The all new Acura RDX is filled with new technology that you will enjoy—and a few items that may frustrate—but its value is firmly on the right side of the ledger.
The compact luxury crossover has grown in all directions from its previous shell with a longer wheelbase and overall length and height.
Fans of V-6 power may be disappointed with the third generation model, however, since it's only offered with a turbo inline four-cylinder. But know that torque, the amount of turning power, is up 10 percent compared with the outgoing six-cylinder. Step on the pedal and the new RDX jumps.
Requires premium fuel
The new look goes below the surface with generous use of high-tensile steel and high performance structural adhesives with added rigidity up front and a rear frame structure to diffuse suspension weight. To offset the latter, Acura designers came up with three subfloor cargo compartments for smaller items accessible with a flip-up latch.
Acura makes selection simple. One trim level is offered with four available option packages—base, Technology, A-Spec and Advanced. All-wheel-drive is the only standalone option and we recommend adding it for its performance ability. Each is mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission that shifts seamlessly or with paddle shifters, if you prefer.
Attractive pricing makes the Acura a no-brainer when segment shopping. Base price is $38,295, with top-of-the line Advanced checking in at $48,395. Both are loaded with standard equipment and compare favorably with BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5.
Our A-Spec test car added to its curb appeal with 20-inch blackened wheels, low profile rubber, large exhaust tips, darkened grille and a cadre of safety-tech gear including adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist and collision mitigation.
Cabin features are abundant, with generous use of leather and suede-type material on dashboard and seating surfaces, a 16-speaker, 710-watt audio system with silencing acoustic glass, ceiling speakers and king-sized panoramic roof. Perhaps the most talked about feature is a new infotainment interface appearing on a 10.2-inch display screen at center. It is touchpad based, but we found it slightly different in approach than the scorned Lexus touchpad.
Think of Windows 10 graphic boxes that are accessed with a cursor and then forget the cursor. Acura's touchpad interface mimics the screen option with straight out positioning. In plain talk, the touchpad is an exact extension of the screen.
Considering it controls most of the cabin climate, navigation, audio and other features, however, we'd prefer the KISS method with dials and knobs, but perhaps a longer learning curve is needed to become second-nature.
Driving dynamics of the RDX are tops with Sport default, Comfort, Snow and Sports Plus, each delivering varying degrees of throttle, steering, suspension and available torque vectoring that sends up to 100 percent power to left or right rear wheels. Body lean is minimal and the sticky tires hug the road, especially in Sport Plus, the preferred mode for the spirited driver.
Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at email@example.com
2019 Acura RDX AWD A-Spec
Price: From $38,295
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder
EPA mileage: 21 city, 26 highway, 23 combined
Assembled: FEast Liberty, Ohio; U.S./Canadian parts, 60 percent; country of origin, engine and transmission, U.S.
Crash test ratings: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Acura RDX its highest rating of “Good” for moderate frontal offset safety, side impact, rollover protection and whiplash protection.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the RDX a five star overall rating, its highest score with five stars for side impact protection and four stars in frontal crash and rollover crash testing.
Warranty: 4-year/50,000-mile bumper to bumper; 6-year/70,000-mile drivetrain