As the 2019 Acura RDX prepares for its upcoming auto-show debut, the stakes are higher than ever before. The Acura RDX will need to defend its place near the top of the compact luxury crossover segment’s sales charts against new challengers from Volvo, Jaguar, and Infiniti, as well as plenty of other premium CUVs that start under $40,000. Now entering its third generation, the RDX comes from an automotive bloodline that started on the sporty side but then shifted toward the mainstream in its second iteration. So what will the 2019 Acura RDX be like? What follows are our predictions on how the luxury automaker will update one of its most important models.
Photos of the outgoing RDX crossovers are shown below.
Bringing Turbo Back
We called the first-gen Acura RDX “the EVO of crossovers” in a long-term verdict of a 2007 model that was powered by a 2.3-liter turbo-four with 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a five-speed automatic, this combination was good for Motor-Trend-tested 0-60-mph times of 6.5-7.3 seconds when we tested 2007 models (a 2011 model is shown above). Nearly 10 years later, we tested a second-gen 2016 RDX with its 279-hp 3.5-liter V-6 producing 252 lb-ft of torque. On the track, the RDX scooted to 60 in just 6.2 seconds.
The 2019 RDX will likely be powered by a version of the 2.0-liter turbo-four in the 2018 Accord 2.0T and could use the brand’s eight-speed twin-clutch automatic to differentiate it from the Accord 2.0T that doesn’t offer that transmission. That sedan uses a 10-speed automatic and accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.7 seconds. We expect the 2019 RDX to be just as quick as the last-gen model but offer greater efficiency. With Honda preparing a CR-V hybrid in some markets and the MDX already offering a hybrid model, an RDX hybrid could be part of the product plan after the non-hybrid model is revealed.
Matching Your Driving Mood
The 2019 RDX will have a version of the brand’s Integrated Dynamics system (IDS), which can change settings on the throttle sensitivity, steering, transmission, HVAC, and even the engine sound. Move from the TLX’s Econ or Normal modes to Sport+, and the car noticeably changes the way it sounds and drives. In the MDX, IDS settings can be programed into the two key fobs.
Space comes at a premium in most luxury cars, but that’s not the case with the outgoing RDX. In fact, interior space was one of the bland-but-capable crossover’s best features; the 2018 RDX has more interior space than many of its similarly priced competitors, and don’t expect this to change on the new Acura. The outgoing RDX didn’t have reclining rear seats, but it shared the Honda CR-V’s simple latches in the liftgate area—pull a latch and part of the 60/40-split seat easily folds down. We hope this feature will make it onto the new RDX.
If the 2019 RDX remains on the spacious side of the segment, that could leave room for an even smaller crossover such as the CDX. Through the first 11 months of 2017, Acura’s two crossovers each outsold the brand’s entire car lineup.
Although many over the years have questioned what Acura stands for, value is still one key brand advantage. The 2019 RDX will probably come standard with LED headlights, heated front seats, and a power liftgate yet still undercut a couple competitors in price. We’d be surprised if the AcuraWatch package of active safety tech isn’t standard on every model, as well. The tech suite will probably include adaptive cruise control with a stop-and-go function, lane keeping assist, automatic braking, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The dual-screen layout on most Acuras today won’t survive to the 2019 RDX. That’s almost a shame considering the brand improved it on the refreshed TLX and MDX, but we won’t complain if the new RDX makes its debut with a large screen at the top of its center stack. Infotainment systems these days play a significant role in how much you’ll enjoy a car or use some features you paid extra for, so we hope Acura gets it right on the new RDX.
The Acura Precision Interior concept (shown below) featured a 12.3-inch screen as its instrument cluster and infotainment displays, and we wouldn’t count on that for a base-model 2019 RDX. But an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with a 12.3-inch screen available on the top trim is a possibility, and we look forward to seeing the current RDX’s dated gauges being redesigned.
Your Feature Presentation
A 360-degree camera system will make its way onto the 2019 Acura RDX’s options list, as will heated/ventilated front seats (like the outgoing RDX), heated rear seats, and, most likely, additional interior color options aside from black, gray, and beige. It’s unclear whether there’s enough interest in an RDX A-Spec model, but all 2019 models will wear the brand’s diamond pentagon grille.
In its second generation, the RDX became recommendable for a wider variety of buyers but lost a bit of its character. We can’t wait to see where the 2019 model fits in the standing-room-only $35,000-$45,000 luxury crossover class once the redesigned RDX makes its debut in 2018.