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Home / Technology / 2019 Acura RDX First Drive Review: The third time is a charm

2019 Acura RDX First Drive Review: The third time is a charm



It took some getting used to, but the design language of the Precision Concept from Acura RDX from 2019 has grown on me. Built in Ohio, this compact SUV is completely new and wider and longer for the third generation, with a longer wheelbase. All this makes the RDX, despite its overall height, appear lower and more well-groomed. The front end of the model compensates for large, seven-piece "Jewel LED" headlamps with arguably the largest Acura emblem in the brand's history. It's huge, but it works somehow.

The larger body and the all-new platform open a more spacious cabin that has been trimmed with improved materials and a design that is as attractive as the new exterior. I am also pleased to see a new True Touchpad infotainment system interface that replaces the very outdated old technology of the brand. Perhaps most importantly, I was most impressed by how much smaller and agile this SUV felt on the winding and scenic Canadian mountain roads around Whistler, British Columbia. Thanks to its performance-oriented all-wheel drive and well-stocked suspension, this larger, more comfortable RDX was still a fun place to go if it had one or two fast sweepers.

<img src = "https://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/oMNtynY9jvZ593RORaOP2jEngwo=/970
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Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Turbocharged engine and SH-AWD

Behind this massive "A" badge turns a standard 2.0-liter VTEC four-cylinder turbo engine. The performance is stated with 273 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. That's a pretty big torque threshold over the old 3.5-liter V6, especially at low engine speeds, where the RDX sees a 40 percent boost that helps it feel significantly more responsive.

The engine and its 10-speed automatic transmission Make a great pair with smooth and quiet city operation and fuel economy, that's a single combined mile a gallon over the V6. Base front-drive RDX models net 22 mpg city, 28 highway and 24 combined, standard AWD models take a single mpg hit in every category, and the new A-spec styling package drops another single mpg on the highway its aggressive aerodynamics

In sport mode, the transmission does not shy away from downshifting when passing and cornering, resulting in a strong, responsive acceleration. The switching logic is so good, I've found that I did not really need to use the paddles in most situations.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but you definitely want Acura's fourth-generation super-handling four-wheel drive (SH-AWD) upgrade. When needed, SH-AWD can send up to 70 percent of the engine's available torque to the rear wheels (the old system could only handle a 50/50 split) and now has 100 percent torque vectoring on the rear axle for cornering stability to improve . This new generation can mix power 30 percent faster, and I've also noticed that torque transmission feels smoother on the road.

Normally, I only recommend four-wheel drive for areas that are prone to heavy rain or snow, but SH-AWD is also a performance improvement that makes it useful and fun, even when the roads are almost all year round are dry. However, four-wheel drive this year is $ 500 more expensive and adds $ 2,000.

The RDX has been equipped with a new five-link rear suspension, which is paired with sport dampers. I think this standard suspension is tuned well enough to make most riders happy, with a good balance of responsiveness and plowed feel in the turns with a smooth and comfortable ride over bumps and in the city. Those looking for more refinement should consider the RDX Advance. This top-tier model features active dampers that are made smoother or firmer depending on the selected riding mode.

 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec

A new five-link rear suspension with an optional active damper helps keep the larger RDX handling like a smaller crossover.


Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

All RDX models feature enhanced isolation and active sound management that suppresses unwanted comfort settings and boosts the engine sound in more sporty modes.

The drive modes are similarly selected via an integrated dynamics control to that found on Acura's NSX sports car. Turning this knob toggles between the comfort, sport, sport + and snow settings. Sport +, for example, sharpens the throttle response, boosts steering, boosts the engine's sound enhancement, harnesses the SH-AWD force toward the rear, and boosts adaptive suspension. To bring the transmission into its own sports mode, the cherry is in addition to a very dynamic Sport Plus mode.

Standard AcuraWatch driver assistance tech

For the 2019 model year, the AcuraWatch driver assistance suite has been included in the standard equipment for all RDX models. This means that even base models without forward collision warning options with anti-collision braking, adaptive cruise control that works even at slow speeds, can roll off Lane Departure Assist and reduce roadside drag from the lot.

Blind Spot surveillance, reverse traffic monitoring and parking distance sensors are joining this security group on the middle tech equipment line. Advance's top models replace the RDX standard rear view camera with a surround view camera system that displays the area around the SUV from top to bottom at very low speeds.

AcuraLink with True Touchpad Interface

For some time, Dashboard Tech was a weak point for Acura. This new RDX significantly improves in this regard with the new Acura True Touchpad interface.

The system consists of a 10.2-inch Full HD display high on the dashboard, new Android-based software and the same name True Touchpad on the center console. The menu structure is very smartphone-like and easy to understand. The interface uses a split-screen configuration that makes multitasking very natural.

Users interact with the system via the touchpad, which works like a laptop trackpad but with absolutely positioned taps. To tap an icon in the upper right corner of the screen, just tap the top right corner of the trackpad. Boom, there is no onscreen cursor to track. It takes some getting used to, but unlike Lexus externally similar remote touch pad based system, I picked it up quickly.

Overall, I'm very impressed by the ease of use, the high customizability, and the emphasis on True Touchpad's eyes on the road. Apple CarPlay is standard across the board, but Android Auto is unfortunately missing in the lineup at startup. I am sure that the latter will come later via a software update .

The RDX Advance also adds a large, full-color head-up display (HUD), which is controlled via steering wheel buttons, and is customizable with infotainment shortcuts to favorite contacts, radio stations or destinations. The lower trim levels can still access these shortcuts through the multi-information display in the instrument cluster.

There is a lot to love, but I also came across a number of technical faults in the cabin. My biggest mistake is the slowness of True Touchpad. The system takes a long time to boot up, sometimes even up to a full minute before the safety notice is displayed. Using the True Touchpad to write text in search of goals was also a tediously slow process. After a few tries, I usually just gave up and used voice search in natural language.

 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec

It's not perfect, but Acura's new RDX has improved enough compared to German luxury SUVs without accompanying giggles.


Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Pricing and Competition

The Acura RDX of 2019 starts at $ 37,300 before a target fee of $ 995 and $ 2,000 for SH-AWD. The last bit is optional, but trust me, you definitely want four-wheel drive. This price is in line with the base model 2018 with the AcuraWatch upgrade, which is now rolled out as standard equipment.

Fully loaded, a RDX Advance with SH-AWD is $ 48,395. Acura points out that it costs about $ 10,000 less than the comparable German luxury competition – the BMW X3 xDrive30i, the Audi Q5 Premium and the Mercedes-Benz GLC300. No, the RDX is not as agile as the Bimmer, as refined as the Benz or as high-tech as the Audi, but Acura has managed to provide a balanced driving experience, safety technology and style that is at least in the stadium. 19659002] Drawing comparisons with German luxury are all good, but the RDX actually becomes cross-wise so common with Japanese and American premium compact SUVs – the Lexus NX, Infiniti QX50 and their ilk. In this class, the Acura RDX 2019 will shine even brighter when it hits dealers in June 2018.


Editor's note : The Roadshow accepts multi-day vehicle loans from manufacturers for editorial reviews. All ratings of rated vehicles are completed on our premises and on our terms. However, the manufacturer has covered the travel costs for this function. This is common in the auto industry, as it is much more economical to deliver journalists to cars than to deliver cars to journalists.

The judgments and opinions of the roadshow editors are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.


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