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2019 Acura RDX: New Car Review

The all-new 2019 Acura RDX was redesigned to maintain the practicality, value and reliability that current owners and brand loyalists have come to expect. That mission was accomplished; the new RDX is bigger than before and offers more equipment for your money (especially safety tech). And though it’s too early to know for sure, it’s a safe bet that reliability should remain excellent.

These features provide rational reasons to buy an RDX. But more besides rationality affects your choice of luxury vehicle, and this is where the last RDX failed to deliver. To improve on the past version, Acura made the new exterior more memorable and added an A-Spec model with even sportier styling. The interior is richer in appearance and quality of materials. The driving experience is more refined and more engaging, with a new, exceptionally powerful turbocharged engine. Altogether, the new RDX is definitely more luxurious than the previous version.

That said, is it as memorable as a competitor from BMW, Mercedes or Lexus, for instance? Well, that’s ultimately for you to decide. But even if you’re mainly attracted to its practical upgrades, the 2019 RDX still offers something extra for your emotional side.

What’s New for 2019?

The Acura RDX was completely redesigned for 2019.

What We Like

Huge interior for its segment; tons of features at a reasonable price; exceptional safety content and ratings; higher-quality cabin and better driving experience than the previous RDX

What We Don’t

The Acura True Touchpad Interface may irritate some users; A-Spec can’t be had with higher-end feature content

How Much?

$37,300-$47,400

Fuel Economy

The new RDX is available only with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque — an ample amount for the segment. A 10-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system is optional (more on that below).

Fuel economy is estimated to be 22 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined driving with FWD. SH-AWD lowers efficiency to 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined. Opting for the A-Spec package lowers highway fuel economy by 1 mpg.

Like other AWD systems, SH-AWD transfers power from the front axle to the rear to increase traction as needed, and not just for low-traction wheel slippage. However, it can also vary the power on the left and right rear wheels to boost cornering ability on dry ground and traction on wet ground. That’s a rare capability, and it makes a difference.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 RDX is technically offered in a single trim level, but there are three optional packages available that significantly increase feature content and price. All are available with FWD or AWD.

Standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels, four driving modes, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, a backup camera, automatic LED headlights, a power lift gate, a panoramic sunroof, proximity entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 8-way power front seats with 4-way power lumbar adjustment, simulated leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Infotainment content includes Acura’s True Touchpad Interface (10.2-in screen, center-console touch controller), in-car Wi-Fi, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, HD and satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a 9-speaker sound system.

The Technology package adds different 19-in wheels, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning, front and rear parking sensors, GPS-linked climate control (it can detect the sun’s position and alter air flow accordingly), leather upholstery, two USB ports in the back seat, integrated navigation and a 12-speaker Panasonic/ELS Studio sound system.

From there, offerings fork in two directions.

The A-Spec package requires the Technology package, and then adds exterior and interior styling variations that we highlight in-depth in our video "2019 Acura RDX vs. RDX A-Spec: What’s the Difference?" Key equipment additions include 20-in wheels, LED fog lights, heated and ventilated front seats and a 16-speaker Panasonic/ELS Studio audio system.

The Advance package also requires the Technology package, but adds adaptive suspension dampers, automatic wipers, a hands-free power lift gate, LED fog lights, acoustic front-side glass, a backup camera washer, a head-up display, a surround-view parking camera, heated and ventilated 12-way front seats with power adjustable bolsters and thigh support, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a 16-speaker sound system.

The Advance content cannot be paired with the RDX A-Spec.

Safety

Every RDX comes standard with eight airbags (front, front-side, side-curtain, front knee), stability and traction control, a backup camera, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning are included with the Technology package.

The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the RDX a Top Safety Pick+. It received the best possible marks in every single IIHS category, which is extremely rare.

Behind the Wheel

The RDX is all-new under the skin and, unlike past versions, is no longer mechanically related to Honda’s CR-V. The result is a more refined, distinctive SUV. Multiple drive settings allow you to change throttle, transmission and steering response (plus suspension firmness with the Advance package’s adjustable dampers), but even the most basic Comfort setting provides precise steering and reassuring control. If anything, the Sport and Sport+ settings dial in an unnecessary amount of extra steering effort. Power from the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is plentiful, and the 10-speed automatic transmission doesn’t draw too much attention to itself (well, apart from Acura’s absurd electronic shifter).

Now, is it better to drive than a 2019 Audi Q5, a 2019 BMW X3, a 2019 Mercedes GLC or a 2019 Volvo XC60? Is it more dynamic or engaging? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s now possible that someone could prefer its response to inputs, its feel around corners and bumps, and its noise level. That’s an improvement.

The same can be said for the cabin. The design seems more tech-focused than its more architectural and traditionally luxurious rivals, but its overall feel and quality are richer than before. It now has real wood and metal trim available, and its supporting plastics and materials are of a higher quality. Then there’s the polarizing new True Touchpad Interface.

The new RDX can’t be beat in passenger and cargo space. It has considerably more rear-seat legroom than its rivals, and its cargo area is far larger and more functional whether the back seats are raised or folded completely flat. The RDX may be in the "compact" SUV segment, but it’s not exactly snug.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Volvo XC60 The stylish XC60 is another of the more spacious vehicles in the segment, and, like the RDX, it boasts sterling safety credentials. It’s one of our must test-drives.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class It’s considerably smaller than the RDX inside, but the GLC offers a sophisticated driving experience, a truly luxurious cabin and classic styling.

2019 BMW X3 The long-time go-to choice for those seeking a sporty luxury SUV, the latest X3 is now a little more comfort-focused. However, it’s still well-rounded, well-made and quite spacious.

Used Acura MDX If you need even more space, and/or if a new MDX is too rich for your blood, a used or certified pre-owned choice would be a great option given Acura’s excellent reputation for reliability.

Autotrader’s Advice

The base RDX includes features that cost extra from most rivals. So there’s certainly no shame in skipping the options packages. Then again, since the RDX is cheaper than most, you can add the fancy stuff at a lower price point.

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