Car sales have been slip-sliding away when compared to crossover SUV deliveries lately, with BMW selling less than half of its 3 and 4 Series models than it did a decade ago, and Mercedes-Benz’ C-Class…
Car sales have been slip-sliding away when compared to crossover SUV deliveries lately, with BMW selling less than half of its 3 and 4 Series models than it did a decade ago, and Mercedes-Benz’ C-Class down to a third of its 2010 numbers. Tesla’s all-electric Model 3 is bucking the trend, however, with a total of 12,800 Canadian deliveries in 2021, compared to just 4,348 for the 3 Series, and 3,010 sales of the C-Class.
If the Model 3’s clean sweep of its category in North American markets wasn’t enough, last year it outsold the 3 Series in 28 European countries as well. In fact, with 141,429 deliveries under throughout 2021, Tesla’s entry-level car sold more units in Europe than the Canadian and U.S. markets combined, according to JATO Dynamics. Comparatively, the 3 Series only found 116,250 European buyers during the same period,
Back to Canada, the Tesla Model Y compact luxury crossover SUV didn’t fare as well as the Model 3 last year, both in total sales and when compared to rivals, due to just 6,400 examples sold for a sixth-place ranking in the compact luxury crossover SUV segment. Ahead of the Model Y was the Audi Q5 in first with 9,968 deliveries, while the Acura RDX came in second with 7,976 unit-sales. Third was the BMW X3 with 7,506 deliveries, while fourth was taken by Lexus’ NX with 7,283 new Canadian buyers, and finally Mercedes-Benz’ GLC-Class took fifth with 6,887 units sold.
In the U.S., mind you, the Model Y was far and away number one in its class thanks to 161,529 deliveries compared to 86,478 combined BMW X3 and X4 sales (made up of 75,858 X3s and 10,620 X4s), so being that Canada often mirrors American sales in this category, albeit by approximately 10 percent of the volume, it’s likely that Tesla’s compact crossover would have placed much higher if enough units were made available (allocation is often the culprit). Whether or not calendar year 2022 will see a Canadian adoption of this U.S. market trend won’t be known until Tesla’s quarterly numbers start arriving in early April, and even if it’s not on top after Q1, it would be unwise to bet against Tesla being number one in Canada’s compact luxury crossover SUV class by the close of this year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
I want you to think about something for a moment. The RDX just passed six years since the current second-generation design went into production in March of 2012, and despite only a minor facelift in 2016,…
I want you to think about something for a moment. The RDX just passed six years since the current second-generation design went into production in March of 2012, and despite only a minor facelift in 2016, Acura Canada still managed to find more compact luxury SUV buyers in 2017 than all but one of its competitors.
Now consider the only model to outsell the RDX’ 8,101 units, Audi’s Q5 with 10,271 down the road, was all-new for most of last year, so therefore sold 23.5 percent more examples than the year prior due to pent up demand; the third-place Mercedes-Benz GLC, at 8,057 units, was new just two years prior in 2015; the fourth-place Lexus NX, with 7,407 buyers, arrived the year before; the fifth-place BMW X3, at 5,730 units, entered its third generation partway through the year; and the other nine competitors didn’t sell in high enough numbers to truly compete. So what does the RDX have that the others don’t?
At $42,390 plus freight and fees it’s not the cheapest in the segment, that honour held by Infiniti’s QX50 that starts at $38,900 yet only found 1,812 customers during 2017, so price is clearly not the sole differentiator. Buick’s new Envision is priced a bit lower too, at $40,195, and while it did fairly well for its first full year at 3,357 units, even if it combined sales with the Porsche Macan’s 3,767 deliveries it would still come up short (see pricing for all 2018 Acura RDX trims at CarCostCanada.com).
Obviously premium SUV buyers like the RDX’ styling, its sharp, sporty lines and standard LED headlamps plenty distinctive, while that latter feature brings up another important point, value for money.
The RDX is one of few compact luxury SUVs with standard LED headlights, while the well-proven model comes standard with a powerful V6, a pricey option with its rivals if available at all. One could argue this pro as a con with regular unleaded hovering above the $1.50 per litre mark in some parts of the country, but so far rising pump prices haven’t negatively affected SUV sales, so this may be an issue for its turbocharged four-cylinder 2019 RDX successor to address.
Yes, if you want a new RDX with a V6 you’d better act quickly. A six-cylinder may show up as an option sometime in the future, but so far such prognostication hasn’t been up for discussion. For all we know the current 3.5-litre V6 with its smooth, linear 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, not to mention its well-seasoned six-speed automatic transmission, will be relegated to Acura’s history books when the new third-generation RDX arrives in Canadian dealerships later this year. There’s no place for such luxuries in this brave new world where fuel-efficiency comes first and foremost, but this government-forced agenda obviously isn’t an issue with a significant number of compact luxury SUV buyers that keep buying up the RDX in droves.
I’m not of the belief that small turbocharged engines are particularly better at minimizing fuel usage than larger six-cylinder powertrains when saddled with the burden of sizeable curb weights, the RDX tipping the scales at 1,781 to 1,797 kilos (3,926 to 3,962 lbs) depending on trim. The relaxed nature of the larger engine can actually save fuel in real world driving, especially when hills and highways are a factor. Even when comparing less-real Transport Canada five-cycle fuel economy ratings the 2018 RDX fares pretty well at a claimed 12.4 L/100km city, 8.7 highway and 10.7 combined next to the similarly popular Mercedes GLC’s 11.1 city, 8.6 highway and 10.0 combined numbers.
The German isn’t the thriftiest or the thirstiest turbo-four in the class, representing a good middle ground that the RDX comes close to matching despite its larger displacement, sportier V6 exhaust note, and more premium feel, this partially due to its still innovative yet long-time use of Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), which automatically shuts down three of its six cylinders when under light loads like coasting. Now, imagine if Acura had chosen to mate this engine up with the more advanced nine-speed automatic found in the MDX, which also benefits from auto start/stop? No doubt it would come even closer to matching the efficiency of its turbocharged four-cylinder peers.
That won’t happen, however, so like I said earlier, make sure to snap up a 2018 RDX if you prefer V6 performance and refinement, the latter aided by Active Control Engine Mounts (ACM), and while you’re at it you’ll benefit from an automatic $3,000 discount provided via “Customer Incentive Dollars,” this bringing my RDX Elite tester’s suggested retail price down from $47,390 to $44,390, plus freight and fees. If you’d rather get into something more basic, the reduced entry-level RDX price comes in at $39,390, or alternatively the mid-range RDX Tech can be had for $42,390.
Yes, for less than $40k a base RDX comes with the aforementioned V6 and auto on/off Jewel Eye LED headlights, plus standard LED taillights, all-wheel drive, 18-inch alloys, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, ambient cabin lighting, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, heatable eight-way powered front seats with powered lumbar support, two-position driver’s memory for the seat and side mirrors, a colour TFT multi-information display, a HomeLink garage door opener, an auto-dimming centre mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 5.0-inch infotainment display, a rearview camera with guidelines, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, SMS text message functionality, a 360-watt seven-speaker audio system, satellite radio, a powered moonroof, a powered tailgate, and more. That’s superb value, even without the $3k discount.
Those who prioritize safety over creature comforts will notice I haven’t even delved into the subject yet, the RDX loaded with all of the segment’s expected active and passive safety features as well as an impressive array of standard AcuraWatch driver-assist systems that would cost thousands more with some competitors, these including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist. This gives the Canadian-spec base model IIHS Top Safety Pick status (these systems are optional in the U.S.) and a best possible five stars from the NHTSA. Are you starting to understand why the RDX is so popular?
Mid-range Tech trim increases the RDX’ safety net with blindspot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a plethora of convenience and luxury items like remote engine start, rain-sensing wipers, a larger 8.0-inch LED backlit display with navigation and voice recognition, dynamic guidelines for the backup camera, a separate On-Demand Multi-Use touchscreen display, advanced AcuraLink smartphone connectivity, Siri Eyes Free, a 10-speaker 410-watt ELS Studio audio upgrade, a more advanced GPS-linked, solar-sensing system for the climate control, leather upholstery, heatable second-row outboard seats, and more for a mere $3,000 added to the bottom line.
Lastly, my RDX Elite benefited from sportier looking 18-inch alloys, fog lamps, auto-dimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, and ventilated front seats, all for only $2,000 extra.
This is where I should remind you about the top-line RDX Elite model’s $44,390 asking price (less discount), which despite its full load of features is still less expensive than most of its rivals’ base prices. Seriously! The Q5 starts at $44,950, GLC at $45,900, Volvo XC60 also at $45,900, BMW X3 at $46,700, Jaguar F-Pace at $50,250, Porsche Macan at $54,100, and Range Rover Velar at $62,000. Now I’m not going to say that an RDX competes directly with that Range Rover or Porsche other than for size, but I’m sure you get my point, while some others in the class are priced a bit lower albeit, other than that previously noted Infiniti, not by much. Plus, this comparison doesn’t factor in any competitor discounts.
If the RDX were an uncompetitive rolling anachronism undeserving of your time and attention its supposed value proposition wouldn’t be an issue, but it remains a good-looking SUV with a nicely finished interior and strong performance. Starting inside, a generous supply of leather-like padded soft-touch surfaces can be found in all the appropriate places, as can de rigueur fabric-wrapped roof pillars and high-quality, tight fitting, well-damped switchgear throughout. All of the aforementioned features work well, its navigation particularly accurate, while its seats are comfortable and supportive front to back, with rear seat roominess especially good.
Likewise, the RDX can haul more cargo than most competitors thanks to 739 litres (26.1 cubic feet) of capacity behind its rear row and 2,178 litres (76.9 cubic feet) when its 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded down, and that’s one of the easiest procedures in the class due to standard cargo wall-mounted levers that drop each side automatically. It’s not the flattest loading floor, with a fairly steep rise in the middle, but it’s something most owners learn to live with.
As for performance, the V6 provides more off the line jump than the majority of base challengers, and while its six-speed automatic might be down a couple of gears by modern-day standards, the torquey engine hardly needs as many shift points to optimize performance. In fact, most won’t notice this shortcoming at all, as it swaps cogs almost unperceivably unless getting hard on the throttle, at which point it does so with nice positive engagements, enhanced by standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for more hands-on command, plus Grade Logic Control that regulates throttle and braking on steep hills. This is joined by standard hill start assist, which locks the brakes so you won’t roll backward before applying the throttle.
Pulling back on those paddle shifters is especially enjoyable when the road starts to wind, allowing more engine control for powering out of corners and then setting up the next turn. The RDX’ well-engineered independent suspension helps most in this respect, mind you, thanks to a MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear setup that’s kept in check via amplitude reactive dampers that minimize fore and aft jounce as well as transitional roll while maintaining a smooth, comfortable ride at all times. Plenty of sound deadening materials along with active sound control aid in refinement too, giving the RDX the kind of upscale experience premium buyers gravitate toward.
So now you know why the RDX still sells so well in spite of its age, and hopefully can appreciate that it remains an impressive luxury SUV despite its low price point. No doubt the upcoming 2019 RDX will be a wholly better compact luxury utility, but there’s no reason to put off buying the current version if you need to pull the trigger now. The standard V6 is definitely a performance and refinement bonus with little if any negative hit to fuel economy, and the model’s marketplace longevity has got to aid long-term reliability expectations. Topping it all off, the RDX’ standard suite of advanced safety features can’t be beat, making it a no-brainer purchase for smart luxury SUV shoppers. All added up, I’ve got to slot the 2018 RDX into my highly recommended category. Too bad there are so few of them left.
Acura has long been a performance-oriented luxury brand, and in an announcement made at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month it appears to be upping the go-fast ante.…
Acura has long been a performance-oriented luxury brand, and in an announcement made at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month it appears to be upping the go-fast ante.
Along with a decision to expand sporty A-Spec styling from the current ILX and TLX sedans to more models in the Acura lineup, starting with the upcoming 2019 RDX compact luxury SUV that was simultaneously soft-launched in “Prototype” guise, Acura will also bring back its once popular Type-S performance sub-brand, to be included as an upgrade to core models as well.
What’s more, with the concurrent announcement of a new high-performance turbocharged V6 powerplant, Acura will also be rejoining the ranks of automakers using turbos to boost performance while reducing fuel economy. The Japanese luxury brand previously offered a turbocharged four-cylinder in its first-generation 2007–2012 RDX, but that engine made way for the current model’s V6, which put an end the turbo in Acura’s lineup until the twin-turbocharged V6 arrived as part of the new NSX Sport Hybrid’s electrified power unit, but that 573 horsepower mid-engine exotic sports car can hardly be called a “core” model.
No doubt some commonalities will exist between the two engines, one certainly being their exclusivity to the Acura brand. That’s right, unlike the 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V6 engines currently found in most Acura models, you won’t see this new turbo V6 in any future Honda products. Additionally, it will be exclusive to cars and SUVs fitted with Acura’s newest generation Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), which was introduced with the aforementioned 2019 RDX.
“We have made a major commitment to Acura to bring each element of Precision Crafted Performance to life through a new generation of products,” said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, president and CEO of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Acura will pursue a unique powertrain strategy that underscores the brand’s rightful place as the performance division of Honda.”
We’ll likely see that new turbocharged powerplant in future Type-S models, which will feature unique styling along with their uprated performance. The last time we saw an Acura Type-S was in 2010 on the Canadian-exclusive CSX, which was the predecessor to today’s ILX sedan. The CSX Type-S was a performance enthusiast favourite as it combined Acura’s premium finishings and features with Honda Civic Si performance, making these cars popular amongst collectors and the sport compact tuning crowd.
Sport compact tuning in mind, Acura also used the Type-S nomenclature for the 2002–2006 RSX compact sports coupe, still prized by performance fans, while Type-S versions of the 2002–2003 and 2004–2008 TL mid-size sedan (an A-Spec version of the TL was also available in 2004) and 2001–2003 CL mid-size sports-luxury coupe were offered as well, this past multi-model Type-S strategy executed similarly to how Acura will upgrade multiple core models in high-performance Type-S trim once it rolls out this sub-brand again.
So what exactly is a core model? A dictionary term is “the central or most important part of something,” which if taken literally would mean that along with a Type-S variant of the popular TLX sport-luxury sedan we can also expect Type-S versions of the brand’s even better selling SUVs, the RDX and MDX. This would be a first for Acura, and potentially position these models against Audi’s SQ series, BMW’s M-branded X series SUVs, and Mercedes’ mighty AMG-badged GLC and GLE entries. Alas, if only Acura still had its sensational RDX they might finally have a true X6 M and AMG GLE 43/63 S Coupe fighter.
An RLX Sport Hybrid flagship won’t likely make the Type S grade, as this slow selling luxury sedan doesn’t fall within Acura’s core model specification and is a strong performer already, but an ILX Type S makes sense if Honda once again is willing to lend Acura its Si powertrain and suspension upgrades or, even better, Type R improvements when the next-generation ILX arrives.
Acura unveiled its 2019 RDX Prototype earlier this week in Detroit as part of the North American International Auto Show, and fittingly the brand’s best-selling model became the first to see a total…
Acura unveiled its 2019 RDX Prototype earlier this week in Detroit as part of the North American International Auto Show, and fittingly the brand’s best-selling model became the first to see a total ground-up redesign in quite some time. In fact, Acura’s own press release calls the upcoming 2019 RDX the “most extensive Acura redesign in more than a decade,” signalling “the beginning of a new era for the luxury automaker.”
Last year’s TLX redo and the 2017 MDX update that arrived the year prior were merely mid-cycle refreshes, the latter introducing the brand’s now trademark “Diamond Pentagon” grille design as part of its remake, but this 2019 RDX Prototype ushers in the first complete redesign of an Acura model since the third-generation 2014 MDX arrived in 2013—the TLX arrived more recently, in 2014 as a 2015 model, but rather than a redesign it was an entirely new vehicle that replaced both the smaller TSX and larger TL.
Speaking of the TLX, last year’s refresh was more comprehensive than the MDX’, but both received thorough updates to their front fascias, as did the RLX late last year as part of its 2018 makeover. After this all-new RDX hits the market in production trim later this year, the entry-level ILX will be next, at which point the entire Acura line will wear the new sharply angled Diamond Pentagon face.
For a bit of history, Acura was launched in Canada and the U.S. in 1986, and has since struggled to find a distinctive identity amongst premium brands that rely heavily on prestige. Even as parent company Honda rolled the brand out in Hong Kong in 1991, Mexico in 2004, China in 2006, Russia (and Ukraine) in 2014, plus Kuwait in 2015, Acura’s original somewhat generic looking pentagon-shaped grille design (often compared to the grille used by Mazdas of the era) merely morphed into a pentagon shaped “shield”, which wasn’t universally appreciated. The bold shield grille was toned down over the years until it once again appeared generic, causing the new Diamond Pentagon design first adapted by a production vehicle in 2016 by the current MDX.
On an aside note, the Acura brand is still not available in its home market of Japan. Honda hoped to introduce it to Japanese buyers in 2008, but the plan was delayed for economic reasons, a decision that’s been upheld since the 2008 financial crisis.
The current second-generation RDX dates back to 2012 when it arrived on the scene as a 2013 model. A 2016 model year facelift modified its grille and added the standard “Jewel Eye” LED headlamps that have become a fixture across the entire Acura lineup, but take note the new 2019 RDX Prototype modifies those LEDs with a septet of smaller rectangular units instead of its current five.
The RDX Prototype’s Diamond Pentagon grille appears identical in shape if not size to that already in use by the TLX and new RLX, all of which are slightly bolder and more pronounced than the first MDX variant, but the lower front fascia of the prototype pulls cues from that used by the Japanese brand’s larger SUV, particularly the pointed body-colour strike-throughs within the corner vents. They’re much larger and point in the opposite direction with the RDX Prototype, these, along with their horizontal row of LED fog lamps instead of the MDX’ vertical stack, flowing more naturally into the centre portion of the fascia. We think the RDX Prototype’s lower fascia design works well, especially how it wraps around to the sides of the bumper, and hope it makes production and even influences the MDX’ future mid-cycle update.
Likewise the more expressive headlamps wrap more fully around the sides of the new prototype’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. Look no further than the recently redesigned Honda CR-V for the side windows’ inspiration, although we should take note that the upswept similarity to the CR-V has little to do with matching hard points that were previously difficult to masque in the old RDX’ transition from mainstream volume-branded model to premium luxury variant—more on that in a moment.
The top corner of the RDX Prototype’s 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 used by Lexus’ RX and Nissan’s Murano, while the multi-angled LED taillights probably have more in common with the aforementioned CR-V than anything in Acura’s past, albeit strike an even closer resemblance to Honda’s fabulous new Accord Sedan. Either way it’s all in the family, with a look that’s fresh, modern and harmonious to the rest of the RDX’ design. Lastly, the gloss-black diffuser style rear bumper cap hints at this prototype previewing Acura’s sportiest A-Spec trim level, a performance upgrade not yet offered with the RDX but nevertheless promised for the 2019 production model, while the gorgeous machine-finished 21-inch alloys further this argument.
All in all, each and every curve and fold that forms the new RDX Prototype, from the front grille rearward, shows greater influence by Acura’s Precision Concept than anything the brand has created since the sensational four-door coupe debuted at 2016’s Detroit auto show, which we consider a very good thing. The RDX adapts the two-year-old concept’s “low, wide and sleek presence to a five-passenger SUV,” says Acura, which results in a “more athletic stance and proportions” thanks to a 30-mm (1.2-inch) wider track, 63-mm (2.5-inch) longer wheelbase, and a shortened front overhang, the performance-oriented look further enhanced by each wheel getting pushed farther toward the SUV’s corners.
“The all-new RDX delivers a powerful statement about who we are and where we are headed as a brand,” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and general manager of Acura. “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.”
So, about the new RDX not needing to conform to the CR-V’s hard points: according to the Japanese automaker it will soon ride upon its own Acura-exclusive platform architecture. Acura hasn’t named the platform per se, instead only expanding on the subject by saying it gets a “lighter and dramatically stiffened body” and a “sophisticated new chassis,” so it’s more likely the new RDX gets a modified version of the same Honda-sourced modular architecture used by the latest Civic, and yes, the CR-V. No one should have issue with this considering just how good these two Honda-branded vehicles are, and more importantly Acura promises the “quickest, best-handling RDX ever.” Anyone who’s spent time in a Civic Si or, better yet, Civic R will attest that Honda’s new modular platform is one impressive bit of kit, so if indeed a version of this setup underpins the new RDX, upgraded with premium-level improvements, we’d hardly complain.
As most expected, the RDX’ much-lauded V6 gets the axe for 2019, marking a return to turbocharged four-cylinder power, a formula that launched the original RDX way back in 2006 and quickly gave it a reputation for performance. The replacement engine is a much more efficient 16-valve, DOHC turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with direction injection and, of course, VTEC. To be more accurate, the turbocharger is a low-inertia mono-scroll design, promoting a wider, fatter torque curve, resulting in 40 percent more low-end torque than the outgoing RDX, no doubt helped along by its dual variable timing cam.
Acura isn’t talking numbers at this point, but it will likely produce something north of the current SUV’s 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque in order to live up to faster portion of the aforementioned claim of “quickest, best-handling RDX ever,” although part of its accelerative advantage may come from its segment-first 10-speed automatic transmission, which “responds quickly” and “to the will of the driver,” says Acura, “with crisp and refined shifts that capitalize on the 2.0-litre engine’s flat torque curve.” Acura hasn’t announced an electrified version of this new RDX yet, but the new engine’s 2.0-litre displacement is identical to the new Accord Hybrid’s four-cylinder, which might make inclusion of that power unit more feasible.
Making sure all wheels find traction will be the next-generation of Acura’s impressive Super-Handling All Wheel Drive “in its most advanced form yet.” It gets a new rear differential capable of 150 percent more maximum torque capacity than the outgoing RDX. Whether or not this justifies the Japanese company boasting of its new SH-AWD as “the most sophisticated and capable torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system in its class” remains to be seen, but no doubt the claim will ruffle a few feathers at Audi, let alone BMW and Mercedes. Still, we shouldn’t question Acura’s engineering prowess when it comes to fast-moving all-wheel drive, as SH-AWD was one of the first torque vectoring AWD systems offered in the premium sector.
Acura ties the RDX’ new Adaptive Damper System to the NSX-inspired Integrated Dynamics System, which features four drive modes including “Sport, Sport+, Comfort and Snow.” The system’s rotating dial selector has been positioned high on the centre console, similarly to its placement within the NSX’ cabin, which allows quick on-the-go adjustment from eco-friendly passive modes to performance settings.
The driver’s environment in mind, in the same way exterior styling was inspired by Acura’s Precision Concept, the new interior design and technology took cues from the Acura Precision Cockpit. This means it gets a more steeply raked floating centre console that’s really a combination of centre-stack and lower console in one, not unlike Porsche’s new centre console layout, albeit with Acura’s new single-display tablet-style widescreen up top, unique dual-zone HVAC interface in the middle, downright unorthodox gear selector setup below that, and totally new infotainment touchpad at the bottom.
Acura calls the latter its True Touchpad Interface, which it says is a completely new design that combines “the best elements of a touchscreen and remote interface in one powerful system.” The touchpad controls an Android operating system-based infotainment interface that appears to be at least as good as anything available in the compact luxury SUV segment thus far, the full-HD display measuring 10.2 inches in diameter, with ultra-crisp resolution, attractive graphics and deep, rich colours and contrast. Alternatively the system will project onto the windshield ahead of the driver via an available interactive head-up display, although despite photos provided (see the gallery) we’ll need to wait until we’ve tested it to comment.
Perfecting the infotainment experience has been a top priority amongst automakers since BMW was lambasted for its original iDrive system way back in 2001, the then-new E65 7 Series dumbfounding customers and industry professionals alike with its complex Microsoft Windows CE for Automotive-based user interface. BMW and every other manufacturer have come a long way since, with the majority of premium makes attempting to one-up their rivals with innovative ways to digitally interact.
With voice recognition still a long way from perfection despite this upcoming RDX featuring a “new natural language voice recognition system” that Acura claims “dramatically improves the ease and intuitiveness of voice commands” (again we’ll defer judgment until tested), hand/finger actuation remains the sole process, with BMW’s rotating/side-tap dial having been joined by variations on the theme, some with switchgear on top and others with tiny touchpads, while Lexus has introduced both a joystick and touchpad of its own, neither of which has been widely lauded. Along the way Apple’s iPad and Android tablets that followed arrived on the consumer electronics market and similar touchscreen’s took on automotive roles, with Tesla and Volvo earning kudos for theirs, but no system satisfies everyone.
Acura’s outgoing dual-display setup attempted to satiate the masses with a best of both worlds’ scenario, the top monitor operated via a rotating dial plus surrounding buttons and the lower one a touchscreen, but the new RDX will introduce the aforementioned single widescreen display along with a new touchpad design said to deliver “the advantages of both conventional touchscreen and remote-based approaches.” Basically, Acura has devised a touchscreen featuring “one-to-one” realism, with the tap of a specific spot on the touchpad duplicated on the exact same spot of the display above. The system responds similarly with other tablet-like gestures, such as swiping and pinching. So, why not skip the touchpad altogether and simply install a touchscreen like so many others? As those who’ve lived with touchscreens already know, they can sometimes be a stretch, especially if mounted up high on the dash where they’re closest to the clear line of sight to the road ahead. A remote touchpad can be mounted closer to a driver’s hand for easier and safer operation, but again we’ll have to wait to experience it firsthand in order to judge it.
“Absolute positioning transforms the touchpad experience, making it personal, intuitive and particularly well-suited for premium, driver-centric, performance machines,” said Ross Miller, senior engineer of user interface research. “It’s also designed to be adopted quickly and easily, as drivers become acclimated and comfortable in minutes.”
Comfort in mind, this larger RDX, in particular its longer wheelbase, promises a “more spacious” interior “with first-class comfort for five passengers,” which Acura claims as having “class-leading cabin space, rear legroom and rear cargo space.” The Japanese brand highlights the RDX’ new sport steering wheel as being key to its upmarket experience, this matching new “more intricately sculpted and styled” sport seats with 16-way powered adjustment for both the driver and front passenger, full-grain perforated Nappa leather for its soft, supple texture and durability, as well as seat heaters and cooled ventilation. Overall Acura says the RDX’ cabin will include “contemporary detailing using authentic, high-grade materials throughout,” including brushed aluminum and open-pore Olive Ash wood.” Lastly but hardly least, its “new ultra-wide panoramic sliding moonroof” is “the largest in its class.”
The RDX Prototype also features a 16-channel, 710-watt Acura ELS Studio 3D audio system developed by Panasonic and tuned by Grammy Award-winning music producer and longtime Acura partner, Elliot Scheiner. Unique to this system are four “ultra-thin, ceiling-mounted speakers” that “add a new dimension of sound and fidelity to the audio experience,” so we’re hoping to hear it in person if included in the production RDX.
That 2019 model will definitely include the brand’s AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies, however, which (depending on model) currently features forward collision warning, autonomous collision mitigation braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, lane keeping assist, and more, while additional connected-car and driver-assistive features like next-generation AcuraLink with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, hill start assist, a 360-surround camera system, front and rear parking sensors, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and more.
Important to Acura’s largest customer base, this is the first time the luxury brand chose to use a U.S. research and development team to create a new vehicle, the RDX’ styling penned by the Acura Design Studio in Los Angeles, California, and engineering done at its Raymond, Ohio facility. North American-market models will continue production at the company’s East Liberty, Ohio plant, although the new 2.0-litre turbo will be built in Anna, Ohio, in the same building as the NSX’ twin-turbo powerplant. The RDX’ 10-speed auto will hail from Tallapoosa, Georgia, making the RDX more American than many produced by U.S. domestic brands—Buick’s directly competitive Chinese-built Envision immediately comes to mind.
Whether buy-American sentiments are behind the current RDX’ strong sales or not can’t be confirmed, but either way the SUV has long been a hit. After 12 months of 2017 it sits amongst America’s top-three best-selling compact luxury SUVs and holds second-place in Canada, despite being well into its lifecycle, so expect this all-new version to shoot up the sales chart after arriving here midway through the year.
Until then, enjoy our complete 2019 RDX Prototype photo gallery as well as the videos Acura provided below:
Full Detroit auto show press launch (20:31):
True Touchpad Interface explained (2:01):
Quick technology overview (0:47):
Acura, Honda’s luxury division, topped 20,000 sales in Canada for the third consecutive calendar year in 2017, a solid effort that was given an image boost by the all-new NSX Sport Hybrid supercar and…
Acura, Honda’s luxury division, topped 20,000 sales in Canada for the third consecutive calendar year in 2017, a solid effort that was given an image boost by the all-new NSX Sport Hybrid supercar and a real shot in the arm by the refreshed 2017 MDX mid-size SUV, both having arrived partway through the previous year, while an upgraded 2018 TLX sedan that went on sale halfway through 2017 pushed the premium brand over the top.
Acura’s 20,299 2017 deliveries beat last year’s 20,227-unit total, although in a refreshingly honest Honda Canada Inc. (HCI) press release the brand’s parent company called this modest gain “relatively flat sales versus the previous year.” HCI was clearly proud of its combined Acura and Honda brand sales, however, with its 197,251 unit total showing an annual increase of six percent over the same 12 months in 2016, which resulted in an all-time annual sales record for the fourth consecutive year.
In a comparatively small way next to the 50,443 Honda CR-V deliveries in 2017, HCI’s total was nevertheless helped along by Acura’s top-selling RDX compact SUV that achieved its best-ever sales of 8,101 units despite being near the end of its current lifecycle. This marks six years of consecutive sales growth for the RDX, a vehicle that also managed an impressive second in sales volume out of 17 competitive nameplates, only beaten by Audi’s redesigned Q5 that broke five figures at 10,271 units.
“Acura’s RDX luxury SUV served as the brand’s success story last year, driving sales to surpass the coveted 20,000-unit mark for the third consecutive year, despite being in its final product cycle year,” said Jean Marc Leclerc, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Honda Canada Inc. “Representing the most extensive Acura redesign in more than a decade, the all-new RDX will launch later this year, signaling the beginning of a new era for Acura products inspired by Precision Crafted Performance.”
The RDX follows a value packed strategy that benefits all Acura models, with other strong sellers including the just noted MDX that’s up from 5,425 sales in 2016 to 5,838 deliveries in 2017. The MDX is the most popular dedicated three-row SUV in Canada, while at 4,205 unit sales in 2017, also improving on the previous year’s total, the renewed TLX sport-luxury sedan is the most popular non-German car in the highly competitive D-segment, by a long shot.
As for Acura’s entry-level entrant, at just 2,047 deliveries for 2017, down from 2,459 in 2016, 2,551 in 2015, 2,752 in 2014, and a high of 3,192 in 2013, it’s hardly the slowest selling C-segment luxury car. That would be Lexus’ long-in-tooth CT at 367 units, while BMW’s 2 Series also suffered losses with sales coming in at just 1,929 units. Mercedes saw CLA deliveries sag too, albeit at 3,764 units it’s still number two in the segment, while B-Class sales grew to 2,369 units and Audi finished on top with 3,997 A3 sales. Still, Acura dealers (and fans) can hardly wait to get their mitts on the completely redesigned 2020 ILX to be based on Honda’s evermore-popular Civic, which was once again the best-selling car in Canada thanks to 66,935 buyers in 2017.
So what can we expect from Acura in 2018? A fully redesigned 2019 RDX won’t be the only boost to sales this year, albeit despite receiving an attractive refresh for 2018 the brand’s impressive yet slow-as-molasses-selling RLX Sport Hybrid flagship sedan will need a miracle to see it break three figures after finding just 59 buyers in 2017, although a full year with the new TLX should help the Japanese luxury brand grow its sales further.