2019 ACURA RDX

NEW FROM THE GROUND UP

Acura has pulled out all the stops with its redesigned 2019 RDX. This third-generation crossover SUV gets a new body structure, exciting styling, and a new power train, yet it still has the lowest starting price in its class.

The RDX rides on a new, stronger platform, and features a body design that is truly contemporary. The 2019 RDX sports a large pentagon-shaped grille, strong character lines on the bodywork and a “floating” roofline. The interior also sparkles. Stylish seats, clad with leather trimmed Ultrasuede catch the eye when you enter. An elaborate center control panel features a large (10.2-inch) display and an electronic gear selector.

The infotainment system is controlled by Acura’s True Touchpad interface on the center console. There is a learning curve here. It operates much like your computer, and if you are patient, you will find that it becomes almost second-nature to you. I only wish there was a conventional knob for tuning the radio. I hate going through several steps to change a station.

The new RDX is a couple of inches longer now, but more importantly, the distance between the front and rear wheels is longer too. This means there is more cabin space, and a larger cargo area. Rear passengers benefit with a bit more legroom, and cargo space is at the top of its class at nearly 30 cubic feet.

Acura shelved the old V-6 engine this year, and replaced it with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four. The turbo cranks out 272 hp., and delivers a robust growl. It’s teamed with a slick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission that drives either the front wheels, or all four wheels. Acura’s SH-AWD all-wheel drive returns this year as an option. Gas mileage is 24 mpg with front-wheel drive, and 23 mpg with AWD, about average for this class.

Acura offers the RDX with three different trim packages, Technology, A-Spec and Advance that add to the standard version. However, most buyers should be happy with the standard RDX. It’s well-equipped with a panoramic moonroof, nine-speaker audio, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and braking, as well as lane-departure monitoring and intervention.

However, if you want more, the Technology package, adds a 12-speaker sound system, navigation, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The sportier A-Spec version provides 20-inch wheels, 16 speakers and black exterior trim. The Advance goes even further with an adaptable suspension, head-up display and a surround-view camera.

Behind the wheel, The RDX is engaging to drive. My A-Spec test car with AWD felt responsive and sure-footed on twisty country roads. Drivers can select four different drive settings, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Snow. Comfort is the default mode, and the other three adjust steering feel, throttle response and the transmission shift points. I found the Sport mode sharpened the responses just the right amount on my favorite test route. However, even in the Comfort setting, the ride is a bit stiff. But, if you were to choose the Advance package, with the adaptable suspension, the ride might be cushier.

The RDX pricing starts at a reasonable $38,295 for the standard model with front-wheel drive. When the Technology package is added, it’s $41,495. A-Spec jumps it up to $43,495, and the Advance is $46,395. All-wheel drive adds another $2,000.

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