2019 Acura RDX

Third time’s a charm



  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 31 Aug 2018

By James Park


   In 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival, Bob Dylan stepped up onto the stage and picked up an electric guitar, kind of revolutionizing the whole folk music genre.

   At the time, a lot of traditionalists were miffed, to say the least. But once a movement gets rolling, it could be almost impossible to put the brakes to it.

   When the Acura RDX came on scene in 2006 as a 2007 model, it happened to be almost only crossover offering a turbocharged four cylinder motor. It was a pioneer of sorts… but a timid one. Unable to ignore the less than stellar sales number, Acura decided to go back to the familiar normal-breathing V6 with the introduction of the second-gen RDX in 2012.

   Meanwhile, the pace of industry’s switch from six or more cylinders to smaller force-fed engines became downright frenetic. Now it’s normal to see mid-size utilities with two-litre turbo mills and the all new RDX has come full circle to re-join the trend.

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The 2019 (third-gen) RDX is better looking, better handling, more luxurious and slightly more powerful than the model it replaces.

   The second-gen model, with bland and non-offensive styling, did a good job of disappearing in shopping mall parking lots. On the other hand, the new RDX grabs attention with large pentagonal grill with the massive Acura logo in the middle, aggressive lower fascia, LED ‘Jewel Eye’ headlights, chrome accents and character lines, wheel arches and creases. It is a handsome vehicle overall, if somewhat busy.

   Perhaps unfortunately, this busy theme is carried into the interior. Personally, this writer suspects the designers got a little carried away. The drive mode dial does not have to be so big and at the centre of the dash. Middle-aged people like me still want to see good old fashioned PRDNL shift-lever.

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   However, one thing that really tests the patience of this writer is the new touch-pad interface for the infotainment system. It is finicky, awkward and non-intuitive. Hate to say this, but I prefer the dinky joystick of some Lexus vehicles over this… nuff said.

   Still, the new RDX has much more redeeming qualities than not. The heated and cooled leather seats are all-day comfortable and the nicely thick leather-wrapped steering wheel gives off plenty of sporting vive.

   All the materials are soft to the touch and look suitably high quality, as well as the overall fit and finish.

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As mentioned, the RDX has gone back to the turbo motor. The 2 litre four develops maximum 272 horses and 280 lb-ft of twist. Compared to the 3.5 litre V6 it replaces, horsepower is about the same but the torque goes up by 28 lb-ft. More importantly, the maximum grunt is generated at a lower engine speed. The new RDX definitely feels faster than the old one.

   The force-fed engine also sounds pretty decent for a four-cylinder, even if it is little enhanced by the speaker system. 

   Acura’s new ten-speed automatic works quite satisfactorily, as well. The up-shifts come smoothly and it down-shifts without hesitation. Even with ten gears, it seldom searches for the right gear at any given situation.

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   The RDX is basically a front-wheel drive vehicle, but its ‘Super-handling’ AWD system can send up to 70% of the torque to the rear wheels. More than that, 100% of that 70% can be delivered to the inner or the outer rear wheel as needed. It is an effective torque-vectoring platform that boosts the driver’s confidence through fast corners. When it comes to handling, the RDX is much better than average.

   Handling prowess aside, the RDX remains a luxury crossover at heart. Even the middle of the lineup ‘Elite’ model provided to this writer, boasts such amenities as panoramic sunroof, ELS premium audio, head-up display, 10.2 inch infotainment screen, Apple Carplay (Android Auto is coming), as well as most of the de rigueur electronic nannies expected.

   The base model starts from $43,990, followed by Tech, Elite and A-Spec. The top-of-the-line Platinum Elite tops out at the MSRP of $54,990 before taxes and other mandatory fees.

   The third time’s a charm. The new RDX is better vehicle that can steal customers from Audi and BMW. I believe Acura has a winner. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)

 

2019 Acura RDX Elite

Price: $49,990

Engine: 2.0 litre turbo four

Power: 272 hp/280 lb-ft

Transmission: 10 spd auto

Drive: AWD

Fuel: 11.0 litres per 100km (city), 8.6 litres (highway)

Best: better styling, power and handling

Worst: touch-pad interface

Competition: Infiniti QX50, Lexus NX

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