Acura built its reputation by blending luxury and sport, with iconic and engaging models such as the NSX, Integra, and RSX in its past. Even the MDX and the discontinued TSX have been lauded as sportier alternatives to their competitors.
In its first iteration, the RDX didn’t quite follow the legacy of many of its predecessors. In our review of the 2011 model we said, “As the RDX has its toes in both the sport crossover and luxury crossover segments, it’s a little difficult to put that figure into context.” The car was good enough to drive and adequately appointed, but not to the point where it was a shoe-in as a segment leader.
The all-new 2019 model may be made from the perfect recipe to stand out from the rest of the luxury CUV segment. Our tester, in A-Spec trim and deep Performance Red Pearl is a sharp looker to defy the sameness of its rivals. Three sharp creases on the hood enhance the ute’s muscular visage and two big exhaust ports beef up the rear.
Its driving dynamics back up the sporty looks, and the RDX impressed with its tight chassis and sporty yet compliant suspension. I found the RDX eager to dig into the corners of freeway on ramps. The 10-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly, and with force when the more aggressive Sport or Sport+ drive modes are selected.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine beats as the crossover’s heart. Honda and Acura were once averse to forced induction, but here the boosted powerplant hauls the RDX along admirably. Our staff enjoyed the most detuned version of this engine before in the All-Star winning Accord Sport and in its most highly-strung incarnation in the Civic Type R. With 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, the RDX made confident passes during the trek between Los Angeles and San Diego and settled down in heavier traffic conditions.
The interior design continued the exterior’s crisp and sporty lines. Fit and finish was impeccable and the ergonomics were just right. Seating position was appropriately high for a crossover, offering a commanding view over the road. Interior appointments included automatically adjustable heated and ventilated seats as well as a premium sound system that punches above its price point.
The new Acura infotainment system was a weak point. Not one, but two touch pads controlled a two-panel display. The pads were neither very sensitive nor were they accurate for selecting menu items. Fortunately, the awkward controls aren’t horrid enough to drag down the rest of the car around it, especially because the graphics on the high-definition screen are so clean.
Plentiful safety tech provided a protective pillow around the RDX when I was behind the wheel. The forward collision alert is a bit aggressive, but as a whole Acura’s systems gave ample warning about potential threats over my 400 miles of driving.
Compared to other offerings in the Honda/Acura portfolio, the eager RDX felt grown up. Photographer Brandon Lim described it as the “Type-R’s older brother who got a job in accounting.” It still has a sense of youthful jocularity despite developing some common sense, like additional comfort and advanced safety.
Altogether, the 2019 RDX A-Spec SH-AWD struck me as a honed vision of the Acura marque that enthusiasts fell in love with decades ago. It was more than happy to belt through some twisty roads but also dutifully hauled groceries and a full car of occupants to a fine dinner.
Even at $46,895 after the destination charge, the package is so competent that it had me pondering if this was the best deal in its segment.
2019 Acura RDX Specifications
|PRICE (as tested)||$46,895|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/272 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 280 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,500 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||26-28 (city/highway)|
|L x W x H||186.8 x 74.8 x 65.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.5 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||130 mph (est)|