New RDX of­fers su­perb drive dy­nam­ics

The Labradorian - - Editorial - BY RICHARD RUS­SELL WHEELS

Af­ter “the most ex­ten­sive re­design in more than a decade”, the third gen­er­a­tion RDX puts some dis­tance be­tween Acura and its Honda par­ent.

The 2019 RDX in­tro­duces a new de­sign lan­guage that will ap­pear on other Acura prod­ucts, and rides on a new plat­form ex­clu­sive to Acura.

The split is not com­plete though. The RDX ditches the 3.5-litre V6 in favour of a more pow­er­ful tur­bocharged four­cylin­der, both from Honda’s ex­ten­sive en­gine col­lec­tion. Lots of other bits and pieces be­neath the sur­face also come from Honda.

The com­pact lux­ury util­ity vehicle seg­ment is hot. The RDX is not only Acura’s en­try in this grow­ing field; it is the brand’s top seller. Replacing an al­ready­pop­u­lar vehicle is a tough chal­lenge. But the de­vel­op­ment team pulled it off.

The new plat­form al­lowed a longer and wider vehicle with more room inside. Al­though mar­keted as a com­pact, it is larger than most wear­ing this des­ig­na­tion.

The re­design is com­plete inside and out, from road to a plung­ing roofline. The re­sult is a dis­tinc­tive vehicle that stands apart from the pack with­out re­sort­ing to con­tro­ver­sial looks.

The in­te­rior is sim­i­larly dis­tinc­tive, from the heads-up dis­play to the trans­mis­sion con­trols. A mas­sive sun­roof and ex­cep­tional seats are stan­dard on all trim lev­els, as is a unique touch pad con­troller for the An­droid-based in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. The Elite test vehicle also boasted hand-wrapped stitched leather sur­faces on the in­stru­ment panel, doors and cen­tre con­sole, as be­fits a lux­ury vehicle.

The RDX has the usual screen for the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, perched high above the in­stru­ment panel. But, thank­fully, it also has ac­tual but­tons to con­trol ma­jor func­tions and/ or voice-ac­ti­va­tion so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road as long scrolling through screens to ad­just the tem­per­a­ture or vol­ume.

The trans­mis­sion is con­trolled by a some­what fussy ar­range­ment of but­tons and a tog­gle for re­verse. These con­trols are placed high on the cen­tre stack free­ing room be­neath where the tra­di­tional shifter would lie, for a giant stor­age bin. There is a sim­i­larly use­ful one be­neath the floor of the spa­cious cargo com­part­ment.

A smooth, well-con­trolled ride and ex­cel­lent sound in­su­la­tion make the RDX a pleas­ant long-dis­tance run­ner. For the en­thu­si­ast, this is a util­ity vehicle that does not elim­i­nate the joy of driv­ing.

Sport is the de­fault drive mode, an in­di­ca­tion of the de­vel­op­ment team’s in­tent.

The tur­bocharged four-cylin­der en­gine pro­duces 28 lb.-ft. more torque than the 3.5-litre V6, 40 per cent more down low in the rev range where it is most use­ful. Max­i­mum out­put oc­curs at only 1,600 rpm.

The re­sult is in­stant and lin­ear re­sponse. Pay care­ful at­ten­tion to the speedome­ter be­cause power de­liv­ery is so smooth and sound sup­pres­sion so com­plete, you can eas­ily and quickly ex­ceed posted lim­its.

The new 10-speed au­to­matic plays an im­por­tant role in this per­for­mance, with but­tery smooth shifts and a gear for ev­ery oc­ca­sion. It is pro­grammed to skip sev­eral gears when down shift­ing.

Press on the ac­cel­er­a­tor when pulling out to pass and, in­stead of wait­ing for it to se­quen­tially go down sev­eral cogs

to get to the right one, it does so di­rectly, from 10th to 7th, for ex­am­ple.

Han­dling is ex­em­plary for a tall vehicle, The body re­mains flat in cor­ners and should you chose to do so, you can tighten things up even fur­ther by selecting “sport +” mode. Another key player in the RDX’s ex­cep­tional driv­ing dy­nam­ics is Su­per Han­dling AWD.

This is more than a mar­ket­ing tool. The sys­tem uses torque-vec­tor­ing to over­drive the out­side wheels in a corner. This helps push the vehicle around the turn. It can send up to 70 per cent of en­gine out­put to the rear wheels and 100 per cent of that to ei­ther side, if nec­es­sary. That could be much ap­pre­ci­ated in slip­pery win­ter con­di­tions. There’s a “snow” mode as well.

De­signed and en­gi­neered in the U.S., the 2019 RDX is avail­able in five trim lev­els span­ning the $44,000-$55,000 price range.

As ex­pected at each point along the trim walk, there are ad­di­tional fea­tures.

But all share the same driv­e­train and ex­cep­tional driv­ing dy­nam­ics.

ACURA PHOTOS

The 2019 Acura RDX Elite is pow­ered by a 2.0-litre, turbo, four-cylin­der en­gine.

The 2019 Acura RDX was de­signed and en­gi­neered in the U.S.

A smooth, well-con­trolled ride and ex­cel­lent sound in­su­la­tion make the 2019 Acura RDX a pleas­ant long-dis­tance run­ner.

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