The 2018 Acura RDX has a very simple lineup of models: It's offered with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive and an available Technology Package.
All Acura RDX models are powered by a 279-horsepower, 3.5L V6 engine, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It provides strong, smooth acceleration, while the car-like MacPherson strut front suspension and independent multi-link rear setup are tuned to be comfort-oriented yet firm enough for quick maneuvers, and an electric power-steering system follows a Motion Adaptive algorithm for a natural feel at low or high speeds.
The RDX has seating for five, with the contoured leather seats in back offering more comfort than most other compact crossover wagons. The rear seatbacks are split-folding and flip forward with a "one-touch" activation, to expand the 16.9-cubic-feet with the seatback up to 76.9 cubic feet behind the front seats. Up front, there's a large center console, and Acura has included several other smaller cubbies, in the doors and dash. Ride quality is hushed for a vehicle that also aims to those who enjoy driving, but Active Noise Cancellation helps keep the cabin especially quiet.
From a safety standpoint, Acura recently added "Jewel Eye" LED headlights and taillights, as well as carrying over an advanced stability control system, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags, along with the Honda/Acura Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure that's designed to help absorb energy in crashes with different-sized vehicles.
Heated front power seats, a power moonroof, keyless entry, heated side mirrors, push-button start and a multi-angle rearview camera system are included in all RDX models. The sound system has 360 watts, and it includes Pandora internet radio (with a connected smartphone and data plan), hands-free calling and SMS text messaging.
Models with the Technology Package add plenty of additional high-tech conveniences, including a navigation system with voice recognition, hard-disk storage, real-time traffic with rerouting features, real-time weather, dual-zone climate control, a power rear tailgate, projector-beam, bi-xenon headlamps, front fog lamps and an Acura/ELS surround-sound system.
When Acura's US designers and engineers were tasked with bringing the all-new RDX to market, they studied the competition, strived to beat their segment opponents via every metric they could, and then decided to sell their finished product for thousands less.
That's an ambitious business plan, but on paper with this nearly loaded $45,500 RDX A-Spec, the new Acura delivers by offering more luxury, power, tech and space than the vaunted Europeans, which hover closer to the $50,000 mark, or substantially beyond, when comparably equipped.
As a result of the Acura RDX's mission to offer more SUV for less cash, my expectations were raised. Does the behind-the-wheel experience meet these goals?
The Good The 2019 Acura RDX is one of the more attractive vehicles in the small luxury SUV class, and it boasts one of the quietest, comfiest interiors, too.
The Bad The 2019 RDX's dynamic quality isn't as athletic as its German rivals.
The Bottom Line While its European competitors might be a bit more buttoned-down on the road, Acura's 2019 RDX is a compelling, competent package, and arguably the best value in the compact luxury SUV segment.
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