The proliferation of today’s available crossovers gives consumers plenty of choices, but it creates a challenge for automakers. Simply because a popular model has been around for awhile and has some name recognition doesn’t mean it’s going to keep the public’s attention as new models flood the market. The all-new 2019 Acura RDX takes on the challenge of staying relevant — and it succeeds.
The first thing you’ll notice is the updated styling. It follows the current trend toward sportiness with a more aggressive front end, new paint colors, and chrome accents. This makes the RDX look fun to drive rather than like just another crossover that’ll get the job done and call it a day. It has plenty of personality with a touch of elegance befitting the Acura name.
Changes are more dramatic on the inside as Acura leans into the sports car heritage of the NSX. The cockpit-like design puts the focus on the driver and removes the feeling that this is a crossover you’re driving rather than a sports car. Seating is comfortable and supportive with good bolstering and will serve you equally well pushing the RDX through the corners or on a lengthy road trip.
It looks sporty on the outside and feels sporty on the inside, but the bigger question is whether it backs up those impressions once you turn on the engine. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission and it delivers.
Now, don’t go expecting the RDX to drive like an NSX. Acura made their crossover sporty, but it’s still a crossover. What you can expect is a surprisingly responsive ride with plenty of power. Getting up to highway speeds is effortless making merging into heavy traffic less stressful, and if you need extra power for passing, it’s not a problem.
Engine noise is nicely muted in keeping with the luxury car image of an Acura. If you want a loud engine that rattles the cabin and gets your heart pumping, then go buy an NSX. The RDX delivers its sportiness without forgetting it’s a crossover with passengers who just might want to be able to carry on a conversation. The ride is quiet and comfortable with minimal noise intruding from the outside world.
There’s a choice of front-wheel drive or the latest generation of Acura’s SH-AWD all-wheel drive system. It’s designed to optimize control in a variety of road conditions and includes torque vectoring. This can send up to 70 percent of torque to the rear wheels and then split that sending up to 100 percent to either the left or right rear wheel.
We had the chance to take the RDX through some nasty weather and the all-wheel drive system performed beautifully. Deeply rutted snow wasn’t a challenge and it was easy to keep the RDX under control. Even a snowbank at the end of an unplowed driveway proved no obstacle.
The Acura RDX includes impressive safety features with AcuraWatch standard across the lineup. This gives you collision-mitigation braking with forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, road-departure mitigation, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control, even on the base model.
Infotainment comes from a 10.2-inch touchscreen with a True Touchpad interface. Touchpads are a tough proposition in cars with cursors that are hard to manage, but the touchpad in the RDX is different. It’s mapped one-to-one rather than having a floating cursor.
If you want to select what’s in the top right of the screen, there’s no need to worry about a cursor. Simply touch the top right of the touchpad. There’s a brief learning curve, but it quickly becomes intuitive and easier than what other automakers offer.
The all-new 2019 Acura RDX is a comfortable crossover with a compelling combination of sportiness and luxury. The four-trim range starts at a price of $37,400 and tops out at $45,500 with all-wheel drive available for an extra $2,000 across the trim range. It’s now available in dealerships nationwide.