SUVs

2019 Acura RDX packs edgy looks, NSX-inspired dashboard

An optional A-Spec appearance package sharpens things up even further.

Acura

In January, the Detroit Auto Show featured the RDX Prototype, a nearly-there-but-still-incomplete preview of Acura's next compact luxury SUV. It's time to ditch the prototype moniker, because the 2019 RDX is at the New York Auto Show in its full glory.

If you didn't notice on the prototype, the RDX is the first new Acura to pull all of its major details from the 2016 Precision Concept. There's no hint of a beak anywhere in the nose -- there's a much friendlier pentagon in its place. It's heavily sculpted, athletic and pretty fun to look at.

The interior is equally radical, thanks to a hefty reliance on the styling put forth in the Precision Cockpit Concept from 2016. The dashboard pulls a lot of inspiration from the NSX, mainly in the front-and-center mode dial. You get some buttons for seats and climate controls, but the majority of your time will be spent with the 10.2-inch infotainment screen and its True Touchpad Interface.

The RDX is far less dowdy than it was before. It looks ready to rumble.

Acura

Unlike the current slate of touchpad-based infotainment systems, which use the pad to basically move a cursor around the screen, Acura's operates more like a smartphone. The pad is mapped one-to-one with the screen -- if you want to touch an icon at the top right of the screen, tap the top right of the touchpad. It may sound counterintuitive, but I've played with the system a few times and found it much easier to use than other touchpad-based infotainment systems (I'm looking at you, Lexus). The screen has two "zones" so you can see the map while also looking at what music is playing, for example.

Both that screen and its touchpad are standard, but that's only the beginning of the list. Additional standard equipment includes LED headlights, a panoramic moonroof, a power tailgate, keyless entry, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and 12-way heated sports seats up front. The AcuraWatch safety suite is standard, too, including automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and lane departure warning.

If that's not enough, the RDX gets a new A-Spec appearance package. It adds 20-inch alloy wheels with rubber-band-thin tires, a lower front fascia and a bunch of gloss-black accents covering the headlights, taillights and grille. Inside, the sport seats can be had in black or red leather with contrast stitching, and real aluminum adorns various panels. There's also a special gauge cluster with a satin finish and red gauge illumination.

No matter the package, the powertrain remains the same. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 putting out 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and it comes mated to a 10-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. Acura's AWD system allows up to 70 percent of the torque to head to the rear wheels with a full range of distribution between the left and right axles.

The 2019 Acura RDX is slated to hit dealers in the middle of 2018, and pricing will be announced closer to that time.