When every other automaker is downsizing due to fuel-economy regulations, Acura actually added two cylinders to the engine of its redesigned compact crossover. For 2013, it swapped out the RDX's turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder and replaced it with a version of the TL sedan’s 3.5-liter V-6. Why the switch?
It starts with an unlovable turbo. Turbos are supposed to be fun and fuel-thrifty, but the RDX's turbo engine was unrefined and thirsty at the pump. According to Cars.com's Managing Editor David Thomas, the crossover's new engine offers something different: "Leaving a stoplight isn't as energizing, but accelerating onto a highway on-ramp or passing cars at highway speeds are easier maneuvers with the new V-6," he says in his 2013 RDX review.
"When we launched the '07 RDX with the 2.3-liter turbo engine, we were using the turbo to maximize engine power. We feel that we accomplished this as this engine produced 240 hp. However, it came at the cost of higher fuel economy than the market ultimately craved once gas prices started to climb," Acura spokesman Chuck Schifsky said.
As Thomas states in his review, the fuel-economy gains with the new engine are significant: The 2012 RDX was EPA rated at 19/24 mpg city/highway; the 2013 front-wheel-drive model is rated at 20/28 mpg. Horsepower is up, too: The previous generation had 240 horsepower; the 2013 model makes 273 hp.
Acura took an already good vehicle and made it better with the 2013 RDX, says Cars.com Managing Editor Dave Thomas. Though it gained size and horsepower for the new model year, the compact crossover is lighter and more fuel efficient for 2013. An upgraded interior and reasonable prices enhance its appeal in this pricey segment, Thomas says.
The compact sedan and compact crossover received the group's highest rating, Good, across all areas of testing: front, side, rear and rollover crash tests. The rollover test includes a roof-strength test. To pass it, a vehicle’s roof must be able to withstand the force of four times its weight.
According to IIHS, 2006-11 3 Series models received Good ratings in front and side crash tests and Acceptable in roof-strength tests, but rear crash-test scores vary by model because of different types of seats and head restraints. Model-year 2009-11 sedans with power leather seats received a Good rating in the rear crash test, but 2006-08 sedans with power leather seats were rated Acceptable, and 2006 sedans with manual leather seats received a Poor rating, the lowest on the scale.
The 2007-12 RDX received a Good score in every category except roof strength, where it earned a rating of Marginal.
Acura's RDX may have lost its turbocharged four-cylinder engine when it was redesigned for 2013, but it gained better fuel economy from a new V-6 and some family-friendly convenience features. Parents will love the RDX's huge console storage bin, easy-folding second row and how well this premium compact crossover handles child-safety seats.
For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.
When the totally redesigned 2013 Acura RDX goes on sale later this spring, it will have a starting price of $34,320, the automaker said today. The price excludes a destination fee of $885.
That's somewhat pricier than the outgoing RDX, which started at $32,895, but the latest-generation RDX has a substantial increase in features, better fuel efficiency and more performance.
The 2013 RDX comes with a more fuel-efficient and powerful V-6 engine that produces 273 horsepower (33 hp more than the outgoing 2012 model's four-cylinder motor) and should achieve an estimated 20/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined or 19/27/22 mpg when equipped with all-wheel drive. The boost in fuel efficiency is aided by a new adaptive electric power-steering system that replaces the old model's hydraulic system.
There won't be too many surprises from Acura at this year's Chicago Auto Show. The automaker's new-for-2013 ILX sedan and refreshed RDX SUV were already unveiled in near-production prototype form at the 2012 Detroit auto show. Acura plans to take the wraps off of the actual production versions in Chicago.
From the Detroit prototype, it looks like Acura's second-generation RDX compact SUV doesn't change a lot for 2013. It's a bit longer and has sleeker-looking exterior styling. Under the hood, the RDX swaps its former turbocharged four-cylinder for a new 3.5-liter V-6 for 2013. We expect the new RDX to go on sale this spring.
The 2013 ILX is a compact, Civic-based sedan and Acura's first hybrid vehicle. It'll slot below the TSX in Acura's lineup and will come with three engine options: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 1.5-liter hybrid powertrain. We'll know more at the Chicago auto show, but in Detroit, Acura said the ILX will start "well below $30,000" when it goes on sale this summer.
Both vehicles will be unveiled at Acura's press conference on Feb. 8. Check back with us then for more from the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.
Acura pulled a page from the Lexus RX's book when redesigning the Acura RDX. It elongated the model and ditched the four-cylinder powertrain, opting instead for a V-6 motor.
Even with the V-6 engine, gas mileage improves to 20/28 mpg city/highway, which currently equates to the best fuel-economy rating of any luxury SUV, according to Acura.
The 2013 Acura RDX at the auto show was called a prototype, but in Honda parlance that means it's essentially done. (Most of its concepts are almost done.) For a complete redesign, it doesn't deliver much change.
In terms of its styling, I just had déjà vu. The Acura RDX five-seat crossover is similar to the BMW 3 Series I reported on earlier: It's a model from a company whose designs have gone astray, but the RDX itself hadn't seen the worst of it (that would be the Acura TL sedan until its redo for 2012). The RDX had gotten the silver shield grille but otherwise retained a handsome, sporty look.
The RDX grows up for model-year 2013, trading its sporty exterior styling cues and turbo four-cylinder for a more polished profile and a new V-6 engine.
The second generation of the automaker’s compact SUV rides on a longer wheelbase than the previous version. At 183.5 inches long and 64.2 inches high, it’s about 1 inch longer than the previous version, but loses an inch in height. It also gets a sleeker look outside and more leather inside.
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