Mother Proof's view

The 2013 Acura RDX is all-new, and that sounds exciting, doesn’t it? The RDX received a makeover, both inside and out, and the compact SUV even got a little bigger to give families a tad more wiggle room. The engine was changed from a turbo four-cylinder to a V-6, which results in better fuel economy. Despite all these changes, I liked the RDX, but didn’t love it.

I suppose that’s my problem; when it comes to the luxury market, I’m looking for love. Why splurge on a luxury crossover if I can get a similarly sized vehicle for considerably less? It’s that emotional bond you get from a luxury vehicle, you know — the one that justifies investing a little more.

The 2013 Acura RDX does have a lot to offer families, but I’m not convinced it’s enough to spring for its higher sticker price.

Setting emotions aside, driving the RDX’s 3.5-liter V-6 does feel good. It’s powerful, but not beefy; it was enough to make things fun behind the wheel if I wanted them to be, but not too much to tempt me to be irresponsible. Maneuvering the RDX through the tight neighborhood parking lots wasn’t a problem, and its responsiveness of the brakes felt just right.

The all-new 2013 Acura RDX with front-wheel drive has a starting price of $35,215, including an $895 destination charge. My test car, equipped with all-wheel drive and the optional Technology Package, cost $40,315.

The Acura design aesthetic is easily recognizable throughout its lineup, and the all-new RDX follows suit. The 2013 RDX looks clean, chiseled and subtly sporty. Acuras always remind me of chameleons because they can look masculine or feminine; it just depends who is driving, making the crossover suitable for either Mom or Dad.

The RDX makes loading infants and toddlers into their child-safety seats a breeze because the safety seats sit at an ideal height to get kids in without bending or stretching. The RDX isn’t so high that younger children or adults will have to strain much to climb in, but a little assistance may be necessary. The door handles sit at a reasonable height to be grabbed by passengers of all heights.

The cargo area surprised me. It looked small at first glance, but it was able to hold my international houseguest’s over-packed luggage when I picked him up from the airport. My stroller also fit, though I think a double stroller would require a test run. If you need extra space, the cargo area is actually quite large when the 60/40-split rear seats are folded down, and it’s easy to collapse them in one motion with a single lever found in the back.

My test car also had a power liftgate. This feature, which makes the hearts of multitasking parents sing, is usually an option on most vehicles, and it’s the same with the RDX. I’m rather irked that this is considered an upgrade on a luxury vehicle.

Some of the best news about the RDX’s redesign is its standard 273-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine. It gets an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and 19/27 mpg with all-wheel drive. That’s better than the previous RDX’s turbo four-cylinder engine that got 19/24 mpg with front-wheel drive and 17/22 mpg with all-wheel drive. I averaged just under the EPA’s 22 mpg combined city/highway fuel-economy number during my weeklong test drive, logging mostly city miles. Filling the gas tank with the recommended premium gasoline may sting a little, but Acura says it’s not required.

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some

You can tell that Acura had families in mind when designing the RDX’s interior space, and there are definite triumphs but also a few fails. The positives include ample legroom and plenty of storage compartments.

The 2013 RDX grew with its redesign, creating more legroom for both rows. This five-seater accommodated child-safety seats with ease, but it could only manage two of them, which isn’t unusual for compact SUVs.

Generous storage compartments make things convenient inside the RDX. In addition to the usual two cupholders in front and two cupholders in back, there are bottleholders in each door. The center console houses an ample bin, and there’s also a good-sized compartment underneath the center stack that can hold an MP3 player or smartphone while plugged in via USB. And, should you need a place to store a few books or magazines to entertain the kids, there are also two seatback pockets.

I found the center stack in the RDX to be overwhelming because it’s cluttered with buttons. My test car had the optional Technology Package ($3,700), which includes a premium stereo, navigation system and AcuraLink, a multimedia system. I found the navigation system’s graphics to be dated, and AcuraLink was frustrating to use at times. This diminished the RDX’s promised luxury experience.

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): More than Fair/Less than Ample

The 2013 RDX has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the top score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests. It hasn’t yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Installing child-safety seats was a cinch in the RDX. There are two sets of lower Latch anchors in the backseat. Slits in the seat cushions provide a foolproof way to locate them, as well as make access easy. Find out how the RDX performed in’s Car Seat Check.

The RDX has standard front-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system with traction control, a multiview rear camera with rear parking sensors and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights and all-wheel drive are optional.

Get more safety information on the 2013 Acura RDX here.

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