2019 Acura RDX Review


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2019 Acura RDX Overview

The Acura RDX first debuted for 2006 as a compact, five-passenger crossover that appealed to sports car fans. Acura found greater sales success when it redesigned the model to appeal to a broader audience in 2013 - but drew criticism because it failed to stand out among its competitors, especially in terms of handling and driving characteristics. The 2019 introduction of the third-generation RDX, however, solves both problems.

The outside of the new RDX is vastly different from the outgoing one. It wears the latest Acura grille motif, consisting of a black radial diamond mesh pattern framed within a wide downturned pentagon. Both “Jewel Eye” headlights consist of a single row of seven LEDs, plus an L-shaped lighting signature that follows the bottom and outer contours of the housing. Twin parentheses-shaped creases break up the short, but pointed hood. Each side panel is formed from a number of intersecting creases, the most-noticeable of which starts behind the front wheel-wells and travels up and across the doors to meet the taillights and wrap around the rear. A single span of chrome forms a border above the windows and makes the roof appear to float because of the way it joins up with the wraparound rear windscreen. The rear end incorporates boomerang-shaped LED taillights, a prominent license plate recess, and a sharp roof spoiler.

The RDX’s interior is equally flavorful. It starts with a dashboard that artfully flows into the door panel on either side, and the center console in the middle. Instead of the dual-screen setup seen in the MDX, TLX, and RLX, a wide 10.2-inch LCD screen sticks up at the top. The center stack is made up of a number of irregularly-shaped switches, highlighting the giant drive-mode knob and push-button gear selector, much like the flagship NSX supercar. There is an assortment of high-end finishes and materials available, from brushed aluminum and open-pore wood to suede. As before, the RDX seats five occupants, and all five of the seats are well-bolstered and designed for spirited driving. Rear-seat occupants should benefit from the 108.3-inch wheelbase, which adds an impressive 2.6 inches from the outgoing model. And, despite the RDX’s shapelier flanks, cargo space with the seats deployed increases by 3.4 cubic feet, to 29.5.

Instead of the V6 from the old model, a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, bestowed with direct injection and Acura’s well-known variable-valve timing technology, drives the RDX. The new engine is good for 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, the latter an increase of 28. Plus, like many turbocharged engines, the RDX’s power-plant makes its peak torque available across a large range of engine speeds - in this case, between 1,600 and 4,500 revolutions per minute. There’s also a new wide-range 10-speed automatic transmission, a segment-first, with standard paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel spokes. By default, the RDX motivates just the front wheels, but the third-generation brings a return of Acura’s much-heralded Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). This version can distribute up to 70 percent of torque to the rear wheels, and up to 100 of that torque to either rear left or right wheel, thanks to torque vectoring. Whether front or all-wheel drive, every RDX gets four drive modes: Snow, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. Fuel economy for the 2019 RDX isn’t yet available.

The RDX comes very well-equipped in standard form, with 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a 10.2-inch infotainment system with a touchpad interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, keyless access and start, 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, and 12-way heated front seats. Options include premium leather, a 10.5-inch color heads-up display, a 16-way driver’s seat, and onboard navigation.

Acura is also committed to seeing its A-Spec treatment proliferate across the full range, and so the RDX marks the first appearance of it on a crossover. A-Spec consists of a number of exterior treatments designed to make the RDX look sportier, including dark-grey 20-inch alloy wheels, gloss-black exterior trim, larger exhaust tips, a rear diffuser, and “A-Spec” badging. Inside, A-Spec models get either black or red leather with contrast stitching, a unique satin-silver finish for the instrument panel gauges, suede dashboard inserts, and authentic aluminum trim.

For safety, the RDX comes standard with the brand’s complete suite of AcuraWatch safety technologies, including a reversing camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, and lane keeping assist. While the new RDX has not yet been crash-tested by any major agencies, Acura says it is gunning for top ratings in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) battery of tests.

The 2019 Acura RDX is a return to the model’s athletic origins, with plenty of mass appeal for those looking for practicality and features in a compact crossover. Pricing has not yet been announced, but look for the model to arrive in dealerships later this year.


Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.

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