When Acura’s US designers and engineers had been tasked with bringing the all-new RDX to market, they studied the competitors, strived to beat their section opponents through each metric they might, after which determined to promote their completed product for 1000’s much less.That’s an bold marketing strategy, however on paper with this practically 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.

As a results 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 targets?Mixed first impressionsMy week with the 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec begins with a fast jaunt across the block. But after just some minutes 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 method too typically throughout metropolis driving.

Fortunately, due to the graceful, well-timed programming of the transmission, you by no means really feel any jerkiness via these myriad shifts. But as a result of Acura pipes synthetic engine noise via the cabin’s audio system so as to add a touch of sport to the drive, you’re pressured to listen to the engine fluttering via gears. It’s not a changing into noise, and it does not make a great first impression.Those faux sounds are actually pronounced as a result of the RDX gives 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 carry the RDX into its Comfort setting. In Comfort mode, the electrical energy steering turns into lighter, the throttle-response profile and non-obligatory torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive are given a lightweight sedative, however most significantly for my sanity, the Active Sound Control’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, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine itself sounds refined. Therefore, the Active Sound Control’s existence is superfluous for on a regular basis driving.For this new third-gen RDX, Acura was capable of cut back the unibody’s weight by 41 kilos, whereas growing its rigidity by 38.3 %. The construction’s key dimensions are raised, too: size is up 2.4 inches, which matches largely towards growing max cargo quantity, up this yr by 2.9 cubic toes to 79.8. Width can be elevated by 1.1 inches in contrast with final yr’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.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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As a results of all these dimensional shifts, the 2019 RDX’s middle of gravity has moved 3.1 inches aft, thus yielding a extra athletic 57/43 entrance/rear weight distribution, in contrast with final yr’s 60/40. Despite 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 middle of gravity. The RDX, in distinction, feels each little bit of its high-riding 4,019 kilos.The RDX dives below braking, displays noticeable physique roll with sudden course corrections, and despite the fact that its suspension does an incredible job of absorbing choppiness, the bumps that do filter via lend to a delicate bucking feeling within the cabin.The RDX is raring to assault corners, nevertheless it feels each little bit of its 4,000-plus-pound curb weight.
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Born to runThe 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 pupil. This must be one of many quieter autos on sale at present, which makes long-distance journeys far more satisfying. That serenity pairs effectively with among the most snug seats within the trade. My present benchmark for seat consolation will be discovered with Nissan and Infiniti’s NASA-inspired “Zero Gravity” expertise, 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 obtainable 710-watt, 16-speaker, 16-channel ELS Studio 3D sound system.

Whether listening to 320-Kbps Spotify information from my USB-connected iPhone or 2,113-Kbps, 5.1-channel audio information 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. Still, it is a respectable premium audio system that does an incredible 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’re feeling such as you’re nestled contained in the automotive versus sitting on prime of it. Acura then provides a beneficiant quantity of space for storing beneath the console. By my estimate, you might match a complete air con compressor or an alternator and a small bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos below there, though most individuals will probably simply lay down a passenger’s cellular phone or pill proper in entrance of the adjoining charging port.The RDX A-Spec comes with a 272-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine.
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During 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 normal security options additionally aids my peace of thoughts. The SUV is provided with eight airbags, two of which shield the motive force and entrance passenger’s knees. Also normal on the RDX is ahead collision warning and mitigation, lane-keep help, multi-angle rearview digital camera and tire-pressure monitoring. This RDX A-Spec can be outfitted with rear cross-traffic monitoring, parking sensors throughout and blind-spot alert.Commendable in cornersOn the best way 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 Super Handling 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 pace 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.
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Once I go the apex, I squeeze the accelerator for a full-blast exit, and a sense of empowerment washes over me. “I just erased understeer,” I giggle to myself. If the RDX had been sentient, that is the second I would lock onto its bejeweled LED eyes, and with a seductive stare, utter, “Hey, girl. How you doin’?”The RDX A-Spec is admirable for the sporty traits it displays on a again highway, nevertheless it’s no sports activities automotive, and neither is it speculated to be. However, 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 favor the fluidity of Acura’s SH-AWD to BMW’s xDrive.But the Acura has some benefits over the BMW, specifically 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 far more pressing to construct pace, because of this. The 10-speed, paddle-shift computerized transmission definitely helps with the immediacy, but additionally with effectivity. In prime 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 gasoline economic system. Ratings of 21 within the metropolis and 23 mixed are simply common, however after every week and 396 miles with the RDX, I solely managed 18.4 mpg. Even accounting for my spirited run via the San Gabriels, I might’ve been blissful to see a quantity matching the EPA’s metropolis determine.The RDX boasts among the most snug entrance seats in any new automotive at present.
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Beauty and brainsIt’s the climax of the golden hour within the heavens overlooking Los Angeles, and I am armed with a protracted digital camera lens. As the solar takes its last bow for the day, I am captivated not solely by the silence and fantastic 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 slender margin) is better-looking than the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, thus making it the best-looking compact SUV on sale at present.Gone from the RDX’s nostril is the hideous protect grille, and as a replacement is Acura’s new diamond-pentagon maw nestled between engaging Jewel Eye LED headlights which might be among the handiest 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 scale back drag. Overall, the RDX, even with its 8.2 inches of floor clearance, seems to be hugging the highway.The beauty translate to the inside, too. Not solely does it wrap round you, nevertheless it seems good doing it. It’s a fairly purposeful place to be, as effectively. Acura’s True Touchpad Interface is intuitive in that the touchpad on the middle console acts as a touchscreen. In different phrases, if you must click on on one thing within the upper-right of the 10.2-inch HD show, 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, in line with Acura, went via tens of 1000’s of testing hours at Ohio State University’s Driving Simulation Laboratory. Within minutes, I am snug navigating Acura’s Android-based working system in addition to the built-in Apple CarPlay. The pace of my acclimation jibes with Ohio State’s and Acura’s R&D findings, which present that customers sometimes change into snug 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’s simply higher than Lexus’ Remote Touch Interface, and if I spend extra time with it, I believe it is poised to beat trade leaders like Audi’s MMI and BMW’s iDrive.Still lacking the magicOverall, the 2019 RDX is a handsome, snug, sprightly and value-priced entry within the compact luxurious SUV section. If worth is a main consideration for you, then that is arguably the highest decide within the class, however if you happen to can afford to enterprise into the $50,000-plus vary, I’d select one thing with a European badge as an alternative.If you are contemplating one thing with a Lexus or Infiniti badge, I will prevent time by saying which you could overlook the Lexus NX 300. Its turbocharged four-cylinder does not provide 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 toes of passenger and behind-second-row cargo quantity pale compared to the Acura’s 104 and 29.5 cubic toes.The RDX is arguably the very best worth within the compact luxurious SUV class.
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The Infiniti QX50 is on par general (particularly in the case of inside volumes) with the RDX. However, comparably outfitted, it is nonetheless simply over $4,000 dearer.Pick the RDX, and your left mind will be glad in realizing that you simply drove off the lot in one thing that provides extra energy, luxurious, tech, and house than the competitors, and also you get to maintain a load of money in your pocket, too. But if you happen to’re right-brain dominant, the RDX might set you on a course of questioning what might have been with the pricier competitors.Do your self a favor and inform your proper mind to close it. An further $5,000 to $10,000 in your checking account can purchase numerous right-brain satisfaction. Sure, the RDX’s priciest opponents — the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC — really feel slightly extra particular general, however that added premium really feel is not well worth the worth. The RDX might really feel slightly out of types round city and in want of extra chassis tuning, however for the value, it is the one you must get. 

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