2019 Acura RDX: High-tech and luxurious in all the right places [Quick Take]

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2019 Acura RDX (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

One of the biggest complaints I’ve had with the Acura brand in recent years is it charges a premium price without really distinguishing itself from the Honda brand.

So, with vehicles such as the TLX or the ILX, it is really hard for me to justify the purchase price when you could get an Accord or Civic that are pretty comparable for about $10K less.

But that changes with the all-new 2019 RDX. With the first iteration of the Acura Precision Cockpit, Acura finally gets the upscale delineation I’ve been looking for.

We were driving the top-tier RDX SH-AWD with the Advanced Package ($48,395), and fully appreciated the beautiful wood inserts, stitched leather dash and ultra-comfy seats. The Acura push-button gearing still takes some time to get used to, but it’s well-placed on the center stack for easy access.

I’m also ever-so-thankful that Acura has left a lot of the hard buttons intact for HVAC and audio – including a volume dial.

One of the biggest interior changes comes in the form of the True Touchpad that controls the 10.2-inch display screen atop the center stack.

Acura has moved this display screen up and out of reach of grubby hands, making it easier to see without taking eyes off the road and removing the touch-screen capability. Thus the True Touchpad becomes the lifeline to the menu options.

Unlike touch pads from other automakers, however, the placement of your hand on the pad isn’t relative, it true to what you see on the screen. For example, if you want to access the navigation menu in the upper left quadrant of the screen, you simply touch the upper left quadrant of the touch pad.

The upside is that it can be easier to use while driving – especially while accessing the corners of the pad. The downside is there is no haptic feedback to tell you when you’ve clicked on a menu item, which makes hitting some of the middle menu items a bit tricky.

As with any infotainment system in a vehicle, I’m willing to give it some leeway, because, without a long-term test, it’s hard to say what will become intuitive to owners. But I will say I like this use case better than the track pads I’ve experienced previously.

RDX is available in front- and all-wheel-drive configurations and is equipped with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine. Power output is 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.

This new engine replaces the outgoing 3.5-liter V-6 engine, but don’t let the displacement fool you: The 4-cylinder engine delivers 40-percent more low-end torque, which translates into better passing acceleration.

The ride and handling of the RDX is very smooth. During our quick test, we found it to be quiet and fast in all the right places.

I played around with lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control, a part of AcuraWatch standard on all trims, and found them to work really well without being overly aggressive on the steering input.

Though crash tests have yet to be performed on the 2019 RDX, Acura is targeting both a 5-Star Rating from NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick + award from IIHS.

RDX went on sale at the beginning of June with a base price of $38,295.

The Bottom Line

Acura is finally starting to set itself apart from the Honda lineup with a premium look and feel. And that makes it easier to justify the premium price tag.

From the looks to the handling, the RDX is much improved over the previous generation. Plus, it adds a lot of amazing up-level standard features including AcuraWatch safety technology, heated front seats, LED headlights, walk-away door locks, programmable power liftgate and a panoramic moonroof.

I only had a brief time with the RDX this go-round, but I’m looking forward to more time behind the wheel.