2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec

Larger, sportier, loaded with tech and a great buy for the money. The Acura RDX gets redesigned for 2019, and competes well with rivals in the luxury crossover segment that cost thousands more. It’s the first RDX to be designed and developed in America.


In the past, Acura didn’t always keep up with the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo and other luxury vehicles. There was a feeling that an Acura was just a Honda with some upscale touches. That changes with the new RDX which definitely has its own personality.


The five-passenger RDX is available in Standard, Technology Package, A-Spec and Advance Package trims. Starting prices range from $37,300 to $47,400. This is low for the class; in fact, many rivals have higher price tags for their base models. Front-wheel-drive is standard and Acura’s SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) is available for an additional $2,000.


There’s one engine: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.


The RDX boasts quick acceleration and peppy handling with plenty of power for just about every driving situation. All in all, it’s a satisfying ride with a good blend of performance and comfort. It’s equally at home running errands in the city or on a twisty mountain road. And there’s even some faux engine noise! I drove the RDX between Portland and Bend over the Santiam Pass and it performed great with the SH-AWD providing grip when roads were slick with some snow. The ride is smooth. Visibility is good to the front but hampered to the rear.


There are four driving modes: Sport: Snow, Comfort, and Sport+. It’s interesting to note that Sport is the default mode. Put it in Sport+ for even more quickness.


Fuel efficiency is a bit better than average for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with a combined rating of 23 mpg. I got 23 during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.


The updated interior has a contemporary and upscale feel, however it’s not as posh as some spendier rivals. Still, it’s attractive with quality materials. Passengers in both rows of seating enjoy supportive seats with good leg- and headroom.


Standard features include push-button start, rearview camera, leatherette upholstery, heated, power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, panoramic moonroof, Bluetooth, two USB ports, nine-speaker audio system, HD Radio, satellite radio, a 10.2-inch infotainment screen with the new True Touchpad Interface, Apple CarPlay, Siri Eyes Free and AcuraLink, which lets you perform certain functions via your smartphone including locking and unlocking the car and checking vehicle data.


AcuraWatch is also standard. This is a suite of driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, and lane departure warning.


Available features include Milano leather upholstery, front seats with added adjustability, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, navigation, GPS-linked climate control, a 12- or 16-speaker ELS audio system, and two additional USB ports.


Available driver assistance features include a head-up display, surround-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.


One of the major changes in the new RDX is the new infotainment system. It’s called True Touchpad Interface and it takes some familiarization. When my RDX test vehicle was delivered, I was told that it would be a good idea for me to spend a few minutes with the delivery driver so that I could get a demo of the infotainment. My first thought was, uh-oh, this is going to be a complicated system. But it’s user-friendly once you get the hang of it.


Here’s how it works. There’s a touchpad controller on the center console that directly corresponds to the display screen. Say you want to select an icon on the display screen that’s on the left center of the screen. Simply touch the left center of the touchpad. The selection is highlighted on the screen so you don’t have to look down at the touchpad. There are also “back” and “home” buttons, and a second “B zone” where you can access specific functions, such as audio. Yes, the system does take some time to learn, but it did become second nature during my week with the RDX. The one peeve is that it takes some time for the system to start up after you start the vehicle.


The RDX has more cargo space than most rivals with 29.5 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 58.9 cubes with the rear seats folded. There’s also a handy in-floor storage compartment that lets you store a purse, laptop or tablet out of view, as well as cubbies in the cabin for smaller items.


The 2019 RDX receives the top rating of five out of five stars in NHTSA crash tests and is rated a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.


The good:

Lower starting price than its German rivals

Great value for the money

Sporty handling

Smooth ride

Comfy, roomy interior

Lots of tech

Top safety ratings


The not-so-good:

Interior not as posh as some rivals

Touchpad infotainment system takes time to learn


Pricing info:

My tester starts at $45,500. Exterior color up-charge is $99. Destination fee is $995 bringing the grand total to $46,495.


Bottom line:

The all-new 2019 Acura RDX is a worthy contender in the super-competitive compact luxury crossover segment. It was already one of the three best-selling luxury compact SUVs in 2018 and the redesign should make it even more popular this year.

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