First Spin: 2013 Acura RDX
One of the fastest-growing segments in the auto industry in recent years–both in number of entries and in overall sales–is the premium-compact SUV class. It was inaugurated in 2004 with the BMW X3 and has since expanded to 8 models.
Acura’s RDX, introduced for 2007, was the X3’s first direct competitor. Priced well below the BMW, it featured a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that was more impressive on paper than in actual driving, suffering as it did from occasional pronounced turbo lag. The RDX also aimed for the sporty side of “sport-utility,” with a taut suspension that improved handling, but left many buyers turned off by the rather stiff ride.
Both of those issues have been addressed with the RDX’s 2013 redesign. Replacing the turbo 4-cylinder is a 3.5-liter V6 offering plenty of power and “right now” response. Suspension tuning was softened a bit to appeal to more luxury-oriented buyers, which Acura feels will be the primary audience for the car. In fact, many of the changes were said to be made because a large portion of sales are expected to be to those who are “downsizing” from the company’s midsize (and very popular) MDX sport-utility.
Although the redesigned RDX predictably wears different styling, those familiar with the previous edition will notice more than a passing resemblance. Inside, too, though the interior materials have been upgraded. Wheelbase is longer by 1.4 inches and overall length by 1 inch, so size changes minimally. Acura notes that the cargo opening has been widened by 6.5 inches to 48.8, but capacity is about the same.
As is common with Acura products, the RDX is available in just two trim levels–Base, and Base with Technology Package–with no factory options. Front- and all-wheel-drive versions of both trim levels are offered.
Features are carried over with three notable exceptions. Top-line Technology Package models include a music hard drive and power-opening liftgate, both new to the RDX. Standard on all is a rearview camera, which now offers three views: normal, top (looking down on a trailer hitch), and 180-degree wide angle.
Even Acura tacitly admits that the original RDX was perhaps aimed at an audience that wasn’t there, and by the end of its cycle, was overshadowed by newer rivals. So how does the remake stack up against the competition?
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