Acura RDX Prototype First Look: Larger, Stiffer, More Powerful

2019 Acura RDX prototype

Enlarge Image The 2019 RDX's cabin is all-new including infotainment. Acura

With North American SUV sales at an all-time high, Honda's luxury arm plans on taking advantage with the reveal of its all-new RDX compact crossover prototype at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Honda has come back from its own identity crisis with the critically acclaimed Civic and Accord - and with the RDX, Acura is poised to do the same.

The new design flows outward from Acura's signature diamond pentagon grille, with RDX being the first model designed from the ground-up around the brand's bold new face.

The RDX also offers natural language speech recognition, where drivers could ask for the "nearest Thai food" and the system offers a route to the nearest Thai restaurant, said Jon Ikeda, vice president and general manager of Acura Division.

The crossover is actually a bit bigger than the outgoing model, however, gaining 2.5 inches in wheelbase and 1.2 inches in track. The engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic. A newly developed SH-AWD rear differential with 40 percent more torque capacity suggests that performance is definitely on the new RDX's menu. Drive modes are similar to the NSX's, which defaults to Sport but can be switched to Comfort, Snow, or Sport Plus. The SUV, unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show 2018 today, is Acura's most extensive redesign in a decade, and brings previously concept-only features like the Acura Precision Cockpit infotainment system into production. The technology is now Android-based and there's a new, high-definition touchscreen mounted atop the center console, with a head-up display available as an option.

The RDX's seats are new and more intricately sculpted, and driver- and front-passenger seats are power adjustable with 16 settings.

For the 2019 model year, Acura is bringing back the Super-Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system top the RDX. Basically, a typical touchscreen in the center console will be out of the driver's line of sight, forcing the driver to take his or her eyes off of the road and press what they need to press on the display. For instance, a tap on the top left corner of the touchpad corresponds precisely with the action on the top left of the center display.

The interior features more upscale materials like Nappa leather and open-pore wood, as well as a touchpad-controlled multimedia system; we'll reserve judgment until we try it, but we're not usually fans of systems like this. Combined with a new natural language interface and an interactive heads-up display for the driver, it's supposed to be easier to use than any auto software we've seen before. Acura's senior engineer of user interface research, Ross Miller, stated that "absolute positioning transforms the touchpad experience, making it personal, intuitive and particularly well-suited for premium, driver-centric, performance machines".

The 2019 RDX Prototype uses four ultra-thin, ceiling-mounted speakers to add a new dimension of sound and fidelity to the audio experience. Miller continued by stating that "it's also created to be adopted quickly and easily, as drivers become acclimated and comfortable in minutes".

Advanced safety features standard on the RDX include adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, part of the brand's AcuraWatch suite of safety technologies.

Latest News