2018 Detroit Auto Show: 2019 Acura RDX Prototype Stands Ready

January 15, 2018 by Sebastian Blanco, @SebastianBlanco

Acura — the luxury division of Honda Motor Co. — unveiled its near-production luxury five-passenger SUV on Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The all-new third-generation 2019 RDX has been fully reengineered on a new, Acura-exclusive platform. It has a lighter body, a new chassis and an all-new powertrain. It will go on sale in mid-2018.

Design cues for the RDX come from the Acura Precision Concept that debuted at the 2016 Detroit auto show.

Jon Ikeda, Acura vice president and general manager, said the redesigned RDX marks a new era for the brand. “The future of Acura starts here,” he said.

The third-gen RDX gets a new front end that emphasizes Acura’s signature pentagon grille filled with a honeycomb mesh. The Acura badge is oversized compared with its predecessor, which gives it a bolder look. This design will be used on future models.

Acura designers said the styling of the new vehicle offers a low, wide and sleek presence. The slope of the hood features two fin-like parallel ridges that also add a dash of aggression.

“Starting with this all-new RDX, we will fully implement the new Acura design and technology direction, inside and out,” Ikeda said.

The RDX has had seven straight years of sales growth and is the No. 1 vehicle in the small luxury utility segment among millennials, he said. The RDX sold 51,300 units in 2017. “We’re starting from a position of relative strength,” Ikeda said.

Buyers in this part of the segment want style, performance and an enhanced driving experience, Acura spokesman Matt Sloustcher told Trucks.com.

Design and performance are the top-two reasons for buying in the segment, Sloustcher said

  • 2019 Acura RDX. (All photos: Honda)
Buyers will also like the way the new RDX moves, Sloustcher said. It is the only vehicle in the segment with the combination of a 2.0-liter turbo engine, all-wheel drive and a 10-speed automatic transmission. The RDX also has a new performance-tuned chassis. The engine offers 40 percent more low-end torque than the one in the 2018 RDX.

The brand wants to capture a slice of the huge growth in sales of crossovers and SUVs. This strategy could also change the demographics of who buys the RDX.

Traditionally, 60 percent of RDX buyers have been female, but that’s gradually declined to 50 percent, Sloustcher said. Buyers are also younger, he said.

Acura also is trying to position the new RDX as a performance-oriented alternative to sports sedans. There are buyers who want the size, the high seating position and the versatility, but don’t want to sacrifice driving dynamics, Sloustcher said.

To satisfy a wide range of driving preferences, there are four drive modes. They are Sport, Sport Plus, Comfort and Snow. The NSX-inspired mode selector is located in the center panel for easy access.

The interior experience has also been greatly improved. The infotainment system is all new to the lineup and will debut on the 2019 RDX before all other Acura models. It features a touchpad remote — the Acura True Touchpad — that combines touchscreen and remote-based engineering.

While the 10.2-inch high-definition screen is positioned higher on the dash, closer to the driver’s line of sight, it’s out of reach for the driver. The touchpad — located below the gear selector — mirrors the screen, making it comfortable and easy for the driver to operate.

“Absolute positioning transforms the touchpad experience, making it personal, intuitive and particularly well-suited for premium, driver-centric, performance machines,” said Ross Miller, Acura’s senior engineer of user interface research. “It’s also designed to be adopted quickly and easily, as drivers become acclimated and comfortable in minutes.”

The new RDX will be the first Acura SUV offered with a sportier A-Spec trim. In other Acura models, the A-Spec package adds larger alloy wheels, fog lights and improved materials in the interior.

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