New Car Previews

Preview: 2019 Acura RDX Prototype

DETROIT – To suggest Acura’s compact RDX crossover is an important machine to the brand is a significant understatement.

“The most extensive Acura redesign in more than a decade.”

Not only does the RDX wear the crown for top-selling model in the Acura lineup (in both Canada and the United States), but it’s also positioned in one of the hottest market segments. It’s also the only model in the compact luxury SUV category that has sold more than 50,000 units for three consecutive years Stateside.

It’s no surprise then that Acura is using the all-new RDX to showcase the next generation of Acura’s brand styling, both inside and out the car.

Following some dark years of Acura styling (remember the big silver beak? Yeah, we’re trying to forget it, too), a new theme of “Precision Crafted Performance” defines not only the dynamics, but the appearance of Acura’s future lineup. President and CEO of American Honda Motor Company proclaimed the new RDX to be “the most extensive Acura redesign in more than a decade.”

And it’s a great new look. Drawing from the Acura Precision Concept and the Acura Precision Cockpit from recent years, the new RDX will be considerably bolder with a lower and wider stance. Up front, the next-generation jewel-eye LED headlights and the diamond pentagon grille lead into the sweeping profile with a sharp character line arcing up the flank. The rear is dominated by what Acura calls its “dragon-tail” taillight design.

Inside, there’s more space than last year’s RDX thanks to a wheelbase stretched 6.3 cm. Cargo space is also reportedly improved with the addition of an under-floor storage bin. New sport seats up front are 16-way adjustable for each the driver and front passenger, and they face a dashboard finished in authentic brushed aluminum and real open-pore wood. A sliding panoramic sunroof will be standard equipment on all RDX models in Canada.

Acura has implemented their Acura True Touchpad Interface infotainment system. Featuring a 10.2-inch centre display (plus an additional, available 10.5-inch head-up display), the system places the screen high enough to be within the driver’s field of view, and features a touchpad application mapped at exactly 1:1 relative scale. This reportedly makes for a more intuitive interface than traditional touchpad systems. Acura claims the result is a system mastered by users within minutes. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot will be included as well.

The audio system is also revolutionary. Beyond the 710-watt power, the Panasonic-developed ELS 3D system includes ultra-thin speakers mounted in the ceiling above the passengers to present an audio field that’s defined fore–aft, side-to-side, and up–down.

While clearly competing in a premium market segment, Acura’s spokespeople made a point of defining the brand as “Honda’s Performance Brand,” and not their luxury brand. While the new aggressive styling speaks to this direction, it also holds promise to be dynamically superior than before.

The 3.5L V6 of last year’s model is replaced with a new 2.0L VTECH DOHC turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that reportedly dispenses 40 percent more low-end torque than the old V6. Specific power and torque numbers were not provided, but looking to the 2.0T in the Honda Accord for estimates is likely to be a safe bet.

Power is directed to the next-generation Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system via a segment-first 10-speed automatic transmission. A new rear differential is designed to handle a 40 percent increase in maximum torque. Acura claims this will be the quickest RDX yet.

A wider track (by 30 mm) and wheels pushed to the corners, and coupled with a stiffer overall structure, should help to make the new RDX a lively handler. A new Adaptive Damper System will help drivers choose between four drive modes (Sport, Sport+, Comfort, and Snow) via the Integrated Dynamics System controller, placed high in the centre dash.

For those looking for even more performance in their RDX, an A-Spec version will be revealed in the spring – the first such trim for an Acura SUV.

With properly contemporary styling and the promise of improved driving dynamics, Acura’s RDX looks to be a significant leap forward, and generates all new excitement for the Acura brand.

The 2019 Acura RDX is scheduled to arrive in showrooms by mid-2018.