Even though I didn’t get a chance to test and photograph the all-new 2013 model RDX, I was fortunate to get to test drive the new 2014 edition painted with the new Kona Coffee metallic hue. What a great looking, high-tech sport utility vehicle with Acura’s signature precision powertrain and performance attributes, not to mention a beautifully appointed and luxurious interior.
The exterior styling is more refined and fluid than before. A smoother front fascia with the Acura signature ‘overbite’ aluminum grille, wider wheel arch lips and flatter side panels not only show a more upscale look, but combine to make the RDX more aerodynamically efficient. New underbody panels significantly improve smoother airflow but also generate less wind noise making for a quieter ride. At the front the new grille blends together with much longer, more graceful HID headlamps and lower foglamps at the sides. Along the sides the new RDX makes use of smoother door panels that incorporate a crisp body line that runs through the door handles. Deeper side extensions help enhance stability at highway speeds, aero-styled, heated/repeater signal sideview mirrors and spear-styled, body-colored pull-out door handles further lessen the amount of noise entering the cabin. A full-perimeter chrome strip runs around the greenhouse to exhibit a little luxury on the outside. At the rear the RDX roofline is far more tapered than before. The spoiler up top is now body-colored and a power actuated rear liftgate is a first for the RDX. The new look is more refined, athletic and aerodynamic, beautiful.
The 2014 RDX quickly moves out with the all-new 3.5 liter, all-aluminum, SOHC, 24-valve V6 with Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control and it also marks the first use of Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that allows for three levels of cylinder deactivation, producing 273hp at 6,200rpm and 251lb.ft. of torque at 5,000rpm. This new V6 is so smooth and quiet that sometimes I didn’t even know that the engine was running. Also new for the RDX is the Sequential SportShift 6-speed automatic transmission paired with a new multi-clutch torque converter. In addition to adding another forward gear, the new 6-speed is also smaller and lighter than before. The result is improved performance and fuel economy. My test RDX came equipped with the new AWD system that is smaller and lighter than the previous drivetrain setup. Known as AWD with Intelligent Control, the new system also is more efficient that the prior version, which, along with the reduced weight, further helps achieve the AWD RDX’s increased fuel economy. Driving the AWD configuration gave me an added sense of control and safety on wet or slick pavement.
The new RDX is stronger and more rigid thanks to the use of high-strength steel (56% versus 47% from before), not only provides increased strength at a lower weight, but generates a stiffer body for improved performance and reduced NVH. It was very sound and smooth going over poorly paved roads and when I took it off-road. It felt like I was in a tight drum with no vibrations.
Similar to the previous model, the new RDX rides on a fully independent suspension that has been refined for a smoother ride and remains flat when entering steep curving roads. The longer wheelbase, increased track and lower center of gravity further enhance the new RDX’s handling with a more subtle ride. Up front is a MacPherson strut setup with 22mm solid stabilizer bar, gas-pressurized, twin-tube Amplitude Reactive dampers. The rear setup is multi-link with coil springs, twin-tube Amplitude Reactive dampers and a 19mm solid stabilizer bar. The new Motion Adaptive Rack & Pinion adaptive electronic steering system replaced the hydraulic steering system and is much lighter, more responsive with great feel for the road.
Safely slowing the new RDX down from speed are large, power-assisted steel disc brakes. Up front are 12.3 inch vented discs clamped with large single-piston calipers with the Acura signature, and 12 inch solid discs clamped with single piston calipers in the rear. Standard ABS, BA, EBD, Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control all work together to keep the trunk on my chosen path during severe braking times and when driving on slick or wet pavement. Not only do the new, larger brakes provide better performance, but they also incorporate improvements to reduce drag-which reduces rolling resistance and improve fuel economy.
The further give a smooth, quiet and controlled ride with excellent traction and grip, the new RDX rides on 18X7.5 inch split 5-spoke alloy wheels wrapped with Michelin Primacy MXM4 235/60R18 inch performance all-season tires. From front to rear the new 2014 Acura RDX is much more refined and more powerful with excellent performance from all of its new systems. Acura’s marketing department spent a lot of time finding out what previous Acura sport utility owners wanted in this type of vehicle and have done their homework well.
Inside mirrors the refined exterior with luxurious soft touch materials. Sweeping shapes, matte surface trim and generous use of leather combine to give the RDX a very upscale look and feel. When behind the wheel at speed the abundant use of noise insulation materials and numerous high-tech appointments (such as Active Noise Control) team to provide an exceptionally quiet cabin for me and my passengers. Also the interior gives more legroom and shoulder room for both front and rear occupants. More cargo room follows with a significantly wider rear hatch opening. Throughout the cabin the new ‘dual personal’ cockpit design make use of more sweeping shapes including the new hard disc drive (HDD) based navigation system paired with a new W-VGA color screen. Just as before, RDX seats five but caters to me and my front passenger first and foremost. Its leather seating surfaces and ergonomically design seat contours are designed to provide ample support during spirited driving times or long road trips. My seat was 10-way powered including power lumbar support and my passenger up front benefitted with 4-way power adjustments plus both seats feature heating elements. The leather-wrapped/tilt/telescopic steering wheel feels great in my hands with audio buttons, Bluetooth and cruise control actuators, and the LED backlit gauge cluster is easy to see and understand. The Multi-Information Display in the middle of the display allows easy access to multiple electronic functions and the trip computer. The center stack contains all of the important dials, buttons and switches and is easy to reach and use. Even more than ever before, transformability of the vehicle is a top concern for Acura designers. It is very easy and fast to transform the RDX from a people hauler to a cargo hauler. With a new ‘one touch’ activation of the 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, the rear cargo area offers 76.9 cu.ft. of storage-16.3 cu.ft. more than before. Interior storage compartments include a large center console with dual cupholders and storage pockets and cubby spaces throughout the RDX.
The 2014 RDX is so well equipped in standard form that only one trim package is available. With the Technology Package, a host of driver relevant features are added including AcuraLink Satellite Communication System, Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting and AcuraLink Real-Time Weather with radar image maps. The navigation system is even more advanced and is operated by anew hard disk drive (HDD) system with 60 gigabytes of storage capacity. The HDD system operates with far greater speed than previous CD-based system, and it has 15 gigabytes of dedicated space allotted for music storage. The navigation system also makes use of a new 8-inch W-VGA color screen and is also used for anew rear view camera system for safer backups.
The Technology Package also includes the great sounding, awesome Acura/ELS Surround Sound 10-speaker, 410-watt premium audio system with DVD-Audio, CD, DTS, AM-FM radio, XM radio, Bluetooth and a 3,500-song hard disc drive media storage system. As part of the Technology Package there is a GPS-linked solar-sensing dual-zone automatic climate control system with a power operated rear hatch door.
Standard features not mentioned above include MP3/auxiliary jack, USB audio interface, push button ignition, driver recognition memory system, HomeLink system, power windows/door locks with front express up/down, maintenance minder system, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, one-touch sunroof, dual map lights, dual lighted vanity mirrors, grab handles above each door, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, rear pull-down dual cupholders/armrest, variable-speed wipers/washers, rear wiper/washer, floor mats front/second/rear.
Standard safety systems include driver/front passenger dual-stage airbags, driver/front passenger side airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover protection, tire pressure monitor, 5-3-point safety belts with front pretensioners/load limiters, ACE body structure, side-impact door beams, LATCH system for child seats and Daytime Running Lamps.
It is a pleasure driving the 2014 Acura RDX around town, on the highway and off-road. The truck is so much more refined than before with excellent power, performance, comfort, convenience, connectivity, infotainment and safety. It is still one of the best all-around mid-size luxury sport utility vehicles.
COPYRIGHT: 2013: HARVEY SCHWARTZ