Acura Shapes Its Future With Stylish 2019 RDX Prototype

Like the recent spike of crypto-currency markets, the crossover segment has exploded in popularity with many of these entries forcing automakers to drastically rethink their offerings to help achieve maximum sales. Acura’s RDX crossover has emerged to be a leading force in this segment since it was introduced back in 2012 as a 2013 model. However, this beloved model is starting to show its age, and the 2019 model aims to not only breathe new life into the RDX, but also the very brand it represents.

This is most evident in its exterior styling which continues to showcase Acura’s “Precision Crafted Performance” design language. This language has worked its magic on other Acura models, but Acura claims that the RDX will bring some new touches to this venerable design language. The front fascia features Acura’s Jewel Eye LED headlights, and the lower front air intakes even borrow some styling cues from the NSX super car which is a welcome touch. The “diamond pentagon” grille rids the RDX of its controversial “chrome beak” design, and finally allows the RDX to fit in better with other Acura models including the larger MDX crossover and TLX sedan.

The exterior styling of the 2019 RDX is only one piece of the puzzle with Acura designers focusing just as much attention on the newly redone interior. A floating center console serves as the visual focal point of the cabin, and while Acura claims its inspired by its “Precision Cockpit” theme, we do see plenty of NSX inspired cues especially with button layout as well as the prominently placed drive mode selector switch. All new power sport seats redefine occupant comfort, and are slathered in rich Nappa leather with tasteful levels of support for spirited driving. Other welcome touches include brushed aluminium trim accents, and stylish appointments of open pored ash wood.

A key change that many buyers will notice is Acura’s all new True TouchPad Interface which seeks to give customers a practical touch pad layout. The nifty system utilizes an Android based operating system that projects its data onto a dual zone 10.2 inch HD display screen. The screen is mounted high on the dashboard and was designed to be within the driver’s natural line of sight.

However, the biggest trump card here is the touchpad itself. Unlike other touchpad systems we have experienced which offer clumsy operation, Acura’s system was precisely honed to match the position of the screen. For example, touching the lower left corner of the touchpad causes a corresponding action on the lower left corner of the display screen.

This “absolute positioning” layout is the first time such a system has been used in an automobile, and Acura claims that it will transform the touchpad experience though we will wait until we have more time with the system to see if that promise does indeed hold weight.

Lastly audiophiles will greatly appreciate the beefier sound system that will be making its debut in the 2019 RDX. Known as the ELS 3D system, this 16-channel 710 watt slice of music listening bliss was developed by Panasonic, and was meticulously tuned by Grammy award winning music producer Elliot Scheiner. The “3D” effect is achieved with four ceiling mounted speakers that rain sound downward on occupants from above in tandem with the rest of the speakers. Acura claims that the unique arraingment raise the sound stage for listeners, and it adds a distinct dimension to the music in the process.

This potent stereo resonated positively with my girlfriend Emily (a keen music connoisseur) during Acura’s brief demonstration of the system, and we suspect it will enthrall others in a similar fashion.

Performance for the 2019 RDX will come from a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder that currently sees duty in the Honda Accord as well as the Civic Type R. Acura did not formally disclose performance numbers, but brand representatives did reveal that the boosted four cylinder would deliver up to 40 percent more torque than before which should help the RDX improve its low and mid range behavior when pushed hard.

A 10-speed automatic transmission also makes the jump to the 2019 RDX, and allows the RDX to be the first entry in it class to offer such a unit. This transmission is already making waves in the recently launched Honda Accord, and Odyssey minivan thanks to its smooth shifts and compact layout, so look for Acura engineers to make minor tweaks that aim to enhance shift timing and overall precision for RDX duty. In addition to the new engine and transmission pairing, Acura’s SH-AWD system also makes its return on all-wheel drive variants.

A new iteration of the brand’s familiar all-wheel drive system, Acura engineers have equipped it with a new differential that allegedly increases its torque capacity by 40 percent versus its predecessor.

Amid all these changes and updates, there is still some familiarity that permeates throughout the RDX. For instance, Acura revealed that all U.S. spec RDX models will continue to be built at its East Liberty, Ohio facility while its 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine will be made in a separate facility in nearby Anna, Ohio. This particular facility also produces the twin turbocharged engine for the NSX supercar, so expect this engine to retain alot of the refinement and craftsmanship that goes into its much more expensive corporate sibling.

The lone exception to this Buckeye state themed slate is the 10-speed automatic which is built at Acura’s Tallapoosa, Georgia plant before making the trek to Ohio for final installation.