The RDX, Acura’s most reliable new model in Consumer Reports’ reliability survey—and the only Acura that CR currently recommends—is undergoing a full redesign for the 2019 model year. Acura unveiled the production version of the 2019 Acura RDX at the 2018 New York Auto Show, highlighting the redesigned, third-generation SUV’s more dynamic styling, roomier interior, and advanced technology, both inside and out.

Buyers are flocking to SUVs in record numbers each year, and the compact luxury SUV segment is particularly hot, meaning buyers should be interested in this new five-passenger SUV. The RDX is the entry-level SUV in the Acura lineup, slotting in below the seven-passenger MDX. Acura is heavily reliant on its SUV sales, but in 2017 their sales were down 32 percent (RDX) and 40 percent (MDX) compared with 2016. This means that Acura desperately needs the RDX to be a winner.

2019 Acura RDX

What it competes with: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Buick Envision, Infiniti QX50, Jaguar F-Pace, Lexus NX 300, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Volvo XC60

What it looks like: A baby MDX

Powertrains: 272-hp, 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine; 10-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive

Expected price: $39,000 to $46,000

On-sale date: Summer 2018

2019 Acura RDX front


Check out CR's complete 
coverage of the 2018 New York Auto Show.

Outside

The RDX finally gets integrated into the current Acura styling look and feel, which means handsome, if unadventurous styling. Like the TLX sedan and MDX, the 2019 Acura RDX gets the new Diamond Pentagon Grille—gone is the odd beaklike nose that dominated Acura vehicles for almost a decade. The rest of the RDX, aside from specific character lines and details, has a standard “compact SUV” look, with a roofline that peaks over the front cabin and slopes down at the rear. The wheel wells are nicely filled out by the standard 19-inch wheel/tire combination. 

2019 Acura RDX interior.

Inside

The wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than its predecessor’s. Acura says this translates into a larger cabin with “class-leading cabin space, rear legroom, and rear cargo space.” In our tests of the current RDX, we found the front seats to be supportive and well-shaped, and the rear seat was ample for adults. The 16-way power-adjustable front seats are both heated and cooled. A panoramic moonroof, which can both tilt for venting or fully open, is standard.

One of the first things you notice about the 2019 Acura RDX cabin is the 10.2-inch display touch screen mounted above the center console. Users can access the infotainment system by using the touch screen, the Acura True Touchpad Interface in the console between the driver and passenger seats, or two scroll wheels on the steering wheel. Acura claims its touchpad does not operate like a mouse; rather, it is “mapped precisely—one-to-one—with the corresponding action on the center display.” This sounds as if Acura is saying its system is easier to use than the one in Lexus models, which can be challenging to operate.

What Drives It

Acura has given the 2019 RDX an all-new powertrain: a 272-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Fuel-economy figures were not announced during the RDX’s introduction. Acura did say that this new four-cylinder turbo will deliver more power—40 percent more low-end torque—than the 3.5-liter V6 engine generates in the current RDX.

Unfortunately, the RDX is the latest model to get Acura’s push-button gear selector. In our tests of other Acuras, we’ve found the push-button shifter to be cumbersome and unintuitive to use. However, Acura has built in comprehensive safeguards to prevent the vehicle from an accidental rollaway if drivers fail to put it in Park or if they open the door while in gear.

The RDX will be available with Acura’s Super-Handling All Wheel Drive system, which splits power between the front and rear wheels as well as from side to side. We haven’t seen any significant handling differences or improvements during testing of other Acuras with SH-AWD. Front-wheel drive is likely to be standard on the new RDX.

Safety & Driver-Assist Systems

All 2019 Acura RDX models will come with the AcuraWatch safety system as standard equipment, a move that we applaud. The AcuraWatch suite includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist, among other technologies. Unfortunately, blind-spot warning is an optional feature. 

CR’s Take

On paper, the RDX has the potential to regain ground in the compact luxury SUV category. The turbo four-cylinder engine and 10-speed automatic should result in improved fuel economy. We found the departing RDX to be functional but unexciting and lacking some luxury touches compared with the competition. The new one looks promising on paper.

Our concerns revolve around Acura’s latest so-so reliability record. And the addition of the push-button gear selector complicates the RDX’s controls. The new touchpad interface for the infotainment system has the potential to be a distraction. In our brief time using it at the auto show, we found that it has a learning curve, but it was easier to use than other touch-style systems, such as the Lexus Remote Touch. We’ll get a clearer picture as soon as we drive the new RDX later this spring.  

2019 Acura RDX rear.