Acura has completely revamped the compact RDX crossover for the 2019 model year and this might be the best one yet. Now in its third generation, the 2019 Acura RDX has received the most extensive redesign that we’ve seen from the Acura brand in a number of years. The 2019 RDX is completely new from the ground up with more style, a more performance themed powertrain and more features than ever before.
It’s no secret that the Acura brand has struggled to get traction in the luxury segment, especially against heavyweights like BMW and Lexus. What has always seemed to be the biggest issue, is the lack of soul that the latest Acura models have had, since Acura’s former heads decided to go more mainstream by deleting former models, like the much loved Integra and Legend. In the past decade or so, Acura has managed to exist as a more luxurious Honda, for Honda fans, while failing to make much of an impact in the meat of the luxury segment. Well it looks like that is finally going to change.
The 2019 Acura RDX is the first model from the “new Acura”. Acura says that the new RDX signals the start of a new era for the brand with the most extensive redesign its ever done in a decade. It makes sense, that Acura start its new era with the RDX, since it is one of the most popular models in its lineup. On the outside the RDX adopts styling cues from the Precision Concept with the first full integration of Acura’s diamond pentagon grille. Most of the existing Acura lineup does have the new grille, but it was bolted on during a mid-life refresh, so it’t not as cleanly integrated as it is with the 2019 RDX.
Compared to the second and even first generation RDX models, the third generation is by far the sportiest model yet. The 2019 RDX is sleeker with a more sculpted, athletic exterior. The wheelbase has been stretched by 65 millimeters, while its wheels have been pushed further to the corners thanks to shorter front and rear overhangs. The end result, the 2019 RDX now has a sportier stance that makes the outgoing RDX look dowdy and boring.
Inside the 2019 RDX also takes styling cues from the 2016 Precision Concept to give it an interior that is more stylish than not only the outgoing RDX, but many of its rivals. In the front, the dashboard and center console wrap around the driver and front passenger in a way that is more akin to a sports car, than a family oriented SUV. The design looks more stylish and Acura has dialed up the materials with higher quality leather, brushed aluminum and real wood covering most of the surfaces. Acura even designed a new sport seat for the RDX that not only hugs you like a sport seat should, but also looks stunning if you choose the full red leather option.
Sitting right on top of the center console is Acura’s new True Touchpad Interface, which combines a 10.2-inch HD display with a new touchpad. The system looks similar to the Lexus infotainment system, but isn’t nearly as annoying to use, since you don’t slide your fingers across the touchpad. Instead it feels more like how you close and open apps on your smart phone. It does take a bit to get used to, since you’ll likely want to slide your fingers around the touchpad. The touchpad is positioned right where your hand will naturally rest, reducing the awkward feeling that you get with some other systems and there are also three hard buttons for options like “home” and “back”.
The only negative about the Touchpad Interface is that it currently only has Apple CarPlay connectivity, since Android Auto currently cannot work with a touchpad. The good news is that Acura and Google are working on it and when a fix is available it will be available with an over-the-air update.
The technology doesn’t stop there, since there’s also a new customizable head-up display that can display info from the navigation, your phone, apps, Apple CarPlay and the audio system. Speaking of the audio system, there’s a new optional 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D system with slim overhead speakers and 710 watts of power.
Under the skin the 2019 RDX ditches the old platform that it shared with the Honda CR-V and gets a new Acura specific platform that is supposed to place a greater emphasis on performance. Under the hood the 2019 RDX loses the former V6 is now powered by a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft. of torque. The four-cylinder is mated a new 10-speed automatic transmission and if you choose the all-wheel drive option, you’ll be happy to hear that the SH-AWD system has returned. The front-wheel drive RDX is rated at 22/28 mpg, while the all-wheel drive version is rated at 22/27 mpg.
Push the push button start and you’re greeted with a sound that is sportier and more exciting than the last generation RDX. It’s new 2.0L has 40% more low-end torque than before, which gives the 2019 RDX faster acceleration times. There are four driving modes: Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. The default is the Comfort mode, but if you want to amp up the steering feel, torque vectoring and handling of the RDX turn the dial to either Sport or Sport+.
On our drive through the back country roads outside Whistler, British Columbia, the 2019 RDX proved to be one of the most athletic models in the luxury compact segment. It also helped that Acura brought along an Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60 to compare. The Acura felt the most like a sports sedan with its eager four-cylinder, 10-speed transmission with paddle shifters and the awesome SH-AWD system. The SH-AWD system has the ability to send up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels and up to 100% of that power to either the left or right wheel.
Compared to its European rivals, the RDX’s suspension was able to keep the body roll to a minimum without having a harsh ride. The suspension stayed composed and took everything we could throw at it. Its steering also had the most feedback. The 2019 RDX is definitely the driver’s choice here. It even managed to feel at one with the road than the BMW X3.
Of course there were a few areas where the RDX could improve if it wants to fully beat its rivals, the 2019 RDX is now quieter than its predecessor, but the Audi Q5 is the king here. Also the RDX’s new 10-speed automatic transmission does feel a little slow to react at times compared to the X3.
With the arrival of the 2019 Acura RDX, Acura looks like its finally getting its mojo back from when models, like the Legend, Integra and Vigor roamed the streets. The 2019 RDX combines is not only more spacious and comfortable than before, but the greater focus on performance and style easily sets it apart from the pack.
Pricing for the 2019 Acura RDX starts at $38,295 and it goes on sale on June 1.