Acura’s all-new RDX SUV/crossover has become almost as popular sales wise as its big brother the MDX. This third generation compact luxury SUV, that has loads of competition. But it has traits some of the others may lack. And that’s Acura parent Honda’s renowned reliability and value. In fact, try finding a used one on dealer lots.
RDX is offered in front or AWD and in base, Technology, A-Spec and Advance trim levels. We tested the latter top-tier SH-AWD (Super Handling) with its superior grip and handling characteristics and an impressive 8.2 inches of undercarriage clearance for relatively deep snow traction.
The major enhancement for the RDX is its new powertrain. A 2.0L, VTEC turbo 4-cylinder with 272-hp and 280 ft/lb of torque, replaces the former V6 that generated 279-hp and 252 lb/ft of torque. A minor horsepower drop but a significant torque increase. The turbo four sends power to the wheels via a new 10-speed automatic transmission that earns EPA mileage estimates of 21 city, 27-highway mpg with start/stop technology. So equipped, RDX carries a tow rating of 1,500 pounds, enough for a utility trailer or small boat.
The transmission differs from what most folks are used to. Acura’s 10-speed, with paddle shifters, uses push buttons for the Park position, a button marked “P” must be depressed, a D for drive and R for reverse. It takes some getting used to especially if you’re coming off a traditional steering column or console mounted shifter.
The higher torque presence is significant as there’s gobs of low end power with only a snippet of turbo lag. It has been independently 0-60 tested at 7.0 seconds, not too bad for an SUV with a curb weight of a hefty 4,019 pounds.
Performance wise, there’s certainly no want for power. And driver’s can gain more spunk as the RDX offers Sport and Sport Plus modes. There’s also Snow and Comfort modes that complete Acura’s four mode Integrated Dynamics System.
The new RDX has several new safety features one of which is their AcuraWatch Safety System that combines lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and road-departure mitigation that applies a visual alert, applies steering torque back into the lane and generates rapid vibrations in the steering wheel to stay between the road lines.
Another neat feature is Acura’s Walk Away Door Lock. It automatically locks the car as you walk away so there’s no question if the car was locked.
Aside from its sporty aggressive exterior, its interior is similarly styled with panoramic sunroof, heated perforated leather seats (the fronts are cooled as well), a 10.2-inch iPad-look display atop the dash that gives a multi-view of three different angles including a surround view. The touchpad is super-sensitive (a touchscreen would be better) and controls all display functions. HVAC controls are easy to use but a good read of the owners’ manual is still a necessity, as it should be.
There’s also a nifty compartment beneath the console to stow a ladies’ purse, winter gloves or other items.
Aside from a host of apps and satellite radio, Apple CarPlay is offered plus navigation, rearview camera and more.
Front seats are nicely supportive and soft. They hug the torso ever so nicely. Back in the rear seats, that have a low 19-inch step in, they’re sofa soft with ample head and decent leg room and can comfortably seat three adults with RDX’s flat floor.
In the cargo area, liftover is a convenient 29.5 inches that offers one of the largest areas in its class. With the rear seatbacks upright, there’s 29.5 cubic feet that measures 36 inches deep, 42.5 wide and 30.25 high. Flip the seatbacks and capacity increases to 58.9 cubic feet for 69 inches of cargo loading depth.
Beneath the cargo floor is a spacious 30x16 inch, 7.5-inch deep bin for stowing small and medium size items out of sight.
As for ride, shod with Continental 19-inch tires RDX rides quietly and smoothly and handles with confidence. Its suspension absorbs bumps and tar strips that doesn’t reverberate into the cabin. The SH-AWD keeps the SUV planted in sharp turns especially as it applies torque to achieve excellent balance. It also parks easily in tight spots (has a tight 38.9 inches turn radius).
In Comfort mode, steering feel is light and preferred on interstates. For more aggressive situations, Sport and Sport Plus tightens things up and maintains a taut and assuring feel. The only feature we’d like to see on the RDX is an AWD lock mode for when the going gets bogged in deep snow.
Since the RDX test car was not for sale, the sticker had no price. So with an extremely long list of standard features and functions, the Advance has been dealer listed for $46,495 but could depending upon other options, could slot in at around $50K. The only option showing on the Monroney was $400 for a premium exterior color.
The RDX also comes with a 6/60K powertrain warranty, 4/50K limited vehicle warranty. But that’s not all.
RDX received a top 5-star Overall Vehicle Score in government crash testing, and earned a Top Safety Pick from the Institute for Highway Safety plus a Good rating in crashworthiness tests. Motor Trend listed it as one of the safest luxury SUVs for 2019.