When you are choosing a vehicle for your family, you tend to think rationally. Value and reliability tend to top the list of checkboxes. But isn’t family life hard enough? Adulting can get pretty boring, so we need to balance it out with some passion. Spontanaity. Vigour. Where is the dream sports car of your youth that spikes adrenaline and has you feeling proud to slip behind the wheel? The one you drove down the shoreline that looked prestigious, sleek and fast. You actually wanted to dress up a bit to go for a spin. The brilliant minds at Acura realized that their previous best-selling RDX was constantly chosen as a family vehicle for all the right rational reasons, but even when you ‘grow up’, fun and passion must still play a part. Adding expensive details and high performance into the new first in a generation 2019 Acura RDX, they have created a sport sedan utility vehicle that elicits a gutteral, emotional response just to look at it. But wait until you get behind the wheel. Or in the back seat. In my view, the 2019 Acura RDX as a family vehicle hits all the highs for both the brain and the soul.
Screens are great, but if it’s close enough to touch, it means taking your eyes off the road to glance at where you are touching the screen. It’s called the ‘True Touchpad Interface’. That’s where the genius of the touch pad comes in. A pad conveniently within fingers’ reach exactly where your forearm is resting. The location of your finger transfers to the location on the screen.
One endlessly irritating thing about screens is that when you are watching the navigation screen, changing the music is often a challenge. The touchpad features a separate section of about 1/3 the width of the pad on the left.
Touching this zone toggles the 10.2-inch HD screen so you can swap between your last two apps – while simultaneously seeing the other on the right side of the screen. There are three heating and air conditioning hard buttons for additional control and comfort. Heads up display is controlled from left side of the steering wheel and completely interactive and customizable. You can also turn off lots of functionality so people who only want a couple of apps are happy too.
RDX Dynamics Drive Modes
With screaming kids in the back and a lack of caffeine in your system, many parents don’t exhibit the wherewithal to finesse a car’s torque and control each tire, even if your vehicle gave you this control. The new Acura RDX offers an integrated dynamics system which includes Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport + modes so that you can provide the best possible drive to those in the cabin.
The sunroof provides the largest amount of light in its’ class. Not only does this allow you to cherish the stunning mountain views, but it keeps the kids in the back entertained and provides a bright cabin for the safest driving conditions. And this is standard in all models.
Sound System: ELS Studio 3D
One of the highlights of my experience getting to know the Acura RDX was meeting 8-time grammy award winner Elliot Scheiner. A music producer, mixer and engineer, Scheiner collaborated with Panasonic to create the ELS Surround premium audio system for the Acura RDX. His idea was to replicate the sound on the inside of a recording studio, as opposed to the sound that comes out of speakers in your living room, thus eliminating a middle stage. The sound was bright and pure. Listening to my favourite showtunes in the vehicle, I felt completely transported. Highline ultra-slim overhead speakers are so thin, they don’t take away any area from the huge moonroof. There are 16 speakers in total.
Trunk Space to Boot
Not only are you able to adjust the resting height of the hatch, but there is a bifold compartment that features three different areas. Sippy cups won’t break over the soccer cleats, and you will always be able to find the band-aids. As an extra bonus, to the left of the trunk is an additional compartment that perfectly holds 6 bottles of wine. As if there was a better way to sell a vehicle to parents!
It looks like it’s in motion
If it looks like wood, it is. Olive ash wood, to be specific. Full-grain leathers feature contrast stitching and on the A Spec models you can opt for ultrasuede seat and dash inserts. Millions and millions have been spent on developing a new line of paints, which are only available to Acura. In choosing the A Spec, you can actually build a superhero car. Apex blue pearl paint, and red seats. Spiderman or Superman? Hmmmm.
The Red Circle
As I have learned more about auto journalism and truly judging the bones of a vehicle, I’ve become fascinated with the cut body cars. Manufacturers strip away the bells and fabrics so that you can see the frame. This one was far more advanced than others I have seen, with the world’s first deployment of inner and outer hot stamp door rings and the use of 60% more advanced materials. In the safety videos, the change was clearly seen. Body rigidity has been so enhanced that safety targets are top of the heap.
OMG the red sport gauges in the A-Spec sport model! The dials and gears are beautifully laid out. My husband has a watch obsession and he’d love these dials. The customizable heads-up display can be easily programmed to show you frequently used controls. Critical vehicle alerts, incoming texts and calls also appear on the heads-up display. It melded into the windshield and dash for me and was far less distracting than others I have tried.
Room in the Front
The cockpit benefits from a stronger, thinner body because there is far more room. Specifically, coffees and handbags need their own spots, and the engineers have made this possible. I can’t tell you how irritating it is when you have to make your son hold your purse on his lap and it gets dumped onto the floor.
You know how you ask some assistant programs to call your Mom and they dial Tom? Or 911? Yeah. It makes me crazy too. Natural language means you can talk normally and be better understand. Like ‘Find me, um, the nearest coffee shop.’ Or ‘change the radio station to XM72.’ Because I know you love show tunes as much as I do.
The A-Spec Sport version of the RDX features a brand new next-gen seat. Again, it gives the appearance of length. Like the perfect Bond tuxedo. The seat can be adjusted in 16 ways. This has been achieved through reimagined mechanics, ergonomic study, and a steel frame.
Bigger Kids in the Back
My kids fight about who gets to ride in the front. They have actually developed a full schedule for the front seat. Soon, they will start driving themselves and a certain Mom and Dad will get relegated to the back seat. In the new RDX the 2nd-row leg room and knee clearance outperform all competitors in the class. Two USB ports and a flat floor also mean I won’t mind sitting in the second row. There’s also more head and shoulder room in the first row.
I’m not a confident driver in bad cars. Seriously. I go from looking like a prima ballerina to a rock monster. After driving the RDX, I also tested these attributes in competitive models, including the Audi Q5 Premium and Mercedes GLC300 in order to give a balanced comparison. For me, the following impressions all exceeded the competitor’s vehicles.
Acceleration was what impressed me most. With 10 speeds, shifting happened faster. This is first in class for the vehicle. The 4-gear direct downshifts gave so much control when you were passing on the highway. The VTEC Turbo engine offers up a 40% increase in low-end torque. Torque vectoring means that you can apply independently a different torque to each wheel.
Another big change with this model is the 5-link rear suspension. The design is more compact, and compliance and response are improved. Using lightweight forced aluminum, high strength steel and low-friction materials have revolutionized the suspension.
The cabin was insanely quiet. Which allowed me to truly appreciate the sound system. I’ve mentioned how much I loved it, yes? To achieve this degree of quiet in the cabin, Acura has done a few things. The body sealing is increased by 31%, including thicker carpet, 15% more insulation, acoustic foam and acoustic glass. You could hear a cheerio drop in the back seat. If the stereo weren’t so loud.
RDX – $37,300
RDX – AWD – $39,300
Advance – $49,400
This vehicle is the full package. Reliability, fantastic value and yet prime performance and function. Sign me up.
Disclosure: I was hosted on a media event in Whistler, BC in order to drive and test the Acura RDX.