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2013 Acura RDX Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Acura RDX was new.


Performance: 7.6

Some test drivers say the 2013 Acura RDX doesn’t have the sporty feel of its predecessor because the electric steering lacks road feel and the old all-wheel drive was replaced with a different system. However, they say the new RDX is more refined than the 2012 model. The RDX’s standard V6 engine gets up to highway speeds without issues, according to critics, and its comfortable ride makes it a good choice for shoppers who want to get through their commute with ease.

  • "We'll miss the woosh of the turbo and SH-AWD's ability to tuck the tail into a sharp corner, but the 2013 RDX does feel worlds different than its predecessor. The V-6 delivers brisk acceleration, although the shift quality from the six-speed automatic is occasionally a little jarring. All-wheel-drive is no longer a must-have option in terms of curbing torque steer; front-wheel-drive models no longer veer under hard acceleration." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "To our welcome surprise, this small SUV went above and beyond, also proving itself a capable performer in initial acceleration and passing power." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Acura's new RDX is smooth, quiet, and nonintrusive." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "While enthusiasts (ourselves included) may initially bemoan the absence of Honda's high-output turbo mill, after piloting the RDX, we can safely say the V6 route was their best course of action. Not only is acceleration to 60 miles per hour kept the same (timed just under seven seconds, according to Acura), but the six is smoother, quieter and more refined than the engine it replaces." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Acura RDX comes standard with a new 273-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. The RDX also comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, which replaces the five-speed automatic in the former model. According to the EPA, models with front-wheel drive get 20/28 mpg city/highway, while all-wheel drive models get 19/27 mpg.

For the most part, test drivers like the V6 engine because it’s quiet and doesn’t struggle when passing and merging. They add that the six-speed automatic transmission transitions between gears quickly.

  • "The V6 is light-years quieter and more refined. Gone is the turbo whine, replaced by hearty torque across the rev range. The V6 might not be any more responsive overall, but the lack of turbo lag gives the RDX a much more luxury-performance feel." -- AutoWeek
  • "The new V6 is quite smooth and more powerful than we anticipated. For those rare times when more oomph is required, the RDX has a sport mode for speedier acceleration and passing." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On the road, power builds at a somewhat slower pace than the turbo generation provided, but it's a more consistent experience. 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." -- Newsday
  • "On our mixed condition preview drives, we found smooth power made all the more accessible by a quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

Acura gave the 2013 RDX a new all-wheel drive system that weighs less than the outgoing system and yields better fuel economy ratings. Some test drivers say that even without all-wheel drive, the RDX can round corners at high speeds without a problem. Other reviewers say the steering isn’t as stiff as it was before, but blame the lack of feel on the fact that the system is now electric. Test drivers say the brakes are strong.

  • "Indeed, despite the loss of SH-AWD and the freakish agility it conferred, the new RDX still handles with ample alertness and composure." -- Edmunds 
  • "Steering is lighter than before. There's more body roll in tight turns; the brakes are not as grabby and the ride is softer. For performance fans, the RDX is definitely a step back from the previous model, but for the average car shopper, it is a huge step forward because the experience is more comfortable." -- Newsday
  • "Taking away SH-AWD did not ruin the handling of the RDX, though. The suspension is rigid enough that the car can be put through high-speed antics in corners. Taking turns at speed, the car's tires made tortured sounds indicating the loss of a tread layer, but the body remained flat, with no wallow and not much lean." -- CNET
  • "Acura engineers obsessed over brake tuning, and it shows: the RDX has a surprising amount of bite coupled with firm, linear pedal travel." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "We definitely noticed the improved ride of the 2013 RDX, but were unimpressed with the feel of its electronic power steering." -- Autoblog
  • "Electric power steering is becoming universal, thanks to the fuel-economy benefits, and some carmakers have built systems that provide road feel comparable to traditional hydraulic setups. Mazda's new CX-5 is a good example of this. The RDX is not. The Acura requires more effort to steer as your speed increases, but tactile information is vague." -- Popular Mechanics

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