By: Candy Chung
The all-new 2019 Acura RDX is a successful replacement for its already well-received predecessor. The 3.5L V6 engine of previous models has been replaced by a more efficient 2.0L turbocharged 4 cylinder engine capable of producing 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The engine’s peak torque is at 1600 rpm and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel drive system is also upgraded to Acura’s proprietary Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The platform the RDX sits on is also brand new and unique to Acura. Its wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer than before thus creating more cabin space.
From the diamond pentagon grille in the front, to the creases and chrome accents on the body, and the angular sharp-looking rear, the 2019 RDX is definitely bigger and bolder. It is a good-looking compact crossover from every angle. It has a clearance height of almost 8.2 inches. Combining that with the SH-AWD system, the 2019 RDX should be capable of some off-roading. However, the majority of the drivers will probably drive this compact luxury crossover around town, picking up kids from schools, and fighting for parking stalls that are becoming smaller and smaller these days. It’s a crossover that is expected to meet all the demands of modern daily commuters.
Drivers spend most of their time inside the car; therefore, interior comfort and styling are vital to success. The first positive of the 2019 RDX is the panoramic sunroof that spans from the front all the way to the back. It makes the cabin airy and bright and best of all it’s a standard feature across all trim levels. My test car is the top-of-the-line Platinum Elite at $54,990, which adds colour head-up display, 16-way power adjustable driver’s and passenger’s seats, genuine wood trim and perforated leather seats with contrast stitching and seat piping. The leather seats are supportive, comfortable and adjustable in every way you can think of. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is thick and feels premium. The high-mounted 10.2 inch screen has good resolution. Directly below the screen is the center console which houses the audio and climate controls. Taking up the space below is the transmission control and the driving mode selector. Down at the bottom just before the pair of cupholders is the touchpad that controls the screen at the top. On the driver’s door are buttons for memory seats, ELS speakers and the usual suspects of window and side mirror controls. To the left of the steering wheel is a suite of controls for safety and drive-assist.
There is a huge space beneath the center console, definitely more than enough room for cellphone, wallet and keys. The door bins, center compartment and glovebox are all decent-sized. The back does not have a transmission tunnel so it’s completely flat and capable of carrying three passengers. Rear legroom is impressive. The 835L trunk is flat which makes hauling stuff an easy task. There are big storage bins underneath the trunk floor. It’s a good way to keep valuable items out of sight.
Since the 2019 RDX placed the drive mode selector at the most prominent place of the center console, it’s safe to assume Acura wants you to explore the car’s dynamics and take it somewhere other than schools and shopping malls. The four selectable driving modes include Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Comfort is best used driving around town as the steering is light and the suspension is softer. Once you select the Sport mode the RDX is more alert; suspension gets a bit tighter, steering a bit heavier and the engine note a tad louder. It’s still leaning towards comfort, so there’s no abrupt acceleration or hitting your head on the ceiling over bumps. Power kickdown in Sport mode is noticeably quicker and more willing to reach maximum torque. It’s actually quite a joy to drive. The SH-AWD system is capable of sending up to 70% of the torque to the rear and up to 100% of that can be sent to either the right or the left wheel. It’s hard to tell how much torque is sent to the rear and to which side. I can only say I’m not able to make the car spin out of a dirt road even though I slam hard on the gas pedal. The RDX does an excellent job of minimizing vertical movement, especially over bumps. What I would nitpick is lateral body roll. When turning corners at a higher speed the car leans a bit, and there’s the body roll that may not inspire me to push it harder around corners. Yes it’s a crossover that rides high, so attacking corners is probably not its selling point anyway. What it does wonderfully is cruising on the highway and zipping around town regardless of road conditions thanks to its SH-AWD system and the suite of safety features.
Safety and Technology
Standard across all trim levels are Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Assist. Blind Spot Information with Rear Cross Traffic Monitor and Acura Navigation are standard on all trims except for the base. All trims gets Multi-angle rearview camera and the Platinum Elite trim gets an upgrade to Surround view camera system. The all-new Touchpad for the infotainment system is logical and does correspond to the top screen precisely. Took me about two days to get the hang of using the Touchpad but once I got accustomed to it, I liked it.
I’ve put about 250km on the press car, and I can recommend this car to my family and friends without much hesitation. The ride quality is excellent and the cabin is a nice place to be. With the help of the adaptive dampers, I drove to Pitt Lake in Pitt Meadows with ease. I remember driving to the same lake with a hatchback some years ago and I didn’t really want to drive there again because of the long stretch of rough road. Not a problem for the 2019 RDX.
With the help of the surround view camera system, parking this tall-riding compact crossover is an easy job. There are plenty of features that I find useful, such as the keyless access system for front and rear doors which makes carrying a child in the back a breeze because I don’t have to find the fob or place my hand in the front door to unlock the rear doors. The 710-watt ELS 3D premium audio system offers crisp and high quality audio via the 16 speakers. There are speakers even on the headliner of the car! The head-up display is easy to read and adjustable, and I can scroll through the apps (radio, navigation etc.) using the head-up display. The kick-to-open trunk makes loading groceries an easier job and I find the bins underneath the trunk floor useful. I’m usually able to store most if not all of the groceries in the bins and that keeps the trunk clean and free of clutter. In terms of real life fuel economy, after 250km of mixed city and highway driving, I ended up with 10.6L/100km which is very good for a crossover.
There are only two things I wish Acura has taken a different approach. The brakes on the 2019 RDX have minimal initial bite; I have to step on the brake harder than I’m used to. Also, the door bins, glovebox and center armrest storage are decent-sized but not the largest I’ve seen.
The 2019 RDX is an attractive compact crossover that offers excellent ride quality, premium-feel cabin, more than enough power and torque for daily commute, a functional trunk, spacious rear seats and a wide array of safety and drive-assist technologies. It’s a lot of bang for the buck. The 2019 RDX is available now at Acura dealerships starting from $43,990. There’s also a an all-new trim level called A-Spec that starts at $50,290 which offers more aggressive styling and 20” A-Spec wheels.