We got a first look at Acura’s new RDX Prototype at the North American International Auto Show in January. Now, the Japanese luxury brand is getting ready to show off the real thing.
The production version of the Acura RDX will break cover at the New York Auto Show two weeks from now and it’s expected – no surprise – to hew closely to the design theme we first saw in Detroit, with a more athletic and sporty look than the outgoing crossover-utility vehicle.
“The third-generation RDX, launching mid-2018, is the first in a new generation of Acura products featuring the brand’s new design language,” the automaker noted in a release accompanying this teaser image.
(For more on the Acura RDX Prototype, Click Here.)
Significantly, for the first time since the original RDX was launched for the 2007 model-year, the compact CUV was specifically designed and developed in the U.S. – at the Acura design studio in Los Angeles, to be more precise, and the engineering center in Raymond, Ohio.
Production, meanwhile, will take place at the Honda/Acura plant in East Liberty, Ohio, with the 2019 RDX turbo engine coming off the line in Anna, Ohio.
(Click Here for details about Acura’s refreshed RLX.)
While Acura was the first of the Japanese luxury brands it has long lagged behind Lexus, one of the highline leaders in the American market, as well as Infiniti. But it has been regaining a bit of momentum – largely driven by utility vehicles. That includes both the RDX, which has generated more than 50,000 U.S. sales annually since 2015, as well as the bigger MDX.
Targeting products like the Audi Q5, BMW X, Lexus NX and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, the Acura RDX Prototype revealed in Detroit delivered “a powerful statement about who we are and where we are headed as a brand,” Jon Ikeda, Acura’s vice president and general manager, said at the NAIAS.
While we can only guess at what we’ll see in New York, the reality is that the original Detroit RDX model was a concept in name only, providing a very good idea of what the 2019 production Acura will look like.
The “prototype” featured the latest iteration of the brand’s ”diamond pentagon” grille which mercifully replaced the ungainly “beak,” as critics called it, that marred many of Acura’s older designs. The chrome-framed grille was framed by the elegant, slit-like LED headlamps we first saw on the NSX concept a few years back. A lower grille picked up on the sunburst-style mesh of the upper and is itself framed by scoops for the front air curtains that reduce wheel well air turbulence.”
The RDX Prototype gained 2.5 inches in wheelbase and 1.2 inches in track compared to the old crossover. But with its shorter overhangs it actually appeared more poised. And the layout translated into a more spacious interior.
While nowhere near as extreme as the Acura Precision Cockpit of a few years back, the cabin of the RDX Prototype was more sophisticated and, as Acura put it, more “tech-savvy.” The five-seater featured Nappa leather and open pore woods, with heated and ventilated 16-way power front seats. All RDX models will ultimately come with a standard panoramic moonroof.
One of the more significant changes has Acura adopting what it has called a True Touchpad Interface, a laptop computer-style pad for controlling the latest update of its infotainment system. The technology is now Android-based and there’s a new, high-definition touchscreen mounted atop the center console, with a head-up display available as an option.
“Absolute positioning transforms the touchpad experience, making it personal, intuitive and particularly well-suited for premium, driver-centric, performance machines,” Ross Miller, senior engineer of user interface research for Acura, said ahead of the Detroit reveal. “It’s also designed to be adopted quickly and easily, as drivers become acclimated and comfortable in minutes.”
And while we’ll be left guessing about other key details, Acura is now confirming the 2019 RDX will adopt a turbo drivetrain, a 2.0-liter VTEC inline-four paired with a segment-first 10-speed automatic. The crossover also will see the return of Acura’s torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive, or SH-AWD, technology with a new rear differential.
And when equipped with a new Adaptive Damper System, a motorist will be able to select from four different driving modes.
One other point to expect, according to Acura’s latest news release: expect an A-Spec variant, the first time that sport appearance package has been offered on one of the brand’s SUVs.
(U.S. auto sales sputtered a bit in February. Click Here for more.)