force via Front Wheel Drive or a simple All Wheel Drive system with Intelligent Control.

The 2013 Acura RDX comes with a lowered center of gravity, wider track, reduced lift and roll angle and an extended wheelbase, all combining to provide greater stability. Ride quality and comfort level are improved through the utilization of Amplitude Reactive Dampers, which maintain the former model’s sporty handling attributes, while improving normal scenario ride comfort. Braking has been upgraded as well with a shorter pedal stroke with reduced force, lightweight and compact caliper and larger front rotor effective diameter. Improved steering feel comes courtesy of speed-sensitive, motion adaptive electric power steering (EPS).

The move from a potent turbocharged four-cylinder engine to a V6 at first seems counterintuitive, but the advantage in improved fuel economy through the Variable Cylinder Management system, which switches from 6 cylinders to 4-cylinders to 3-cylinders based on power requirements represents a huge plus in operational efficiency. It is capable of providing more power with less effort than the former turbocharged four-banger. Additionally, the transmission benefits from an extra gear, as well as a lower ratio that contributes to improved economy, along with lower rolling resistance tires and improved vehicle aerodynamics over the previous model.

The current unavailability of Acura’s SH-AWD system for the new RDX also seemed questionable at first since the 2012 model provided it, but cost and value was a prime consideration.

The exterior styling of the new RDX retains Acura’s DNA, but in a more fluid and bolder design form. The interior consists of a high contrast structure featuring a dual personal format in a tech Avant-Garde treatment that delivers smart, modern storage in abundance. Connectivity features include PANDORA, iPhone cable, SMS text messaging and Bluetooth cell phone link with onscreen operational cues.

My test 2013 Acura RDX came with the Tech Package in an All-Wheel Drive configuration. The exterior sported a Forged Silver metallic finish, with the interior done in Charcoal tones with satin silver trim accents. The base price was $39,420 while the final sticker read $40,305.

The 2013 Acura RDX has definitely taken a different direction – a turn for the better, across the board actually, at least for those looking for value, performance and economy in a CUV.

Power in the form of smooth acceleration now comes with seemingly less effort, which makes for quieter operation. Road holding capability has improved thanks to the enhanced structural rigidity. Ride quality is firm but not harsh, and the handling attributes are nimble and instantly responsive. The RDX remains an entry-level luxury CUV that is positioned below Acura’s larger MDX SUV and the flagship ZDX. It is more intimate in its packaging and form, making it just the right size for many consumers, without sacrificing either performance or comfort.

The 2013 Acura RDX in any configuration or trim level comes with an impressive array of safety features and systems as standard fare, while also offering several dealer installed options for personalization and convenience.

As with all other Acura models, the 2013 RDX is covered by a comprehensive 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty and a 6-year/70,000 miles powertrain limited warranty. Additional ownership benefits include Acura Total Luxury Care®, which provides free 24-hour roadside assistance, concierge service and trip routing. This protection coupled with Acura’s reliability factor, renders the RDX as a sound “just-the-right-size” choice headed in the right direction for the times in the CUV marketplace.


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