After teasing us with a near-production prototype at the Detroit show and revisions earlier this month, Acura has fully revealed the 2019 RDX SUV. First I want to say thank you to Acura for not taking as long to roll out the RDX as it did the NSX. That was painful. Then again, while the NSX might be the company’s purported soul, the RDX and MDX are the lifeblood of the Acura brand, representing two-thirds of their sales.
The RDX has done well since its 2013 redesign moved it to conventional V6 power and larger size. This third generation increases the size yet again, but shrinks the engine and goes back to turbo power, now paired with an all-new platform exclusive to Acura. The new platform leverages high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, ring-frame design, and pairs it with MacPherson strut front suspension, five-link independent rear suspension and available adaptive dampers. The wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer and overall length 2.5 inches longer (108.3 wheelbase and 186.9 length) than the 2018 RDX, which opens up passenger space and grows trunk space by over three cubic feet.
With more mass to carry around, Acura wanted more torque, so replacing the V6 is the 2.0T VTEC turbo we’re starting to see in every Honda product. Direct injection, variable valve timing and turbocharging contribute to 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, down 7 hp, but up 28 lb-ft, and it comes on from 1,600 to 4,500 rpm (previously 252 lb.-ft. at 4,900 rpm), so it should get moving easily. The RDX also uses the new 10-speed transmission Honda developed, which should help with acceleration and efficiency.
A new edition of Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive promises excellent traction and performance-enhancing torque vectoring. The new generation of SH-AWD can send up to 70 percent of its power to the rear axle and all of that can go to either the right-rear or left-rear wheel for a great balancing push out of corners. The cabin looks gorgeous in cream leather with open-pore Olive Ash wood, but the A-Spec gets the sporty treatment with red leather, real aluminum accents and a chunky steering wheel with perforated leather. (I can’t wait to get my hands on that wheel, looks very Audi-esque.) Aside from 20-inch wheels, there’s not much in the way of performance upgrades for the A-Spec model.
The new design looks sharp, but we have our doubts about another touchpad control system. We weren’t fans of it in the Lexus NX, and we’re skeptical about it here, but Honda’s latest infotainment systems in the Odyssey and Accord have finally delivered a top notch interface, and Acura is very hyped about the new “absolute positioning” and ergonomics. The central interface is complemented by head-up display and ELS 3D Audio, and drivers are treated to a full range of driver aids.
While Acura might no be able to go toe-to-toe with the heavy hitters from Germany in the luxury segment, it delivers an excellent value proposition, and this generation should continue serving that niche, with standard 19-inch alloy wheels, height-adjustable power tailgate, 10.2-inch HD Display, Apple CarPlay, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, 12-way heated driver and passenger sport seats. While pricing will only be announced closer to its on-sale date mid-year, we don’t expect to see any drastic pricing changes.