Acura's Redesigned RDX Did Exactly What the Brand Wanted It to Do

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
acura s redesigned rdx did exactly what the brand wanted it to do

Acura would love it if we talked about the brand in the same manner that we did, oh, say a decade ago. Maybe the turn of the century. But we don’t, as vehicles like the second-generation NSX simply didn’t capture our imagination like the original. There’s no cheap, fun little car like the Integra anymore, and cars as a whole are vanishing from conversations as quickly as they fade from sales sheets.

Sales of Acura cars in the U.S. fell over 25 percent in June, year over year, and volume over the first half of 2018 was down 6.5 percent. That leaves Acura’s utility vehicles with the job of counteracting the loss — a difficult task for just two models.

For the freshest model in Acura’s stable — the totally revamped 2019 RDX compact crossover — June returned the news Acura execs were hoping for.

Last month wasn’t just a good showing for the new RDX, it was also the best sales month in the model’s decade-long history. Acura sold 7,292 units in the next-generation model’s first month on the market — a year-over-year increase of 36.9 percent. Over the first half of 2018, RDX volume rose 8.1 percent.

In contrast, the larger MDX, which underwent a refresh for 2017, saw volume decline 7 percent over the same time frame. In June, MDX sales sank 8.2 percent. Maybe the just-released 2019 model can turn it all around.

Yes, the RDX carries plenty of responsibility. Sporting an edgier design (both inside and out) and improved handling dynamics, the 2019 model’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 10-speed automatic transmission, and tech-heavy cabin is aimed at premium buyers on the sportier side of the aisle. Until a new utility model joins the Acura stable, the RDX (Acura’s best-selling model) is expected to do much of the heavy lifting.

Acura no doubt hopes June’s performance isn’t a one-time fluke, as the brand’s overall year-to-date volume remains in the red. Acura sales dropped 1.6 percent over the first half of 2018. Last month’s RDX spike helped push it over the mark on a monthly basis, with June volume rising 3.5 percent.

After attaining annual U.S. sales above the 200,000 mark in the mid-2000s, Acura sales plunged to half that number in 2009. The brand reached a post-recession sales high of 177,165 in 2015, only to see volume fall off in the years since.

If you’re thinking the RDX was the only Acura model to post an increase last month, think again. The big RLX flagship sedan saw a year-over-year gain of 68.9 percent. However, that just meant sales rose from 74 units in June of 2017 to 125 last month.

You can see what the RDX and its larger sibling are up against.

[Images: Acura, © 2018 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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6 of 40 comments
  • Deanst Deanst on Jul 18, 2018

    I’ve lost track. Does acura sell anything with a manual transmission anymore? Doesn’t seem like it.

  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on Jul 20, 2018

    Bottom line for me: good try, appreciate SH-AWD, but still much too big. It weigh almost the same as the new Wrangler (about 10 pounds heavier, both vary with a trim: say 4020 lbs versus 4010 lbs). It's wider than just about anything. Longer, too - although shorter than GC/WK2, it's not by much: it's 186" long. Bottom line, it would be lightest and most economical if it were in the class of Benz GLE and Bimmer X3, which dimensionally it is. So, Acura, good job, but call me back when you make Evoque or XC40.

    • See 2 previous
    • El scotto El scotto on Aug 25, 2018

      @el scotto Envision 0-60 7.1 seconds; slower and GM reliability.