Vehicle Spotlight: Acura RDX, Extreme Makeover Edition

Acura’s are a car manufacturer that everyone knows. Although, when on the road, they’re often mistaken for Hondas. And with many similarities between the two, the mix up is pretty understandable. But for the 2019 year, Acura seems to be making a concerted effort to distinguish itself from the Honda lineup, and they’re doing it with an all new RDX. We know—the Acura RDX sounds like old news. It’s been around since 2007 and frankly, comes across as just another crossover SUV. But the truth is, the Acura RDX was always meant to be more than it’s been. And it seems like the all new model is Acura’s first step at upping up its game and pushing the RDX to its full potential. It’s bigger. It’s faster. It’s better-looking. And it’s now on an entirely new platform exclusive to the model.

I coulda been a contender!”

The first generation of the Acura RDX was introduced in mid-2006 and hit the market as the automaker’s first luxury CUV. Its looks left much to be desired in those early days. (Car and Driver referred to it as a “breadbox” in their 2009 Long-Term Road Test Wrap-Up. And Autoblog’s spotlight implied the Honda CR-V was better looking. Ouch.)

The early model’s poor styling didn’t mean it wasn’t a great vehicle, though. In fact, even as a crossover, the first gen Acura RDX only weighed in at just less than 4,000 pounds. Paired up with the turbo I4, it may not have been a rocket ship, but it was anything but a slug. In 2013 it received an overhaul both in appearance and under the hood, sporting a lighter weight and packing an even more powerful V6. Although, it seems Acura always had bigger and better plans for this CUV, demonstrated by its 2019 third gen release.

Fresh New Face

Several things separate the new Acura RDX from its predecessors. Perhaps the biggest being that it looks like a totally new car. We mentioned its all new chassis. Longer and wider than earlier models, Acura claims it has stiffened the body by using more high-strength steel and adhesive bonding. And that smoother ride extends to the exterior styling. The 2019 Acura RDX is significantly bolder than its forefathers, demanding attention from passerby. And the new Diamond Pentagon grille is knocking audiences dead, giving the vehicle a distinctive and aggressive look. The entire profile says a lot less ‘boring SUV’ and a whole lot more ‘sporty crossover’. In fact, Car and Driver was generous enough in its review to say the new RDX finally has some “actual personality”. Well, well, well. Movin’ on up.

Additionally, for this redesign, Acura ditched the V6 for a turbocharged I4 that produces more power with a liter and a half less of displacement. The automaker also set the default driving mode to “Sport,” signaling to potential customers that the RDX has some bold new swagger to accompany its makeover.

Step Inside

The interior of the Acura RDX has always been at the head of its class. The wood and steel accents are actually wood and steel—not cheap knockoffs like you may find in other brands. The whole cabin is decorated with stitched leather from seats to dash. And the model features some state-of-the-art tech, including a 10.2″ infotainment display with Apple CarPlay, controlled by a touchpad in the console area. Despite a larger wheelbase, however, the passenger area is still about the same. Although, Acura claims the storage area of the rear hatch is the most in its segment—increasing from 26 to 30 cu ft.

Under the Hood

The new RDX only has one engine option for 2019: the 2.0 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder, pumping out 272-hp and 280 lb-ft of torque and backed up with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 model comes standard as a front-wheel drive but can be equipped with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive System. The Super Handling system is designed to articulate power from front to back in order to get the vehicle in and out of turns quickly and effectively.

Everything about the new Acura RDX separates it from its previous iterations. The exterior is fresh, bold, and sporty. The interior is classy and engaging. And depending on the package selected, drivers have some impressive styling, tech, and 4-wheel options to choose from. Acura went the extra mile with the 2019 RDX to ensure its original vision for the model as a luxury sporty crossover for “high-energy urbanites”. (Their words, not ours.) Rome wasn’t built in a day and it seems like maybe the RDX just needed a few test runs before it hit its full potential.

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