Fast and enjoyable, however flawed: The Acura RDX reviewed

Enlarge / The 2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD Advance.

BradleyWarren Photography

Like anything, an car can evoke combined emotions. This is very true for the 2019 Acura RDX, which marks the third era of Acura’s midsize SUV. The luxurious automaker affords a pair of SUVs, and the RDX is the primary to get a makeover. This is an effective factor, as a result of the earlier era of Acura SUVs and crossovers feels dated in comparison with crossovers from the likes of BMW, Audi, and Volvo. With the RDX, Acura has largely succeeded in making a trendy car that’s genuinely enjoyable to drive. At the identical time, it has the sensation of a brand new, first-generation Apple product with sudden bugs hitting at unusual instances.

Driving the present era of Acuras, Infinitis, and Lexuses (Acurae, Infiniti, et Lexi?) has largely left me feeling chilly. By and enormous, they’re nice SUVs, however for a number of thousand {dollars} extra, European carmakers provide a greater all-around expertise—particularly with the infotainment and driver-assist options. The Acura RDX actually has the potential to alter that. It’s the primary car from one of many Japanese-owned luxurious carmakers that I felt might maintain its personal towards a BMW X3, Volvo XC60, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, or Audi Q5—not less than till the bugs began popping up.

The RDX is the smaller of Acura’s two SUVs, and this yr’s refresh sees quite a lot of substantive modifications from the second-generation mannequin. Gone is the three.5-liter V6, changed by a 2.0L, direct-injected, inline-four turbocharged engine frequent to compact crossovers. In the case of the RDX, it interprets to 272hp (200kW) at 6,500rpm—trailing solely the Stelvio from the earlier paragraph—and 280lb-ft (380Nm) of torque at anyplace from 1,600rpm to 4,500rpm. Acura accomplishes this partly with a mono scroll IHI turbocharger with a small-diameter and low-inertia turbine, which allows the turbo to construct enhance at decrease RPMs. For the driving force, that interprets into fast throttle response at most speeds.

Gone is the six-speed computerized transmission, changed with a light-weight, compact 10-speed transmission. Shifting by the gears is faster with the brand new setup, which is ready to downshift by as much as 4 gears at a time for better responsiveness. If you wish to wrest management from the automated transmission, there are a pair of paddle shifters within the normal spot behind the steering wheel.

The RDX is available in each front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive choices. We examined the SH-AWD Advance, with a sticker value of $47,500. The base mannequin begins at $37,400 for FWD and $39,400 for AWD. The SH-AWD Advance—that is “SH” for “Super Handling”—consists of an adaptive damper system and 19-inch alloy wheels (in the event you like 20-inchers, go together with the A-Spec). The Advance package deal additionally features a neatly completed heads-up show, 16-way adjustable entrance sport seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, and actually well-done olive ash burl wooden trim.

Meet the touchpad

When I reviewed the MDX final yr, I used to be vital of its two-screen infotainment system and a gimmicky button shift setup. Acura has remedied each—the previous by dropping in an all-new infotainment system and the latter by redesigning the middle console in order that the shift buttons make aesthetic and ergonomic sense. Let’s look first on the infotainment system, which we’re certain will finally make its approach into all new Acuras and Hondas.

The previous-generation dual-screen infotainment system was managed by a mix of direct contact, buttons, and a dial. That’s all gone within the RDX, changed by a single HD 10.2-inch show managed by a touchpad. I truly shuddered when studying in regards to the touchpad—my earlier expertise with a touchpad infotainment interface was within the Lexus NX 300h, which makes use of haptic suggestions to let if you’ve overshot your goal on the show. (It was horrible and deserves to be banished to no matter motoring purgatory is reserved for truck nutz and in-dash file gamers.)

Acura has neatly taken a distinct strategy. The thought is to duplicate the touchscreen expertise with out truly touching the display, so every space of the trackpad is mapped to particular factors on the show. In different phrases, there is a 1:1 relationship between the display and the pad. If you want, you possibly can swipe throughout the trackpad to focus on the specified UI component. The more sensible choice is to the touch the pad on the approximate place of the show. So if you wish to change radio stations to the primary preset, simply depress the lower-left nook of the touchpad. To scroll up and down, depress the suitable corners of the touchpad. The proper one-third of the show can both present media data, a clock, or GPS. You can scroll by these choices by way of a small secondary contact pad instantly to the best of the primary pad. Pressing down on it can swap the information on the best one-third of the show with no matter is in the primary a part of the show.

The UI appears to be like sharp, and Acura’s system is properly thought out, though it’s not so good as what’s on provide from Audi and Volvo. Unfortunately, additionally it is very buggy in my check automobile—I bumped into persistent points with it all through my time with the Acura. The most typical drawback was the radio not working after beginning the automobile up. Instead of Underground Garage on Sirius XM, I used to be handled to an error message that mentioned “Radio unavailable” or “Check tuner.” This occurred on seven or eight separate events. Sometimes altering to FM or AM would resolve the issue. Other instances it might type itself out after a few minutes.

Another problem got here within the type of contradictory turn-by-turn directions. I notice we dwell in an age the place Waze and Google Maps reign supreme, however there are occasions when it is simply simpler to make use of a automobile’s built-in GPS. In my case, I had simply dropped my son off at rugby observe and was craving a spicy Chick-Fil-A sandwich. I knew there was a Chick-Fil-A inside a few miles of the place I used to be however was uncertain of which street I ought to take to get there. Using the voice activation, I mentioned “Navigate to Chick-Fil-A in Schaumburg.” The automobile considered my request for about 10 seconds after which the instructions popped onto the infotainment system—and the heads-up show my RDX was outfitted with. Unfortunately, after the primary flip, the HUD and the infotainment system diverged and confirmed totally different directions. To compound the difficulty, the voice instructions would say “turn left at the next light” when the following gentle was an entrance into a shopping mall parking zone; I truly wanted to show on the third gentle.

According to Matt Slouster, supervisor of public relations for Acura, the radio and GPS woes are each identified points with the RDX. Since the car hit dealerships final yr, Acura has already pushed out two over-the-air updates to repair different points and enhance performance, and the automaker is planning a 3rd replace. Slouster instructed me there was only a “small number” of RDX fashions affected by this explicit bug. Another OTA replace will convey Android Auto performance to the RDX; Apple CarPlay is already supported and works properly with the trackpad.

Creature comforts

Acura’s redesign of the RDX inside was properly thought out. The middle console now flows up from the middle storage compartment to the dashboard. Immediately north of and above the cup holders is the touchpad. Above and past that may be a row of gear-shift buttons that make excellent sense on this context. There’s a drive-select dial instantly above the shift buttons for transferring between Snow, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings; local weather controls are perched above the dial. Underneath the touchpad and shift buttons is a storage space excellent for a handbag or purse, together with a pair of USB ports.

As I discussed above, the SH-AWD Advance trim package deal consists of 16-way adjustable energy seats in entrance, together with lumbar and thigh help. The normal buttons management seat top, distance from the pedals, and tilt. To alter every thing else, there is a devoted button that lets you make different changes with visible suggestions on the infotainment show.

The instrument cluster accommodates an analog tach and speedo, with a small HD show in between. Controls on the left of the steering wheel are for the radio and infotainment system. You can tweak the small show by way of controls on the best facet of the steering wheel. Acura makes use of a mix dial and rocker; transfer the dial up and down for quantity and rock it left and proper to alter radio stations.

Stitched leather-based, chrome accents, and the aforementioned wooden trim give the cabin a lovely, sporty, upscale look. Backseat passengers—even adults—journey in consolation, with their very own set of local weather controls, heated seats, and USB charging ports.

The RDX can even do a nice job hauling your whole stuff, with 30 cubic toes (850L) of cargo area within the rear. Drop the second row down and you’ve got practically 80 cubic toes (2,265L) of cargo area. That features a hidden compartment below the ground of the cargo space to cover no matter it’s chances are you’ll not need your children/the cops to simply discover. [Assuming they do not learn Ars, since you have simply given the sport away—Ed.]

Fun on the street

The RDX appears to be like sporty sufficient, with extensive LED headlights giving an impression of move towards the rear of the car. The pentagonal grill attracts the eyes towards the acquainted Acura brand within the middle, and the chrome accents are tastefully completed. The impression is one among a well-crafted, sporty crossover—an impression that held true behind the wheel.

Behind the wheel, what you will discover first is the acceleration. The 10-speed transmission strikes swiftly by the gears, and the drive-by-wire throttle system makes the RDX aware of the lightest stress on the gasoline pedal. In Sport+ mode, it will get even higher—steering and throttle response are tighter, and it feels each bit as fast as another sporty luxurious crossover.

Handling can be glorious. As talked about earlier, the “SH” in SH-AWD stands for “Super Handling,” and it is nice on winding roads. SH-AWD can ship 100 p.c of the torque to both facet of the automobile, giving the crossover the flexibility to nook way more aggressively than would in any other case be attainable. In cruddy winter driving circumstances, that torque may be despatched to the entrance or rear of the car as wanted. The RDX additionally makes the entire proper sounds, though it isn’t all pure—like BMW, Acura sends a little bit of glad engine noise by the audio system. Steering may be very easy, nearly to the purpose of feeling artificial. My solely criticism was an extra quantity of pedal journey when braking.

Acura has included the total suite of superior driver help techniques (ADAS) within the RDX. Driver-assist options are activated by the “Main” button on the steering wheel. The HUD and instrument cluster show present the standing of the lane-keep help and adaptive cruise management, with a defined icon of a automobile filling in when the adaptive cruise management locks onto the automobile in entrance of you. Adaptive cruise works properly in stop-and-go visitors, though generally it took a pair faucets of the gasoline pedal to get the automobile transferring if it got here to a whole cease in visitors. Lane-keep help does an enough job of correcting in the event you begin to drift into one other lane—offered the RDX can discern the lane markings. In my expertise, the RDX struggled extra at night time and with light lane markings than did different automobiles in its class.

I’d describe Acura’s security strategy as “overly cautious.” In simply over every week with the automobile, I obtained extra “BRAKE!” warnings flashing on the HUD show than the final 5 automobiles I’d pushed mixed. I additionally obtained impediment alerts each time I pulled out of the alley as a result of the curb is seemingly a number of inches too excessive. Again, that’s one thing I did not expertise in different automobiles I’ve reviewed. I attempted dialing again the security options as a lot as attainable with out turning them off, however I nonetheless discovered them to be overly intrusive.

In addition to the same old backup digital camera, the RDX has a 360° digital camera view. You can flip the digital camera on with a button on the finish of the windshield wiper lever and use the touchpad to cycle by digital camera show choices.

The RDX is rated at 23mpg (21mpg metropolis, 27mpg freeway), and I obtained 19.9mpg throughout my time with the automobile. I ought to disclose that I spent numerous time in Sport and Sport+ mode simply because it was so rattling enjoyable.

Closing ideas

By the top of my time with the RDX, I had developed a love-hate relationship with it. Out on the freeway or on nation roads, the crossover is pure pleasure with its glorious dealing with and exact throttle response. On the opposite hand, the infotainment system bugs had been a large buzzkill for me. It nearly felt like a extremely anticipated AAA online game with glorious graphics and gameplay, however with some critical glitches that have you ever anxiously awaiting post-launch patches from the developer.

My photographer is an Acura fan, and the primary phrases out of his mouth when he obtained into the automobile was “this is dangerous.” But as soon as I confirmed him the above footage of infotainment and GPS glitches, his enthusiasm waned. And that looks like a good reflection on the 2019 RDX—it is an excellent automobile in lots of the necessary methods, however would-be patrons want to pay attention to the identified points with the software program and should belief Acura to ship fixes. Until the promised OTA updates arrive, caveat emptor.

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