For over a decade now, the Acura RDX has languished in the shadow of it's bigger and more successful brother, the perennially popular and best-selling MDX. Now, however, it seems like the smaller crossover has finally said enough's enough. All new from the ground up, the 2019 rendition of the RDX is no longer content with being second-best. With unprecedented levels of technology, safety, and performance, the new RDX is ready to compete with the heavy-hitters of the compact-luxury crossover class.
What's New for 2019
The RDX is all new from headlight to taillight.
Choosing Your Acura RDX
Talk about reinventing yourself for the new year. For 2019, there's precious little beyond the badge to recall the 2018 model; everything from the wipers to the wheels has been given a do-over.
Out of all that's new and different on the RDX, it's the powertrain that's most noteworthy. Gone is the old 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission; in is a new 2.0-liter turbo four and a 10-speed auto. Though that old V6 can be commended for ostensibly bucking the segment-wide switch to turbocharged four cylinders, the new 2.0-liter is a welcome step forward. Rated at 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, this new four puts out 28 more lb-ft of torque than the old engine, though horsepower is down by seven. Perhaps more importantly, the new mill also bests the competition. The turbo-fours in crossovers like the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Mercedes GLC all fall short of the RDX's output.
They also don't have as many gears, either. The new 10-speed gives the RDX the distinction of having the most cogs out of any other compact luxury crossover, which should improve fuel mileage and response over the outgoing model. The EPA rates the 2019 RDX as being good for 22 city and 28 highway for FWD models, and 21/27 for AWD versions.
While most buyers will skew towards the standard AWD and FWD models, Acura is also putting an A-Spec version on the option sheet. For those unaware, Acura has recently used the A-Spec moniker to denote the sporty version of the TLX sedan, and the RDX is the first additional Acura to be offered with the package. Check the box for it and you'll get bespoke exterior features such as 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires, unique front and rear bumpers, and gloss-black accents for the side sills, grille, taillights, window trim, and headlights. On the inside, there's larger paddle shifters, sport pedals, a distinct A-Spec steering wheel, unique instrumentation with red illumination, and red or black leather seats with suede inserts.
The RDX also offers an abundance of technology no matter the trim level. For instance, all models comes standard with a panoramic roof, in-car wifi, Apple CarPlay (no Android Auto just yet), and AcuraLink services that offer remote starting, stolen-car tracking, and remote locking or unlocking. There's also a new 10.2-inch display with Acura's new True Touchpad interface. Rather than use a traditional touchscreen, the console-mounted touchpad corresponds precisely with the screen - press the left corner of the pad, for instance, and the system will select the menu on the corresponding left corner of the display screen. If this deviation from the tried-and-true touchscreen sounds scary, consider this: according to a study by Ohio State University, it only takes drivers mere minutes to acclimate to this new system.
On the safety side of things, the contents of AcuraWatch - the brand's suite of active-safety features - have been made standard. The specific nannies included are lane-keep assist, emergency braking, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.
Nine exterior colors are offered, as are five interior hues. All-wheel-drive (SH-AWD, in Acura's verbiage) is available across the board for $2,000. Other than that, there are no packages or standalone options offered - just pick your color and trim level and proceed to the check-out line.
If you've perused the standard equipment lists of the German competition, then reading through the generous standard features list of the RDX is a refreshing break from Teutonic austerity. Unless you must have 16 speakers and ventilated seats, the Technology trim includes everything you'll ever want from your luxury crossover, including leather, navigation, and blind-spot/cross-traffic monitoring. At $41,495, the RDX Technology will have you spending small but living large.