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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
Autos

Acura’s new RDX is all grown up

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Maturity comes to us all. Yes, we’re talking about you, Britney Spears. One vehicle that has benefitted quite nicely from a new maturity is Acura’s latest RDX crossover.

The original, with its feisty four-cylinder turbo engine, had the frenetic energy levels of a sugared-up 4-year-old, revvin’ and roarin’ everywhere it went.

This latest version has traded turbo fizziness for smooth, silky, six-cylinder V-6 refinement, swapped five speeds in its automatic for six, and acquired the character of an SUV that’s grown up just a bit.

With it has come visual maturity, too. The previous, rather goofy “box-by-IKEA” styling is replaced by a sleeker, more refined shape that somehow looks more expensive and high-end.

Same with the interior: Sexy, perforated leather is now standard. The plastics and vinyls have a lovely, soft-touch feel and quality look. The new seats are more La-Z-Boy than deck chair.

And all for only a modest $1,425 increase over the boy-racer turbo. The exceptionally well-equipped base model kicks off at $35,215, including destination. Want all-wheel-drive? That adds another $1,400.

Not that there’s another “base” here. Standard fixtures include such goodies as a rear-view camera, thumping 360-watt, eight-speaker audio, paddle shifters for the automatic and smart-looking 18-inch alloys.

But the joy here is the way the RDX drives. That new 3.5-liter V-6 — it’s actually the same as the one that powers Honda’s Odyssey minivan and Acura’s TL — packs a meaty 273 horsepower and enough punch to propel it to 60 mph from standstill in 6.5 seconds.

The bonus, however, is mileage. Whereas the turbo-4 could only manage a meager 17 to the gallon in the city and 22 on the highway, this new RDX offers 19 city and 27 highway.

Better, smoother performance with improved fuel economy? Now that’s being very mature.

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