Actually, the Acura RDX doesn't fill prescriptions or offer ibuprofen on a buy-one-get-one-free basis.

That's because it's not really a drugstore. It's an automobile, a compact crossover SUV, to be exact.

But while it doesn't dispense drugs, it is, like all its vehicular brethren, the recipient of a marketing prescription. And that prescription has changed dramatically, resulting in a very different RDX for the 2013 model year.

The RDX, which debuted as a 2007 model, was originally aimed at a 30ish male yuppie who prized driving fun. It featured a turbocharged four-banger, a sophisticated, performance-minded all-wheel-drive system and a firm, sporty suspension.

But, as it turned out, the yuppadoo wasn't very interested in a sporty Acura crossover. The people who were interested, and buying the upmarket crossover, were DINKs (double income, no kids) and empty nesters. And these folks really didn't give a meadow muffin about performance. They just wanted an attractive, practical, and comfy crossover that would get them to the office and Lowe's.

Roger that, said the Acura product operatives. Consequently, the high-revving turbo four was replaced with a smoother, normally aspirated V-6. The five-speed automatic gearbox was deep-sixed in favor of a more economical six-speed. A simpler, less performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system like the one in the Honda CR-V was substituted for the previous box. Finally, the suspension was softened up in the interests of a better ride.

While the changes didn't do performance any favors, they helped in several other areas. The new RDX is more comfortable than the previous car, for openers. Engine performance is sort of a wash: The 2.3-liter turbo has less horsepower than the 3.5-liter V-6 but more torque. The V-6 is smoother and quieter than the four and probably more appropriate for an upmarket SUV.

And thanks to the efficient gearbox, better aerodynamics, the switch to electric power steering, and a new set of Michelin tires, the V-6-powered RDX also gets better gas mileage. The front-drive model has EPA mileage ratings of 20 city and 28 highway. The AWD car I drove was 19 and 27.

Personally, I much prefer the V-6 to the old four. It's quieter, its 273 horses get it out of the chute in a hurry, and the engine note that accompanies its full-throttle march through the gears is delightfully stirring.

The new RDX is quieter than its predecessor, and more comfortable. It is also quite roomy for a compact. The front seat offers plenty of room for two big people. The rear seat offers enough head, leg, and shoulder room for two bigs or three mediums. Cargo space is among the best in class: more than 26 cubic feet with the backseat up and more than 61 when folded down.

The RDX's interior design, like its body styling, is pretty conservative. The dash and door-panel design is rather busy, with a somewhat off-putting glitch in the doors. There are big, sweeping door pulls on all but the driver's panel, where the pull was left off to allow access to the window and door controls on the armrest. The aesthetic result is akin to having female triplets and an adopted son.

Storage abounds in the RDX. There are enough cubbies in the door panels to evoke a Pueblo cliffside community.

There is also a strange warning in the cargo area concerning the cup holders in the armrest that folds down from the rear seat back: "Remove drinks from cup holders before folding the seat back down to prevent spilling contents."


The warning is repeated in Spanish. What about French for the Canadian market?


2013 Acura RDX

(AWD, Tech Package)

Base price: $39,420.

As tested: $40,315 (including shipping).

Standard equipment: 3.5-liter engine, six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive and a luxury litany ranging from leather and power, heated front seats to a navigation system, premium sound,

and a power liftgate.

Options: None.

Fuel economy: 19 city and 27 highway (premium gas).

Engine performance: Lively.

Styling: Calm, conservative.

Handling: Good.

Ride quality: Excellent.

Warranty: four years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper.

The Ben key: Four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.