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Review: 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec

Before I forget, let me offer one suggestion should you purchase the Acura RDX. Do a quick online search for how to disable a feature called Walk Away Auto Lock. You’ll thank me.

Yes, in my 20 years of writing car reviews that was easily the oddest way I’ve ever started one.

Auto Lock means you pull into your garage and go in the house, and the car just decides to lock itself. So 10 minutes later when you need something out of the back seat you walk out to the garage — and can’t get in the car. You have to go back inside and get the keys.

Disable. Quickly. Save yourself frustration.

Okay, now to the meat: The RDX is a winner. (As long as you can get inside it.)

The Basics

For 2019 Acura redesigned the RDX, kicking off the third generation of this luxury compact SUV. During its lifetime it has gone from a 4-cylinder engine to a V6 and now, with this third gen, back to a 4-cylinder that produces 272 horsepower. It’s the same engine that Honda uses for their Accord, and it’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Instead of offering trim levels like we’re used to (such as base, limited, etc.) the RDX essentially comes in one trim level but with a variety of options packages.

Those have names of their own, including Base, Technology, A-Spec, and Advance. Even the Base edition comes fairly well-equipped, with a power liftgate, a panoramic roof, heated front seats, and simulated leather.

So we’re talking features that are often upgrades in other cars.

For one week I drove the A-Spec edition, which bumps up to 20-inch wheels and adds some interior touches and ventilated seats.

There are few stand-alone options, but one of those includes all-wheel drive. Otherwise the RDX comes standard with front-wheel drive.

The exterior looks like . . . well, it looks like a compact SUV. There’s not much that can be done to make this segment look unique, but the RDX manages to pull off a stylish, somewhat-edgy look.

The Inside

I liked the mixture of leather and brushed metal. And there’s something I lovingly referred to as velvet that coated part of the dash. Overall the combination was pleasant and comfortable.

As were the seats. Between the upscale materials and the design, you’re sure to find a comfy setting for any driver in your home.

And the RDX is spacious. That includes not just the room up front, but even rear passengers come away without feeling squashed.

All the controls are easy and intuitive, with the exception of the touchpad system (which we’ll address when we get to Tech). The steering wheel has a nice feel to it and I even enjoyed the shifter display, although some still aren’t sold on Acura’s design.

Storage space up front is good, and that includes the space residing below the bridge. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. The center console splits into an upper and lower, creating a sizable volume underneath for you to store things like a phone, hand sanitizer, another goodies.

Rear cargo space, however, is sizable, one of the largest you’ll find in this segment. And, to boot, there’s even additional room below the cargo floor panel.

The Drive

Acceleration is good with the new RDX. Although they opted to decrease the engine from the V6 to 4-cylinder, they did pump up the torque quite a bit. You’ll never feel cheated off the line.
With that 10-speed transmission I chuckled because it seemed like it was constantly shifting — which it probably was.

Steering and handling were good if not exceptional. You’ll want to experiment between the various settings, such as Comfort and Sport.

The ride is quiet, even over bumpy roads. You’ll get a certain growl if you opt for the A-Spec version. It didn’t intimidate anyone around me but it was fun to hear the RDX show off.

So what you get is a fun, somewhat-sporty ride, exactly what you’d want in a luxury crossover/SUV.

The Tech

This is where it gets interesting. Acura has pushed all their chips in with a tech interface called True Touchpad.

Just as we’re all getting used to touchscreens, they throw us a touchpad. So you’re not going to see a cursor working across the 10.2-inch screen.

Instead, you’ll touch the touchpad on the part that corresponds to what’s on the screen. So, for instance, if you want to access something that’s in the upper left corner of the screen, you touch the upper left corner of your touchpad.

The idea was that your muscle memory will develop to the point where you can touch the pad without having to spend as much time looking at the screen.

In theory, I really like the idea. It just took me a while to get used to it, and I found I wasn’t crazy about it. I was glad, in other words, that they also include a Home button to bail you out.

But, to be fair, I have a feeling that just a little more time would’ve had me fall in love with it and never want to go back.

Other than that, the RDX has a nice array of solid features. The climate system is easy to manipulate because they’ve given us buttons, bless them.

There’s an abundant supply of the safety features we’re demanding these days, under the umbrella of AcuraWatch. That includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigating braking, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.

Apple CarPlay is included. For the time being, Android Auto is not. I gotta believe it’s coming.

The Bottom Line

For several years Acura has had a real player in the luxury compact crossover playground. Completely redesigning the RDX may not have been a necessity, but they’re getting an early jump on everyone else’s changes.

The RDX looks good, it’s a solid, comfortable ride, and the tech is aggressive enough to tantalize many people looking to reward themselves by moving up to a higher price point.

The 2019 model is longer and taller, and interior space is generous.

The second generation was a hit, and there’s nothing to indicate things will be anything but rosy for this third gen. It’s definitely worth a test drive for you.

The Details

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec AWD
2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine
10-speed automatic transmission
272 horsepower
All-wheel drive optional (front-wheel drive is standard)
Fuel economy: 21/26/23 combined
MSRP: $45,600
As tested: $46,995

Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer


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