Bottom line: The 2013 Acura RDX is a worthy reentry into the market for compact crossover utility wagons in the United States. It looks better and has a more powerful engine, but it is more fuel-efficient than its predecessors. It is also surrounded by tough competitors including the GMC Acadia, new and much-improved Ford Escape, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Lexus RX 350, and Kia Sorento SX.
Ride, acceleration and handling: The new RDX gets good marks in all three. I disagree with colleagues who criticize it for using a more pedestrian all-wheel-drive system. It works well. The SH-AWD system it replaces was nice, but was overkill in a family hauler.
Head-turning quotient: Attractive. Fits well in places — school, church, ballfields, malls — that families go.
Body style/layout: It’s a compact, front-engine, entry-level luxury crossover utility wagon of unitized body construction. It has four side doors and a rear hatch. It is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Engine/transmission: The 2013 Acura RDX comes standard with a 3.5-liter, 24-valve, double-overhead cam V-6 gasoline engine with variable valve lift and timing (273 horsepower, 251 foot-pounds of torque). The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually. The new engine replaces a turbocharged, 2.3-liter, inline four-cylinder model (240 horsepower, 260 foot-pounds of torque).
Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity with the split-folding rear seats up is 26.1 cubic feet. With rear seats down, its 76.9 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 16 gallons of gasoline. Premium fuel required.
Mileage: The EPA’s mileage numbers for the 2013 Acura RDX is 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon on the highway. But my sample of the vehicle was brand new and all that means for first-drive fuel economy ratings, which usually aren’t good. I got 16 miles per gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front/solid rear); four-wheel antilock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake-force distribution; ACE Body Structure, a patented Acura structured engineered to lessen the amount of crash energy transferred to vehicle occupants; front-side air bags; side curtain air bags with rollover sensor; latch system for child safety seats.
Price: The base price for the 2013 Acura RDX with all-wheel drive and technology package (onboard navigation with real-time traffic and weather, backup camera) is $39,420. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $36,965. Price as tested is $40,315, including an $895 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $37,860.