Friday, May 18, 2012

Acura RDX - Redux

Photo: Victor Llana (
I just stepped out of the new **2013** Acura RDX. And what a fine test week it was. All-new but familiar at the same time, it's a compact luxury crossover, combining the practicality of a wagon configuration with the tall proportions of an SUV with all the comforts of an upscale sedan. Lots of folks buy these vehicles now, because they seem to provide for every need. It's the baby brother/sister to Acura's midsize MDX.

This is Acura's latest salvo in the battle for moderate sized families with larger than moderate incomes who might be liking the Lexus RX, BMW X3 or Infiniti EX. Yes, there is a battle in that segment--as there seems to be in every auto segment these days.

Getting nearly 21 miles per gallon is OK, but I'd just stepped out of a hybrid and it seemed like I spent more time at the gas pump than I should. But the little hybrid, just over half the price of the Acura, didn't supply the comforts or the styling of the RDX.

The RDX's face shows the evolving concepts from Honda's upscale division. The sharp beak that appeared a few years ago is softening throughout the line, and this new car has a softly formed crossbar that might not be out of place in a 1950's vehicle (real chrome in that case, not faux brushed nickel. The overall body shape is edgy--the Acura look for today--and fits into the corporate family portrait just fine.

Inside, more edges, and in places like the doors, the styling is overt and even a little overheated. So many aggressive shapes all over the door panels, for example. To keep this from becoming a distraction, they've made them all the same matte "Ebony," which would feel a little sober if not for the energy of the shapes themselves.

There's plenty of pep when you step on the gas. There's a 3.5-liter V6 that churns out 273 horsepower under the multi-angled hood. The six-speed automatic provides smooth shifting by itself and allows you to select the gears--a common arrangement today.

You can get the RWD in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations. Mine was the latter, and it was inconspicuous. It would be nice to avoid putting on chains on the roads to the ski resorts, I guess.

My car also had the Tech Package, which added things Acura seekers covet, such as a navigation system with voice recognition, Real-Time Traffic and Weather, and a 10-speaker Surround-Sound audio system. I got spoiled with all that, and actually used the Real-Time Traffic when things clogged up on my morning commute. It told me where the problems were and described the issue. A small comfort, but at least it left no mystery. I dug deeper into the sound system to calm myself as traffic slowly inched along.

My Crystal Black Pearl test car came to $40,315, which seems like a lot. I guess when you add in all the goodies it totals up fast. There's really nothing I can think of that was lacking. The least you can pay for one of these is $35,215; just drop the all-wheel drive and the Tech package.

Despite it's intense design, the car is very comfortable, and I got more and more happy with it as the week went by. There are some things you just don't get in a $25,000 car that a $40,000 one is more than happy to supply.

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