Acura’s Compact Crossover is All-New and Ready to Take on the Germans!

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Now that Acura has effectively moved on by the design slump it was once in; the brand has begun to blur the line between luxury and performance. The new RDX is a prime example of that, taking cues from the 2017 Acura Precision Concept and the Acura NSX. As the latest addition to Acura’s revamped model portfolio, the RDX takes on a striking new look, has more than enough power to take on the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, and is luxurious enough to make you wonder why you’re not paying more for a vehicle of this caliber. That’s where that blurred line comes in, and that’s why you need to keep reading to learn more about the model that will make BMW and Audi fanboys reconsider what brand they represent.

2019 Acura RDX Exterior

2019 Acura RDX Exterior
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Acura went all in on the 2019 Acura RDX, splicing in DNA bits from both the NSX and the Precision Concept.

Acura went all in on the 2019 Acura RDX, splicing in DNA bits from both the NSX and the Precision Concept. Up front, it has that diamond pentagon grille that was made infamous by the recently debuted 2018 Acura RLX. That is paired with updated Jewel-Eye headlights that now have two more LED elements, and a pair of corner air intakes that are inspired by the NSX and are actually functional, sending air through the front end and along the sides. And, in case there was ever any doubt of Acura’s performance credentials, the bulges in the hood are there to remind you, and those you pass on the street, that you’re not driving grandma’s BMW X3.

2019 Acura RDX Exterior
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The extreme character of the RDX’s exterior design carries over to the side profile where some very precise body lines bring together concept and reality. The small bodyline that shoots rearward from the headlights appears stronger in the center while the tilted line that runs from the belt line toward the front wheel arch crosses the front door handle at its central apex. That line is rather minimal in appearance but is accented well by the lower body line that stands out thanks to the black trim that protrudes from both doors. The black trim from the bottom of the front fascia follows through as side skirts in the rear. The black trim around the windows and side view mirror arms complete the contrast here, but the rear haunches are interesting thanks to those two mild body lines that feed from the top and bottom of the taillights.

2019 Acura RDX Exterior
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Sure, it’s a little aggressive, but that’s where it dominates brands like Audi and BMW who have given up on being aggressive in exchange for more toned-down designs.

Around back, you’ll find more contrast thanks to the black insert on the lower fascia. It mimics a rear diffuser but has integrated corner reflectors and angled exhaust outlets that are finished in chrome. The taillights are two-piece units that have a 3D effect thanks to the way they protrude from the body. The LED pattern is attractive and functional, with the overall design screaming “made by Acura.” A deep recess in the rear hatch provides a home for your license plate while the rear overhang balances out the utility and performance look here. All told, it’s a solid exterior design, and those body lines are exactly what the doctor ordered. Sure, it’s a little aggressive, but that’s where it dominates brands like Audi and BMW who have given up on being aggressive in exchange for more toned-down designs.

Wheelbase (in) 108.3
Length (in) 186.9
Height (in) 65.7

As far as size goes, the RDX is 186.9-inches long, and 65.7-inches high. That makes it 2.5-inches longer than the outgoing model and 0.7-inches taller. Its wheelbase has been extended from 105.7 inches to 108.3 inches – just enough to improve handling and offer a little more space inside. Width has yet to be announced, but the outgoing model measured 73.7 inches so it wouldn’t be out of the question for the 2019 RDX to sit at 74.5-inches wide.

2019 Acura RDX Interior

2019 Acura RDX Interior
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As far as interior design goes, Acura threw out every bit of the last-gen’s design and came up with something all-new.

We have very few specs for the interior as of the time of this writing, but passenger volume is said to be 104 cubic-feet while cargo volume is set at 29.5 cubic-feet. That is an increase of 0.5 cubic-feet in passenger volume and 3.4 cubic feet of cargo volume, both of which you are the result of the longer wheelbase. Expect headroom to increase marginally as well as legroom, but hip and shoulder room will probably carry over from the previous generation. We’ll update you with these specifications as they become available.

2019 Acura RDX Interior
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As far as interior design goes, Acura threw out every bit of the last-gen’s design and came up with something all-new; something that can easily put BMW and Audi to shame. The dashboard actually looks mean with the stout curves carrying over from the door panels and coming head-on at the center stack. The dash has that deep look that resembles something you might see in a supercar, a style that’s reinforced by the aggressive but somewhat clustered center stack. On the plus side, Acura did away with that boxy, recessed infotainment display and replaced it by a German-like display that pops up from the top of the dash – not bad!

2019 Acura RDX Interior
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Acura’s new ELS 3D audio system. In range-topping trims, this includes 16 channels and 710-Watts of audio goodness.

The steering wheel now has a premium appearance and one that’s fit for a sports car while the instrument cluster is a semi-digital unit that features a small display in the middle with an analog gauge on either side. A-Spec models will get steel pedals and bi-colored seats with a race-inspired look. That look carries over to the rear where a bench seat with a 40-20-40 folding pattern also features that perforated leather and bi-colored design in higher trims. The door trim panels are attractive, and the large panoramic glass roof just sweetens the deal.

As far as technology goes, the infotainment system has a 10.2-inch screen and is controlled by a touchpad that’s embedded in the center console. It’s mapped one-to-one with the display to improve ease of use while sound is delivered through Acura’s new ELS 3D audio system. In range-topping trims, this includes 16 channels and 710-Watts of audio goodness. A head’s up display provides information ahead of the driver and makes use of the voice recognition system. It’s customizable with different displays and can even show turn-by-turn navigation directions. Don’t expect this technology to come as standard equipment but it’s certainly something you want to pay for.

EPA Passenger volume (cu-ft) 104
EPA Cargo volume (cu-ft) 29.5

2019 Acura RDX Performance

2019 Acura RDX Exterior
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That dated, 3.5-liter V-6 has been sent to the scrapyard with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter VTEC taking its place.

On the performance front, Acura has delivered as usual. First, let me warn you – the new RDX isn’t quite as powerful as the outgoing model, but there’s a good reason for it. That dated, 3.5-liter V-6 has been sent to the scrapyard with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter VTEC taking its place. It features dual overhead cams and the usual direct injection – an upgrade from the V-6 of years before. This new mill turns out 272 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 280 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm. That’s down seven ponies from the last-gen model, but that’s made up by the increase of 28 pound-feet of torque. That power is transmission to the ground via a 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters. It’s not a manual with three pedals, unfortunately, but it’s a huge improvement over that clunky six-speed auto you would have gotten in 2018.

2019 Acura RDX Exterior
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More important than any of this is the fact that the new RDX is available with the third-generation of Acura’s SH-AWD system.

More important than any of this is the fact that the new RDX is available with the third-generation of Acura’s SH-AWD system. This updated system provides better performance and can deliver as much as 70-percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels at a whim. And, if things really get funky on the go, 100-percent of the torque sent to the rear can be sent to either wheel to maximize traction on just about any road condition. We haven’t had a chance to drive one just yet, but we’re willing to bet that mild drop in horsepower is easily made up by engine responsiveness, the extra torque, and that revamped SH-AWD system.

Engine 2.0-liter, 16-valve DOHC turbo with direct injection and i-VTEC® valvetrain
Transmission 10-speed automatic with Sequential SportShift Paddle Shifters
Horsepower 272 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 280 lb.-ft. @ 1,600-4,500 rpm
Front suspension Macpherson strut with stabilizer bar, fluid-filled compliance bushing and available Adaptive Dampers
Rear suspension Five-link with stabilizer bar, fluid-filled compliance bushing, available Adaptive Dampers
Steering Dual-pinion electric power-assisted steering with variable ratio

As far as the suspension and chassis goes, Acura has gone with Macpherson struts all of the way around to go with fluid-filled bushings. This should improve ride quality by absorbing vibration better. Body roll is kept in check by the front and rear sway bars, but if you really want the best ride quality, you’ll have to opt for the active damper system. Little is known about it thus far, but it should provide constant adjustment on the go.

2019 Acura RDX Pricing

2019 Acura RDX Exterior
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Acura has yet to set pricing for the 2019 Acura RDX, but the 2018 model starts out at $36,000 as of the time of this writing. The entry-level AWD model starts out at $37,500. With that said, Acura has done a lot in the process of updating the RDX, so expect to see a mild price hike when the model goes on sale in late-2018 but it shouldn’t break the bank. A good expectation for the entry-level model is about $37,500 with the range-topping model coming in closer to $46,000. The A-Spec model may command a bit more, but you’ll certainly get what you pay for and, even in higher trim, you’ll get a better bang for your buck when compared to the competition.

2019 Acura RDX Competition


2018 BMW X3 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The X3 isn’t the baby in BMW’s SUV lineup, but it is the compact SUV you’re looking for if you want to compare apples to apples. Just updated for the 2018 model year, it will be nice and fresh when the new RDX hits showrooms. Most trim levels will sport a 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 248 ponies and 258 pound-feet, while the range-topping M40i will get a 3.0-liter inline-six good for 355 horsepower and 369 pound-feet. The lower models can hit 60 mph in six seconds flat while top speed resides at the 130-mph mark. The M40i makes the same sprint in 4.6 seconds and tops out at the same top speed.

What really stands out, however, is how the X3 looks. It’s mildly aggressive and gorgeous, meaning it might not be such a hard decision if Acura doesn’t do the exterior right on the new RDX. Pricing for the 2018 X3 has yet to be announced, but currently, the 2017 X3 starts out at $39,250 and climbs to as much as $47,950. We expect a small price increase for the 2018 model, but we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

Find out more about the BMW X3 here.

Audi Q5

2017 Audi Q5 High Resolution Exterior
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If compact SUVs were clothing, the Q5 would be like the finely tailored suit. It’s not overly dramatic, has nice smooth lines, has a hint of elegance and uniformity to it, and has a plush interior. It entered its second generation for 2018, so it will also be looking nice and fresh when the new RDX shines, and unless Acura really goes dull with the RDX, the Q5 will be the least-aggressive model in the compact luxury segment. Available in three trim levels, the Q5 is only offered with a 2.0-liter here in the U.S. that’s good for 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It doesn’t sound like much, but it can hold its own with a 0-to-60 mph sprint in 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 130. Pricing for 2018 starts out at $41,500 for the Premium trim, $45,500 for the Premium Plus, and $50,800 for the Prestige.

Learn more about the Audi Q5 here.


2019 Acura RDX Exterior
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The new Acura RDX is, hands down, a huge improvement over the outgoing model. It’s got the right proportions, a stylish exterior, and an interior that provokes a youth-like feeling. It’s got slightly less power than before, but it’s got more torque and should be much more responsive. Add in that new SH-AWD system, and it should be one hell of a performer. On the other hand, some might find that the exterior is a little too aggressive or the technology inside a bit too confusing. That center stack is a bit clustered, and it might be too much for some that want a simpler layout. Be that as it may, the RDX is an amazing looking vehicle and it should perform well for Acura when it goes on sale. And, with all it has going, it should bring some serious competition for BMW and Audi. Let the games begin.

  • Leave it
    • Horsepower is down a bit
    • Might be too aggressive for some
    • Interior might be confusing for the older population
Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert -
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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Press Release
The 2019 Acura RDX debuted today at the New York International Auto Show. As the first in a new generation of Acura products, the re-engineered 2019 RDX delivers top-of-class performance, a more spacious and luxurious cabin, and a host of premium technology and features. Designed, developed and manufactured in America, the new turbocharged RDX will launch mid-year as the quickest, best handling and most luxurious RDX yet.

"The 2019 Acura RDX signals the start of a new era for the Acura brand by delivering design, performance and prestige that will elevate its position in the luxury market’s fastest growing segment," said Henio Arcangeli, Jr., senior vice president of the Automobile Division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "This RDX is our most extensive redesign in more than a decade, a truly ground up reimagining of the RDX around our Precision Crafted Performance brand direction."

Acura also debuted the 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec sport appearance variant – distinguished by larger wheels, gloss black accents and unique interior treatment including an available two-tone red and black interior. With the addition of A-Spec to both the RDX and MDX, Acura has fulfilled its commitment to expand A-Spec to all core models.

Sharp, Low and Wide Design

The production 2019 RDX carries forward substantially all of the design cues that debuted with the Prototype RDX in January. In creating the new RDX, Acura designers worked from the foundations of the Acura Precision Concept, adapting its low and wide stance, sleek presence and wheels-out proportions to a five-passenger SUV.

The 2019 RDX showcases Acura’s signature Diamond Pentagon Grille flanked by all-new Jewel Eye™ headlights – now boasting seven LED light elements, up from the previous five. Below, wide air intakes include NSX-inspired air curtains feed air efficiently around the front wheels and down the body side. Prominent hood bulges are visible from inside the cabin, signaling the performance character of the third-generation RDX.

Sharp character lines accentuate the front and rear fenders, with an aggressive "dropping" character line running the length of the RDX. A pen stroke of chrome (gloss-black on A-Spec) highlights the upper greenhouse and lower rocker. At the rear, the design of the 2019 RDX is capped off with a distinctive "dragon tail" LED light signature of the taillights.

New Acura-Exclusive Body and Chassis Architecture

The 2019 RDX sits atop an all-new body and chassis architecture designed to deliver a sophisticated and engaging driving experience. It starts with a 2.6 inch longer wheelbase, which aids both ride comfort and cabin space. The cargo area behind the rear seats has expanded 3.4-cubic feet with an additional 1.7 cubic-feet of compartmented underfloor storage. The new platform provides for a fully-flat rear floor, enabling first-class seating comfort in all three rear seating positions.

The RDX’s body structure is composed of over 50 percent high strength steel. It utilizes a new double-ring rear frame design and new two-piece ultra-high-strength steel front door rings, which significantly increase body rigidity, handling precision and cabin quietness.

The body structure is mated to an all-new chassis design with variable ratio dual-pinion electric power steering, a sport-tuned Macpherson strut front suspension, an all-new five-link independent rear suspension and available adaptive dampers.

VTEC Turbo Engine with Higher Performance and Efficiency

The new RDX takes power from a direct-injected and turbocharged 2.0-liter, 16-valve powerplant with DOHC VTEC® valvetrain and Dual Variable Timing Cam (Dual VTC). Peak output is 272 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. Compared to the previous model’s V6, peak torque is up 28 lb.-ft. and available across a wider section of the power band, from 1,600 to 4,500 rpm (previously 252 lb.-ft. at 4,900 rpm) with low-RPM torque boosted by as much as 40 percent for quicker acceleration and sharper throttle response.

Segment-first 10-Speed Transmission

The RDX’s turbocharged engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission (10AT) – the first and only 10AT in the class. With more closely spaced ratios and a 62 percent wider ratio range, Acura’s 10AT takes full advantage of the turbo engine’s bountiful low-end torque. Gear changes are quick and seamless, in both automatic mode and using steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Return of Torque Vectoring SH-AWD

The third generation redesign also marks the return of torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) to RDX, in its most powerful and sophisticated form ever. In addition to improving all-wheel-drive performance, Acura’s SH-AWD utilizes dynamic torque vectoring to sharpen handling response and deliver vivid, exhilarating and confidence-inspiring driving performance in virtually all weather and road conditions.

With Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, up to 70% of torque can be distributed to the rear wheels. And up to 100% of that torque can be distributed to either the right-rear or left-rear wheel, creating incredible control and agility. The 2019 RDX is the first model to utilize this new generation of Acura SH-AWD.

Spacious, Luxurious and Tech-forward Cabin

The 2019 RDX’s sumptuously appointed, tech-forward and spacious new cabin features Acura’s latest thinking for a more premium, personal and connected driving experience.

Exceptional seating comfort is provided by next-generation Acura sport seats, designed exclusively for RDX and future Acura products. The new, more intricately sculpted sport seats feature a lightweight ultra-high-strength steel frame, with improved lateral support for spirited driving and up to 16-way power adjustability. In all grades, the RDX provides both the driver and front-seat passenger the same levels of seating adjustability and comfort.

The RDX’s new ultra-wide panoramic moonroof, standard on all grades, has power slide and tilt functions and a power sliding sunshade. It is among the largest and widest in the class providing an open and airy feeling throughout the cabin.

Available authentic high-grade materials are featured throughout the cabin, including brushed aluminum, stainless steel, open pore Olive Ash wood trim, Ultrasuede® and rich Milano leather.

Inspired by the NSX, a high-deck floating center console and prominent Integrated Dynamics System control knob allows drivers to quickly switch between four distinct drive modes (Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+).

Intuitive True Touchpad Interface™

Designed from a clean sheet and deployed for the first time in the automotive world in the third generation RDX, Acura’s True Touchpad Interface is a holistic, system-level approach to in-car user interface that is optimized for the driver and the driving experience.

The system is designed to combine the advantages of both conventional touchscreen and remote-based approaches. The True Touchpad Interface features a 10.2-inch full-HD center display mounted high atop the center console, close to the driver’s natural line of sight, a center console-mounted touchpad and an all-new, Android-based operating system.

Unlike conventional touchpad designs, Acura’s True Touchpad Interface does not require the user to locate a cursor on the screen while navigating the touchpad. To support intuitive and easy control, the touchpad is precisely mapped, one-to-one, with the action on the center display – the world’s first application of absolute positioning in the driving environment. Simply, a touch on any location of the touchpad corresponds directly with that same location on the display.

Further supporting ease of use, the touchpad’s surface is slightly concave, allowing the user to quickly identify the center of the touchpad without looking down. A padded wrist rest, integrated within the RDX’s high-deck floating center console, provides a comfortable and stable platform for operating the touchpad.

The operating system features simple, clean graphics and menu structures designed in concert with the touchpad. It features two zones, a larger primary zone, and smaller secondary zone, allowing for easy viewing and one-tap swapping of primary and secondary functions – navigation and music, for example.

Click here for a brief video primer on the new True Touchpad Interface.

Acura ELS Studio 3D™ Audio

The new RDX also marks the debut of Acura ELS Studio 3D premium audio, a 16-channel, 710-watt system featuring four ultra-slim Highline™ ceiling-mounted speakers – available on high grades. Developed by Acura and Panasonic and tuned by Grammy-winning music producer, Elliot Schiener, Acura ELS Studio 3D audio delivers incredible fidelity and dynamic range while adding a new dimension of sound to the listening experience.

Head-Up Display and Natural Language Voice Recognition

Another Acura first is a new natural language voice recognition system, which allows for more intuitive voice control of major features and functions, including commands for the available embedded Acura Navigation System. Also new is an available 10.5-inch full-color interactive Head-Up Display, which puts customizable information displays, including audio, phone, AcuraWatch alerts, turn-by-turn navigation and more directly in the driver’s line of sight.

A-Spec Variant Boosts Sport Appearance

The new RDX A-Spec, the first-ever Acura SUV with A-Spec treatment, adds distinctive sport appearance upgrades inside and out. Shark Gray 20-inch alloy wheels shod with low-profile 255/45R20 tires create a more athletic stance and are complemented by a unique lower front fascia and gloss-black accents for the front grille, Jewel Eye™ headlights, side sills, upper window sash and taillights. LED fog lights, large-diameter dual exhaust finishers and A-Spec badging on the front quarter panels and tailgate complete the exterior package.

Inside, the RDX A-Spec features exclusive sports seats wrapped in either black or red leather with black premium Ultrasuede® inserts and contrasting stitching. Real aluminum decorates the center-console, doors and instrument panel, with additional soft-touch Ultrasuede on the dash. The A-Spec’s stitched leather sport steering wheel features gloss black trim, metal-plated paddle shifters and A-Spec badging. A unique driver’s gauge cluster gets an A-Spec exclusive satin silver finish with red-illuminated nighttime readouts.

Unparalleled Standard Features, Value

The 2019 RDX boasts an extensive and class-leading array of premium features and technologies as standard equipment, including 19-inch alloy wheels, next-generation Acura Jewel Eye™ LED headlights, an ultra-wide panoramic moonroof, a power operated and height adjustable tailgate, Acura True Touchpad Interface™ with 10.2-inch HD Display, Apple CarPlay™ compatibility, Smart Entry and Smart Start, AcuraLink™ Connected Services with 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi1, 12-way heated driver and passenger sport seats, four-mode Integrated Dynamics System and AcuraWatch™ safety and driver-assistive technology.

Top Active and Passive Safety Tech

The 2019 RDX is designed to provide high levels of both active and passive safety. All models and grades come standard with the full suite of AcuraWatch safety and driver assist technologies, including Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow and Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS).

Utilizing the latest generation of Acura’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure along with advanced supplemental restraint systems, including front and front side airbags, front knee airbags, side curtain airbags, pretensioning seatbelts and Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) child-seat anchors, the 2019 RDX targets top NCAP 5-star Overall Vehicle Score and an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating.

Designed, Developed and Manufactured in America

The third-generation RDX is the first RDX to be designed and developed in America. Styling design of the RDX was conducted by the Acura Design Studio in Los Angeles, California, with development undertaken by the company’s North American R&D team, based in Raymond, Ohio. The new RDX will be manufactured in East Liberty, Ohio, with its 2.0-liter turbo engine produced in the company’s Anna, Ohio engine plant and its 10-speed automatic transmission manufactured at the company’s Tallapoosa, Georgia plant2.

RDX Motorsports Debut

In keeping with Acura’s expanding portfolio of racing programs, the brand also announced that the new RDX will make its competition debut at the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, in late June, alongside three additional Acura entries – the TLX A-Spec, TLX GT and NSX. The production RDX A-Spec will also serve as the official pace car for the 102nd anniversary of the "race to the clouds."

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