• Car Review

Driven: 2019 Acura RDX Review

By David Undercoffler | June 13, 2018

Autolist rating: 4/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $38,295 - $48,395, including destination

Key takeaways

  • Redesigned for 2019.
  • Key updates include all-new styling, new turbo engine and more interior space.
  • Packs a tremendous value for its segment.
  • Fun to drive.
  • Lacks intangible luxury of European competitors.

What is it?

The RDX is Acura’s compact crossover, and it’s Acura’s most popular vehicle (Acura is the luxury brand of Honda). The RDX seats five and slots one size below Acura’s larger MDX three-row model.

The third-generation RDX is all-new for 2019. It competes against some of the most popular crossovers in the luxury segment, including the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, Infiniti QX50, Lexus RX and NX, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Cadillac XT5, Lincoln Nautilus and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

With the 2019 redesign comes a larger footprint: the new RDX is about 2.5 inches longer overall, with a longer wheelbase and a slightly higher stance.

It comes with a single powertrain choice: a fresh-off-the-vine 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and a 10-speed automatic transmission (the previous generation had a 273-horsepower V6 and six-speed automatic transmission).

The RDX comes standard with front-wheel drive; Acura’s sophisticated “Super Handling” all-wheel drive is a $2,000 option.

There are three option packages you can add to the RDX: the Tech Package, the sport-tuned A-Spec Package and the Advance Package. See below for more details on these.

What’s good

TLDR: Nearly everything

Value. It’s not just for mainstream vehicles; the RDX proves that luxury nameplates like Acura’s can offer it too. The RDX starts at a cool $38,295 and gives you plenty for your money. Standard features include active safety gear (pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control), a 10.2-inch infotainment display screen with touchpad, faux-leather seats that are heated up front, panoramic moonroof and a power liftgate. What more do you need?

Space. Acura put the larger footprint of the 2019 RDX to good use, as there’s plenty of space throughout the entire vehicle. Plus, the RDX has little touches like a flat floor in the back seats (no hump in the middle), storage under the trunk floor and gobs of room for rear-seat passengers. If you’re buying a crossover for its practicality, this stuff matters.

The touchpad. This may seem like a little thing, but ask someone who owns a vehicle with a touch-sensitive pad that controls the infotainment system how much they like it. Chances are not much. Acura’s is a first in that the cursor on the 10.2-inch screen is always exactly where your finger is on the touchpad. This sounds obvious, but on all other systems on the market, the cursor isn’t directly aligned with your finger. Despite a small learning curve, it’s a great innovation.

What’s bad

TLDR: Sport trim is worth skipping, lacks that Euro touch

The A-Spec Package. Acura will no doubt make a lot of noise about this sporty option package on the new RDX (and indeed all of its models going forward). While the upgrades are nice to look at (larger wheels, slightly different front and rear bumpers, grille and fog lights, unique interior trim and seats that you can order in bright red), it doesn’t boost the RDX’s handling, or power or fun-to-drive factor. So skip it. The RDX is good enough -- and fun enough -- to drive without this $3,000 option.

Close, but no cigar. While the RDX is a huge leap forward in terms of competing against the luxury heavyweights in its segment, it still lacks an intangible sophistication that some of its European rivals have. This is a small complaint and certainly no reason to skip the RDX, but shoppers who are trading in a vehicle from Germany may notice the difference.

5 stars of execution

Safety? YES

  • Acura starts things off on the right foot by making a suite of active safety gear standard on all models of RDX -- something many of its competitors don’t do. These features include pre-collision warning and braking, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have yet to crash test the 2019 RDX at the time of publication, though Acura says it is targeting the highest safety rating from each agency once testing is done.
  • The RDX also comes with eight airbags, two of which are knee airbags for the driver and front passenger.

Value? YES

  • This is one of the strongest draws for the RDX: its value. As we mentioned, the $38,295 base model comes with nearly every amenity you’d want: faux-leather seats that are heated up front, all the aforementioned safety gear, panoramic moonroof and the 10.2-inch infotainment screen and system (navigation is extra).
  • There are three option packages available that add anything else you’re looking for. The $3,200 Tech Package would be our choice; it adds real leather seats, 19-inch alloy wheels, a 12-speaker sound system, navigation, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and parking sensors.

Efficiency? NO

  • The 2019 RDX has an EPA rating of 22/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined for front-wheel-drive models and 21/27/23 mpg for AWD models.
  • Those numbers are fine in the grand scheme of things, but they’re subpar when compared to most of the RDX’s rivals.

Driving experience? YES

  • The RDX -- even the normal, non-A-Spec version -- is plenty of fun to drive. There’s no obvious turbo lag when you start accelerating, and the steering, handling and 10-speed transmission are well-tuned and responsive.
  • We tested a loaded all-wheel-drive model on dry roads and found the Super-Handling AWD system to be an excellent asset for the RDX handling, but it’s certainly not a feature you must have if you don’t need it in bad weather.
  • Our only complaint -- and it’s minor -- is that the turbocharged engine sounds and feels a little strained when you really push it hard.

Execution? YES

  • While the previous RDX certainly wasn’t lacking, this third-generation model is a big step forward for Acura in the luxury landscape.
  • The RDX does nearly everything well and does it all with style, comfort, excitement and -- most crucially -- value.
  • It’s a more sporty alternative to most of its competitors, even if it does lack the final veneer of sophistication that the Europeans have long mastered.

Total Rating: 4 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

As mentioned, a front-wheel-drive RDX starts at $38,295 and comes with faux-leather seats that are heated up front, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, pre-collision warning and braking, a panoramic moonroof, a 10.2-inch infotainment screen and system with nine speakers and Apple CarPlay compatibility and satellite radio, LED headlights and taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels and a power liftgate.

The $3,200 Tech Package is the one we would add, and it comes with larger 19-inch alloy wheels, real leather seats, GPS-linked climate control, a 12-speaker sound system, navigation with 3D views and real-time traffic re-routing, blind spot monitoring, parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alerts. For those bad at math, our favorite version would cost a total of $41,495, including destination, for front-wheel-drive models.

The sport-tuned A-Spec Package costs $3,000 and requires the Tech Package for a total of $44,495, including destination, on front-wheel-drive models. It adds even larger 20-inch alloy wheels, a unique exterior bits (front and rear bumpers, LED fog lights, revised grille), upgraded interior trim like faux-suede trim, heated and ventilated front seats, the option of bright red interior trim and a 16-speaker sound system.

At the top of the heap is the $4,900 Advance Package, which requires the Tech Package, but can’t be combined with the A-Spec. For a total of $46,395 total for front-wheel-drive models, this group adds goodies like an adaptive suspension, a hands-free liftgate, a huge 10.5-inch color heads-up display, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, wood trim, heated steering wheel, 16-speaker sound system, 360-degree camera system and rain-sensing wipers.

All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option on all models.

Also consider

The RDX is in a tightly contested segment with plenty of strong competition.

Our favorites, in terms of being the most well-rounded, include the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and the Lexus models. The BMW X3 is also nice, but it can get pricey.

This Acura RDX definitely deserves a look if you’re in the market for any of these other models.