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2019 Acura RDX Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 9.0

The 2019 Acura RDX gets ample power, decent acceleration, and good gas mileage with its turbocharged engine. This luxury compact SUV rides smoothly and handles winding roads with ease. Add it all up, and you’ll have a vehicle that's more fun to drive than many of its rivals.

  • "From a driver's perspective, the new RDX is quite good. Most recent Acura models have left me wanting in some way, but I found the RDX very satisfying to drive." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Perhaps most importantly, I was most impressed with how much smaller and more nimble this SUV felt on the twisty and scenic Canadian mountain roads around Whistler, British Columbia. Thanks to its performance-oriented all-wheel drive system and well-sorted chassis, this bigger, more comfortable RDX still managed to be a very fun romp when chucked at fast sweeper or two." -- CNET
  • "Having matched (and exceeded) the competition in performance, Acura will have to consistently execute its signature jewel-eye headlights, grille and dragon's tail-lights to stir the same passion in buyers. Until that happens, Acura has other cards to play. Like value." -- Detroit News

Acceleration and Power

The redesigned RDX features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 272 horsepower. It's mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The RDX gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Most luxury compact SUVs get similar gas mileage, but the RDX is near the top of the narrow field.

The engine has more horsepower than some competitors' engines, which makes the RDX surprisingly quick. While the acceleration won't throw you back in your seat, this little SUV has plenty of power for all driving situations. A word of warning, though: Acura augments the engine noise electronically, which might throw you off the first time you hear it.

  • "It's more powerful than competitors like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 and it brings genuine excitement to this vehicle. This is the quickest RDX ever with strong acceleration and a throaty exhaust note that adds to the fun." -- Boston Globe
  • "The RDX borrows its 2.0-liter turbo-four from the Honda Accord, though the engine has been modified for Acura duty. It's rated at 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, but foot-to-the-floor power isn't as impressive as I had hoped. For most of the driving I did, however, the RDX's engine felt right up to the task. … All 2019 Acura RDXs get Honda's home-grown ten-speed automatic, a gem of a transmission that swaps its cogs unobtrusively under light throttle and yet firms up the shifts when the driver telegraphs even the slightest signs of urgency." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "You get the measure of it the moment you step on the gas. The RDX has a devious quickness; the speedometer always seems to be gaining ground far faster than the world outside is blurring. There's no lurch forward as you take off, no press into the seat. The isolation from speed is such that the nagging thought you could get out and run faster lasts all the way up to the moment you look down (or into the optional head-up display) to see you're grossly exceeding the speed limit. It's not remarkably fast for a small SUV, but it's quicker than you realize." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

The RDX tackles winding roads without issue, and it strikes a nice balance between ride comfort and handling ability. Some luxury compact SUVs are more athletic, while others ride more smoothly. Still, the RDX performs well on both counts, making it an SUV that anyone can enjoy driving.

Front-wheel drive comes standard in the RDX, and all-wheel drive (which Acura calls Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, or SH-AWD) is available. The AWD system works great, delivering outstanding road grip even when the roads are slick.

  • "Some people will find this dispassionate precision downright boring, but if the market wanted luxury crossovers to drive like sports cars, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio would dominate this class on the sales charts. Instead, the RDX does. Most customers like the somewhat disconnected performance Audi trades on, and it's easy to see where Acura set its benchmarks (Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC 300, and Volvo XC60). Anyone can get in an RDX and comfortably and confidently drive very quickly." -- Motor Trend
  • "It isn't my dream Instagram car, but it was enjoyable to drive in the mountains, it handled roads well, and there are plenty of people out there who will jump right on it." -- Jalopnik
  • "The new Acura RDX exhibits a very well-done balance between ride and handling. Steering feel is solid, with just the right combination of boost and feedback. The SUV stays level and doesn't dip in tight corners, showing some excellent body control. The ride is on the firm side, but I attribute that to the sportier A-Spec model's 20-inch wheels and tires – 19-inch wheels are standard and present on all other models. Still, even with the thinner sidewalls, the RDX doesn't let any harsh impacts get into the cabin, and high-speed dips don't upset the chassis at all." -- Cars.com
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