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Despite being an attractive, luxury crossover sport utility with an assortment of nice features, the Acura RDX never gained much of a following since its debut in 2007.

Perplexed by the meager volume of sales, the folks at Acura did their homework and discovered that many potential buyers weren’t enamored with the quirky turbocharged engine and the mediocre gas mileage (19-24 mpg).

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The changes were a little slow in coming, but they were addressed in a major redesign for the 2013 Acura RDX. Gone is the 2.3-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine and it its place is a more robust V6. The performance is improved and so is the gas mileage, which now measures 20-28 mpg.

Although never an issue here, new styling has also been incorporated. Luxury features that were standard among many of its rivals have now been added to the RDX, including power liftgate, keyless ignition/entry and several other subtle niceties.

2013 Acura RDX

  • Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 273 horsepower
  • Price: $34,320
  • Mileage estimate: 20-28 mpg
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain 6 years/70,000 miles; corrosion 5 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 4 years/50,000

Another facet that was also abandoned was the SH-AWD system. This optional feature might be missed, since it distributed power between the front and wheel axels, and the right and left wheels, making for superior handling and traction.

The new AWD system is lighter and costs less than the SH-AWD system. But the old system wasn’t missed while doing extensive driving in the Lake Tahoe region and later zipping through twisty stretches of pavement along Highway 1 between Monterey and San Francisco.

The handling was good enough to allow for casual glimpses of the gorgeous California coastline that are chamber of commerce-worthy views. The braking was strong and the steering never felt like a chore in the RDX, which also provides a fairly quiet ride.

There’s no mistaking that there is more performance with the 2013 RDX. The new engine is a 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 273 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. This small SUV goes 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, and can go head-to-head with its competition in this category.

It’s mostly good news to report regarding the interior. Both front and backseat occupants will be pleased with the RDX’s roomy and comfortable seating. This SUV provides excellent head and leg room, plus front-seat occupants have standard seat warmers. There is solid storage space in back and the cockpit layout makes sense and is easy to grasp.

The RDX is definitely improved, but there’s no guarantee that sales will improve. It resides amid some tough competition that includes the Volvo X60, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and the Cadillac SRX. At least the RDX has a chance, going from second-tier SUV to one that can now compete.

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