2019 Acura RDX — In the last couple decades the line between trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and even pickups has been blurred to the point that it resembles an 1980s television set when you used to try to watch HBO or Cinemax after-hours without a subscription. Sure, sometimes you can make out what it is, but more often than not, you’re just kind of making up what you think you’re seeing and take it at face value. If you think the Honda Ridgeline is a truck, then Honda and the world at large is going to say, “Hey, sure, it’s a truck”. If you want it to be an SUV with a bed, no problem. But then a car/truck/whatever like the Acura RDX, when it first came onto the scene in 2007 was a diminutive crossover barely worth considering as anything more than a big car. But, in 2019, we are privy to the new and improved RDX. This one is more than a car, it’s a bonafide truck in nice clothing!
The most truck-like addition is the increase in size — an inch longer overall but more than 2.5-inches longer in the wheelbase than the RDX it replaces. Subtle improvements in the front end, profile and rear gate/tail lamp setup feel much, much sportier, and even have some hints of Ford Raptor in there if you look closely. Power, while not from the age-old 3.5-liter Acura corporate V6 is replaced by a marvelous turbocharged inline-four cylinder. Now we can hear the cries already, “How can a truck have a four-banger?!” Well … because that little four is more powerful than many V6 engines, and even a few of those big honking V8s. How does 272-horsepower at 4,800 RPM sound? Not bad. How about an even more impressive 280 lb-ft of torque that stays that way from 1,500 all the way to 4,500 RPM? Let’s see your 1995 Ford Lightning pull those numbers without blowing a head gasket! And yes, for those keeping score at home, technically the four does make seven less horsepower than the 3.5, but it does out torque the bigger motor, with a flatter curve to boot, and we promise it more than makes up for it with the weight savings versus the bigger six.
Those nearly 300 ponies get routed through a very slick-shifting, never caught out of gear 10-speed automatic, which has the capacity to downshift from 10th gear all the way down to 4th if the need arises (or just the urge). That great transmission routes power to all four wheels via Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. This system can send as much as 70 percent of all that torque to the rear wheels if necessary, and then of that power, it can then send as much as 100 percent of that to a single wheel in the event of a road course or a snow drift gets in the way.
Four drive modes are at your disposal — comfort, snow, sport and sport-plus, each adjusting damper calibrations, transmission shift points, and over all traction adhesion. Each setting makes use of the new five-link rear suspension and front McPherson struts. The new chassis is also very noticeably 38 percent stiffer, which comes in handy in all sorts of situations, and makes it clear that compared to the old Suburbans and LandCrusiers, this 2019 Acura RDX is modern and as competent as any of those four-wheel drive dinosaurs of yore.
And while the potential Acura RDX owners may still be unsure of what the new Acura is — big car, SUV, crossover, truck, etc, what we do know is that for as much comfort, all-weather competence, passenger and storage space and performance as well as a base price of $38,295, you are getting one hell of a deal on a luxury … truck? Sure, truck. And if your parents catch you staring at it, they might just pat you on the back instead of grounding you.