Evaluating safety tech is trickier than ever. It’s not enough to just check a box on a features list; it’s important to know how the tech works and on what trims it’s offered, too. With regard to safety, the Acura RDX excels—but it’s not perfect.
The $3,200 Technology package’s safety additions include a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic monitoring, as well as front/rear parking sensors. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in a previous update, none of those features can compensate for the RDX’s serious blind spots. They’re worse than the more conventionally styled Volvo XC60, but anyone who’s driven a Lexus RX should feel comfortable with them.
IIHS and NHTSA Safety Ratings
Surprisingly, the 2019 RDX’s three lower trims outperform the top Advance model in one safety test. The Acura’s standard LED headlights provide great visibility, but on the Advance model, one of the RDX’s LED lighting elements only illuminates during cornering to send light into the direction you’re going. The IIHS tells us that the RDX Advance’s biggest issue in headlight testing arose because its lights were aimed higher, and that caused more glare for oncoming traffic than the other RDX models—so most models earn a Good rating with the Advance settling for the still-decent Acceptable. The truth is that we’re giving the RDX a hard time; the crossover aced every other IIHS evaluation, from crash tests to front crash prevention (using automatic emergency braking) and even the ease of use for its child-seat anchors (LATCH).
The RDX also performed well in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests, earning an overall five-star safety rating. If you’re the type of person to worry about everything, you may appreciate that the RDX’s four-star frontal crash rating was closer to five than three, the NHTSA tells us.
Beyond the laudable safety ratings, I also appreciate that the RDX’s tire pressure monitoring system has separate readouts for each tire, and, in case you’re wondering, I have no issues with the gear selector controls. The system’s buttons replace a traditional gearshift stalk and make possible the RDX’s excellent front storage. Maybe that ease comes with driving the car every day, or it could be the high placement and tilted layout.
Infotainment and the Shining Light
One issue I’ve been experiencing connects to safety. If the sun hits the shiny silver trim on the bottom of the steering wheel at just the right time, it reflects directly into my eyes. Whoops. Although that doesn’t happen often, I hope Acura will update the trim soon.
The other area of concern is with the infotainment system. My opinion on Acura’s infotainment solution is still positive overall, but not nearly as much as before. Even after installing two regular updates to the system, I still have trouble getting the smaller, rightmost part of the touchpad to register my touch upon the first swipe. Also, on three occasions the system has frozen altogether while I was in Apple CarPlay—which doesn’t use the one-to-one touchpad-to-screen-location logic like the rest of the system. Finally, navigating between screen functions also takes longer than it should, even for commands you may not use all the time.
Despite those drawbacks, the 2019 Acura RDX’s picture once again comes into focus when considering value. Base models already get top safety ratings, and if you’re shopping around in the RDX’s competitive set, you may be delighted by the affordability of models with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Read more about our long-term 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec:
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Author: Zach Gale