In the 11 years it has been alive, the Acura RDX has managed to place more than 375,000 units on the streets of the United States. Reaching that number after two generations in one of the most important automotive markets in the world is no easy task. The RDX is so popular that it has been the segment leader among luxury compact SUVs since 2007 and is being renewed at a time when competition is stronger than ever.
Acura expects the RDX segment to grow 39 percent in the next five years, despite the fact that gasoline prices have been rising, again, recently. But it seems that the growth that crossovers have had is not just because gasoline prices have been low, but also because consumers are looking for more interior space and a more commanding driving height, among other factors.
For the third generation of the RDX, Acura focused on growing its emotional appeal. Acura targeted their European competition, benchmarking the new RDX against the BMW X3 , Audi Q5 , Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60 - and all have been completely redesigned in the last two years. Despite being the leader in the segment, the Japanese brand is aware of the competition's position in the landscape. As such, Acura is leveling up the feeling of luxury and connectivity, as well as strengthening the fundamentals that have characterized it - comfort, safety, reliability and value.
The RDX is equipped with a powerful four-cylinder turbo engine that is derived from the Honda Civic Type R - technology that we had not seen in other Honda models was added and designed more aggressively. With these attributes, Acura is opening the spectrum so that younger buyers approach the brand. In the A-Spec guise we tested, the vehicle certainly felt and looked the part of a Type-R descendant.
There will only be one engine available in all four versions of the RDX 2019. It is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo that delivers 272 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque. It is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that not only helps in saving fuel, but also makes changes smoothly and continuously, without seeking the highest gear to sacrifice power for fuel savings. We found shift points to be precise and accurate in all modes. The horsepower numbers are a few lower than the outgoing generation, which delivered 279 hp and 252 pound-feet of torque through a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. However, the additional torque greatly benefits the 2019 RDX, which should make it faster to 60 mph. Ours definitely felt quick, with an estimated sub-6-second 0-60 dash.
The 2.0-liter engine does a great job off the line. There are three driving modes that will make the crossover improve its dynamics. With the Sport+ mode, the transmission and the motor change their behavior, making it more responsive and feeling more sporty, as the name implies. The suspension becomes more rigid, showing a better grip in the curves and giving a sense of security for the well-planted. The steering also becomes heavier, giving a slightly better feeling of what's happening at the front wheels. Sport mode and Comfort mode share the same specifications in throttle response, transmission and traction system, but Sport mode becomes more dynamic in the suspension, steering and sound coming from the exhaust system. With Comfort mode, the driver and passengers can enjoy a more relaxed driving experience, where comfort is the main objective.
Acura focused on making the cabin as comfortable as possible; they redesigned the interior of the RDX completely to offer more technology and connectivity. The cabin has been designed around the driver, and the main element is a 10.2-inch screen that serves as the infotainment system. To control the screen, the driver can do it only through an easy-to-use touchpad (are you listening, Lexus?). You have to think as if the touchpad were the screen itself and not a mouse as in the computer. That is, if you want to enter the menu located above the left side, you will have to touch the top part of the left side of the touchpad. The screen can be customized like an iPhone, putting icons of the things we use most - from contacts on our phone, to preferred addresses or radio stations. This makes access easier and faster. Although the touchpad was easy to use for this young-ish driver, I must admit that some older passengers had more problems navigating the screen.
To simplify things, Acura let the climate controls remain as physical buttons/controls, rather than integrating them into the screen. I was particularly happy about this, considering climate is usually something I'd prefer to adjust instantaneously. There is also a knob for the volume of the sound system and two physical buttons to change the song or the radio station. In the middle of the center console we find the buttons of the gear lever and above them there is a large knob to select the driving mode. Apple CarPlay comes as standard in the 2019 RDX but Android Auto users will have to wait a while longer, as Acura noted that Google still does not have a way to control Android Auto through the touchpad.
The A-Spec variant enjoys the sportiest aesthetics of all RDX trims. Ours was fitted with 20-inch black wheels, Jewel Eye LED headlights and gloss-black accents. Inside, the black leather and alcantara combo made us almost feel like we were in an NSX. In terms of design, the A-Spec's looks will surely be a hit with customers who desire a sports car-like experience.
The other two versions available are the Advance and Technology package trims. The 2019 RDX has a lot of standard equipment, including the 10.2-inch infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, panoramic roof and WiFi connection through a 4G LTE network. The Technology, A-Spec and Advance versions have a premium ELS sound system; the Technology variant has a 12-speaker system, while A-Spec and Advance have 16 speakers.
With all of its equipment, innovative tech and striking design, the 2019 Acura RDX wants to complicate the lives of its European competitors. And the best thing is that the Japanese brand has not forgotten its value. The 2019 RDX has a base price of $ 37,300 and can be maxed out at just under $50,000. These prices are much lower than those we see in the European models already mentioned.
Vague brake feel
New powertrain not as linear as outgoing platform
Engine: 2.0L, Direct Injection VTEC Turbo 4-Cylinder
Transmission: 10-speed Automatic
Curb Weight: 4,068 lbs
Base Price: $37,300
Price as Tested: $46,495