Acura might be calling its unveil of the third-generation RDX crossover a prototype, but the five-passenger luxury SUV making its global debut at North American International Auto Show is production-ready.
It goes on sale this summer, and there also will be an A-Spec variant available at launch—the first sporty addition for an Acura SUV. In the future, all core Acura vehicles will get the A-spec treatment.
Acura is calling it an all-new, exclusive platform—but the RDX started with the Honda CR-V architecture and modified the chassis and upgraded the powertrain. Obviously, the sheetmetal is much different, too.
The only engine under the hood at launch is the new 2.0-liter VTEC turbocharged inline-four-cylinder engine that is shared with the Honda Civic Type R and Accord. The direct-injection engine—which generates 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in the Type R and 252 hp and 273 lb-ft in the Accord—has 40 percent more low-end grunt than that of the outgoing RDX and is mapped to deliver more low-end thrust than the revvy Type R. We also expect a hybrid variant in the future.
The RDX’s 10-speed automatic transmission is shared with the Odyssey and Accord, but this is its first all-wheel-drive application.
The 2019 RDX is the same height as the outgoing RDX but is longer and wider with a wheelbase lengthened by 2.5 inches and a 1.2-inch wider track, said engineer Steve Hansen. It also has a shorter overhang and long wheel-to-dash for more dramatic proportions, fronted by the signature diamond pentagon grille and next-gen LED headlights. In back is a “dragon tail” with LED lamps.
Engineers made the body and chassis stiffer and gave the 2019 model a multilink rear suspension with a new adaptive damper system. Drive modes are similar to the NSX’s, which defaults to Sport but can be switched to Comfort, Snow, or Sport Plus. It has variable gear steering.
The 2019 model gets the second generation of Acura’s torque vectoring Super-Handling All Wheel Drive or SH-AWD. About 60 percent of current buyers opt for AWD.
It was at the 2016 NAIAS that Acura showed the Precision concept that would shape the design direction for the brand going forward. Some cues made it into the NSX, but the RDX is the first Acura to fully implement the look the Precision telegraphed, says Acura General Manager Jon Ikeda.
The interior takes cues from the Precision’s cockpit. There are real metals—not faux-look plastics—including brushed aluminum as well as open-pore olive ash wood. The floating console creates space underneath, and the adjustable armrest is nice and necessary around the fixed location of the infotainment interface.
The 16-way adjustable sport front seats are heated and cooled, covered in Nappa leather, and offer lumbar support. Four of the 16 speakers in the updated sound system are located in the roof instead of the door, for better sound and clarity. Also standard are a sport steering wheel and ultra-wide panoramic roof.
The infotainment system features a touchpad interface and a 10.2-inch screen. The new interface will be in future Acuras. The RDX also has new natural language speech recognition. There is 4G LTE Wi-Fi and over-the-air updates for telematics and infotainment.
The RDX made its debut for the 2007 model year and helped create the compact luxury crossover as we know it. With a consistent string of sales increases, the RDX has been the No. 1 or No. 2 seller in the segment for the past five years.
This is the first RDX to be developed in the U.S., tapping the Ohio engineering team and California design studio. The crossover will continue to be built in Ohio at the East Liberty plant, and the engine is assembled in the Anna, Ohio, facility that also makes the twin-turbo engine for the NSX.