As far as luxury sedans go, it would be a stretch to call Acura a player. Sales volumes are so low in 2018 that you have to do a lot of scrolling to even find one on the charts. However, Honda’s premium brand does feature two crossovers that are alive and well. The first is the MDX, the automaker’s largest model.
But the vehicle that sells the most for Acura is the RDX compact crossover. The all-new model that already started arriving in U.S. dealerships is the first to be fully developed and produced in America. Here’s everything you need to know about the redesigned RDX now on the market for the 2019 model year.
1. RDX’s new look
Acura says it borrowed design cues from the brand’s Precision concept from 2016, but you will have to look hard in what appears to be another premium crossover. (It’s more noticeable inside the cabin.) Nonetheless, the full revamped front end, profile, and rear deliver on curb appeal much more than the outgoing (2018 and prior) models.
It’s a much slicker package and capable of standing up to (or surpassing) models from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW in the segment. The 2019 RDX is about 50% high-strength steel and shed about 20 lbs. compared to the previous model. When we see the added space, that will sound more impressive.
2. Longer, wider
The 2019 RDX grew enough that it’s beginning to stretch outside the compact class. In the wheelbase, it gained 2.6 inches and over 1 inch in both the front and rear. Meanwhile, it sits on wheels that add another inch to its height, and its gas tank can take on another gallon. (More everything, basically.)
That’s probably part of the explanation for the increase in price. 2019 editions start $1,300 ahead of the ’18 model. Base models with front-wheel drive kick off at $37,300, while the top package (Advance) pushes the starting price to $45,400.
3. New powertrain
If you like to mix and match engines when shopping for a vehicle, you will be disappointed with the new RDX. This edition only has one option: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo matched to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. However, no one will argue with its output. At peak, it produces 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
Compared to the turbo fours in the Audi A5, BMW X3, and Mercedes GLC, the RDX has them all beat by at least 20 horses. That will count for something, especially when you look at the prices.
You can opt for Acura’s super handling all-wheel drive (SH-AWD) system for an extra $2,000 in each model. This wasn’t available in the last generation.
4. Debut infotainment system
When you look at the Precision concept interior and compare it to the new RDX, you see a direct link between the two. (Acura says it borrowed from the NXS here as well.) The sculpted design comes with the debut of Acura’s True Touchpad Interface with an Android operating system and a 10-inch HD display.
As you upgrade to the Technology or Advance packages, you get access to 4G LTE WiFi and a 10.5-inch head-up display (HUD) that’s among the largest available right now.
In recent drives, we’ve been impressed with GM’s Infotainment 3 you find in the 2019 GMC Terrain and Sierra, but this system and HUD from Acura looks to be a contender.
5. Pricing vs. the competition
If you shop around, you’ll find German competitors like the Audi Q5 ($41,500), Mercedes GLC ($40,050), and BMW X3 ($41,000) costing several thousand more than RDX. Do these brands speak more to consumers’ emotions than Acura in 2018?
That’s possible, but the 2019 RDX may narrow that gap. We’ve already noted the power advantage for Acura’s new model. Meanwhile, in terms of curb appeal, RDX doesn’t trail the Germans whatsoever. But the emblem matters, and some luxury consumers simply prefer European brands.
6. U.S. design and production
In some respects, you could argue that the new RDX is a fully American creation. Acura’s designers crafted the shape of the new model, then an Ohio-based development team took it from there. When it came time for production, Acura went with the plant in East Liberty in The Buckeye State.
Like the MDX, ILX, TLX, and NSX — yes, Acura could use some help naming cars — the RDX will be built exclusively in this Ohio plant. Naturally, some parts will be foreign-sourced, but the RDX’s Georgia-built transmission isn’t one of them.
7. An elite safety rating, average mpg
If you look at luxury SUVS with the top IIHS safety rating in 2018, you only find three models (two Mercedes, one BMW). That will change for the 2019 model year as RDX joins the club. Acura nailed down the highest crash-test ratings possible and even got high marks (G+) for its child-seat latches.
These days, you can’t win one of these awards without a full suite of safety tech, and RDX delivers AcuraWatch standard for every model. It includes a multi-angle rear camera, lane-keeping assist, auto-braking and collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.
Finally, fuel economy in the 2019 RDX is average (or a little below-average) at 23 mpg combined with all-wheel drive and 24 mpg combined with front-wheel drive.