First Impressions: 2019 Acura RDX

2019 Acura RDX

The fully redesigned RDX marks the start of the compact luxury SUV’s third generation.

By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | June 2018

We got a sneak preview of the vehicle at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and were pretty impressed by the experience. Every RDX comes powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 272 horsepower, paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, though we suspect most buyers will upgrade to all-wheel drive, as is common with crossovers. The all-wheel drive system features torque vectoring, which means that the system can send extra power to the rear wheels, which helps with maneuvering. Our test course consisted of winding country roads around a sparkling lake on a gorgeous sunny day, and the RDX seemed eager to show off these capabilities. The system seems to be a good match for the peppy and enthusiastic engine.

The centerpiece of the interior is a floating center console that arches up from the gearshift area and meets the dash, creating a storage nook. This idea isn’t entirely new (it reminded us of the Volvo C30) but it’s unlike anything else out there right now and has the visual effect of carving out separate nooks for driver and front passenger. The gear selector, by the way, consists of buttons rather than a physical shifter. The interior is clearly of good build quality with soft-touch materials throughout, even on the dash, and the seats are comfortable and easy to adjust.

Based on our short time with the new Acura RDX, its main drawback is the infotainment system, which is controlled by a touchpad. There seems to be a disconnect between where your finger actually is on the touchpad and where the cursor appears on the screen, which makes it especially distracting to use while driving. Furthermore, there are buttons at each corner, which are supposed to act as shortcuts to the corresponding point on the screen, but seemed just… too much. Too complicated and too steep of a learning curve. It’s reasonable to assume the user experience will improve with practice, though we found it impersonal at best and frustrating at worst. In the meantime, Acura provides old-school controls for most functions. 

The 2019 Acura RDX starts at $37,300 and the A-Spec model we tested, which includes extra tech and appearance features, starts at $43,500. The new RDX will be available soon.