By on May 16, 2018

Acura RDX Prototype

Often found in its larger, older sibling’s shadow, Acura’s compact RDX crossover can at least boast of being the brand’s best-selling vehicle. Over the first four months of 2018, Americans picked up 15,326 of the little crossovers, versus the MDX’s 13,909.

But with popularity comes responsibility. As production begins in Ohio on the next-generation RDX, Acura’s smallest crossover must overcome its own falling sales in order to help reverse the brand’s flagging fortunes.

Editor’s note: Our initial data source for 2017 sales offered up incorrect numbers. See full correction at the end of this piece.

For the 2019 model year, the RDX returns to its roots — at least in terms of engine type. Gone is the 3.5-liter V6 engine; in its place sits a turbocharged four-cylinder, much like the original RDX.

Unlike that first-generation model, however, the model’s four-banger now displaces 2.0 litres and generates a healthy 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. Joining the new mill is a 10-speed automatic transmission — hardly the norm for the compact class. Dimension-wise, the new model’s wheelbase stretches an extra 2.5 inches, with track widening by 1.2 inches.

Acura RDX Prototype

With an upgraded all-wheel-drive system on tap (capable of funnelling 70 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels, or dumping it all into either of those rear donuts), and a body displaying more aggression than before, the revised model definitely ups the brawn factor. Tech wizardry comes in the form of a 10.2-inch infotainment screen with True Touchpad actuation. There’s no cursors in sight, as the touchpad offers what Acura calls “absolute positioning.” In other words, the touchpad serves as a miniature version of a touchscreen. Time will tell if buyers take to this feature.

Acura knows it needs to make the RDX far more appealing to the U.S. buyer, as a full third of its American volume now comes from the model. Unlike rival Lexus, Acura’s stable isn’t overflowing with lucrative crossovers, and that’s a big problem. From a post-recession high of 52,361 units sold in 2016, the RDX’s annual volume shrunk to 35,487 slipped a bit to 51,295 vehicles last year. So far this year, RDX sales are up 3.6 percent.

With only two utility vehicles in its lineup, Acura hasn’t been able to offset the loss of passenger car sales. The brand’s sales slipped from 177,165 vehicles in 2015 to 154,602 in 2017. Volume over the first four months of 2018 fell 1.3 percent.

It’s an understatement that the model now rolling out of Honda’s East Liberty assembly plant faces stiff competition. To get noticed, the basket of goodies Acura brings to the table needs to resonate with buyers, and the price tag can’t be too dear. For now, that sticker remains a mystery.

Correction: As the strike-through shows, our initial data source gave us the incorrect number of 35,487 sales in 2017. The correct number is 51,295. This post has been updated to reflect that fact.

[Images: Acura]

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49 Comments on “As New RDX Enters Production, Acura Needs a Segment Standout [UPDATED]...”


  • avatar
    ant

    The all wheel drive system, and the nonassy gauges have a lot of appeal to me compared to the CRV. It isn’t possible for me to care less about the other differences, other than price.

    I feel like the Acura models hold back how good the Honda version would be otherwise. I wish they’d just scrap Acura altogether, and focus on making Honda vehicles all they could be.

    They’re just wasting resources developing this car. It isn’t different enough from the CRV. Same deal with all the rest of Acura, except NSX. That car would be fine with Honda branding.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Amen to that!

      • 0 avatar

        What they said. The new Accord is very nice. I drove a 2017 V6 recently, and wondered where the sport suspension and seats are. This is the usual problem with Honda.

        Acura is a waste of time-kill it now, it’s a vine on the Honda Tree, taking up light but not contributing anything. Honda’s product planners in the US need to be lined up and shot.

        How can I say that ? Simple. We KNOW Honda can do it well. The Classic Civic and Accord. Acura Integra, and Legend. OG NSX. There is a deep bench there. Honda will slip up occasionally, like the nice V6 in the Accord, or the SH AWD system in the last TL, and accidentally let something out.

        So why do they send us cars that Toyota would fall asleep in ? It’s even worse for the hen’s teeth R-type that occasionally escapes…just to remind us they can do it, they CHOOSE not to.

        All of Acura is a phone it in effort with some guys who wish they could afford a BMW. Kill Acura, and sell the uprated cars as Hondas with higher trim lines.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Sure, it has four wheels and a steering wheel, just like the CR-V. Seriously, it’s completely different. Turbo engine vs naturally aspirated engine….10-speed automatic vs CVT….SH-AWD vs a run-of-the-mill FWD-biased AWD system. Sorry, nothing alike at all.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Not that I’m drawing direct parallels, but–

        Isn’t your defense of this RDX quite similar to what a Trail Rated Jeep Patriot owner might say to a Caliber driver that thought those two were the same car?

      • 0 avatar
        ant

        The CRV has not been naturally aspirated for a while now.

        At this point, the Honda CTV transmission is preferable to whatever “10 speed” this thing has in it. I’m not impressed with this NEW transmission.

        Honda has been niggardly with SH-AWD for, ah, decades now, I think. Am I really supposed to be impressed by the fact that they put it in the RDX?

        Really?

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        White Sahdow, the 2019 RDX is a CR-V underneath.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      **BREAKING OFF TOPIC** -Oil over $80/barrel now, on way to $90, likely to $100 by July.

      Yet another major inflationary input to an already (real term, not gov’t’manipulated)’white hot inflationary environment, and an effective large tax on drivers and purchasers of the the most (only?) truly profitable cash-cows of GM, Fire and FCA’s businesses, being 1/2 ton pickup truck and SUV sales.

      Mark it down on your calendars now; gasoline’s already over $4 p/gallon with oil at $80/barrel in California.

      It will be over $4.25 a gallon nationwide by July, and possibly close to $4.55 nationally (with potential for $5 breach given geopolitical crises/events).

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        p.s. Regardless of supply-demand curve, oil is fungible, tradeable commodity whose price is heavily manipulated by “traders” using news (real or speculative), tactics (manipulating futures contracts), and by nation-states, by varying output in response to anything other than underlying true demand, and I haven’t even touched on refinery cost-push inflation that’s also used as a basis/cover/excuse or the oil majors and sovereigns to pump price higher.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        No $4/gallon for me as $2.19 for E85 smells so good!

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Is that push-button shifter array as pointless and annoying to use as it looks?

    Did they do that just so you could have a track pad there? The old, overused Office Space meme comes to mind: “Um, yeah, we’ve got this stupid track pad coming in, so we’re going to need you to move your intuitive and perfectly good shift lever up here into these buttons…”

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      In other Acura models, the stupid, unintuitive, space-hogging buttons showed up before there was a trackpad. They have nothing substantive to add to luxury cars these days, so gimmicks it is.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’m not sure what the definition of “segment standout” is, but short of some exotic drivetrain I’m not seeing it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It’s a CUV, and it’s small. That’s all the star power this thing needs.

      Unfortunate but true.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      A 3.0TT V6 will likely go into a Type-S variant at some point.

      Unfortunately, from what I read on the various Honda boards, Honda vehicles may not get it! (I can only imagine how bad a 2.0T would be trying to haul around a Pilot or Odyssey; yet with Honda’s stupefyingly dumb decision to follow the rest of the lemmings over that snail-wheeled cliff, that’s exactly what I predict will happen.)

  • avatar
    sckid213

    This new RDX isn’t good enough, especially in the looks departments, which continues the RDX’s tradition of always looking one generation behind the competition. I predict dark days ahead for Acura.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I’m just not sure if the “Honda+” meme of a CR-V dressed for dinner is going to go over as well with a boosted four versus a loping V6 under the hood. Badge snobs will just go for the roundel, since you are stuck with the same choice at the same price point.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Agree, sgeffe. The original RDX had a Four and SH-AWD, and nobody bought one. The 2nd gen took a step backwards to the same cheapo on-demand AWD the CR-V had, but it had the V6, and that was enough for it to sell well.

        Now, they’ve gone back to SH-AWD and a Four. Except now, it’s the same boosted Four as a loaded CR-V and doesn’t even have a meaningful power advantage. If Honda thinks buyers are going to go, “Oh Goody! A more sophisticated AWD system and no CVT!” …well, they’re going to have a lot of RDX’s on their hands.

        • 0 avatar
          trwaggo

          You are completely wrong about the CR-V and RDX turbo.

          The CR-V has a 1.5T – which is based on Honda’s L-engine. The RDX has a 2.0T – which is based upon Honda’s K-engine (and is the same 2.0T found under the CTR and Accord). The CR-V 1.5T has 190 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. The 2019 RDX has 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.

  • avatar
    ant

    10 speed transmission sounds odd to me as well.

    why so many gears?

    my semi is 10 speed. Most of the time I only use 7 gears. The other gears are only needed to build momentum from a stop up a steep hill.

    I don’t see how that thing isn’t shifting too much. Hunting for the right gear.

    If you’re doing 55, come up on a red light, slow down to 20, then light turns green, does it know what gear is right when you hit the gas?

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I believe there’s some skip-shift technology present. Haven’t driven an Accord so-equipped yet, but intend to this summer, as despite my misgivings about all the boosted cars in Honda’s stable, a Touring 2.0T will likely grace my garage a year or so from now.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      You clearly haven’t driven a modern passenger vehicle with a 8-, 9-, or 10-speed automatic. They are actually very good and dont hunt for gears. They can downshift seamlessly, jumping multiple gears at once. They typically get to top gear quickly to maximize fuel economy. They’re just really good overall in my experience with them.

  • avatar
    accord1999

    “From a post-recession high of 52,361 units sold in 2016, the RDX’s annual volume shrunk to 35,487 vehicles last year.”

    This isn’t correct, RDX sales were down slightly in 2017 to 51,295, which isn’t bad considering it’s in its 6th and final year for this generation.

    http://hondanews.com/channels/corporate-sales/releases/american-honda-sets-3rd-straight-annual-sales-record-with-best-ever-december

  • avatar
    V16

    Me too, more of the same, and non offensive, currently define the Acura brand.
    Would anyone really care if Honda discontinued the division and poured money
    into expanding and refining the parent brand of vehicles?

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      Indeed. Acura today reminds me of Oldsmobile in the ’90s (which, ironically, was displaced by Acura back then). Like WTF is your brand about? Who is your target audience?

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      V16,

      +1.

      If they simply took the spend of Acura and folded that money to the Honda team, imagine what Honda could be?

      There will always be space in my garage, for a Honda. I’m evening considering a Civic Type R. Yes, I know everyone thinks they are ugly, but I might die a happy man!!

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I remain surprised buyers are willing to waste so much interior space with such an enormous center console. This obsession with cupholders is silly…why give up generous hip and knee space for the ocassional need to park two 1/2 gallon big gulps?

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    Looks like a CR-V with a TLX front clip and Accord tail lights. That center console is a disaster.

    Acura is a joke brand, but they’ll probably do okay with this, since apparently any idiot can sell “premium” CUVs now. Personally, I’d rather they offer the 2.0/10-speed combo in the CR-V and call it a day.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Acura , thanks to an endless set of management blunders ,isn’t a player anymore.i see more Fiat 500’s on the road than Acura’s , and the 500 is no runaway success.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    It’s a vapid CUV, which is redundant I suppose. That red is really nice though.

  • avatar
    Silence

    This is going to be a nice vehicle for probably not a lot of money. The new CRV is a really good vehicle all by itself, and adding another 100hp to it will make it scoot.

    Knowing how good the CRV is, I’d grab one of these without a single qualm.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Only thing I am not sure about is that infotainment system. Looks stupid and clitoral and with the push button transmission one would think they’d locate the controller ideally. Otherwise it’s pretty much everything I hoped the RDX would be.

    Hoping Honda brings the next ILX/TLX out on the new Civic/Accord platform. A good looking Civic with the 2.0T + 10AT sounds like a real winner for us sedan fans.

  • avatar
    gsp

    Acura are ugly or at best boring. There are many out there (me included) that would happily stop buying BMW Mercedes or Audi and switch to Acura. I have a huge Honda past. I currently buy everything from them, generators, mowers, outboard engines. But their Acura cars, and increasingly the Hondas, have geeky design and I wont buy one. Why even bother to write this? I haven’t posted on here in years. I post this because I think that Honda make the most reliable car out there for long term reliability. And that engineering is appealing to me but it can’t be packaged in a vehicle that is not appealing.

    A perfect example of this is how many XC90s are selling in my upscale Toronto hood. These are all ex buyers of German SUV’s. People are sick of poor German long term durability. And the XC90 is practical and looks good. If the MDX looked like an XC90 Acura would double their sales at least.

    I almost think that Honda/Acura don’t want to sell too many cars.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      It seems like those German SUV to Volvo SUV folks should have done more homework before making the switch. The XC90’s have issues of their own, and independent durability ratings (NOT just initial build quality!) currently show the Germans all outranking Volvo by a significant margin.

      https://www.truedelta.com/Volvo-XC90/reliability-292
      http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/jd-power-2018-us-vehicle-dependability-study

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Unfortunately, the 1.5T in the CR-V seems to have a tendency to allow fuel to blow-by the rings, causing oil dilution. From what a colleague of mine whose CR-V is so-affected, too-high fuel pump pressure might be to blame, but short trips without full-warmup also seems to exacerbate the problem.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I agree Acura has lost it way, but they still make money for Honda and that is the point, I would buy a TLX over a BMW everyday, because I am pretty sure I would have a hell of a lot less issues with it. So they need somebody to change their image , not scrap them. I know plenty of MDX drivers who switch from German CUV?SUV who will not go back and it is not a money thing it is a I am sick and tired of the big and little issues that come with BMW,MB and Audi.

  • avatar
    PV_Pathfinder

    We bought a 2013 RDX when the first came out. Over the years, it’s been a great car. Wife loves it for all the reasons people like the smallish crossovers. Compared to what we were driving at the time, it was definitely our first venture into upscale (compared to a Corolla and a Grand AM).

    The buying experience at first was somewhat luxurious, but at the end of the day, it was still just some dude in cheap shoes that squeaked, trying to sell us an undercoating.

    Despite that, the car has done just fine. With one exception… For a 5 year old car, the GUI is already painfully outdated and clunky at best.

    If memory serves, Acura for a time branded itself as a car company built around technology. That was a smart move in the late 90’s or early 00’s when satellite radio and phone integration were $5k options. But today, they are nearly standard on every Sentra and Elantra that rolls off the line. So that angle is pretty much moot.

    Like most folks said, Acura needs to either go the full on luxury/performance route, or maybe just be eliminated in rolled up as slightly higher end trim levels on Hondas.

    FWIW, the day we bought the RDX, we also drove the CRV. Hated that car. What a difference 2 extra cylinders makes.

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