Acura does well in almost every Canadian market segment it competes in. As calendar year 2018 ended the RDX sat within the top three of 15 compact luxury SUV competitors, while the MDX was fifth out of…

2019 Acura TLX Tech Road Test

2019 Acura TLX Tech
Acura’s new “diamond pentagon” grille looks right at home on the front of the updated TLX. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Acura does well in almost every Canadian market segment it competes in. As calendar year 2018 ended the RDX sat within the top three of 15 compact luxury SUV competitors, while the MDX was fifth out of 21 mid-size premium crossovers and number one amongst dedicated three-row rivals. What about cars? The ILX was mid-pack in its entry-level luxury segment, and surprisingly the top-line RLX Sport Hybrid mid-size four-door was just one of two cars to show positive sales growth in a sector that’s been getting hammered by the aforementioned SUVs, although its actual final sales tally placed it second to last out of 17 competitors. Truly, Acura’s best sales success in Canada’s car sector is summed up in the TLX. 

A total of 17 models compete in the compact luxury car D-segment, led by such notable names as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Tesla Model 3 (if you can trust their sales numbers that seem very suspect), BMW 3 Series, and Audi A4, which makes the TLX’ eighth position quite credible, albeit not as good as its previous best-of-the-rest status. Despite a thorough facelift last year, some of the shine has come off this car in recent years, or at least the Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50 have now passed by on the sales charts. The latter Japanese sport-luxury sedan is one of a handful that grew sales last year, the other direct four-door competitor being the C-Class, which means other than the Jaguar XE that slid rearward by 27.8 percent, the TLX’s loss of 25.2 percent made for the worst backward move in its four-door compact luxury segment. Yikes! 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
Optional Platinum White Pearl paint really helps the LED taillights and tasteful chrome embellishments of this Tech trimmed model stand out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you remember, I started this review by claiming that Acura does well in almost every Canadian market segment it competes in, not all. And to be honest, I thought this was going to be a positive story that would look good on the car and brand, because in previous years the TLX always held a solid fourth place behind the C-Class or 3 Series (depending on which one came first) and the A4, but to see it slide to sixth amongst its four-door sedan rivals was a shocker. Rather than analyze possible reasons why, I’ll steer away from that rabbit hole and instead talk about my experience with the car at hand, at which point maybe you’ll understand why I’m perplexed at its shaky sales results. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
Acura’s five-element LEDs are as distinctive as headlamps get. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The TLX has only been with us since 2014 when it arrived as a 2015 model. It came about by combining the smaller TSX with the larger TL, in spirit at least, resulting in a just-right-sized D-segment sedan. What I mean by that is it’s still a bit larger than most competitors, measuring 61 millimetres (2.4 inches) longer than its nearest challenger at 4,844 mm (190.7 in), albeit coming up 74 mm (2.9 in) short in wheelbase length when compared to that Q50, which was the longest next to the fractionally (0.1 mm) longer wheelbase of the C-Class. Its 1,854-mm (73.0-in) width (without mirrors) is widest in its class by 12 mm (0.5 in), while its 1,447 mm (57.0 in) height is tallest by a hair, or rather 4 mm (0.15 in). So if you want more luxury car for similar money, or more precisely quite a bit less money, the TLX should be high on your list. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
Tech trim offers a classier chrome-clad front fascia, whereas the A-Spec provides a sportier look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The 2019 TLX starts at just $34,890 plus freight and fees, which is closer to the entry-level models of all brands just mentioned than anything sized and equipped like this Acura. Some quick comparisons have the segment’s next most affordable Cadillac ATS starting at $37,845, the Audi A4 at $39,800, the Lexus IS at $41,050, the Volvo S60 at $42,400, the Jaguar XE at $43,900, the Infiniti Q50 at $44,995, the Genesis G70 at $45,500, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class at $46,100, and the BMW 3 Series at $49,000, or in other words the TLX has every competitor beaten on price by a long shot. 

By the way, all pricing was sourced at CarCostCanada, which not only provides all trims, packages and standalone options, but also lets you know about available rebates that might help you save money when it comes time to make a deal, plus even better, you can access dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.

2019 Acura TLX Tech
The base 17-inch rims might be a bit small, but the machine-finished rims look really nice. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Just in case you’re thinking that Acura’s most basic D-segment entry must shortchange its owner something awful for under $35k, the base TLX gets full LED headlamps with automatic high beams, remote engine start, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, a colour TFT multi-info display, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low Speed Follow, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an excellent multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 10-way power driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar, remote-linked two-way memory for the driver’s seat, side mirrors and climate control, a four-way powered front passenger’s seat, heated front seats, an 8.0-inch On Demand Multi-use Display (ODMD) above a 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, seven-speaker audio, satellite radio, active noise cancellation, a Homelink universal garage door opener, a powered moonroof, and much more. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
These nicely shaped LED taillights come standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On top of that impressive list, all TLX trims boast standard AcuraWatch advanced driver assistance systems including Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Heads Up Warning, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with steering wheel haptic feedback, Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), plus the segment’s usual array of active and passive safety features, including an airbag for the driver’s knees, while Blind Spot Information (BSI) with a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor come as part of my tester’s second-rung Tech trim. 

That’s right. We were able to test a less equipped trim this time around, ideal because plenty of buyers choose this well equipped model that still manages to slip under the base price points of most competitors at $38,590. Along with the safety upgrades, Tech trim adds rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, an accurate navigation system with detailed mapping, voice recognition, the AcuraLink connectivity system, great sounding 10-speaker ELS Studio audio, hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, an always welcome heatable steering wheel rim, heated rear outboard seats, and last but hardly least perforated Milano leather upholstery replacing the standard leatherette. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
That’s a sporty looking rear valance for such a near-base model. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Features in mind, I was disappointed that TLX buyers are forced to step up to Elite trim, which is only available with a V6 and all-wheel drive, to access a number of fairly basic luxury items such as auto-dimming side mirrors, rear parking sensors (that come packaged with the front sensors included), and a wireless smartphone charger, while LED fog lamps only come standard with the Elite and sportier A-Spec models, the latter made available with the four-cylinder and front-wheel drive for 2019. Offering these optionally would be beneficial to those who prize fuel economy more than performance, and Acura could package in the Elite model’s excellent surround view camera and ventilated front seats too. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
The TLX delivers bing on interior quality and Acura’s choice of materials. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester’s interior was finished in classic Ebony black, needless to say a good match to its $500 coat of optional Platinum White Pearl exterior paint, making for an elegantly sporty four-door thanks to tastefully applied bright metal and glossy black detailing outside plus plenty of satin-silver accents and grey woodgrain inlays inside. Take note that Parchment tan interior could have been selected at no extra charge, so if a lighter interior is more to your liking Acura has got you covered. 

Despite its entry-level luxury asking price the TLX Tech interior’s fit, finish and materials quality is fully up to par with its D-segment peers, thanks to a soft-touch dash top that wraps down around the instrument panel, even to the lowest edges of the centre stack. Likewise, front and rear door uppers are finished with the same premium padded material, while the long, curving door inserts are nice stitched leather, as are the armrests side and centre. Acura even finishes the glove box lid off with the same pliable surfacing, only coming up a bit short on the sides of the lower console and each lower door panel, all areas that many rivals also apply harder plastic. Of course, all pillars are fabric-wrapped, and the roofliner is nicely finished in a high-grade woven fabric. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
Far from the latest design in this segment, the TLX nevertheless provides a well organized layout and loads of features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The primary gauge cluster is a nice straightforward combination of metal-rimmed dials with a colour multi-info display at centre, the latter rather simple by today’s standards, but this more classic driving-focused cockpit is more than made up for in digital display acreage by Acura’s two-tiered infotainment system on the centre stack, the larger top monitor controlled by a big knurled metallic knob and row of surrounding buttons just below the smaller display, which is a touchscreen as noted earlier. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
If you’re craving a more classic analogue gauge cluster in this age of digital displays, the TLX delivers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This second-generation dual-screen system was updated last year and now processes inputs 30-percent faster while also including the aforementioned branded smartphone integration, but be aware that a couple of features that function best with a touchscreen’s tablet-like pinch and swipe gesture capability, notably the navigation system’s map interface as well as both CarPlay and Android Auto, are shown up high on the larger display and therefore controlled more clumsily by the rotating knob and buttons below, while features like the climate control system, heatable front seats, and audio functions are found within the lower hands-on unit. 

Other than the navigation map, the upper display’s graphics are rather drab with a basic grey/blue font and not much else to look at, while the screen resolution isn’t quite as fine as some others in the class, but this made me glad that Acura chose the more colourful map as the default function. The touchscreen’s graphics are certainly more appealing and also benefit from a higher resolution display with richer colours and deeper contrast. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
The TLX uses Acura’s older two-tier dual-display infotainment setup, but it was updated last year with 30-percent faster processing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of note, you can adjust some of the climate functions via the narrow row of buttons and rocker switches just below the screen, and these are some of the tightest fitting, best damped switchgear in the business. This pretty well sums up most of the controls in the TLX’ cabin, although the buttons for the power windows and locks on the door panels seem like afterthoughts and therefore aren’t quite up to the same standard. 

Adjusting the power side mirror controller on the same panel provided good rearward visibility, which when joined by plenty of glass in every direction, plus the auto-dimming rearview mirror and aforementioned multi-angle rearview camera, results in a car that’s easy to drive through congested city traffic and tight parking lots. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
The top 8-inch display defaults to the navigation map, but it’s not as high in resolution as some competitors. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The multi-adjustable driver’s seat is very comfortable too, although I would have preferred four-way lumbar support to press more accurately against the small of my back, plus extendable thigh supports for cupping under the knees would’ve been nice as well. Still, the tilt and telescopic steering column extended the steering wheel far enough rearward to provide a comfortable seat distance for my legs while leaving my elbows properly bent for maximum control when resting the hands at 9 and 3 o’clock, plus all controls were within easy reach. 

The rear seating area offers plenty of space too, plus excellent lower back comfort in the outboard positions. A large folding armrest provides a nice place for inside elbows when only two are seated abreast, plus the usual twin cupholders and a tiny open bin for holding snacks or what-have-you. Acura adds a couple of vents to the backside of the front console to keep rear passengers aerated, while providing three temperatures for the rear seat heaters is better than the usual two. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
The base rearview camera is very clear and provides a variety of angles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The TLX’ trunk provides a decent amount of space as well, measuring 405 litres (14.3 cubic feet) thanks to the car’s extra length mentioned earlier. Pull tabs release the 60/40 split seatbacks if you want to lower one side or both for longer cargo, but unless you’ve got something strong enough to push them forward with, like a set of skis, you’ll be forced to walk around to the side doors to drop them down anyway. Another shortcoming is the 60/40 split itself, which doesn’t include a centre pass-through and therefore limits the use of the seat heaters when transporting said skis or snowboard equipment—cue one whining tweenager now. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
The slightly smaller 7-inch touchscreen provides a more colourful display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Cranking up the aforementioned ELS stereo might be a good way to drown out rear seat complainants, mind you, but then again you might find the sound of the high-revving base 2.4-litre engine more to your liking. This engine is right out of the previous-generation Civic Si, so that sonorous song and rorty exhaust note ideally complements its ability to rev all the way to 6,800 rpm. I’m not sure whether I like this V-TEC-infused mill more than the aforementioned 3.5-litre V6, and if it weren’t for the larger engine’s advanced SH-AWD, the FWD version might even be the sportier choice. 

Don’t get me wrong as the V6 spits out a naughty growl of its own when getting hard on the throttle, but my nod in the four-cylinder’s direction has more to do with the excellence of its quick-shifting paddle-shift actuated dual-clutch eight-speed automated transmission than its 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. Certainly the extra 84 horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque would be had to pass up, but that engine’s nine-speed automatic kills its fun-factor, taking far too long between shifts to feel remotely sporty. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
The 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox is superb, but you’ll want to shift with the steering wheel paddles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Getting the most out of the TLX drivetrain is Acura’s four-position “Dynamic Mode” driver settings, featuring default Normal, thrifty Econ, Sport and Sport + modes. The latter two really make a difference when pushing the envelope, but I left it in Econ mode when dealing with city traffic, as it was best for eking the most from a tank of fuel. Acura claims 10.0 L/100km city, 7.1 highway and 8.7 combined with the four-cylinder model, while the V6, that gets an engine idle stop-start system, does pretty well at the pump as well with a rating of 11.4, 7.7 and 9.8 respectively. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
The Tech’s leather-clad seats are comfortable, but could use more adjustment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Another bonus with the smaller engine is less weight over the front wheels, so it feels nimbler when pressed hard through corners and is less likely to understeer, or push out the front wheels and drive straight when the tires break traction in the middle of a turn. On this note it’s pretty hard to upset the TLX’ nicely sorted front strut and rear multi-link suspension setup, despite the car’s smallish standard 17-inch alloy wheels and 225/55 all-season tires, but this brings up another shortcoming with both base and Tech trims, Acura doesn’t offer any wheel and tire upgrades. These lesser tires are easier on the wallet when it comes time to replace, however, and they help the TLX deliver a nice compliant ride. High-speed stability on the freeway is good too, with the car tracking nicely and wind noise kept to a minimum. 

Once again, four-cylinder fans who want more can now opt for the TLX Tech A-Spec, a car I hope to cover in an upcoming review because it combines what I think is this model’s sportiest drivetrain with a sweet looking set of 19-inch rims on stickier 45/40 rubber, plenty of aerodynamic styling upgrades, and other niceties inside. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
Rear seat roominess and comfort is excellent. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As it is, the 2019 TLX Tech is an attractive car thanks to last year’s refresh, highlighted by the brand’s now trademark “diamond pentagon grille,” tidier lower fascia, and sharper looking rear apron. It already included some of the best-looking LED headlamps and an attractive set of LED taillights, the former nicely revised, while its overall profile is long and sleek. Still, those updates were added to a car that was already three years into its lifecycle and now that it’s heading into its fifth will soon require a complete overhaul in order to keep its loyal followers from looking elsewhere. 

2019 Acura TLX Tech
The trunk is fairly sizeable and provides the usual 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That thought in mind, one reason for the TLX’s recent sales decline could be the introduction of Acura’s all-new RDX, which has no doubt lured away more than a few would-be sport sedan buyers. It truly is better than most rivals and therefore worthy of its success, which bodes well for an upcoming redesign to this TLX. A new version should arrive sometime next year, so fingers crossed they build on all that’s good with this current version, mix in much of what makes the new RDX great, and end up with a new TLX that at the very least reclaims best-of-the-rest status. 

Until then, you can do a lot worse than the 2019 TLX, especially when factoring in expected reliability and stronger than average resale values that come from such a competitive value proposition at time of purchase. The TLX Tech is a very good car for a superb price, and even when loaded up with maximum performance and features the TLX Elite SH-AWD A-Spec slips under the $50k affordability barrier and therefore undercuts most competitors by thousands, let alone tens of thousands. You should consider it seriously.

Anyone who believes the Acura ILX is merely a badge-engineered Honda Civic might want to rethink their point of view.  First off, since the 10th-generation Civic arrived for 2017 the two don’t even…

Acura ILX gets significant refresh for 2019

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The 2019 Acura ILX gets a major refresh, and looks especially nice in sporty A-Spec trim. (Photo: Acura)

Anyone who believes the Acura ILX is merely a badge-engineered Honda Civic might want to rethink their point of view. 

First off, since the 10th-generation Civic arrived for 2017 the two don’t even share underpinnings, with even this latest 2019 upgrade riding on the previous ninth-gen Civic platform architecture, not that this really matters to those behind the wheel, who no doubt will continue to enjoy rewarding driving dynamics and extremely good efficiency. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The ILX continues to be a fun car to drive thanks to a standard 201-hp 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddles. (Photo: Acura)

Despite getting a dramatic refresh that brings it inline with the rest of the Acura lineup, the 2019 ILX continues forward with a wonderfully rev-happy 201-horsepower, 16-valve, DOHC, i-VTEC-infused 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine borrowed from the previous Civic Si albeit refined for this car’s more luxury-oriented gateway-to-premium role. As part of its repurposed application the potent engine joins up to an automated dual-clutch eight-speed transmission with paddle-shifters, providing both smooth ease of use and quick-shifting performance, while its front-wheel drivetrain aids fuel economy. If it seems familiar, this formidable powertrain is also used in the base TLX. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The ILX is the most popular car in its class with millennial buyers, no doubt because of its stylish, sporty character and excellent value. (Photo: Acura)

The most notable update is the Japanese luxury brand’s new trademark Diamond Pentagon grille up front and centre, complemented by a new front bumper and lower fascia. The latter is made more dramatic in new A-Spec trim, while the rest of the car gets minor updates from front to rear. Truly, only the seven-element Jewel Eye LED headlamps look unchanged, although Acura points out the 2019 ILX is entirely new from the A-pillars forward, with even the hood more sharply sculpted. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
Now the entire Acura line-up (NSX aside) has been transformed with the new Diamond Pentagon grille design. (Photo: Acura)

The shape of the LED taillights appear totally new, while the rear bumper and apron are revised as well, once again more significantly in A-Spec guise. No doubt if you like the look of the new TLX you’ll also appreciate the changes made to the ILX, and no one should argue that the updated 2019 version is wholly more upscale looking than the car it replaces. Of course, no mid-cycle update would be complete without new wheel designs, which means lower end models get fresh sets of 17-inch split-five-spoke alloys with trim-specific finishes, and the new A-Spec sports exclusive 18-inch rims. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
All 2019 ILX trims get attractive new LED taillights, while the A-Spec features a more aggressive rear apron. (Photo: Acura)

Changes inside are less noticeable at first glance, with many of the same high-quality finishings remaining for 2019, albeit Acura talks of “more luxurious and sporty cabin appointments” too, which we’ll report on in an upcoming road test. Acura also highlights new silver-finish dash trim featuring a new chrome insert, plus a machine-finished ignition button. Even more consequential to real-world comfort, the reworked ILX receives “more intricately styled and reshaped sport seats, front and rear, with available high-contrast piping and stitching.” Driver’s seat power-adjustable lumbar support is standard across the line as well, making comfort priority one. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
Once again, full LED headlights are standard. (Photo: Acura)

Additionally, the dual-screen On Demand Multi-Use Display (ODMD 2.0) infotainment system gets a much-needed update with fresh graphics, new software, a faster responding operating system (by up to 30 percent), more intuitive menus and command structures, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Acura says the 7.0-inch touchscreen portion of its dual-screen setup features a capacitive display that’s “more responsive to touch and is positioned within easy reach of the driver and front passenger,” so we look forward to testing this out in an upcoming review. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
Acura has improved interior refinement and significantly upgraded the infotainment system. (Photo: Acura)

The new 2019 ILX gets five new exterior colours as well, including Platinum White Pearl, Majestic Black Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, Canyon Bronze Metallic and A-Spec-exclusive Apex Blue Pearl, while Lunar Silver Metallic and Modern Steel Metallic carryover. Likewise, Ebony and Graystone colourways continue forward inside, although take note new Espresso provides some upscale colour to the ILX cabin, while the sportier A-Spec model gets exclusive Ebony on Red or Red on Ebony combinations, mixed with soft, grippy Ultrasuede seat inserts. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
Acura’s dual-display infotainment setup carries forward into the refreshed model, but the graphics are new, it’s faster, and better organized. (Photo: Acura)

Speaking of the A-Spec upgrade, along with the exterior enhancements mentioned earlier, which also include distinctive styling with more aggressive aero components, plus dark chrome grille and lower fascia trim, darker headlights and taillights, LED fog lamps, a gloss-black rear deck lid spoiler, and unique new 18-inch alloys in a Shark Gray finish, the A-Spec gets a special graphite-silver dash accent with chrome insert, an A-Spec badged steering wheel with contrast stitching, and aluminum sport pedals. The aforementioned sport seats feature high contrast stitching as well. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The top display is not touch capacitive, but instead is controlled via a knob below the bottom display. (Photo: Acura)

Additionally, the 2019 ILX joins every other model in the brand’s lineup in providing the AcuraWatch suite of active safety and driver-assistive technologies as standard equipment, including Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW). 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The graphics certainly look better, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (shown) now come standard. (Photo: Acura)

Acura is the only premium brand to provide such standard advanced safety features to all of its models, and this focus has pushed it up the U.S. Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s (IIHS) rankings, resulting in three of its recently updated models receiving Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick + scores. The 2019 ILX should benefit from the AcuraWatch upgrade too, as the 2018 model already earns 5 safety stars from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), plus zero complaints, zero investigations and zero recalls. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
ILX A-Spec trim gets the choice of either black leather with red highlights or this bold red on black theme. (Photo: Acura)

The current ILX’ high NHTSA score results from Acura’s Advance Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure as well as other standard safety and driver assistive features, such as Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control, an Expanded View Driver’s Mirror, advanced front airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, side curtain airbags, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), not to mention pedestrian injury-mitigation exterior design elements, while the new 2019 ILX will also be available with blind spot information (BSI) and rear cross traffic monitoring. 

2019 Acura ILX A-Spec
The A-Spec sport seats are upholstered in perforated leather with a grippy suede-like Alcantara insert down the middle. (Photo: Acura)

Also notable, the outgoing 2018 ILX earned a top Initial Quality Study (IQS) ranking for its segment this year. In more detail, it received a Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5 and a quality award in the Small Premium Car segment. The ILX also earned the top position in the entry-luxury car category of Kelley Blue Book’s 5-Year Cost to Own Luxury Brand Awards, while Acura was the top ranked brand for the third consecutive year. 

Will the redesigned 2019 ILX continue to attract more millennial buyers than any of its compact luxury competitors? It’s been the class leader amongst young millennials every year since 2013, so only time will tell if the refreshed model continues this trend. Still, the new ILX’ more distinctive styling, continued strong performance, and high quality, comfortable interior should help it maintain a steady influx of new and repeat customers. 

The new 2019 Acura ILX will go on sale later this month.

News that Acura would be making a sporty A-Spec version of its four-cylinder powered, front-wheel drive TLX should be well accepted now that it’s available, as the new variant costs thousands less than…

Acura TLX sport-luxury sedan gets four-cylinder A-Spec trim for 2019

2019 Acura TLX A-Spec
Acura is offering a new four-cylinder-powered TLX A-Spec for 2019, which saves thousands initially and plenty at the pump too. (Photo: Acura)

News that Acura would be making a sporty A-Spec version of its four-cylinder powered, front-wheel drive TLX should be well accepted now that it’s available, as the new variant costs thousands less than the V6-powered model and reduces ongoing costs by achieving better fuel economy. 

The new four-cylinder TLX A-Spec looks identical to the V6 version, including its matte-black grille, sportier front fascia design with larger air intakes, dark chrome internal headlights, fog lamps, extended side sills, gloss black rear trunk lid spoiler, dark tinted taillights, special glossy black 19-inch alloy wheels on 245/40 R19 all-season tires, A-Spec branded door sill garnish, red LED ambient interior lighting, thicker-rimmed leather-wrapped A-Spec sport steering wheel, red-accented primary instruments, metallic driver’s foot rest pedal, brushed aluminum inlays, unique heavily bolstered A-Spec leather sport seats, and black roofliner. The four-cylinder-powered TLX A-Spec starts at $39,400 plus freight and fees, which is a $4,365 savings compared to the V6-powered TLX A-Spec. 

2019 Acura TLX A-Spec
The base 2.4-litre four-cylinder provides ample performance for most peoples’ wants and needs, while its 8-speed dual-clutch auto is actually sportier than the 9-speed auto that comes with the V6. (Photo: Acura)

To be clear, the 2.4-litre inline-four may be the base engine, but it’s still a sporty alternative to the 3.5-litre V6 thanks to 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque, an ultra-quick shifting eight-speed dual-clutch automated transmission with standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, rear-wheel steering, and a reduction of 123 kilograms in curb weight. 

According to Acura, strong customer demand prompted the addition of four-cylinder A-Spec model, which incidentally is otherwise outfitted in well-equipped Tech trim. Therefore, along with the aforementioned styling modifications, the front-wheel drive model gets rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, a heatable steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, powered front thigh extensions, perforated leather upholstery, navigation, AcuraLink connectivity, a 10-speaker ELS audio system with AM/FM/CD/ MP3/WMA/satellite radio, hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, Blind Spot Information System with Rear Cross Traffic Monitor System, and more. 

2019 Acura TLX A-Spec
Full LED headlamps continue to be standard equipment with all ILX trims.

Additionally, highlights pulled up from the $36,190 base TLX include LED headlights with automatic high beams, passive keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, adaptive cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a large infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a multi-angle backup camera, a powered glass sunroof, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a four-way powered front passenger seat, heated front seats, and the list goes on. 

Also standard, the TLX features a bevy of AcuraWatch advanced driver assistance systems including Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with autonomous Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with steering wheel haptic feedback, Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), and more. 

2019 Acura TLX A-Spec
Fog lamps and sportier aerodynamic parts get added to A-Spec trim. (Photo: Acura)

Of course, another bonus that comes with ownership of the four-cylinder powered 2019 TLX A-Spec that shouldn’t be overlooked when comparing it to the 3.5-litre version is fuel-efficiency, the new model rated at 10.2 L/100km in the city, 7.4 on the highway and 8.9 combined, which is only 0.2 L/100km more city/highway combined fuel consumption than the base TLX due to its larger wheels and tires, yet it’s also 1.4 L/100km combined city/highway more efficient than the V6-powered car. 

That V6 makes a substantive 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, and couples that performance to a sophisticated nine-speed automatic transmission and Acura’s renowned torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). While the nine-speed autobox doesn’t shift as quickly as the four-cylinder model’s eight-speed unit, the former includes faster reacting quick-ratio steering, stiffer springs, and an upgraded rear anti-roll bar, enhancing high-speed handling. 

2019 Acura TLX A-Spec
A-Spec trim allows the option of sporty red leather upholstery. (Photo: Acura)

With the recent announcement of the redesigned 2019 ILX sedan, and the all-new 2019 RDX A-Spec and updated 2019 MDX A-Spec, all of which come with A-Spec variants, the only models left in the lineup to receive the sporty trim level are RLX flagship sedan, which may not receive it, and the NSX mid-engine sport car, which surely doesn’t need it. 

The 2019 Acura TLX A-Spec is available now, along with mostly carryover versions of the TLX Tech, TLX Elite, and top-of-the-line TLX SH-AWD A-Spec Elite.

For complete pricing information on all 2019 Acura TLX trims, plus important dealer invoice pricing and model rebate program information that could save you thousands off your next car purchase, make sure to check out CarCostCanada.com.

So here it is, the first application of Acura’s new Diamond Pentagon grille on a vehicle that was designed to incorporate it from the ground up.  Together with a more fluidly shaped set of Jewel-Eye…

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite Road Test

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Without question, the 2019 Acura RDX is one of the most competitive entries in today’s compact luxury SUV segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

So here it is, the first application of Acura’s new Diamond Pentagon grille on a vehicle that was designed to incorporate it from the ground up. 

Together with a more fluidly shaped set of Jewel-Eye LED headlamps to each side and a more progressive front fascia down below, not to mention plenty of chrome thanks to my tester’s top-line Platinum Elite trim, the new 2019 RDX is one eye-catching luxury SUV. 

The sharp creases and shapely folds continue down each side of the redesigned model, providing a wedge-like profile and muscular, sporty stance, while the roofline up top culminates into now popular floating D-pillars above an attractive set of pointed LED taillights. Again, the new RDX design is pleasing from front to back. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The new RDX has sporty, attractive styling from front to back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Those who found the previous RDX a bit too budget-oriented when compared to some of its peers should welcome the new interior as well, as it’s really hard to fault it on styling or materials quality. The top half of the cabin is primarily composed of high-end, soft-touch synthetics, contrast-stitched padded leathers, and real hardwood inlays on the upper edges of the dash top, flowing into the door panels, and extending across the mid portion of the instrument panel, plus the lower console as part of a scrolling lid that accesses the cupholders and large cell phone bin/USB charger below. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Just like with the outgoing RDX, Acura’s trademark Jewel-Eye LED headlamps come standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Acura has done a great job with metal accents too, tastefully detailing the steering wheel, column stalks, gauges, vents, centre stack, door handles, power seat controls, and overhead console, and then stepping things up another notch by trimming the handle on that aforementioned centre bin lid and the ELS Studio 3D speaker grilles with an even nicer grade and finish of aluminum. Impressive. 

A large infotainment display with superb definition, clarity and depth of colour is now perched atop the dash, providing easy visibility from a quick glance, while other functions can be sourced from a sizeable multi-information display within the otherwise analogue gauge cluster. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Nineteen-inch alloys come standard, but the top-line Platinum Elite gets unique 19s plus more chrome detailing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Also notable, the centre stack actually floats above a large open compartment featuring a rubberized base for holding personal devices that can be conveniently plugged into a USB charge point, an auxiliary plug or a 12-volt power outlet. 

The sides of that floating centre console’s upper portion are finished in padded leatherette with nice contrast stitching that continues all the way back to the centre armrest/bin lid cover, and some of that soft-touch material wraps over to the edge of the steering wheel column where the engine ignition button sits, as well as to the right side to the glove box lid. You’ll be hard pressed to find as high a level of luxury finishings amongst RDX competitors. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
A massive panoramic sunroof comes standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Common in this class, however, the lower door panels are made from harder plastic, as is most of the lower dash and lower console. Nevertheless, the RDX is finally in the same league as its compact luxury SUV peers when it comes to interior fit, finish, refinement and features, which means it can now command the higher price point this Elite Platinum trim requests. 

My top-line tester is available from $57,160, my example actually priced at $57,660 due to White Diamond Pearl paint. That’s $2,770 into MDX territory, but as noted the RDX is more than ready to do battle with the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3, et al, and feels like a much more complete package than the Lexus NX and some others in the class, with better switchgear refinement and a more solid, substantive feel all-round. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The standard LED taillights have some ice detailing inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The RDX is a lot sportier than I expected too. Initially factoring in a displacement drop from 3.5 to 2.0 litres and the elimination of two cylinders, from six to four, straight-line performance was a pleasant surprise. In fact, the new RDX feels even quicker off the line than the old model and is now one of the sportier SUVs in its segment. Along with 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which is a generational bump of 7 horsepower and 28 lb-ft, the engine also makes wonderful noises, its soundtrack just enhancing the experience enough to excite without overwhelming conversations within. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Get ready for the best RDX interior ever offered. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The new 10-speed automatic, a significant two forward speeds more advanced than most premium challengers, allows the engine to rev up to its maximum between shifts, and swapping cogs via the steering wheel paddles happens instantaneously when in Sport or Sport Plus modes. It’s wonderfully smooth too, especially in its Normal default mode, this new engine/gearbox combination delivering one of the best refinement/performance compromises in this class. 

Choosing driving modes is accomplished by rotating a massive knob placed square in the middle of the centre stack (more on this in a moment), while Acura has also made its class-exclusive button/rocker switch-actuated gear selector standard across the RDX line. It’s slightly different than the one used for the MDX, for instance, but it didn’t take long for me to acclimatize. My advice to those taking the new RDX out for a test drive is, be patient and give it time. You’ll get used to it and might even like it more than a shift lever after settling in, while you’ve got to admit it’s a pretty futuristic looking human-machine interface. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The RDX provides a comfortable, ergonomically intelligent, high-quality driving environment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The RDX has always been a strong performer, but this new model feels lighter up front and more responsive around fast-paced corners than its predecessor, with easy, reactive turn-in and rock-steady grip when snaking through circuitous backroads. Acura’s highly touted torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is standard, and as with the previous model provides excellent all-weather control, while braking is linear and fully up to the task of scrubbing off speed quickly with confidence, all adding up to a new RDX that once again feels more capable than the outgoing one, as well as many of its peers. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
A fully configurable TFT gauge cluster would seem more appropriate in a brand new model, but the colour MID is large and full of features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

With a much smaller displacement, more advanced engine and four additional forward gears it only makes sense that RDX emissions and fuel economy have made gains too, the latter rated at 11.0 L/100km city, 8.6 highway and 9.9 combined for all trims other than the sporty new A-Spec that gets an estimated 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. New idle stop-start, which automatically shuts the engine down when it would otherwise be idling and then immediately reboots it when ready to go, does its part in reaching the improved consumption figures, while making a big difference in reducing emissions. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The standard display is excellent and feature filled, while the mapping in the navigation system is wonderfully detailed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While its mix of performance and economy certainly gives the RDX an edge over the majority of entry-level luxury rivals, Acura hasn’t forgotten that comfort is king in the luxury SUV class. Therefore, along with all the aforementioned high-end detailing and impressive assortment of premium equipment, the redesigned model is even larger and roomier than the SUV it replaces, which was already quite generous. Specifically, the 2019 RDX is 78 mm (3.1 inches) longer than the old one, with a 65-mm (2.5-inch) increase in wheelbase that makes a significant difference to rear seat roominess, while it’s also 46 mm (1.8 inches) wider for added shoulder and hip space, and 31 mm (1.2 inches) taller, improving headroom. Despite its increased dimensions it has only gained 86 kilos (189 lbs) of curb weight, the previously noted performance improvements partially attributed to this. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Choosing Platinum Elite trim means you’ll get this very helpful surround parking camera. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

When seated in back I could almost completely stretch out my legs with my feet under the front seat, leaving at least eight to 10 inches ahead of my knees, about five inches next to my shoulders, and another three or so between my outside hip and the door panel, while the rear seat is also comfortable. A reasonably sized armrest folds down from centre, exposing two smallish cupholders. Even better, the back padding of the armrest’s alcove is covered in a wonderful soft velvet-like material that does a good job of pampering elbows. Also appreciated, three-way seat heaters warmed rear outboard positions in my top-tier trim, while rear ventilation is good too. Lastly, the rear seating area is finished just as nicely as that up front, with the same high-quality soft-touch door uppers, the same nicely padded leather on the inserts and armrests, identical aluminum speaker grilles, and satin silver finished door pull accents, plus of course the same sumptuous perforated leather upholstery edged out with stylish grey piping and contrast stitching. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The vertically stacked rotating drive mode selector and transmission switchgear takes up a lot of real estate that could otherwise be used for a more convenient infotainment touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The new SUV’s larger size also makes for more cargo room, with maximum space 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). 

Acura trims the cargo compartment out with premium carpeting that goes all the way up each sidewall, plus of course the backside of the rear seats, while chrome tie-down hooks bling up each corner. The sturdy load floor is removable, exposing large compartments for additional stowage below. Each side of the cargo wall gets a convenient carryover feature, a release lever for laying 60-, 40-, or 100-percent of the split rear seatbacks flat, and yes when I say flat I mean the load floor is now much better at swallowing up cargo than previously. I was disappointed not to see a centre pass-through, however, necessary for loading longer items like skis when the more comfortable, heated window seats are occupied. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The new True Touchpad Interface works better than Lexus’ Remote Touch Interface, but it’s nowhere near as user-friendly as a regular tablet-style touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Problems? None, but I found the infotainment system’s new True Touchpad Interface a bit disconnected when compared to life with a regular tablet-style touchscreen, like those used for many Honda vehicles. I understand the need for a separate controller when the display is positioned far away from the driver’s reach, but this brings up the question of why it’s so far away, and why Acura chose to fill prime centre stack real estate with the aforementioned massive rotating dial for choosing driving modes. A simple button on the lower console, instrument panel, or better yet the steering wheel, would suffice for driving modes, which would’ve freed space to lower the HVAC interface and pull the infotainment display downward and closer, within easy reach of front occupants. This would have reduced the unnecessary cost of developing such a complex touchpad, which I must say can be a bit tricky to use. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The RDX’ seats are inherently comfortable, and top-line Platinum Elite perforated leather soft and supple. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

First off, not everyone likes track pads. I use one every day with my MacBook Pro so they’re second nature to me, but my partner uses a mouse with her laptop—enough said. On the other side of the argument, most everyone is familiar with touchscreens due to smartphone and tablet use. Despite my familiarity with the latter, I found even simple commands challenging to implement. For instance, the first thing I wanted to do after setting up my smartphone, which worked easily via Acura’s HandsFreeLink wireless connectivity, was listen to a podcast via Bluetooth audio. With forefinger on the touchpad I repeatedly attempted to slide it along and then press downward once it reached the Bluetooth logo, but each time it initiated a different function and would not select Bluetooth. I kept trying and eventually managed to select Bluetooth, but this was not a good start. It reminds me of a problem Lexus experienced with its first-generation joystick-style Remote Touch Interface controller, which caused enough frustration from customers to cause the Japanese brand to install separate pushbuttons to each side of the main controller. Acura may want to consider something similar, as merely pressing downward on the trackpad isn’t a reliable solution. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Rear seat roominess is excellent and comfort superb. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The large 10.2-inch high-definition display and graphics within are superb, with main functions divided two-thirds to the left and one-third to the right. This, of course, allows more variety of simultaneously displayed features and therefore provides a more customizable setup, with the ability to show navigation mapping, for instance, on the larger or smaller screen, plus the audio interface, or some other feature, opposite. Choosing the map function, with finger on touchpad you can explore all around by swiping in any direction, pinching or spreading two fingers for a closer or wider view, and tapping to execute commands. While it mostly sounds hunky-dory the touchpad is much smaller than the screen and therefore doesn’t allow for much finger movement. Suffice to say it’ll take a little time to get used to. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Rear passengers in Platinum Elite trimmed models get dual USB chargers and three-way heated outboard seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of note, there’s a home button that displays a main screen filled with function links to navigation, phone, AM/FM/HD/satellite radio, Bluetooth audio settings, Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto), Siri Eyes Free, SMS text message and email functionality, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Wi-Fi tethering, AcuraLink Subscription Services, etcetera, and I have to say it works pretty well, other than the system’s aforementioned habit of not keeping its bright orange cursor on a chosen function after releasing one’s finger. You’ve got to be ultra-exact or you’ll miss it, and that’s a lot to ask of someone who should be spending less time concentrating on infotainment and more time focused on the road ahead. My advice to you? Spend time learning how to get the most out of this system while parked in the driveway. Try to be patient and you’ll probably get the hang of it in time. My advice to Acura? Replace the space-depleting drive mode selector knob on the centre stack with a high-quality touchscreen. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
This massive powered panoramic sunroof comes standard on every RDX trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On the positive the gauge cluster looks sharp, the multi-information display (MID) at centre is large at 7.0 inches, very high in resolution with deep, rich contrast, and filled with attractive graphics. Still, I found it odd that the gauge cluster was mostly analogue, for two reasons. First, full TFT gauge clusters are all the rage these days, and some are even included as standard equipment. Secondly, it must be less expensive to make a new digital display from scratch than design, produce and assemble all of the mechanical and digital MID components needed for an analogue cluster these days. 

Other issues? My tester’s powered tailgate made a strange groaning noise when opening and closing, as if it needed some lubricating oil somewhere within, and when giving my RDX a bath I noticed a six-inch long score in the front portion of the panoramic glass sunroof, likely due to rubbing up against something when being opened and closed. It wasn’t very deep, but over time it could become so. It probably just needs adjustment, but nevertheless these are strange teething pains from a brand like Acura that usually comes to market with its products fully sorted. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The cargo area is larger than it used to be, and very well finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

According to CarCostCanada.com, which has the latest in new vehicle pricing, including otherwise hard to get dealer invoice pricing that will help you get the best deal on your next car, truck or SUV, plus everything you need to know about the latest manufacturer discounts and rebates (that your dealer may not tell you about), the 2019 RDX can be had as a well-equipped base model for $46,160 including freight and fees, as well as in $48,660 Tech trim, $48,660 A-Spec, $52,160 Elite and $57,160 Platinum Elite trims. 

Unlike some competitors, I could see plenty of buyers being very happy in the base RDX thanks to features already noted as well as standard automatic high beams for the aforementioned LED headlamps, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, ambient lighting, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, dual-zone auto climate control, a garage door opener, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, side mirrors with reverse gear tilt-down and integrated LED turn indicators, 12-way powered front seats including lumbar and four-way headrests, two-position driver’s memory, heated front seats, a panoramic moonroof, a powered tailgate, and much more. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Handy storage bins below the cargo floor are ideal for stowing dirty, oily rags and gloves, or alternatively keeping expensive belongings away from prying eyes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Also standard, AcuraWatch includes 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, all resulting in a best-possible Top Safety Pick+ safety rating from the IIHS. 

Moving up to Tech trim adds Blind Spot Information with a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, and traffic sign recognition, plus front and rear parking sensors, navigation, voice recognition, and a 12-speaker ELS Studio audio system with dual rear USB ports. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Acura carried forward these convenient levers that drop the rear seatbacks down without the need to walk around to the side doors. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Like with other Acura models, A-Spec trim provides unique front and rear styling, 20-inch alloys, 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. 

Elite trim actually results in 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, my tester’s 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, a surround view monitor, a rear camera washer, 16-way powered front seats including lumbar, thigh extensions and side bolsters, genuine Olive Ash hardwood trim, and metal cargo area garnishes. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The rear seatbacks only fold 60/40 with no centre pass-through, but they now lay flat improving load carrying capability. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Yes, loaded up with every possible feature the new 2019 RDX can compete head-on with any premium-branded peer, and no matter the trim should once again be seriously considered when also shopping in this hotly contested segment. There are now 14 entries in the compact luxury SUV class, not including four-door coupe variants, which makes it all the more impressive that the RDX has maintained its near top placement. 

As you now know from my criticisms this new RDX is not perfect, but it does most things so very well that it’s easy to look past its idiosyncratic infotainment system and my tester’s few minor problems, which are likely due to being an early production example. In other words, I like it a lot more than I expected to, and can’t help but recommend it highly.

The 2019 Acura RDX just received the best safety rating of any vehicle in its compact luxury SUV segment from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as well as the highest award possible from…

IIHS awards new 2019 Acura RDX with best possible safety rating

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
The 2019 Acura RDX, shown here in its sportiest A-Spec trim line, is now the safest new compact luxury SUV, says the IIHS. (Photo: Acura)

The 2019 Acura RDX just received the best safety rating of any vehicle in its compact luxury SUV segment from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as well as the highest award possible from the U.S. government agency. 

The 2019 RDX achieved a Top Safety Pick+ rating due to a best-possible ranking of “Good” in all crash tests, while standard AcuraWatch advanced driver assistance/safety systems helped it earn a “Superior” rating, plus it received another Good score for its optional headlights. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The new RDX, seen here in top-line Platinum Elite trim, certainly has attractive styling on its side. (Photo: Acura)

“The 2019 Acura RDX excelled in our six crashworthiness evaluations, including the roof strength test,” stated the IIHS in a press release. “Our testing apparatus applied over 21,000 lbs of force to the RDX’s roof before it crushed 5 inches. That’s more than 5 times the weight of the vehicle.” 

In comparison, the competitive Mercedes-Benz GLC also received Good marks in crashworthiness, but its Superior optional headlight rating was down one notch on the IIHS scale, plus the German competitor only managed an Acceptable rating for the ease of use of its child seat “LATCH” anchors compared to the RDX’ ideal Good rating. Worse yet, the BMW X3 only received at Marginal rating for its child seat anchors, although did well in all other tests. 

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
Standard full LED headlamps have long set the RDX apart from key rivals. (Photo: Acura)

“The 2019 Acura RDX offers the highest level of standard safety and driver-assistance features in its class, so earning class-leading safety ratings is a strong proof point of the technology and design innovation we’re bringing to the game,” said Jon Ikeda, Acura vice president and general manager. 

The 2019 RDX was developed by Acura’s U.S. research and development team, and therefore was designed to exceed stringent IIHS safety tests from onset. The new model incorporates the latest generation of Acura’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which includes new high-strength steel door stiffener rings, and for the first time, eight standard airbags, including new driver and front-passenger knee airbags. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The RDX gets LED lighting elements all-round, plus a longer, wider and roomier body shell that’s big on performance. (Photo: Acura)

Additionally, the new RDX features the AcuraWatch suite of advanced driver-assistive and safety systems in all trims, these technologies including Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Road Departure Mitigation, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow. The new RDX also comes standard with Acura’s easily recognizable JewelEye LED headlamps, which helped it achieve its best-in-class ranking. 

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
No matter the trim level, the new RDX receives a high-quality interior that’s sportiest in its A-Spec variety. (Photo: Acura)

To earn the 2018 Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must achieve Good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as an Acceptable or Good rating in the passenger-side small overlap test. Additionally, the top rating requires available front crash prevention that earns an Advanced or Superior score, plus available Good-rated headlights. The RDX’s base headlights are rated Good, while the curve-adaptive headlights added to its top-line trim are rated Acceptable. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The RDX Platinum Elite not only provides real wood and supple leathers, but features every available safety feature too. (Photo: Acura)

The RDX was completely redesigned for the 2019 model year, and thanks to a positive response from long-time owners trading up from the outgoing model and new customers to the Acura brand, it was the best-selling vehicle in its compact luxury SUV class during its first month of availability in June. The RDX has long been one of the segment’s top sellers, dueling it out over first place with the Audi Q5 for nearly a decade, and this new redesign should certainly keep it ahead of most peers. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Apple CarPlay is standard with the new 10.2-inch high-definition infotainment display. (Photo: Acura)

Along with appealing design and quality that surpasses many of its rivals, the new 2019 RDX continues to deliver plenty of value to its luxury clientele. Priced at $43,990 plus freight and fees (detailed pricing covering each trim line, options, dealer invoice prices and rebate information can be found at CarCostCanada.com), the redesigned Acura features a new turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine good for 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which is similar in power to the outgoing 3.5-litre V6 although delivers better straight-line performance due to 40 percent more low-end torque. 

This advantage is complemented by the compact luxury SUV segment’s only 10-speed automatic transmission that simultaneously improves acceleration and fuel-efficiency, allowing the RDX to continue outperforming many key challengers. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
This large panoramic glass sunroof is standard across the entire RDX line. (Photo: Acura)

With respect to fuel economy, the 2019 RDX achieves a claimed Transport Canada rating of 9.9 L/100km combined city/highway for all trims excepting the sportiest A-Spec model that gets an estimated 10.3 L/100km combined, whereas last year’s claimed rating was 10.7 L/100km combined city/highway. 

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
Whether bright red and black, black or light tan, the RDX rear seating area is spacious and feature filled. (Photo: Acura)

The new RDX rolls on a brand new Acura-exclusive body and chassis architecture that’s much more rigid and therefore provides better handling and crashworthiness than the outgoing model. It’s also 78 mm longer with a 65-mm gain in wheelbase, the latter making a major difference to rear seat roominess, 46 mm wider, and 31 mm taller than the model it replaces. Still, despite its increased dimensions, the new RDX is only 86 kilos heavier, which aids aforementioned fuel economy and performance. 

Along with greater interior comfort, the RDX’ increased size provides 142 litres more cargo volume behind its 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks and 82 additional litres when the 60/40-split second-row is lowered via handy cargo wall-mounted levers, while the load floor is flatter and therefore better for hauling items that might otherwise tip over. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Cargo capacity has grown with the 60/40-split rear seatbacks up or down. (Photo: Acura)

Together with its more roomier and more refined interior, the new RDX incorporates a bevy of new standard features and technologies, such as the aforementioned full LED headlights with automatic high beams, a remote engine starter, proximity keyless access, pushbutton ignition, ambient lighting, a 7.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display within the primary gauge cluster, driver recognition, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, dual-zone automatic climate control, a HomeLink garage door opener, an 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, an ultra-wide panoramic glass sunroof, and a powered tailgate. 

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
The load floor is now mostly flat, which makes for a much more utile SUV. (Photo: Acura)

Also standard, a new 10.2-inch high-definition infotainment display is controlled by Acura’s exclusive new True Touchpad Interface. The system features a standard multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, Apple CarPlay, 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, nine speakers audio, and more. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Now that it’s proven to be one of the safest SUVs in its class, the RDX is an even better choice for family buyers. (Photo: Acura)

Options include adaptive cornering headlights, LED fog lights, power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, Blind Spot Information with a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, traffic sign recognition, a surround view parking monitor, a colour head-up display, a heatable steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, front and rear parking sensors, navigation, voice recognition, 12-speaker or 16-speaker Acura ELS audio, dual rear USB ports, genuine Olive Ash hardwood trim, perforated leather upholstery, metal sport pedals, sport seats with 16-way power adjustment, and much more, while a sporty new A-Spec trim line provides styling and performance improvements.