Acura has redesigned its best-selling model, the RDX, for the 2019 model year, putting its Precision Concept face into a production model for the first time. The last generation RDX had a lot about it that people loved including its drivability and passenger space. Is the new one just as good? Better? Let’s look closer.
For this review, I drove two different pre-production models of the Acura RDX. Neither came with a Moroney so the costs can’t be broken down specifically for your ease. However, I’ll break down the pricing strategy of the RDX a little further down in this article to give you an idea of the packages and value.
The 2019 Acura RDX is ready to pounce on the road. From its sculpted front end to its fluid design drawing your eye rearward, the RDX is aggressive and portrays the performance-focused design R&D was going for quite nicely. It’s a good-looking SUV.
The model is available with an A-Spec appearance package that changes many of the chrome highlights of the RDX black including window trim, the grille, and exhaust tips. I like the A-Spec treatment better in some colors than in others. It does allow for a rather delightful nearly all-black version of the SUV when you get the Majestic Black Pearl paint job.
The 2019 RDX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that is mated to the same 10-speed automatic transmission. The same transmission is used in the Honda Odyssey but Acura has tuned it differently for the SUV.
Working together, the engine and transmission generate 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque with more torque available right off the line than in the previous model. The configuration works delivering the acceleration you want to make the SUV fun to drive, but it won’t be mistaken for a Porsche Cayenne Turbo anytime soon.
Four drive modes are available via a large knob in the center stack, making your experience behind the wheel more customizable. Drivers can choose from Snow, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ dynamic drive systems.
The RDX is available in front-wheel drive or Acura’s hallmark Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) with dynamic torque vectoring. The automaker estimates front-wheel drive models will achieve 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway while all-wheel drive models will see a slight slip to 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
In more traditional driving situations, the RDX handles the road well, delivering a smooth ride with little body lean. The winding roads of Whistler, British Columbia, Canada were no match for the RDX during my test drive, with the RDX feeling comfortably planted even around the tightest turns at speeds a bit faster than the average driver may take them.
It was easy to steer and park on the mean streets of downtown Detroit during another road test, and easily maneuverable around the tight bends of less than optional parking garage space configurations.
The 2019 RDX offers best-in-class second row legroom, second row knee clearance, front row shoulder room, and front row head clearance, according to materials provided by Acura.
Its seats are comfortable, if a tad sporty thanks to their Acura NSX design heritage. The SUV easily seats four adults and surrounds them with premium, authentic materials like brushed aluminum, olive ash wood, and full-grain leather. Unlike in other SUVs, Acura has given the same seat to the driver as they have the front passenger. Seating adjustments aren’t very intuitive but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to find a comfortable position.
The big news with the RDX’s interior is its new True Touchpad Interface, which is a new way to interact with a display screen while in a vehicle. Using a touchpad on the center console, a driver or front seat passenger can control the 10.2-inch high-definition display screen, which is located high on the center stack, right in the line of sight of the driver. The touchpad works like a tablet, allowing the user to touch a spot on the pad and immediately get to the selection without having to trace a touch as you would if the touchpad operated more like a mouse.
The interface is extremely intuitive to use. The biggest challenge you’ll encounter is eliminating your desire to drag your finger to a selection rather than just touch and go. I did find the deep press required to select a portion of the screen rather cumbersome. I would have preferred a lighter touch, like the weight used on a traditional tablet, but it did work as advertised.
Apple CarPlay comes standard in the RDX but Android Auto is not available because Google has not yet developed a touchpad interface for their program. Rest assured, one is in the works.
Current RDX owners will be happy to see that Acura has put hard climate control and seat warmer buttons in the new generation RDX. They are easily reachable and perform their designated functions as advertised.
A new head-up display is customizable, allowing drivers to determine what they see projected on the road ahead.
The RDX has best-in-class cargo space behind the rear seats, helped by a nifty underfloor storage area that comes with handy compartments to store valuable possessions you want to keep out of the way, or that spare set of clothes, diapers, and wipes that you keep handy just in case.
All-wheel drive models do not have the underfloor cargo compartment, but you’ll be hard-pressed to need more space on a daily basis than what the RDX offers in this configuration.
The good news is that even with the storage and all-wheel drive, Acura engineers designed a way to still have a spare tire. Saints be praised!
The 2019 RDX comes with unobtrusive safety equipment. Driving faults aren’t signaled by loud beeping that threatens to awake the entire cabin. You won’t fall victim to hard emergency braking if you try to get around a turning car because the safety system’s scope is too broad. The safety alerts are unobtrusive and fall about as far away from the nanny system tree as you can get in a modern luxury SUV.
The RDX comes with only one powertrain but three packages. Acura estimates that most buyers will purchase the RDX with the Tech package, which includes navigation, an upgraded audio system, high tech safety equipment, and full-grain leather seats among other features. The A-Spec model adds a sporty appearance package to the well-equipped RDX. The RDX with the Advance package is the top-of-the-line model and checks every box.
How much for the RDX? Compared to the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Mercedes-Benz GLC, it’s cheap. The 2019 RDX starts at $37,300 (all-wheel drive adds $2,000). Fully equipped it’s $47,400 (all-wheel drive is an additional $2,000). Most of the Germans run upwards of $9,000 more for similarly equipped models. The RDX also comes with more standard safety equipment.
I’m really impressed by the 2019 Acura RDX and I think most shoppers will be as well. It faces still competition from the German luxury SUV class entrants, but I think the RDX will appeal more to a shopper looking to move up to a luxury SUV rather than those shopping the Germans. Current RDX owners will want to trade in their older models.
If the RDX is any indication, the future of Acura is bright, fast, and fun to drive.