The 2019 Acura RDX Prototype made its world debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show. The reveal gives us a look at the new design, advanced technology, and luxury features of the five-passenger SUV expected to launch later this year. The 2019 Acura RDX is a clean-sheet, top-to-bottom remake and will be the first Acura model to fully exemplify the brand’s new design language seen in the Acura Precision Concept.
Lighter & Larger
The third-generation RDX has been engineered on a lighter platform with a stiffened body. The 2019 RDX will mark the return of Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) to the RDX, giving it a slick torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. The new system provides a 40 percent increase in maximum torque capacity versus the current SH-AWD system.
“Combine it with our new powertrain, the stiffer body and chassis, and the improved steering, and you have, hands down, the quickest, best-handling RDX ever,” said Jon Ikeda, Vice President & General Manager of the Acura Division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
The RDX Prototype also boasts a wider track (increased by 1.2 inches), a longer wheelbase (gaining 2.5 inches), and a shortened front overhang. The wheels have been pushed to the corners, according to Acura. In addition, the 2019 RDX will be the first Acura SUV presented in A-Spec trim for sportier styling inside and out.
Power & Performance
Motivating the RDX is a new 2.0 liter, 16-valve direct-injected plant. The engine features a low-inertia, mono-scroll turbo, a DOHC VTEC valvetrain, and a Dual Variable Timing Cam (Dual VTC) system. All that alphabet soup translates into 40 percent more low-end torque than before. Mated to the new engine is a segment-first, 10-speed automatic transmission. If you go with all-wheel drive for your RDX, you’ll get the next generation of Acura’s aforementioned SH-AWD, complete with a new rear differential and a 150 percent increase in maximum torque capacity compared to the older RDX.
An Adaptive Damper System is available and is tied into the NSX-inspired Integrated Dynamics System. The IDS system comes with four distinct drive modes: Sport, Sport+, Comfort, and Snow. There’s a drive mode dial placed high in the center console.
Speaking of the interior, it’s more spacious, more sophisticated, and more tech-savvy than before. The center console is a floating design inspired by the Acura Precision Cockpit. The sport seats are powered affairs with a matching sports steering wheel. The interior detailing is “contemporary” with authentic, high-grade materials throughout, including Nappa leather, brushed aluminum, and open-pore Olive Ashwood.
The passenger cabin is larger thanks to the RDX’s longer wheelbase with room for five. Acura claims the cabin space is class-leading, as is rear legroom and cargo space. The front seats are heated and ventilated, and Acura used a softer and more durable full-grain Nappa leather. 16-way power adjustments for both the driver and front passenger are standard, and all models come equipped with a panoramic sliding moonroof.
“Our engineers conducted thousands of hours of research to create a driver-centric approach that is the first of its kind and distinctly Acura,” explained Toshiaki Mikoshiba, President & CEO of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “This new RDX is the most extensive Acura redesign in more than a decade and a powerful indication of things to come.”
Everything is controlled by Acura’s new True Touchpad Interface. It has an Android-based operating system projected onto a dual-zone, 10.2-inch full-HD display. The True Touchpad Interface combines the advantages of conventional touchscreens and remote-based approaches, according to Acura. Also debuting is a new natural language voice recognition system. It is said to improve the ease and intuitiveness of voice commands in the vehicle. An interactive heads-up display (HUD) is also available.
“Acura’s new user interface will be a huge leap forward for our customers,” Mikoshiba noted. “But this is just one aspect of a vibrant and premium new cabin experience.”
And to cap it all off, there’s a totally boss stereo system. The 2019 RDX Prototype uses four ultra-thin, ceiling-mounted speakers connected to a 16-channel 710-watt Acura ELS Studio 3D system. The stereo was developed by Panasonic and tuned by Grammy-winning music producer and longtime Acura partner Elliott Scheiner.
Production & In-Person
All RDX models for the North American market will be built in East Liberty, Ohio, with the engines produced in Anna, Ohio, and the 10-speed automatic transmissions manufactured in Tallapoosa, Georgia. Designed, developed, and built right here in America, the 2019 RDX will hit dealers in mid-2018.
In the meantime, the vehicle is on display at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center, downtown Detroit. The show officially opens to the public on Saturday, January 20th.
“What you’re about to see is not just the right product for where we are taking the Acura brand; it’s the right product at just the right time for today’s market,” Mikoshiba said.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format.