2019 Acura RDX Prototype Debuts in Detroit
Crossovers and SUVs are the gravy train from which just about every manufacturer is currently drinking, more than happy to quench the buying public’s seemingly insatiable thirst for high riding all-wheel drive machines. Acura’s been in the game for ages with the MDX, RDX, and departed weirdo ZDX.
After vanquishing the unfortunate guillotine grille from the rest of its lineup, Acura has set its sights on revamping its littlest crossover, the RDX. Yes, the word “prototype” is in the headline, but one can be assured that the machine shown here is virtually production-ready.
The 2019 Acura RDX Prototype made its world debut today at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, providing a first look at the new design set to be applied to the production vehicle that’s launching later this year. In a continued effort to set Acura apart from its proletarian-spec Honda cousins, this third-gen RDX has been reengineered on a new, Acura-exclusive platform.
It definitely has a more athletic stance and proportions with a wider track (increased by 1.2 inches), longer wheelbase (up 2.5 inches) and shortened front overhang with its wheels pushed to the corners. The new design flows outward from Acura’s corporate diamond pentagon grille which is flanked by Acura’s jewel-eye headlamps. There’s no mistaking this is anything but an Acura.
Additionally, the 2019 RDX will be the first Acura SUV offered with an A-Spec trim, adding sport styling inside and out. The brand has announced all core Acura models developed moving forward will receive A-Spec treatment. Roll your eyes at what might seem like a paint-n-wallpaper if you want but trims like A-Spec allow manufacturers to tack on visual addenda without the expensive recertification of a different powertrain. Not everyone wants to record lap times on the way to soccer practice.
Motivation is provided by a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 16-valve direct-injected engine. VTEC will kick in, yo, even if the valvetrain is different than the Fast & Furious days. The engine is mated up to a 10-speed automatic transmission whose number of cogs should be able to take advantage of the torque profile found in most 2.0L turbo engines.
All-wheel-drive variants of the new Acura RDX will utilize the next generation of Acura SH-AWD, which I enjoy simply because its name includes the word “super.” An available new adaptive damper is tied into the Integrated Dynamics System, which is a selectable system with four distinct drive modes: Sport, Sport+, Comfort, and Snow. A prominent drive mode dial is placed high in the center console, which Acura will no doubt tie to the NSX somehow.
Oft-maligned for its approach to infotainment, Acura is taking another kick at the can with its new True Touchpad Interface, which features an Android-based operating system projected onto a dual-zone, 10.2-inch full-HD display mounted high atop the center console. It is paired with a touchpad within easy reach of the driver.
Acura says this setup will trump remote interfaces which deploy a mouse or scroll wheel. They say every spot on the RDX’s touchpad is mapped precisely – one-to-one – with a corresponding action on the center display. For instance, a tap on the top left corner of the touchpad corresponds precisely with the action on the top left of the center display. We reserve judgement until we try it for ourselves.
Development of the 2019 Acura RDX was led for the first time by a U.S. R&D team, with styling by the Acura Design Studio in Los Angeles, California, and development by an engineering team in Raymond, Ohio. All RDX models for the North American market will continue to be built in the company’s East Liberty, Ohio plant using domestic and globally sourced parts.
Last year, the RDX counted for 51,295 sales at Acura, only a few thousand off its bestseller, the MDX. This represents nearly one-third of Acura’s total volume, so it’s safe to say the RDX is an important model for the brand. With new clothes, powertrain, and technology, the buying public’s propensity for snazzy small crossovers give the RDX a good shot of stealing the Acura sales crown from its big brother.
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