When Acura’s US designers and engineers had been tasked with bringing the all-new 2019 RDX to market, they studied the competitors, strived to beat their phase opponents through each metric they may, after which determined to promote their completed product for hundreds much less.

That is an formidable marketing strategy, however on paper with this almost loaded $45,500 RDX A-Spec, the brand new Acura delivers by providing extra luxurious, energy, tech and house than the vaunted Europeans, which hover nearer to the $50,000 mark, or considerably past, when comparably outfitted.

On account of the Acura RDX’s mission to supply extra SUV for much less money, my expectations had been raised. Does the behind-the-wheel expertise meet these objectives?

Blended first impressions

My week with the 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec begins with a fast jaunt across the block. However after only a few miuntes of driving the brand new SUV, I am giving it a dollop of side-eye. The crossover’s 10-speed computerized transmission is nice, however as a result of it shifts to about sixth gear by 35 miles per hour, you hear the sound of the engine rise and fall means too usually throughout metropolis driving.

Fortuitously, because of the graceful, well-timed programming of the transmission, you by no means really feel any jerkiness by these myriad shifts. However as a result of Acura pipes synthetic engine noise by the cabin’s audio system so as to add a splash of sport to the drive, you’re compelled to listen to the engine fluttering by gears. It isn’t a changing into noise, and it would not make first impression.

These faux sounds are actually pronounced as a result of the RDX affords one of many quieter cabins I’ve skilled not too long ago. To quell this disconcerting artificiality, I twist the big, center-stack-mounted, NSX-inspired drive-mode management knob counterclockwise to deliver the RDX into its Consolation setting. In Consolation mode, the electrical energy steering turns into lighter, the throttle-response profile and optionally available torque-vectoring Tremendous Dealing with All-Wheel Drive are given a lightweight sedative, however most significantly for my sanity, the Lively Sound Management’s synthetic noise-making steps into its quietest setting. The irritating faux noise remains to be there, nevertheless it’s nothing that rolling down the home windows or some medium-volume music cannot resolve. Funnily sufficient, the 272-horsepower, 2.Zero-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine itself sounds refined. Due to this fact, the Lively Sound Management’s existence is superfluous for on a regular basis driving.

The RDX has one of many nicest, quietest cabins I’ve skilled not too long ago, which makes the faux sound enhancement all of the extra noticeable.

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For this new third-gen RDX, Acura was in a position to scale back the unibody’s weight by 41 kilos, whereas rising its rigidity by 38.three p.c. The construction’s key dimensions are raised, too: size is up 2.four inches, which matches principally towards rising max cargo quantity, up this 12 months by 2.9 cubic ft to 79.eight. Width can also be elevated by 1.1 inches in contrast with final 12 months’s RDX, and with a 2.6-inch longer wheelbase, the entrance and rear overhangs at the moment are shorter, however passenger quantity is up half a cubic foot to 104.

On account of all these dimensional shifts, the 2019 RDX’s heart of gravity has moved three.1 inches aft, thus yielding a extra athletic 57/43 entrance/rear weight distribution, in contrast with final 12 months’s 60/40. Regardless of these enhancements, the BMW X3, which weighs 137 kilos (or a complete me) extra, does a significantly better job of hiding its weight and elevated heart of gravity. The RDX, in distinction, feels each little bit of its high-riding four,019 kilos.

The RDX dives underneath braking, reveals noticeable physique roll with sudden course corrections, and although its suspension does an important job of absorbing choppiness, the bumps that do filter by lend to a delicate bucking feeling within the cabin.

The RDX is keen to assault corners, nevertheless it feels each little bit of its four,000-plus-pound curb weight.

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Born to run

The RDX might not be ashamed to point out its faults round city, however get it cruising on the freeway, and it turns into an A scholar. This must be one of many quieter automobiles on sale immediately, which makes long-distance journeys rather more pleasing. That serenity pairs effectively with a few of the most comfy seats within the business. My present benchmark for seat consolation might be discovered with Nissan and Infiniti’s NASA-inspired “Zero Gravity” know-how, however the seats within the Acura RDX come fairly darn shut. In-cabin enjoyment solely will get higher as quickly as you crank the RDX’s accessible 710-watt, 16-speaker, 16-channel ELS Studio 3D sound system.

Whether or not listening to 320-Kbps Spotify recordsdata from my USB-connected iPhone or 2,113-Kbps, 5.1-channel audio recordsdata like those Acura supplied me on a thumb drive, the ELS system provides me hours of listening enjoyment, though I want the 4 headliner-mounted “Highline” audio system did a greater job of lifting the sound stage. Nonetheless, it is a respectable premium audio system that does of nice job of constructing the RDX’s cabin really feel much more upscale.

I like how the inside is constructed to wrap round you whereas nonetheless feeling ethereal. The middle console sits excessive, which makes you are feeling such as you’re nestled contained in the automotive versus sitting on high of it. Acura then provides a beneficiant quantity of space for storing beneath the console. By my estimate, you possibly can match a complete air-con compressor or an alternator and a small bag of Flamin’ Sizzling Cheetos underneath there, though most individuals will seemingly simply lay down a passenger’s mobile phone or pill proper in entrance of the adjoining charging port.

The RDX A-Spec comes with a 272-horsepower 2.Zero-liter turbocharged inline-four engine.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

Throughout my turnaround journey from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, most of my time behind the RDX’s wheel is accompanied by a blissful smile. The quiet Milano leather-lined inside, supple freeway experience and pleasing ELS audio mix to enrapture me into tranquility.

The RDX’s spectacular, class-leading suite of ordinary security options additionally aids my peace of thoughts. The SUV is provided with eight airbags, two of which defend the motive force and entrance passenger’s knees. Additionally commonplace on the RDX is ahead collision warning and mitigation, lane-keep help, multi-angle rearview digicam and tire-pressure monitoring. This RDX A-Spec can also be outfitted with rear cross-traffic monitoring, parking sensors throughout and blind-spot alert.

Commendable in corners

On the way in which again to Los Angeles, I interrupt my relaxed bliss with an thrilling expedition into the San Gabriel Mountains for some canyon carving. I am curious to see how the RDX’s Tremendous Dealing with All-Wheel Drive will react to being pushed in anger.

On twisty canyon roads, the RDX nonetheless shows stilty heaviness, however I can really feel the SH-AWD expertly managing the VTEC engine’s 280 pound-feet of torque. I dive right into a bend with just a bit an excessive amount of velocity so I can hear the tires start to mumble for mercy, after which I shut them up with a touch of throttle earlier than the apex.

I like the fluidity of Acura’s SH-AWD system on winding again roads.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

As soon as I cross the apex, I squeeze the accelerator for a full-blast exit, and a sense of empowerment washes over me. “I simply erased understeer,” I giggle to myself. If the RDX had been sentient, that is the second I might lock onto its bejewelled LED eyes, and with a seductive stare, utter, “Hey, lady. The way you doin’?”

The RDX A-Spec is admirable for the sporty traits it reveals on a again highway, nevertheless it’s no sports activities automotive, and neither is it speculated to be. Nonetheless, my thoughts retains going again to the BMW X3, and the way that heavier SUV is ready to trick me into considering I am driving a compact sports activities sedan. I by no means get that sense within the RDX, and that is a disgrace, as a result of, no less than within the dry, I want the fluidity of Acura’s SH-AWD to BMW’s xDrive.

However the Acura has some benefits over the BMW, particularly within the powertrain division. The RDX’s engine is 24 horsepower and 22 pound-feet of torque forward of the BMW’s turbocharged four-cylinder, and the Acura feels rather more pressing to construct velocity, consequently. The 10-speed, paddle-shift computerized transmission actually helps with the immediacy, but additionally with effectivity. In high gear at 70 mph, the RDX is just turning about 1,800 rpm.

Oddly, the RDX is just rated at 26 miles per gallon for freeway gas economic system. Rankings of 21 within the metropolis and 23 mixed are simply common, however after every week and 396 miles with the RDX, I solely managed 18.four mpg. Even accounting for my spirited run by the San Gabriels, I’d’ve been completely happy to see a quantity matching the EPA’s metropolis determine.

The RDX boasts a few of the most comfy entrance seats in any new automotive immediately.

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Magnificence and brains

It is the climax of golden hour within the heavens overlooking Los Angeles, and I am armed with a protracted digicam lens. Because the solar takes its remaining bow for the day, I am captivated not solely by the silence and great thing about the wilderness, but additionally by the RDX’s visible attract. In full preparation for the hate feedback this assertion will generate, I need to declare that the RDX (to my eyes and by a slim margin) is better-looking than the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, thus making it the best-looking compact SUV on sale immediately.

Gone from the RDX’s nostril is the hideous defend grille, and as a replacement is Acura’s new diamond-pentagon maw nestled between enticing Jewel Eye LED headlights which can be a few of the simplest I’ve skilled on any car. My favourite a part of the RDX’s face lies within the wing-shaped air curtain openings that assist to cut back drag. General, the RDX, even with its eight.2 inches of floor clearance, seems to be hugging the highway.

The nice seems translate to the inside, too. Not solely does it wrap round you, nevertheless it seems good doing it. It is a fairly useful place to be, too. Acura’s True Touchpad Interface is intuitive in that the touchpad on the middle console acts like a touchscreen. In different phrases, if you must click on on one thing within the upper-right of the 10.2-inch HD display screen, merely place your finger on the upper-right nook of the touchpad, and also you’re there.

The RDX is the primary new Acura to get the brand new True Touchpad Interface, which, based on Acura, went by tens of hundreds of testing hours at Ohio State College’s Driving Simulation Laboratory. Inside minutes, I am comfy navigating Acura’s Android-based working system in addition to the built-in Apple CarPlay. The velocity of my acclimation jibes with Ohio State’s and Acura’s R&D findings, which present that customers usually turn into comfy with the interface inside minutes.

After every week with the car, touchpad instructions are edging on second-nature for me, so I see promise on this new setup. It is simply higher than Lexus’ Distant Contact Interface, and if I spend extra time with it, I feel it is poised to beat business leaders like Audi’s MMI and BMW’s iDrive.

Nonetheless lacking the magic

General, the 2019 RDX is a handsome, comfy, sprightly and value-priced entry within the compact luxurious SUV phase. If value is a major consideration for you, then that is arguably the highest decide within the class, however in the event you can afford to enterprise into the $50,000-plus vary, I’d select one thing with a European badge as a substitute.

When you’re contemplating one thing with a Lexus or Infiniti badge, I am going to prevent time by saying you could overlook the Lexus NX 300. Its turbocharged four-cylinder would not supply close to the refinement or energy that the Acura can, and whereas nearly $1,000 much less when comparably outfitted, its 71.6 and 17.7 cubic ft of passenger and behind-second-row cargo quantity pale compared to the Acura’s 104 and 29.5 cubic ft.

The RDX is arguably the perfect worth within the compact luxurious SUV class.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

The Infiniti QX50 is on par total (particularly in relation to inside volumes) with the RDX. Nonetheless, comparably outfitted, it is nonetheless simply over $four,000 dearer.

Decide the RDX, and your left mind might be glad in understanding that you simply drove off the lot in one thing that gives extra energy, luxurious, tech and house than the competitors, and also you get to maintain a load of money in your pocket, too. However in the event you’re right-brain dominant, the RDX could set you on a course of questioning what may have been with the pricier competitors.

Do your self a favor and inform your proper mind to close it. An additional $5,000 to $10,000 in your checking account can purchase a whole lot of right-brain satisfaction. Certain, the RDX’s priciest rivals — the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC — really feel slightly extra particular total, however that added premium really feel is not well worth the value. The RDX could really feel slightly out of types round city and in want of extra chassis tuning, however for the worth, it is the one it is best to get. 

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