Base Price: $39,420

Price as tested: $40,315

This week, we're driving Acura's all-new 2013 RDX, finished in all wheel drive (AWD) with the technology package. This new Crossover that is making the competitors stand up and take notice, as, Acura's reputation for luxury and reliability is renowned and the RDX's pricing starts at just $34,320.

Further, Acura has introduced this model via a novel television and print campaign, where a Gulliver character from the novel "Gulliver's Travels" falls in love with the new Acura and decides his new chariot makes living on the small people's island bearable. Creative, too, is Acura's "Built for the size of your life" print marketing campaign, which subliminally associates the message with its TV Gulliver ads.

Overall, Acura is a leader in delivering the innovative technology it learns from years of owner input and from the nation's top speedways, where parent Honda is one of the top engine suppliers in the IZOD IndyCar series. Add the fact that an entry front-drive RDX costs way less than many anticipate, and the result is Acura's ability to compete in a very crowded class as one of the leading candidates.

Completely different from the 2012 RDX, a new exterior/interior/engine combination finds the 2013 most impressive. The "Car Connection" perhaps said it best after testing the RDX, as quoted on the Acura homepage: "All-new for 2013, the Acura RDX takes what was good about the previous model - its just-right size, nimble handling, and attractive design - and makes them better…"

I agree.

The biggest change appears under the hood, as the former four-cylinder turbo is replaced by a more powerful and smooth 273-horsepower, 3.5 liter V6. The engine couples to a fine shifting and properly geared six-speed automatic transmission, resulting in excellent torque, great passing abilities, and very respectable EPA numbers of 19 city and 27 highway. The front drive delivers 20 and 28, respectively.

Our tester came with the Tech package as standard, featuring navigation, multi-view rear camera, Acura-Link communications, 10-speaker Dolby Pro Logic Surround Sound hard-disk stereo system, GPS, dual zone climate control, power tailgate, Xenon headlights and fog lamps. It's indeed a worthy group of items.

On the highway, Acura's ride, nimble handling, great comfort, quiet interior and all the amenities the brand is noted for are built in to each RDX. Safety features include all the air bags, great four-wheel ABS disc brake system and all the "electronic assistance" utilized by car manufacturers nowadays in stopping and keeping vehicles in a straight line.

Personally, the interior deserves extra praise as leather sport seats, XM satellite, MP3, USB, push button start, 10-way power seat, Homelink, all the powers and much more greet driver and passenger. Additionally, thanks to the rear multi-link and front strut setup suspension, the ride is both comfortable yet sporty at the same time, thanks to special damping on the suspension to the deliver just the right amount of firmness when needed.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.7 inches, 3,852 lb. curb weight, 16-gallon fuel tank with premium recommended, 26.1 to 76.9 cu. ft. of cargo space and room for five passengers.

In summary, Acura's 2013 RDX earns a solid "Test Drive" best buy recommendation. We drove over 400 miles during our week long test, and the RDX delivered one of most enjoyable and functional drives to date. Be it loading tools after a visit to the hardware center, stacking bags of groceries or passing a truck on a 65-mph freeway, RDX performed up to its slogan..."bigger than life."

Your Acura dealer also has some special July 4 deals for you, so stop in and drive one if you are shopping in the Crossover/SUV market.

Likes: New drivetrain, interior, exterior, price, Acura quality.

Dislikes: Rear blind spots, not much else.


(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).