Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: 2013 Acura RDX AWD Tech

There’s nothing wrong with vanilla. It’s a sweet, simple flavor that can be rather good. I mean, when was the last time you heard anyone complain about vanilla ice cream? Granted, some vanilla is better than others.

When “vanilla” is used to describe a car, it usually means boring and bland. But again, vanilla can be silky; it can be refined; it can be classy. This is how I’d classify the 2013 Acura RDX. It isn’t sexy, but it’s smooth and sophisticated. It’s luxurious, but isn’t going to quicken your pulse. It’s basically vanilla.

The 2013 RDX is all new and takes a more mainstream approach to the small SUV market. The previous generation RDX (2007–2012) was a bit of a departure for Acura, since it featured a turbocharged engine—something Acura (and parent company, Honda) had never offered in a U.S. market vehicle. For 2013 Acura pulled the turbocharged engine, instead using its 3.5-liter V-6, which is also found in the TSX sedan. The engine produces 273 horsepower; enough to move the RDX rapidly when needed. In typical Acura fashion, the engine is sewing-machine smooth, revs quickly, and sounds great. The six-cylinder mill is paired nicely with the six-speed automatic gearbox, which does feature manual shifting capability. And if you’ve got to shift your automatic manually, the Acura paddle shifters are very good. Our model also featured AWD giving the car plenty of traction in wet and dry driving conditions. If you’re looking for a glimpse of excitement in this vehicle, the powertrain would be it. By the way, our AWD RDX was EPA rated at 19 city and 27 highway. We got right about the city MPG.

In the handling and ride department, things aren’t quite as energetic. There’s some body roll here and there; some leaning into the corners. But hey, this is an SUV after all. The ride is very comfortable whether in the city or on the open highway. The car is quiet and void of most wind noise; road noise is minimal.
So yes, the engine and powertrain are silky and smooth. But like vanilla, it’s not pulse raising.

The RDX’s outsides match the vanilla theme. It’s not flashy or ostentatious; it’s clean and simple. It isn’t what I’d call a “looker,” though. Notable features include 18” wheels/tires, HID headlamps, and the corporate Acura shield grille. That grille isn’t as in-your-face as it used to be, but it’s still a prominent feature. It’s also still not doin’ it for me.

But sometimes it’s what’s inside that counts, and like its bigger brother, the MDX, the RDX has a very nicely appointed cabin. There are comfortable heated leather front seats, rear leather seats with good legroom, lots of storage, a power moonroof, and a great sounding audio system. Like all other Acuras, the RDX suffers from having way too many buttons on the dashboard, making operation of nearly everything unintuitive. Ditto that with the HandsFreeLink connectivity system. The bottom line is it’s comfortable, but there’s too much going on. The RDX’s interior isn’t quite as luxurious as the larger, more expensive interior on the MDX, but it’s still very nice and feels extremely solid. In addition, there is plenty of practicality thanks to generous cargo room behind the fold-flat rear seats.

Our AWD RDX Tech stickered at right around $40,000, which is a sizable chunk of change, especially for a small SUV. But like most mid-to-upper-end Acura vehicles, it feels extremely solid and well put together. Plus, it’ll probably run forever. While this Acura may have a lot of vanilla qualities to it, just remember that vanilla isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just not the most exciting. 


nlpnt said...

I'd rather have a TSX wagon - ten grand cheaper, better looks and handling and really, what's the point of settling for a crossover when the manufacturer still offers a real wagon?

Duke said...

Who actually buys something like this? "I want something with poor fuel economy that's nicer than your average American SUV and cheaper than a German SUV and is otherwise mediocre in every other way."

I just don't get it. Probably why I'm not an automotive executive.

Guy across the street from me is selling a MINT Fiero. Nicest one I've ever seen. Not sure of the year but I know he's been the only owner. It's so clean it's not even funny. So much want.

This RDX? Consider my enthusiasm for this Fiero I speak of. Then consider the exact opposite of that. I try not to be an internet auto enthusiast snob but this thing's a Snoremobile.