Acura teases RDX sequel

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Like a movie studio ahead of a Christmas blockbuster, Acura is teasing the latest installment of its RDX compact crossover franchise (third generation model) ahead of its Detroit Auto Show debut January 15.

Acura RDX Prototype

Determined to get back its sporty “Precision Crafted Performance” roots, Honda’s premium brand is advertising the SUV prototype as “the beginning of a new era.” The RDX will be all-new from the ground up.

Though a photo and video trailer only tease dimly lit silhouettes, they show enough to confirm that the RDX is the first, full manifestation of two recent Acura concepts: the Acura Precision sedan and Acura Precision Cockpit.

From the “Diamond Pentagon” grille to bold, slashing shoulders, the SUV echoes the sleek Precision four-door – if in a more muted, five-door ute package. The pentagon grille – diamond-like accents flecking its surface – and angular headlights have already been adapted for Acura’s MDX SUV and TLX sedan. So the RDX’s face will look familiar.

It’s the interior that will get tongues wagging. Gone is the confusing, two-tier screen for the second generation model, replaced by the sci-fi layout of the Precision Cockpit porotype first shown at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. The video shows an adaptation of the concept with its single console screen and big, “trigger” e-shifter in the middle.

Less obvious — but expected — is the concept’s “absolute positioning” touchpad that aligns the pad’s geography with the larger screen.

The electronic, “trigger” shifter harkens back to the Acura NSX supercar which debuted at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show and set the tone for Acura’s rebirth.

The RDX has hardly been a sales dud — it was one of best-selling, premium SUVs in the compact market in 2016 with over 50,000 units old, more than the Audi Q5 or BMW X3. But, like Honda before the reborn, critically-acclaimed Civic, Acura has suffered from a brand identity crisis in recent years. The RDX wants to make a splash.

More details will be released when the RDX prototype rides up on stage in Detroit next month. Expect a similar, turbo, 2.0-liter powertrain and 10-speed transmission as found in upper trim Honda Accords – as well as a trunkful of standard features. The RDX production model will be produced in East Liberty, Ohio alongside the Honda CR-V.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-1 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.