Acura’s first two generations of the five-passenger crossover bounced across the performance spectrum of being too sporty and then not having enough of it. Well, at last, the all-new 2019 RDX puts it all together and throws in sharp styling and an all-new infotainment system to boot.
Price and Features
The Acura RDX base trim begins around $38,500 while all-wheel drive is a $2,000 option though it is highly recommended. The Technology Package is $3,200 and adds ELS Premium Audio, smart entry for the rear doors, navigation, and a several more items. The $4,900 Advance Package requires the Technology Package, for a total of $8,100 over base price. But the level of additional features that aren’t just simply add-ons – they provide a different level of driver experience. The audio system gets more speakers, power, and technology to deliver an amazingly crisp 3D effect – simply imagine the sound coming from everywhere – and the all-new remote touchpad is intuitive and better than before. Active dampers, a large head-up display, surround view camera system, and more add to the RDX’s overall performance, comfort, and safety.
This particular A-Spec trim is about $47,000. It includes the Technology Package (but cannot be ordered with the Advance Package) and has a sportier-focused styling theme with gloss black exterior trim, larger black wheels, sportier-styling bumpers, and large dual exhaust pipes. The gauges and ambient lighting are red (instead of white) and the seats and interior panels feature a suede-like surface and together, they keep the sporty theme front and center at all times.
Goodies like the highest performing ELS 3D stereo, LED fog lights, and ventilated seats and also added to the A-Spec feature list. This particular test car’s $400 premium “Performance Red Pearl” looks deep and helps highlight the crisp body styling.
The 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec includes the full suite of active safety systems and earns a five-star overall NHTSA safety rating while the IIHS also awards the RDX with its highest rating of Top Safety Pick Plus. The RDX is structurally stronger than before with the use of new manufacturing methods for creating the panels and attaching them together. The increased rigidity helps to control the distribution of energy in a crash The LED headlights earn a score of Good (IIHS highest rating) while LEDs are also used for the fog lights, brake lights, front and mirror-integrated turn signals, and brake lights but not the rear turn signals, which are incandescent bulbs – chalk that up to a possible Acura design requirement quirk?
Style and Size
The RDX grows in size which translates into cross-your-legs amount of room for the second row while folding down the rear seats creates a flat surface and cavernous space. The tailgate struts are no longer in the way because the power liftgate components have been incorporated into the roof/ hinge area which is also much cleaner in appearance.
Styling wise, the RDX looks (and acts) like a convincing sporty crossover. Several sweeping lines across the side panels and bulges on the hood are directly inspired by Acura’s Precision Concept of which the RDX is the first to fully adopt. The A-Spec uniquely wears gloss-black painted exterior trim pieces while the bumpers feature deeper drawn shapes. The arching roof cutline is the latest in styling trends and the RDX seems to wear better than most.
Power and Efficiency
Standard on all RDX trims is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that generates 272 horsepower high in the rev range while a plateau of 280 foot-pound begins low and extends into the upper third. In the moment waiting for the compressed air to reach the combustion chambers, the atmospheric-only performance of the engine is strong enough and the 10-speed automatic transmission is geared low enough for a decent jump through a busy intersection or sprint off the line. The all-wheel drive RDX earns an EPA estimated 21 mpg City, 26 highway, and 23 combined. Front-wheel drive gets just one point better in each category.
Ride and Handling
The RDX serves up an entertaining dash through the mountains while also providing a relatively plush highway ride. The reactive dampers are effective at soaking up the sharpness of the impacts while minimizing body roll, dive, and pitch. When treated like a sports car, understeer prevails (in spite of Agile Handling Assist) until throttle is applied and the SH-AWD sends power to the outside rear wheel. The result is impressively fast corner exit speed (perfect for highway on-ramps) and amazing full-throttle agility.
The Acura RDX is downright impressive, even when viewed with a critical eye of a former Honda R&D engineer. The coordinated designs throughout the interior and exterior are apparent with the sporty styling theme inside and out as well as with the mechanics. Here, Acura’s torque vectoring SH-AWD and punchy engine are intertwined with the chassis systems to deliver a safer and more capable performance. And when the traffic is at a standstill or simply want to hear more of a song, the audio system is ready to step in with the entertainment.
This third generation RDX not only resets the bar for performance and value at this price range, it also establishes a new and exciting trajectory for Acura as a brand.