Acura completely reinvented the RDX for 2019, and it shows. The old RDX was over 10 years old, and was simply not competitive anymore in the compact luxury SUV segment where everyone is working hard to grab a slice of the pie. The new 2019 Acura RDX should be much better suited to make it in this market, with tons of standard options, a much better engine, and great styling.

Best Value

Many luxury SUVs, with those from Germany in particular, often offer cool features that are available in a labyrinth of packages and standalone options that can drive the price up before you know it. That's not the case with the Acura RDX, which comes very well equipped at a base price of less than $40,000 with dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, a panoramic roof, 12-way power seats, and the AcuraWatch driver assistance package among other luxury touches. And all options are summed up in a total of three additional trim packages.

Of the packages, the Technology Package is the best value, as it essentially gives the RDX everything you would expect an luxury SUV to have like leather seats, blind-spot monitoring, navigation, and real time traffic updates. This is all offered at a price that can make competitors blush. We'd also spend the money to upgrade to all-wheel drive, which suits the surprisingly sporty RDX well.

  • Model: 2019 Acura RDX
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder
  • Output: 272 hp / 280 lb-ft
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 21 City / 27 Hwy
  • Options: Super Handling All-wheel Drive ($2,000), Technology Package ($3,200, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, leather-trimmed sport seats, navigation, 12-speaker premium audio system)
  • Base Price: $38,295 (including a $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $43,495

Performance

Acura RDX

Believe it or not, the new RDX is surprisingly sporty. The new iteration shares the same engine with the Honda Civic Type-R, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, a vast improvement over the V6 in the outgoing model. The engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that's fantastic, with smart programming that can keep up with enthusiastic driving and the ability to shift down four gears at a time. The all-wheel-drive system, or "Super Handling All-Wheel Drive" as Acura calls it, is also great with the ability to send up to 70 percent of the power to the rear wheels at one time.

The RDX is also surprisingly planted in the corners for an SUV, and it's made better with the optional adaptive suspension. Acura also included the Integrated Dynamics Control system that you'd also find in the NSX supercar. This system allows the driver to dial in the driving style they desire, from Comfort to Sport Plus modes. Put it in Comfort, and the RDX softens up a bit by relaxing the steering, throttle response, and the optional adaptive shocks. If you're feeling the need for speed, Sport Plus goes the opposite direction. While you aren't going to mistake the RDX for a Porsche 911, the vehicle will make you feel comfortable pushing the envelope a bit further on twisty roads.

Style

While the old RDX looked pretty dated, the new one is modern and stylish. Long gone is the maligned eagle beak that adorned the previous model and it's brethren, replaced by a front fascia that feels much more like it belongs at the front of a luxury car. Overall, the car is lower and wider, giving it a much sportier look that works well.

Acura has tried to position the RDX as the most technology-laden luxury compact SUV on the market, and the interior style reflects that. The center stack of the dashboard is multilayered with the transmission controls, making it look like what you'd see on an alien spacecraft. It's pretty cool, but, ultimately, it may cause some serious confusion. Otherwise, the RDX is filled with premium materials and thoughtful design. All in all, it feels like a bona fide luxury SUV that's worthy of being mentioned alongside Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes.

The Best and Worst Things

For the most part, SUVs aren't known for their handling abilities, but the RDX bucks the trend. The RDX has a great engine, it handles well, and can even be called fun to drive. Additionally, the RDX is a great value, with excellent standard features that include advanced driver assistance features.

Even though the RDX has a four-cylinder, it returns pretty poor fuel economy. With an EPA rating of 22 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway, and 24 combined for front-wheel-drive models, the RDX basically matches the fuel economy of the diesel-powered versions of the Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck. This is pretty surprising in this day and age, and the requirement of premium fuel means you'll be spending more money on gas than you'd expect.

Right For? Wrong For?

Acura RDX

The Acura RDX is a great choice for empty-nesters who no longer have to pay for their kids college and have a little extra room in their budget. The RDX is priced very well for those without full families who want to make an upgrade to something nicer.

At the end of the day, Acura still doesn't have the same panache as other Luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz or Lexus. This may sound superficial on paper, but there's a non-insignificant portion of the luxury car world who look at badges as a symbol of "making it." If you're one of these people, you may want to stick to the more prestigious badges.

The Bottom Line

The new 2019 Acura RDX is exactly what Acura needed. It helps solidify the brand's new direction and style, and it's a very competent vehicle to boot. The car is well priced, nicely styled inside and out, and the new four-cylinder turbo and 10-speed automatic are a joy to use. All in all, it's a great choice for a luxury compact SUV.