2019 Acura RDX review with video

The basics:
Base price: $43,990
As tested: $49,990
Average fuel economy over a week: 10.6 L/100 kms (22 US MPG)
Competitors: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti QX50, Volvo XC60, etc.

 

The last time you saw me standing in front of the Acura RDX, Roger was just learning to walk and I had a little bit more hair. That was the fall of 2015 and there were a lot of things I liked about the second generation version of this car: a smooth, powerful V6 engine, a more spacious trunk and second row than I expected for a compact luxury SUV like this. Well, fast forward to the 2019 RDX and we are dealing with a whole new ball of wax… starting right from the ground up. Rather than being based on the same platform as the CR-V or Civic as we’ve seen in the past, the RDX has its own stand alone platform. It’s a little bigger, a little more expensive, and interestingly, it’s going back to some tech that was in earlier versions of this car and then ditched – things like Acura’s Super Handling all wheel drive system and, just like we’re seeing across so much of the industry, a smaller 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. For a look at how it all comes together, check out our video above.

Pros:
– Standard equipment has been improved and is quite generous: a huuuuge panorama sunroof, 12 way adjustable front seats, a 10.2 inch infotainment system screen that now has Apple CarPlay. You get Acura-watch autonomous driver features like lane keep assist, adaptive cruise, collision mitigation braking and auto high beams. 19 inch alloys also come standard, along with these very powerful Jewel Eye LED headlights, a power tailgate and remote start for those brisk Canadian mornings
– The new 2-litre turbo engine is coupled to a ten speed automatic transmission and the two work quite beautifully together. Like the 2-litre turbo we tested in the new Honda Accord, the company has managed to almost entirely avoid that pesky turbo lag we’re dealing with in so many of these smaller turbos. And while we’ve actually lost seven horsepower compared to its V6 predecessor, torque has been bumped up, which means you can access those 272 horses more easily
– As for the transmission, you can jump up to four gears at a time when you really put the hammer down so the power is there as soon as you need it
– Acura’s Super Handling All Wheel Drive system is back for 2019 – which the company ditched in the second generation. What this system can do is, under extreme situations, both provide much more power to the outside rear wheel while delivering slight braking to the inside front wheel. That combination will help track you out of a potentially dangerous situation. It’s not the winged saviour you might think it is, though. You have to have the guts to keep your foot on the gas during one of those scary moments. Most drivers under duress will instinctively either go off the gas (or even brake). Do that and this system isn’t going to ride in to save the day
– Now, if you do feel like getting a bit more aggressive with your driving, you can dial in the sportiness with the drive mode select dial. Especially in the top of the line Platinum Elite trim we were testing, which has adaptive damping suspension, the difference between comfort for a more cruisy driving experience and sport or sport + is pretty marked – the engine revs higher, the car tenses up, the cornering feel becomes far sharper. It’s actually a very eager cornering car for a decently sized SUV – which makes the standard equipped paddle shifters a welcome addition, too
– On the inside, it feels really good – with far more supportive seats for 2019. These 16 way adjustable front seats in the Platinum Elite trim have really let me dial in the bolsters, lumbar and thigh supports to just the way I like them
– Materials in the cabin are beautiful all around with excellent attention to detail
– And the infotainment system is light years ahead of the previous RDX – with a customizable split screen that gives you a one stop shop for key information like navigation and what’s playing through the sound system
– Despite a car that’s 1 inch wider and 2 inches longer than the previous generation, second row leg room hasn’t changed at all for 2019. But that’s not honestly a bad thing because both the outgoing RDX and this new version both have a deceptive amount of space back there. It’s room enough for three adults and the flat floor across that second row means the piggy in the middle won’t have to uncomfortably perch their feet on some great big hump
– So with all that space, it should be no surprise that our rear facing car seat test came in with a solid 30 inches from the back of the front passenger seat cushion up to the glovebox. That easily beats out much larger SUVs like the seven passenger Toyota Highlander, and does circles around many in this class
– Where space has increased quite a bit for 2019 is the trunk, taking the RDX from an already respectable 732 litre capacity up to a downright impressive 835 litres – more than enough room for our standardized trunk test or our big, 80 lb dog
– And unlike some other manufacturers, like BMW, that give you more trunk space at the cost of giving up a spare tire, you still get a spare here in the RDX

Cons:
– Compare this car to that 2016 RDX we were driving and prices have climbed by around $3,000. It now starts at just shy of $44,000 Canadian which means its lost its pricing edge compared to competitors like the Audi Q5, Infiniti QX50 or Volvo XC60 which all start right around that ballpark
– A big reason why car companies are going toward these smaller turbos is because they can still offer big power while providing better fuel economy. At least, that’s the theory in a lab. But in the real world, when a turbo starts spooling, it can quickly torpedo your efficiency. And that’s what I’m seeing here… there’s really just a slight improvement in economy. In the V6, we averaged 11 L/100 kms over a week and here in the latest RDX? 10.6 L/100 kms – which is rather lack lustre and a fairly insignificant change
– While the infotainment system is a big improvement, I am, however, not so thrilled with the track pad used to control it. It’s finicky, overly-complicated and downright frustrating to use at times
– It’s also a shame that wireless charging for your phone isn’t on any trim here in the RDX, either

Family Wheels report card:
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 4.5/5 (62 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 4/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels overall score: 39/50= 78%

2 comments

  • Martin

    Keep up the good work Paul. I always enjoy reading /viewing your reviews. Question, you had the RDX fuel economy as a con at 10.6 L/100km average during the week, however when you tested the Volvo XC60, you added the fuel economy as a pro with 10.4L/100km. The two vehicles compete in same category, just wasn’t sure why one would be a pro and the other a con. Is the RDX fuel economy that bad considering what it offers and vs the competition?

    • pkarchut

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for writing. Fuel economy is one of those tricky things to consider. I gave the Volvo a better rating because the car is far more athletic while still having slightly better efficiency. The Acura meanwhile, isn’t quite as athletic. Hope that helps and apologies for the late reply!

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