The premium Acura RDX compact crossover got a complete makeover for 2013, giving it the same architecture as the new version of its Honda cousin, the CR-V.
With the redesign, there are four versions of the RDX offered, with prices ranging from $34,320-$39,420.
Several options are available, including an engine-block heater, wood trim, all-weather floor mats, remote start, roof racks and running boards.
For this report, I tested the AWD Tech, which included an impressive technology package.
Included was Acura's all-wheel-drive system, which operates in front-drive during normal cruising, but automatically sends 25 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels during acceleration or when the system detects slipping of the front wheels. But under wet or slippery conditions, torque may be distributed 50/50 between front and rear.
This car is easy and fun to drive. It's really effortless, with precise steering and handling (electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, drive-by-wire throttle), especially on curvy neighborhood streets and roads.
There's also plenty of power from the 273-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential sport shift and paddle shifters.
EPA ratings are 19 mpg city/27 highway, and there is a 16-gallon tank. I averaged 22 mpg during my test. No four-cylinder engine is offered for those who want better fuel economy, however.
The Tech Package (standard for this model) included navigation with voice recognition, AcuraLink with real-time traffic and weather, GPS-linked climate control (sensors track the sun's position and intensity and the system compensates, automatically adjusting the temperature in each area accordingly), power tailgate, xenon HID headlights, fog lights, and the Acura/ELS premium surround-sound audio system.
The navigation system was relatively easy to program. It has a toggle-style controller on the dash and intuitive labeling of folders and pages, although I find a touch screen to be more time-efficient.
Our premium audio package has 10 speakers, AM/FM/DVD/CD/XM, MP3 playback, auxiliary input jack and USB interface, Dolby Pro Logic II, a hard-disc drive, and a multi-view rear camera. It had wonderful sound, and there were speakers on the pillars behind the rear doors at head level, a speaker in the cargo area, and speakers on all doors including small speakers on the top of the front door panel near the windshield pillars.
The heating/air conditioning controls were simple and user-friendly, grouped together in the lower front console _ which, by the way, is part of an attractive new design with a metallic accent dividing the two-tone dash.
This is the second generation of the RDX, and it's much quieter than before, thanks to Thinsulate noise-absorbing material on the inner fenders, spare-tire pan, and door lighting housings.
Acura also chose Michelin Primacy MXM4 all-season tires because of their quiet performance, and used a floating sub-frame with heavily reinforced mounting points in the front, which also reduces road noise. The ride was quite smooth and pleasant.
Our heated/leather front sport seats were firm but comfortable, with 10-way power adjustment for the driver (with driver memory system) and four-way power adjustment for the passenger.
Front passengers had 38.7 inches of headroom and 42 inches of legroom, while rear passengers had 38.1 inches of headroom and 38.3 inches of legroom. The rear seatback folded 60/40 via handles on the side of the cargo area near the liftgate or straps on the seat back, which increased the 28.3 cubic feet of cargo space to more than 60 cubic feet.
Features such as the universal garage/gate opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth hands-free link, steering-wheel-mounted controls (audio, phone, voice commands, cruise and information panel) helped make driving the RDX a pleasure.
The tester came with a power/tilt moon roof, heated/power outside mirrors with turn signals, and remote entry with a security system. Other standard features included electronic stability control with traction control, tire-pressure monitoring and daytime running lights.
The RDX earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, thanks to some new structural enhancements in the side pillars and the roof (high-tensile steel, which is lighter and stiffer), a revised four-wheel antilock disc brake system with brake assist and side door beams.
It also comes with Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, which is designed to distribute crash energy throughout the front frame of the vehicle rather than into the passenger compartment.
Other standard safety equipment includes dual-stage/multiple-threshold front air bags, front seat-mounted side air bags with passenger occupant position detection, roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for all outboard seating positions, front seats with integrated active head restraints, front seatbelts with automatic tensioning system and load limiters, and the LATCH system for child seats.
My tester had 18-inch painted alloy wheels with five sculpted "V" spokes, a chrome-trimmed satin-finish grille, and chrome-trimmed hatch and windows.
2013 ACURA RDX:
Base price: $34,320
Price as tested: $39,420
All prices exclude destination charge.