By on January 15, 2018

Acura RDX Prototype

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.

Acura RDX Prototype

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.

Acura RDX Prototype

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 RDX Prototype

Acura RDX Prototype

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.

Acura RDX Prototype

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.

[Images: Honda]

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31 Comments on “2019 Acura RDX Prototype Debuts in Detroit...”

  • avatar

    Beautiful shade of red. The Romulan Bird of Prey console is too much for me though.

  • avatar

    Exterior looks really sharp – MUCH better than the previous version, which despite its somewhat ungainly stance always sold well. (full disclosure – my daughter drives a 2014 model)

    Interior looks….like an Acura, which is to say decent, but not really a standout in the category.

    Not sure about the infotainment – I’ll have to try it out.

    The 2.0 turbo/10 speed combo should offer both better performance and better efficiency than the outgoing 3.7L V-6.

    And FINALLY – SH-AWD, which should have been there when the previous generation was introduced. Better late than never….

    It’s gonna sell really well.

    • 0 avatar

      It looks fairly straightforward and easy to use from the brief video that I watched.

      I wouldn’t buy any Acura on sale today but I would very much consider this. Mission accomplished Acura.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, thr compeititon has all much eclipsed the 2nd Gen RDX with CR-V slip-grip and only 50% of torque going rearward. But even thr current MDX only has 70% to the front and gets stuck on the rollers when not inclined.

      third-gen RDX has been reengineered on a new, Acura-exclusive platform.

    • 0 avatar

      According to Jalopnik…

      “There will be a V6 turbo, apparently, but we don’t yet have details for that one”

      Wow- this is exactly what I’ve been waiting for: The power and fun to drive SH-AWD of the old RDX along with great mpg and styling in a slightly bigger, more practical package. Even the approach/departure/breakover angles look pretty damn good for a CUV- enough to get me down the unimproved road to my favorite hot springs if I pick my line carefully. If they really offer a turbo V-6 this might actually give my 335i a run for its money, too! This may well be my first brand new vehicle purchase.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I can’t see a single angle from which the exterior looks attractive; I think the CR-V looks better. However, I do like the interior, and I’m pleased to see Acura step its game up in that arena.

    • 0 avatar

      “Acura is calling it an all-new, exclusive platform—but the RDX started with the Honda CR-Varchitecture and modified the chassis and upgraded the powertrain. ” motor trend

  • avatar

    Yeah, the red is nice.

    Aside from that, I find it impossible to have any feelings about this thing.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    I see Kia CUVs in the profile, Nissan sedans in the tail lamps, and embarrassment in the grille and likely-fake air intakes. Interior looks decent, but exterior styling is a step backward, per usual for Acura.

  • avatar

    I never drove an Acura long enough to get use to the dual screen infotainment, but I did like how the backup camera didn’t take over the music screen or the GPS. On the other hand having two screens display slightly different music info was a bit silly.

  • avatar

    A big improvement over the last model in every way.

    Let’s hope they can avoid the TLX reliability woes and maintain their current pricing.

  • avatar

    Looks like a Honda. Civic / Odyssey taillights. They needed to do better than this. Acura deathwatch, please.

  • avatar

    I love everything but the infotainment interface. Jury is out on that one. Nobody has done it better than Mazda so far. I hope this is a foreboding for the ILX.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The front end reminds me of a Boston Terrier. Apologies to small black & white dogs. Those controls in the center of the console? How resistant are they to coffee/soda spills. They will happen.

  • avatar

    If this were Ford we’d get a Type-R trim package with 22″ rims shoved under those lovely wheel arches.

  • avatar

    just build a damn luxury RWD platform already.

  • avatar

    Bland. Just like the performance will likely be when saddled with 750 lbs of extra weight over the new Accord with the same powertrain. The V6 is dead. Long live the V6. At least the ZF 9 speed isn’t present to stink the refinement up as it does in the V6 TLX.

  • avatar

    I don’t think they made the front Acura logo large enough.

  • avatar

    Is it just my imagination or is that exhaust tip huge?

  • avatar

    The center stack looks like it’s missing an insole – look at that shape! And their badge game is getting ridiculous. I think you could flip it upside down, and remove a couple letters from the tailgate.

    Tell people you have a new VECTOR X.

  • avatar

    Wow- this is exactly what I’ve been waiting for: The power and fun to drive SH-AWD of the old RDX along with great mpg and styling in a slightly bigger, more practical package. Even the approach/departure/breakover angles look pretty damn good for a CUV- enough to get me down the unimproved road to my favorite hot springs if I pick my line carefully. This may well be my first brand new vehicle purchase.

  • avatar

    Not sure if I like Acura more than the 2019 QX50 – tho I’d have to do a double/triple take to see which was which coming at me down the road.

    A turbo v-6 in this? It’ll be very quick! But how much more $$…

    This will sell well, after all the older ‘dated’ one sold well – even with more intense competition from the new QX50.

  • avatar

    The qx50 looks better, but CVT, no apple/android car play, two screen layout, less refined interior, less standard equipment?? it’s a hard sell overall.

  • avatar

    Honda giveth and they taketh away.

    On the one hand, SH-AWD is a major, like huge, upgrade over the joke of an AWD system that is currently in the RDX.

    On the other hand, no 2.0T (even if it is uptuned from the 254 hp it makes in the Accord) can possibly replace the J35.

    Interior looks class-competitive but not outstanding, like the last one.

    I think SH-AWD is a bigger deal overall than losing the two extra cylinders, and would definitely test drive the new one when it arrives if I were in the market for this class of vehicle.

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