If there’s a vehicle that’s going to propel Acura into the passing lane where it'll experience the same stratospheric rise that Lexus has seen in recent years, it’s the RDX. The RDX is not mass-market Lexus NX fighter that’s needed to match Toyota’s success in the luxury playing field, but as the smallest crossover in the automaker’s lineup—and an aged one at that—it had the potential to redefine the brand if only Acura would bring it into the modern era.
Well, it's about to. To signify the direction Acura wants to take, it brought the 2019 RDX Prototype along to the 2018 Detroit auto show where its fresh face stood as the antithesis to arguments that Honda’s luxury brand can’t do bold like a spindle-grilled Lexus. As the first Acura designed from the ground-up around the brand’s newest mascot—a diamond pentagon grille—the RDX gains visual athleticism via a track that’s been widened by 1.2-inches, a wheelbase extended by 2.5-inches, and a shorter front overhang. LED exterior lighting allows pointed headlights to further sharpen the front end while the lower front fascia features a similar pattern as the grille.
That helps to add drama to the flowing muscular body before it all ends at the handsome rear end that invokes passing thoughts of the current Honda CR-V. Take a trip under the hood and you’ll find a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, which Acura claims is a segment first. Horsepower and torque figures remain undisclosed, but Acura does go ahead and reveal that the 2019 RDX has 40% more low-end torque than the crossover it replaces, all of which is routed to all four wheels through Acura’s torque-vectoring SH-AWD system.
A new rear differential helps handle that low-end turbo torque while the available four-mode Adaptive Damper System, which includes Comfort, Snow, Sport, and Sport + modes, enables the driver a greater degree of control over how RDX handles bumps and corners. Acura is taking advantage of that supple ride to introduce its new True Touchpad Interface, which attempts to allow drivers a greater degree of distraction-free control by integrating a remote interface that corresponds presses on its touch-sensitive surface to the equivalent location on the 10.2-inch touch screen. Technology, as one would expect, is omnipresent here.
Despite the space taken up by a panoramic roof, Acura managed to squeeze thin speakers into the ceiling of the RDX for a fuller audio experience. Should that prove to be too immersive for safe driving, Acura integrated its full suite of AcuraWatch driver aids. All five occupants can also enjoy the onboard WiFi system and travel in comfort with the knowledge that the RDX will be built in East Liberty, Ohio when it launches later this year.