is justly proud of its updated RDX sport utility vehicle and
the 2019 model represents an attractive option for SUV
justly proud of its updated RDX sport utility vehicle.
sleeker and better-handling than its predecessor, the 2019 model
represents an attractive option for SUV seekers who might also be
looking at the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC300 or Infiniti QX50.
for 2019, the new model features improvements all around. The
turbocharged four-cylinder engine now puts out an impressive 272
horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
10-speed automatic transmission, using available all-wheel drive,
the SUV also sits lower to the ground, on a stiffened suspension, to
make the best use of all that power.
upscale division of Tokyo-based Honda, makes exceptionally good cars
with confusingly information-free names, an alphabet soup of ILX,
TLX, RLX and so on.
The SUV line
is represented by the RDX and its larger, three-row MDX sibling.
without advertising as heavily or drawing the same fanboy enthusiasm
as its European competitors, has enjoyed success with the RDX. Acura
numbers show the small SUV outselling all others in its class from
January to June this year.
For much of
the week, I drove the RDX, in the Special Handling All Wheel Drive
Advance trim. I wasnít quite sure what to make of it. Was it more
sensible than sporty? More comfortable than compelling? One of my
nieces answered the question. From the back seat one night she said,
"Itís, like, an adult SUV. For grown-ups."
exactly. The RDX is sensible and sporty, comfortable and compelling,
but decidedly more of the former than the latter.
SUVís cabin is an exercise in ambiance. The front seats on the
Advance trim are adjustable 16 ways, are wrapped in Napa leather and
feature three-setting seat ventilation. (Both front and rear seats
are heated.) Bits of real hardwood and polished aluminum accent the
legroom are business-class generous. Visibility is excellent, and
the standard sunroof opens a huge window to the sky.
ELS Studio 3D sound system, designed by Grammy-winning engineer and
producer Elliot Scheiner, is lush. It gets an audio assist, in the
form of silence, from a very quiet HVAC system and noise-canceling
the road, even at freeway speed, is like driving a listening booth.
The music is crisp and clean ó especially the tracks produced by
Scheiner himself, including a few Bonnie Raitt songs, that were
specifically engineered to play in the RDX and were made available
by Acura on a flash drive stashed in the SUVís center console.
the little turbo toodled smartly, though I found the throttle
response a little jerky and all that low-end torque a little too
quick to engage. Experimenting with the four drive modes ó
Comfort, Snow, Sport and Sport Plus ó I eventually settled on
Sport Plus, using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for
On the road,
the SUV behaved better. The stiffer suspension and lower ground
clearance gave the RDX a sporty feel on the curving canyon roads. I
could sense the all-wheel drive kicking in as I accelerated out of
sharp turns, holding the road well as the turbo did its thing.
On a longer
haul, conditions improved. The lovely seats and sound system made
for a wonderful Highway 101 weekend getaway to Santa Cruz, and
almost quieted my quibbles.
But I had
Advance comes standard with a suite of safety features, including
adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring
and rear cross-traffic alerts. This trim line also features a
head-up windshield display that lets the driverís eyes remain on
the road at all times.
technological offerings could save a life, but they lack subtlety.
The cruise control, particularly, was clumsy, braking late and hard
when it sensed danger ahead, then surging forward aggressively when
the danger had passed.
struggled with the infotainment system. Acuraís engineers chose
not to use a touch-sensitive screen, opting instead for a touch pad
on the center console, backed up by a few more traditional buttons
and switches. Perhaps, with time, one would get used to it. But
after a week in the car, I was still having difficulty getting to
and staying on the function I needed, growing frustrated with my
inability to make the right navigation or audio selections.
communication system, too, gave me trouble. Sometimes the phone
booted up right away; other times, it wouldnít. And the voice
activation feature? Iíve had cats that paid more attention to me
when I spoke.
Iím pleased by the RDXís sales success; itís deserved because
this is a good vehicle. Though it may not grab automotive attention
like similar SUVs offered by Porsche, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo or the
vehicles against which it directly competes, this slightly more
anonymous Acura is a solid, sensible SUV. And unlike those European
models, itís made by Honda, which means itís virtually
bulletproof and problem-free.
For a driver
whose ego doesnít require European panache or nameplate bragging
rights, itís one of the smarter SUV choices on the market.