Larger, roomier, faster, more efficient, higher tech, more luxurious, more refined and arguably better looking, the 2019 Acura RDX hits the road this week at just $43,990 plus freight and fees, only adding $1,000 to the price of the outgoing model that enjoyed a very long and successful run.
“The 2019 Acura RDX is a pure expression of Precision Crafted Performance. This is a development philosophy that puts the driver at the centre of it all,” said Emile Korkor, Brand Leader, Acura Canada. “Our goal from the beginning has been to deliver a perfect balance of engineering, performance, design and luxury to create a truly uncompromising and joyful experience.”
Acura brings the 2019 RDX to the Canadian market with five trim levels, including an unnamed base model, the $46,490 Technology, $49,990 Elite, $50,290 A-Spec, and finally the top-line $54,990 Platinum Elite.
No matter the trim, the new 2019 RDX relieves the old 3.5-litre V6 in place of a much more efficient 16-valve, DOHC turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with direction injection and, of course, VTEC. Output is rated at 272 horsepower, which is down 7 horsepower from the old V6, but more importantly for an SUV torque is up 28 lb-ft to 280. The end result sees the new 2019 RDX with the strongest base horsepower and torque in the compact luxury SUV class.
The RDX performance advantage is partially due to a low-inertia mono-scroll turbocharger that promotes a wider, fatter torque curve resulting in 40 percent more low-end torque than the outgoing engine, while dual variable timing cams do their part as well.
Connecting the new engine to the standard torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system is an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission with performance-enhancing Grade Logic Control. The new transmission uses Acura’s unique pushbutton gear selector, which is now more fully integrated within the centre console than ever before. Shifting is automatic, or for a more hands-on experience you can shift its gears manually via standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Also standard, Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) lets you to choose between Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes to enhance electric power steering feel and Drive-by-Wire throttle response.
With a smaller displacement engine and four more forward gears it only makes sense that emissions and fuel economy have made gains too, the latter rated at 11.0 L/100km in the city, 8.6 on the highway and 9.9 combined for all trims but the A-Spec that gets an estimate of 11.3, 9.1 and 10.3 respectively, these numbers comparing favourably against last year’s claimed fuel economy rating of 12.4 city, 8.7 highway and 10.7 combined.
The new drivetrain’s efficiency improvements are further aided by a new idle stop-start system that automatically shuts the engine down when it would otherwise be idling and then immediately reboots it when ready to go.
Standard with 19-inch alloy wheels and available with 20s as part of the sportiest A-Spec package just noted, the new 2019 RDX rides on a totally new Acura-exclusive platform architecture featuring electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, a fully independent MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension system with 30 mm front and 23 mm rear stabilizer bars. Additionally, the top-line Platinum Elite model receives an Active Damper System to further enhance performance and comfort.
As noted, the new RDX is longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces, its dimensions measuring 4,744 mm (186.8 inches) in length, with a 2,750-mm (108.3-inch) wheelbase, 1,900 mm (74.8 inches) in width, with 1,631- and 1,643-mm (64.2- and 64.7-inch) front and rear tracks, and 1,668 mm (65.7 inches) in height.
This makes the 2019 model 78 mm (3.1 inches) longer than the outgoing RDX, with a 65-mm (2.5-inch) gain in wheelbase that should make a big difference to rear seat roominess, while it’s also 46 mm (1.8 inches) wider for added shoulder and hip space, not to mention a wider track for improved handling, whereas it’s only 31 mm (1.2 inches) taller, improving headroom yet not upsetting manoeuvrability by increasing the centre of gravity. Despite the new SUV’s increased size it’s only gained 86 kilos (189 lbs) of curb weight, so the aforementioned performance gains should still be easy to feel.
More importantly the 2019 RDX’ increase in size makes for a more comfortable, more useful utility, with maximum cargo volume behind its 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks growing by 142 litres (5.0 cubic feet) to 881 litres (31.1 cubic feet), while the new model offers 82 additional litres (2.9 cubic feet) of luggage space when the second-row is folded flat, at 2,260 litres (79.8 cubic feet).
That cabin is not only roomier and more comfortable, it’s also been upgraded with higher quality premium finishings, says Acura, with more high-grade soft-touch synthetics, particularly on the instrument panel, doors and centre console, plus hand-wrapped, stitched leather surfaces as well as real open-pore Olive Ash hardwood or genuine brushed aluminum inlays, depending on trim levels.
Critical to the acceptance of any new vehicle are digital interfaces, the new RDX anteing up with a large standard 10.2-inch display featuring Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto, which is interesting being that the entire operating system is Android-based—evidently Android Auto is to be introduced later pending updates), Siri Eyes Free, SMS text message and email functionality, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Wi-Fi tethering, AcuraLink Subscription Services, HD and satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, connectivity via two front USB charging ports (plus two optional USB ports in the rear), AM/FM/MP3/WMA audio with nine speakers including a subwoofer, plus more. Acura has eschewed a more traditional tablet-style touchscreen for a lower console-mounted True Touchpad Interface, which Acura promises is very intuitive.
Along with the impressive load of standard equipment already mentioned, the base RDX continues Acura’s value theme by including standard full low and high beam LED “Jewel Eye” auto-on/off headlights with automatic high beam control, plus LED daytime running lights, LED brake lights and LED taillights, while additional standard highlights include a remote engine starter, proximity keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an acoustic windshield, active noise control, ambient lighting, a 7.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display within the primary gauge cluster, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, dual-zone automatic climate control, a HomeLink garage door opener, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, side mirrors with driver recognition, reverse gear tilt-down and integrated LED turn indicators, a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror, 12-way powered front seats including powered lumbar support and four-way adjustable headrests, two-position memory for the driver’s seat and side mirrors, a large panoramic moonroof, a powered tailgate, a capless fueling system, and more.
Also standard is an extensive suite of active and passive safety features including Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, and Lane Keeping Assist, while all the usual active and passive safety equipment are joined by front knee airbags, hill start assist and tire pressure monitoring.
Opting for Tech trim means that your RDX will receive yet more safety features including Blind Spot Information with a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, and traffic sign recognition, while Tech trim also includes front and rear parking sensors, navigation, voice recognition, and a 12-speaker ELS Studio audio upgrade with the rear USB ports noted earlier.
Upgrading to A-Spec trim includes the aforementioned styling and performance improvements as well as LED fog lights, power-folding side mirrors, a heatable steering wheel, metal sport pedals, unique Alcantara and leather-trimmed upholstery with contrast stitching and seat piping, ventilated front seats, and a 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D audio system.
The move up to Elite trim means a step back to the 12-speaker audio system and the removal of ventilated front seats and LED fog lamps, but it adds headlamp washers, auto-dimming side mirrors, perimeter/approach puddle lights, perforated leather upholstery, and heated rear outboard seats.
Lastly, Platinum Elite trim adds back the LED fog lamps, ventilated front seats and 16-speaker 3D stereo, while also including adaptive cornering headlights, a colour head-up display that projects key information onto the windshield ahead of the driver, a surround view parking monitor, a rear camera washer, 16-way powered front seats including lumbar support, thigh extensions and side bolsters, the genuine Olive Ash hardwood trim mentioned earlier, complete with contrast stitching and seat piping, and metallic cargo area garnishes.
Of course, exterior styling will be key to sales success, and to that end the 2019 RDX is the first model to fully incorporate the Acura Precision Concept design language. We’ve seen the new grille gracing the front of the larger MDX luxury SUV, the TLX sport sedan, and the brand’s flagship RLX luxury sedan, but these were dramatic mid-cycle updates, not wholesale redesigns.
The Diamond Pentagon grille appears identical in shape if not size to those already in use by the TLX and RLX, both of which were slightly bolder and more pronounced than the MDX variant, but the lower front fascia of the prototype pulls cues from the Japanese brand’s larger SUV, particularly the pointed body-colour strike-through found hovering above each corner vent. They’re much larger and point in the opposite direction, while these, along with the horizontal row of LED fog lamps just below, flow more naturally into the centre portion of the fascia than the MDX’ vertical stack. Overall, the new RDX lower fascia design works well, particularly how it wraps around the sides of the bumper.
Likewise, a more expressive set of headlamps wrap more fully around the sides of the new model’s front fenders before following the curvature of the front wheel cutouts upward to where they finalize at the hood line. Those fenders are rounder and more organically shaped, flowing naturally into more fluidly sculpted door panels, with the arcing greenhouse culminating at the centre point of the rear quarter window instead of the base.
The top corner of the new RDX rear design forms a visual “X” where extended chrome window trim butts up against body-colour rooftop and side panels plus glossy black rear window trim extensions, resulting in a unique take on current floating roof trends, while the multi-angled LED taillights look fresh, modern and harmonious with the rest of the design.
Lastly, the front and rear bumpers differ depending on trim level, with base and luxury models getting splashes of chrome around the corner vents up front and a matte black apron in the back, and A-Spec trim receiving gloss-black for the former details and a diffuser-style design between the exhaust pipes.
“The all-new RDX delivers a powerful statement about who we are and where we are headed as a brand,” commented Jon Ikeda, vice president and general manager of Acura, when the RDX Prototype was introduced at the North American International Auto Show earlier this year. “For our customers, the new RDX is a quantum leap forward in design, style and performance, with luxury features and technology that will elevate their ownership experience.”
The 2019 RDX is now available at your local Acura retailer.