Con­sid­er­ing the im­por­tance of the RDX, Acura left no body line un­touched

The Mercury News Weekend - - DRIVE - By Mal­colm Gunn WWW.WHEELBASEMEDIA.COM

The five-pas­sen­ger RDX is slightly wider than be­fore and has 2.6 more inches be­tween the front and rear wheels, which means more in­te­rior room and cargo space. (Photo cour­tesy of Acura) If the dis­play seems too far away to op­er­ate, it’s be­cause it works with the touch-pad lo­cated be­low the shift-but­ton panel. Speak­ing of that, what was wrong with hav­ing a nor­mal shift lever? (Photo cour­tesy of Acura)

In its press kit for the RDX, Acura lists no less than 10 mid­size lux­ury util­ity ve­hi­cles that com­pete for buyer at­ten­tion. Honda’s primo di­vi­sion says the RDX has led seg­ment for the past decade.

Acura says that not one piece of the new RDX is a carry-over, which some might con­sider risky busi­ness with a ve­hi­cle that’s al­ready perched atop the pop­u­lar­ity rank­ings.

The gam­ble should pay off hand­somely, though. The goal was to add a strong dose of pas­sion to dove­tail with the car’s prac­ti­cal na­ture and stel­lar per­for­mance. The styling leans heav­ily on the Pre­ci­sion Con­cept show car that rep­re­sents the lat­est styling di­rec­tion for Acura.

The crisp lines, mildly over­stuffed fend­ers and el­e­gant nose­piece with Di­a­mond Pen­tagon grille ex­ude el­e­gance from ev­ery an­gle. Even the lift­gate, tail­lights and bumper — which seem of­ten over­looked/ig­nored by de­sign­ers — are as eye-catch­ing as the rest of the body.

The in­te­rior is as rich as the out­side, with a dash­board re­plete with swoops and swirls that de­vi­ate from the less or­ganic shapes found in the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and oth­ers. The up­right 10.2-inch screen that over­sees the in­fo­tain­ment, phone and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem is touch­pad­con­trolled from the con­sole, and not the screen. Tra­di­tional switches op­er­ate the cli­mate con­trols, while a mi­nus­cule knob looks af­ter au­dio vol­ume.

The RDX also has more pas­sen­ger and cargo room than the pre­vi­ous model due to a slightly wider body and a 2.6-inch stretch be­tween the front and rear wheels. The nearly flat load floor (with the rear seat folded) hides an ad­di­tional stowage bin for safe­keep­ing your valu­ables.

For 2019, the RDX aban­dons the 3.5-liter V6 that’s rated at 279 horse­power and 252 pound-feet of torque. In its place is a tur­bocharged 2.0-liter four-cylin­der that makes 272 horse­power and 280 pound-feet. The out­put beats the RDX’s com­peti­tors hands down and makes quick work of stop­lights and slower traf­fic.

The turbo en­gine’s lighter weight also im­proves the front/rear weight dis­tri­bu­tion.

A smooth-shift­ing 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion di­rects power to the front, or all four wheels.

Also gone for 2019 is what Acura called “In­tel­li­gent Con­trol” all-wheeldrive that split the torque front to back but not side to side. In­stead, the more so­phis­ti­cated Su­per Han­dling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) that was avail­able in the orig­i­nal RDX re­turns, but in a more ad­vanced form. In nor­mal driv­ing con­di­tions it sends 70 per­cent of the en­gine’s torque to the rear wheels, but can di­rect up to 100 per­cent to the out­side rear wheel when turn­ing. You can ac­tu­ally feel the rear-wheel torque bias when ex­e­cut­ing tight turns at higher speeds.

Acura has as­sem­bled the RDX around an en­tirely new chas­sis that’s lighter and less prone to bend­ing and twist­ing. The sport-tuned sus­pen­sion com­po­nents are also new and con­trib­ute to the ve­hi­cle’s ex­cep­tional ride and pre­cise han­dling qual­i­ties, es­pe­cially over choppy roads.

At a base price of $ 38,300, the base RDX high­lights in­clude stan­dard dual- zone cli­mate con­trol, panoramic moon­roof, 12- way power- op­er­ated and heated front seats, power tail­gate and 19- inch wheels.

The sporty A-Spec adds a nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, park­ing sen­sors, 20-inch wheels and unique in­te­rior and ex­te­rior styling. The Ad­vance trim level comes with a head-up dis­play (per­ti­nent in­for­ma­tion is pro­jected onto the wind­shield), 360-de­gree sur­round-view cam­era, ac­tive dampers that con­stantly ad­just to vary­ing road con­di­tions, and a mind-blow­ing 16-speaker ELS Stu­dio 3D sound sys­tem, with four of those speak­ers lo­cated in the ceil­ing.

Acura in­cludes its lat­est ac­tivesafety tech­nol­ogy suite in all RDX trims, which is the cherry on top of an ex­cep­tion­ally quick, com­fort­able and com­pe­tent ma­chine that also hap­pens to look as good as it drives.

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