2019 ACURA RDX
New-generation model is better looking and better driving
WHISTLER VILLAGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA » As Acura introduces their third generation of the entry-level luxury crossover, they are raising its level of luxury and performance.
Remember that the first-generation of the RDX, when introduced in 2007, joined BMW’s X3 to invent this market segment.
While never a slouch, the third iteration will perform better while cossetting occupants comfortably. It’s a quite modern and aggressive crossover ute. It’s attractive and clearly communicates it’s a new, and better, RDX. Not that there’s anything wrong with the previous model, but it wasn’t distinctive.
One of the things that I liked most about the new design is they got rid of Acura’s ugly front grille and replaced it with a modern, if not sophisticated, design. The large center emblem ensures you know just who build this car.
Since this generation is an allnew, actually a clean-sheet development. It is currently the only Honda or Acura vehicle on this platform. This RDX was developed, designed and will be built in the U.S. The design is quite dynamic, and even sporty. This RDX is longer and wider than the previous generation. Because of these proportions, Acura officials would want people to see it as kind of a “taller” sports sedan.
The interior is equally modern and has moved towards a more high-end look and feel. For example, the interior uses real metal and wood. The leather is good, and the craftsmanship seems high. The dashboard is straight-forward. Using rather thick acoustic glass for the windshield and acoustic glass on the front side windows, I was impressed with quiet the car is. Engineers also paid attention to body sealing and that keeps bad noises out of the cabin.
All the seats are comfortable, as I spent an hour riding in the rear. But the front seats are more so, although a new thinner and lighter design. This again is the first use of these seats and they will be seen on future models. The user interface in the center of the dashboard is a 10.2-in. “touchpad” screen to control the infotainment, telematics, navigation and climate controls. Unfortunately, the touchpad is actually a pad on the center console. It also doesn’t work quite in the
way you expect it to.
During the time my colleagues and I were driving the car we had difficulty making it do what we wanted. Perhaps this is something you quickly learn, but initially it was rather irritating.
The audio system, on the other hand, is simply extraordinary. Elliot Scheiner, winner of eight Grammys as a music producer, has been the guru behind Acura’s audio systems for years. He has outdone himself. This one is perhaps his best, using 16 speakers and 710-watts to make the sound truly three-dimensional. This is enhanced by having speakers located in the car’s ceiling.
He uses computer power to control the sound and where it’s coming from. The system also brightens the dynamics and increases the range making it simply stunning. Naturally it can’t be any better than the input, but even satellite radio and FM sounded better. I won’t say this is the only reason you need to buy this vehicle but it’s close.
The performance is also a step up. The engine is a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder generating 272-hp. and 280 lb.-ft. of
peak torque. It pulls very nicely, thanks to a 10-speed automatic transmission which allows for lower gear ratios, improving acceleration in the lower gears, while stretching out the “cruising” at the top of the gearbox. With that, the EPA rates the RDX’s fuel efficiency at 22-mpg in the city and 28-mg on the highway.
Should you choose an allwheel drive model the power goes to a fourth-generation AWD powertrain. The torquevectoring in this AWD is quite sophisticated, able to flow 70 percent of the power to the rear from its normal front-wheel drive mode. It will also move up to 100 percent from side-to-side, helping to keep the car going where you aim the steering wheel.
The suspension in front is a McPherson strut and in back there is a new five-link setup. This gives this RDX a much more car-like ride. The suspension is responsive and keeps the car relatively flat on the road. At the top-of-the-line you can get an active dampening system to make the suspension even more smooth and capable. It does have variable-ratio steering, something that seems almost necessary in this class a vehicle. All models have 19-in. wheels. The brakes at up to the task of stopping the RDX. They are smooth and pull straight, even at heavy levels of braking.
There is a three-setting dynamic control system for how aggressive the car drives.
In Sport model everything becomes more aggressive, especially the power, and it also becomes a great deal more fun to drive.
There is an Eco mode, but somehow, I forgot to test it as we drove through lovely roads north of Whistler, north of Vancouver.
Naturally all the safety elements required on a new-generation today are on the RDX. The Acura Watch suite of technologies comes standard on all RDX models. In addition all get a multi-angle rearview camera, and the Technology Package and higher grades add blind-spot information, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic monitor.
The RDX with the Advance Package includes a head-up display and surround view camera system for the first time.
While Acura is aiming at European models, the competition includes the BMW X3, the Mercedes-Benz GLC, the Alpha Romero Stelvio, the Lexus NX, the Audi Q5, Volvo’s XC 60, the Infiniti QX 50, and the Lincoln MKC.
There are three models of the RDX. The Advance is the top-ofthe line and should make up 20 or so percent of sales. The midline model is the Tech, which plans to account for 40 percent of sales and the A-Spec cosmetic package of that trim will add another 20 percent of sales. Acura officials expect the base RDX model to be responsible for 15 percent of sales.
The RDX starts at $37,300 and the all-wheel drive adds $2000 to the price of each trim level. The top-of-the-line Advance starts at $47,400. The RDX is in showrooms now.
Acura expects their customers are going to be empty-nesters and younger buyers who are coming out of sedans and want to buy an RDX because of the lifestyle reasons.
The front suspension combined with the five-link setup in back gives the RDX a more car-like ride.
The interior is high-end, using real metal and wood and quality leather.