Competes with: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Volvo XC60
Looks like: The RDX found the keys to the gym; it's more muscular and appears more substantial all-around, calling to mind the Mazda CX-5.
Drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder; 10-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive available
Hits dealerships: The production version will land in mid-2018.
Acura is giving the five-seat RDX luxury SUV a massive overhaul for 2019, and the Honda luxury brand presaged its arrival with a prototype version at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Even though it's being called a prototype, Acura said the show car is "highly representative of what the production model will look like when it arrives later this year." In other words: What we're seeing in Detroit will pretty much all carry through to when the 2019 RDX reaches dealerships in mid-2018.
Related: More 2018 Detroit Auto Show Coverage
This is a comprehensive, top-to-bottom update for the RDX, which will ride on a new, Acura-exclusive platform. It'll also feature a new powertrain and updated technology debuting on the RDX, including a new touchpad interface for the multimedia system.
The old RDX would blend in on the road, but the new one won't have nearly that same degree of anonymity. It adopts the large pentagon grille currently found on a few other Acura models, and it has a wider track and longer wheelbase than the old version. The styling is more aggressive and angular, making the RDX appear to have a much taller nose, and the angles are more dramatic. The RDX will also feature a new version of Acura's "Jewel Eye" LED headlights.
Acura has thoroughly revamped the interior, as well, with new, more luxurious materials like Nappa leather, open-pore wood and aluminum accents. The 16-way powered front sport seats have been redesigned and feature heating and ventilation along with a new steering wheel. Acura wasn't forthcoming as to how many of these features would be standard, but they did say that a new ultra-wide panoramic sunroof will be.
The most exciting interior development is a brand-new multimedia system and center console, which was inspired by the Acura Precision Concept that was shown in Detroit in 2016. Instead of a conventional shifter, there's a row of buttons mounted directly in the center (not our favorite design) and atop the center console is a new 10.2-inch multimedia screen. The screen is mounted very high — so high, in fact, that it can't easily be reached by either of the front passengers.
Instead, all inputs for the multimedia system will come via a touchpad located between the front seats. Touchpad-based systems cause our eyebrows to raise, as we haven't liked many of them in the past. But Acura insists its solution is more elegant: The touchpad has been mapped to the screen, so instead of dragging around, you tap the part of the pad that corresponds to the screen. Acura also has installed a new "natural-language voice recognition system" if the driver would prefer to use that.
There are still physical controls for the volume and to skip tracks back and forth, which I was happy to see. We'll have to hold our judgment on this system until we have a chance to try it out at the show and on the road.
Under the Hood
Official power or fuel-economy figures for the new turbocharged 2.0-liter have not yet been released, but Acura did say it will produce 150 percent more low-end torque than the outgoing engine for better off-the-line acceleration. The RDX will feature a 10-speed automatic transmission, and Acura's Super-Handling all-wheel-drive system will be available, as well. Acura wouldn't say whether all RDX variants would come with this system, but the current RDX does offer both front- and all-wheel drive.
The AcuraWatch safety-tech suite comes standard on all 2019 RDX models; that includes auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. Also available are hill start assist, a surround-view camera system, front and rear parking sensors and blind spot warnings.
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