Acura RDX 2019 Review
Decidedly different, the 2019 Acura RDX dares to reimagine what a crossover SUV is supposed to look like. What a surprise because just last year, the RDX hardly made anybody’s top 10 list.
With its new design architecture, high end interior and available all-wheel drive, this luxury vehicle could now be the number one crossover on the market.
Introduction to the Acura RDX
The 2019 Acura RDX is a mid-sized crossover SUV that seats five passengers and leans toward high performance. Fuel economy is less than stellar with 22 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway, but that might be the only downside to an otherwise immaculate vehicle.
The RDX is spacious, versatile and loaded with advanced technology.
Acura has arranged the features of the 2019 RDX along the lines of bundled packages, not model trims like most other brands. There’s the standard base model, the Advanced, A-Spec, and Technology packages.
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For some reason, you can only get the A-Spec and Advanced packages if you also bundle in the Technology package. This can drive the price up in a hurry, but the Technology package can be equipped without the addition of the other two.
Here is a brief breakdown of all the package features:
The Standard package has an MSRP of $37,000 and covers most of the core features. You get some advanced safety features such as forward collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control, as well as Apple CarPlay and a power liftgate.
This package is aimed at increasing the luxury amenities of the RDX. It upgrades the interior with heated and ventilated leather seating, a premium audio system and some enhanced safety features. You need to also bundle the Advance package with the Technology package, so get your wallet ready.
This is the style package. You get bigger rims and signature A-Spec accents both inside and out. There aren’t any performance upgrades to match the bawdy red leather interior, but you’ll feel a bit more confident about unleashing the full power of your turbo-charged engine.
The Technology package can be equipped as a standalone bundle, but all other packages require it. This package brings in the navigation system with voice recognition and 3D mapping. You also get the full array of driver assistance safety features such as blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts and a few more cameras and sensors.
The 2019 Acura RDX has done away with the old 3.5 Liter V6 engine and replaced it with a 2.0 Liter turbo-charged four-cylinder engine that produces 272 horsepower and 280-pound feet of torque. This is basically the same engine that’s found in the Civic Type-R.
It’s managed by a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters that push power to an available Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. The transmission shifts in near silence and delivers amazing acceleration that will put your back into the chair.
You can equip the RDX with front-wheel drive, and that’s advisable if you’re just looking for a seven-seater that hauls groceries and toddlers.
Now, for a bit more on the handling and driver control. Just like it’s big brother the Acura NSX, the 2019 Acura RDX has a drive mode selector called the Integrated Dynamic System (IDS). There’s a rotary knob in the center console that toggles between comfort, snow, sport and sport plus driving modes.
The comfort mode relaxes the steering and loosens up the suspension. Snow mode manipulates the amount of power supplied to each wheel to give you optimal traction. Sport and sport plus modes heighten the throttle response, tighten the suspension, steering and deliver a more robust engine sound. The paddle shifters also switch to full manual.
Critics have often accused Acura vehicles of having modest style cues, but that won’t be the case with the 2019 Acura RDX. It’s been redesigned. The vehicle’s stance is lower and wider than before. It has an attractive front grille that features a pentagon-shaped style piece in the center.
Then, there’s an explosion of diamond accents that radiate outward from the badge. The LED headlight configuration is big and bright with seven individual pieces. The wheels are even larger. The profile of the RDX has sharp lines that flow round back to where you’ll find rounded dual exhaust ports.
The A-Spec package is downright sexy. The front fascia is upgraded with fog lights and glossy black accents. 20-inch shark grey wheels and dark chrome detailing beef up the profile.
In the rear, the A-Spec package brings its own signature exhaust port design, a rear diffuser borrowed from the NSX and an exclusive rear bumper.
This is a driver’s car, but the driver interface takes some getting used to. Acura threw out the rule book and changed nearly everything on the dashboard. The shift knob has been replaced by an electronic gear selector and e-brake. The RDX has push button start/stop. Even the air con vents have been turned 90 degrees vertical.
There’s a touchpad at the bottom of the center console that acts much like a mouse pad. You can scroll through infotainment settings in a similar fashion as you would on your smart phone or tablet. Thankfully, there are steering wheel-mounted controls for all your basic functions such as climate, audio and cruise control.
Interface aside, the RDX promotes a high level of sophistication even on the base model. The interior of the 2019 RDX feels airy and open thanks to the panoramic moonroof that slides and tilts.
It comes standard on all models. You get heated front seats, a power liftgate, and ambient cabin lighting.
The packages up the ante and provide even more interior amenities. The espresso brown leather seating and wood trim palette for the Technology package are stunning, but so are the other three interior color themes. The Technology package also includes a 12-speaker premium audio system that was designed by Grammy award-winning producer Elliot Scheiner.
The Advance package comes with heated and ventilated front seats that have 16 adjustable settings. Add on a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel for the driver and heated seats for the rear occupants, as well.
The A-Spec package ranks low on sophistication but pops the eyes with bold and sporty accents.
It comes with black or red leather seats, sport pedals, and a matching sport gauge cluster with red ambient lighting. There’s brushed aluminium trim and badges that turn the refined RDX into a monster.
If the 2019 Acura RDX aims to rival European luxury crossovers, then the expectations are remarkably high, especially in the safety department. The RDX does not disappoint.
The standard model comes equipped with a multi-view rear camera, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigating brakes, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning and road departure mitigation.
These are premium safety features that are usually reserved for higher model trims of BMWs, Audis, and other luxury vehicles.
If you choose the Advance and Technology packages, then you’re going to get even more advanced safety features. The RDX can be outfitted with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic monitoring, and an enhanced surround view camera that employs four onboard cameras. Acura also throws in front and rear parking sensors to further sweeten the deal.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2019 RDX a Top Safety Pick + status which is the highest award that they hand out. That’s largely due to the “Superior” scores the RDX received for its standard safety equipment.
Final Verdict for the 2019 Acura RDX
The Acura RDX comes roaring up the European luxury crossover lane for 2019. The driving experience is vaguely reminiscent of a BMW X3. The interior amenities are patterned after the Audi Q5. Yet, the RDX isn’t a copycat.
It has a style all its own and some true performance chops. Acura is tight-lipped about the towing capacity and off-road prowess of the RDX though, so I wouldn’t expect to see an RDX on the trail anytime soon. It’s clearly not meant to rival a Land Rover or Jeep.
The center console and its array of knobs, touch surfaces and buttons is a bit of a buzzkill, but the near-perfect cabin will make you overlook that whole configuration.
Most drivers will stick with the steering-wheel mounted controls and call it a day. Also, the fuel economy of the RDX doesn’t serve to separate it from the competition, but the performance abilities will attract people who aren’t in the market for gas mileage anyway.
This is more for driving enthusiasts than soccer moms. Surprisingly, the A-Spec package almost turns the RDX into a completely different vehicle, taking it even further than the NISMO package on all the Nissan sport cars.
This is a truly versatile crossover with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. So, well done Acura. The 2019 RDX finally deserves its moment in the limelight.
Do you own an Acura RDX? What are your impressions of this vehicle? Any thoughts about the 2019?