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2018 vs. 2019 Acura RDX: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Eric Brandt October 2018
  • The Acura RDX has a new look, a new chassis and a new engine for 2019.

  • The 2019 Acura RDX is generously appointed with impressive standard features.

  • The thorough update to the new RDX makes it one of the best values in luxury compact crossovers.

As the luxury compact crossover segment continues to grow and get more competitive, one of the players that has been around for more than a decade is the Acura RDX. It's stood out as a stylish, front-wheel drive, tech-savvy entry with an attractive price -- which is still very much the case in the 2019 model year.

The 2019 Acura RDX is all-new, and it makes a good crossover even better. Let's take a look at what's new for this Acura SUV now in its third generation.

Exterior

The most noticeable difference between the 2018 and 2019 Acura RDX is the exterior styling. It has a bold, angular look that makes it look very modern without being over-the-top. Perhaps the biggest styling difference between the 2018 and 2019 RDX is the "beak" in the grille of the 2018 model, while the new 2019 model adopts Acura's new "diamond pentagon" grille. It's in line with other newer Acuras, and strikes a nice balance of sporty and luxurious.

The RDX got a little bigger with the new generation. The 2019 RDX is three inches longer, one inch taller, and one inch wider than the 2018 model. The change in size isn't major, and the RDX is still in line size-wise with many of its competitors, like the Infiniti QX50.

Interior

The interior of the Acura RDX gets a big improvement for 2019. The new third-generation model has an upscale interior with a nice fit and finish and quality materials you might expect to find in a more expensive SUV. The interior of the 2018 RDX isn't bad, but the one in the 2019 model is nicer and roomier.

One of the best things about the new interior of the RDX is the impressive list of standard features on every 2019 model. It comes with heated, 12-way power adjustable front seats, a panoramic sunroof and a new infotainment system that we'll get into shortly.

Mechanicals

The 2018 Acura RDX has a naturally aspirated V6 under the hood and the 2019 model is powered by a turbocharged inline-four. The 4-cylinder is a little more efficient while making more torque.

2018 Acura RDX Engine

  • 3.5-liter V6; 279 horsepower, 252 lb-ft of torque; 20 miles per gallon city/28 mpg highway

2019 Acura RDX Engine

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four; 272 hp, 280 lb-ft of torque; 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy

The 2019 model is sportier than the 2018 RDX thanks to a great new engine and more fun driving dynamics. It's a good choice in luxury compact SUVs if you want something that's both practical and fun to drive.

Both models come standard with front-wheel drive and are available with all-wheel drive. The 2019 RDX is available with Acura's SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive). It's a torque-vectoring AWD system that can send up to 70 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels. By comparison, the AWD system in the 2018 model is not SH-AWD, but a non-torque-vectoring system which can deliver up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels.

Mechanically, the 2019 Acura RDX is a big improvement over the 2018 model with what we think is a better engine and a better available AWD system.

Technology

Acura has always been a brand that's touted the advanced technology available in its cars, and the 2019 RDX is a nice technological showcase. Its new 10.2-inch infotainment system has a nice, big screen with a new "True Touchpad."

Instead of a laptop-like trackpad that you'll find in a lot of competitors, the True Touchpad maps your finger so where you touch on the pad is where you'll touch on the screen, kind of like a smartphone. There's a bit of a learning curve, but like all infotainment systems, you get used to it as you use it. The infotainment system comes with Apple CarPlay, but, unfortunately, Android Auto isn't available.

Standard safety and driver assistance technology in the 2019 RDX include forward-collision warning, a collision mitigation braking system, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, a road departure mitigation system, adaptive cruise control and a multi-view rear-view camera. It's available with a head-up warning, a blind spot information system and a surround-view camera.

The only one of these features that is standard on the 2018 RDX is a rear-view camera. The rest of the aforementioned driver assistance features become available as you upgrade to the AcuraWatch Plus package or the Advance package.

Pricing

The Acura RDX is value-priced when compared to some of the higher-end SUVs it competes with. The 2018 model starts at $36,000, and the 2019 model starts a little higher at $37,300. By comparison, competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the same class start above the $40,000 mark.

Adding SH-AWD to the 2019 model adds $2,000 to the price. New for 2019 is the A-Spec package, which gives the RDX a sportier appearance inside and out and costs $3,000. The Technology package and the Advance package add more technology and luxury features and cost $3,200 and $4,900, respectively.

Conclusion

Acura is doing a nice job staying on top of its game in one of the most competitive segments it's in. The compact RDX is a strong value in luxury crossovers that give you a good look, nice technology, a great engine and one of the best AWD systems available.

The 2018 RDX was good, but the 2019 update is a big improvement. If you're shopping between the two, the 2019 Acura RDX is well worth the slightly higher price.

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New 2019 Acura RDX AWD w/ Technology Package
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New 2019 Acura RDX AWD w/ Technology Package
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New 2019 Acura RDX AWD w/ Advance Package
New 2019 Acura RDX
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New 2019 Acura RDX AWD w/ Advance Package
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 vs. 2019 Acura RDX: What's the Difference? - Autotrader