The RDX has been a top seller for Honda and its upscale Acura brand. In fact it’s sold over 50,000 of them every year for the past three – outselling the vast majority of its rivals. But now six years old, it’s beginning to show its age and lose its leadership.
Fortunately Acura has revealed a new version at the New York Auto Show this week, ushering in the third generation of the compact luxury crossover.
There goes the beak
Previewed by the concept version shown just two months ago in Detroit, the new 2019 Acura RDX adopts a fresh design language for the brand that leaves the controversial “shield” grille in the rear-view mirror (figuratively speaking). The new theme stems from the Precision concept showcased (also in Detroit) back in 2016, and is incrementally proliferating across the lineup.
Underneath that fresh sheetmetal, the new RDX rides on a 2.6-inch longer wheelbase that affords it more cargo space. It’s also fitted with a 2.0-liter turbo four and Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system. The engine kicks out 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, up 20 horses and 28 lb-ft over the outgoing model’s larger, naturally aspirated V6. It transmits its power to all four wheels through a ten-speed automatic transmission – a first in this segment – to make this “the quickest and best-handling RDX ever,” according to the manufacturer.
Up to 70 percent of the torque can be sent to the rear axle, and on to either (or both) of the rear wheels. Steering is handled by a variable electric system. And it’s all suspended on MacPherson struts at the front and a five-link independent setup at the back, with available active dampers.
As with the larger MDX (and other Acura models), there’s a sportier A-Spec model as well. More about show than go, the RDX A-Spec features 20-inch wheels, gloss-black trim, and an available two-tone red and black leather interior.
Higher-end materials inside
Even in standard spec, though, the compact crossover incorporates high-end materials like brushed aluminum, open-pore wood, ultrasuede, and leather. There’s a big panoramic glass moonroof overhead, and a long list of tech features inside. Those include a 10.5-inch head-up display, a 10.2-inch infotainment screen (running an Android-based system), a touchpad controller, voice recognition, a knob to switch between four drive modes, and an available 16-channel, 710-watt audio system developed with Panasonic and tuned by a Grammy award-winning music producer. And it packs all the latest safety features as well.
The vehicle’s been designed in California and engineered in Ohio, where it (and its engine) will also be manufactured. That makes this a thoroughly American product, despite the parent company’s Japanese roots. We don’t have pricing yet, but the new RDX is slated to to start arriving at showrooms in the next few months.
The competition is unforgiving
When it does, though, it’ll face a far more competitive market than it enjoyed when the first generation was introduced a dozen years ago. By now the luxury compact crossover market has ballooned with Japanese contenders like the Lexus NX and Infiniti QX50; German rivals like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, and Porsche Macan; other Europeans like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery Sport, and Volvo XC40; and domestic offerings like the Lincoln MKC, Buick Envision, and the new Cadillac XT4, also introduced today in Manhattan.
* This post has been updated with new information and visual assets