What’s Hot And What’s Not in the 2019 Acura Lineup
What to Buy and What to Stay Away From When it Comes to Acura in 2019
Honda’s premium division is the second best-selling premium Japanese manufacturer in the U.S. behind Lexus and just in front of Infiniti. Its position is in jeopardy, though, as overall American car sales have dropped from the post-recession record of 177,165 units in 2015 to 154,602 vehicles in 2017. In comparison, Lexus had pushed as many as 305,229 units during the same year, while Infiniti managed to market 153,415 cars. Despite coming just short of Acura in 2017, Infiniti’s sales are showcasing a healthy tendency towards growth – something Acura hasn’t recorded since 2015. But, what do the 2019 Acura models have in store for us?
The Japanese finally decided to phase out the hallmark beak grill from their lineup in late 2016. Most facelifts didn’t happen until late 2017, however. With MY 2018 slowly expiring on us, all Acura cars will be wearing the new frontal fascia from 2019 onward. All beside the venerable ILX sedan, which will likely make a switchover in time for the early model year 2020. Here’s what to pay attention to when it comes to the 2019 Acura lineup as things stand right now.
What’s Hot In the New 2019 Acura Lineup
#04: 2019 Acura NSX
The Acura NSX is arguably among the top 100 most exciting things that ever came out of Japan. What’s more, unlike the Nissan Skyline, the Eunos Cosmo, fried chicken vending machines and Hitomi Tanaka, among other things, we actually get to enjoy the numerous qualities of the Acura NSX here in the U.S. The Japanese supercar returned in 2016 after a decade-long hiatus, and it looks better than ever even after two years without any major changes. As of yet, nothing new has been confirmed for the supercar going forward, so we can safely expect another carefree year for it. Considering how good it looks, we wouldn’t take it any other way. The only major change in the lineup might be the upcoming NSX Roadster, but a topless version of the Japanese icon still hasn’t been officially confirmed for MY 2019.
Like its predecessor, and like most Japanese sports cars for that matter, the second-gen NSX also sports a V6 engine. Only this time, its 3.5L V6 unit gets help from two turbochargers and no fewer than three electric motors (two at the front axle and one at the rear). The total system horsepower comes to a whopping 573 horsepower which is enough to propel the NSX to 191 mph and to a 0 to 60 mph time in just 3.1 seconds. True supercar figures without a doubt, and the future promises better performance still. The base price of almost $160,000 will likely inflate as well, but not for MY 2019.
#03: 2019 Acura RDX
Apart from the aforementioned NSX, Acura’s lineup consists solely of luxury sedans and crossovers. One such crossover is the CR-V-based RDX which is switching to an all-new architecture that’s allowed it to grow in size. Despite wearing the Acura badge, with north of 50,000 units sold each year between 2015 and now, the RDX is clearly one of the most important Honda vehicles overall. The 2019 Acura RDX serves as a vanguard for the new third-generation, and apart from being bigger (especially in terms of cargo room), it also looks better than the outgoing model thanks, in no small part, to the hallmark beak grille’s retirement. The new model boasts more than 50 percent high-grade steel in its construction but still doesn’t gain on weight. It also sports a strut front and multilink rear suspension, alongside optional active dampers for a smooth ride worthy of a luxury car.
When it comes to the powertrain, the 2019 Acura RDX is returning to its roots by ditching its second-gen V6 setup and incorporating a first-gen turbocharged inline-four unit. The engine in question displaces 2.0L and yields a more-than-healthy 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It also promises better fuel economy – especially considering it’s tied to an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission. The surprises don’t end there, for all RDX models are set to come with a standard power panoramic sunroof and AcuraWatch safety bundle which includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, road-departure mitigation, and forward-collision warning. With the aforementioned in mind, the new RDX promises to become one of the premier compact luxury crossover options on the market.
#02: 2019 Acura TLX
The 2019 Acura TLX is available as of mid-year 2018, whereas the new grille has been available since the MY 2018. New styling suits the entry-level luxury sedan much better than the outgoing beak-styled front fascia and makes the TLX feel more upscale than it did beforehand. There’s also the all-new sporty A-Spec trim level which gives the car a more aggressive demeanor. It costs $2,900 but requires $3,700 worth of Technology Package as well in order to be available for check out. The A-Spec TLX comes with darker 19-inch wheels, dual exhausts, more aggressive lower body, sporty suspension, retuned steering with a different steering wheel, and grippier leather seats on the inside. Performance, on the other hand, remains the same. What’s more, A-Spec models can be ordered even with the less powerful of two available powertrains.
Speaking of performance, the more aggressive TLXs find their motivation behind a 3.5L V6 mill which generates 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. More practical units come with a 2.4L inline-four engine which is good enough for 206 horses and 182 lb-ft of torque. Four bangers are tied to 8-speed dual-clutch automatics whereas the V6 mandates a 9-speed auto with paddle shifters. Both transmission choices are contemporary and well-balanced, but 4-cylinders still feel rather underwhelming for the TLX’s class. This is especially true if you’re expecting real performance figures from a sporty A-Spec fitted with the smaller engine.
#01: 2019 Acura RLX
Like the smaller TLX, the mid-size luxury RLX also dons the automaker’s new “diamond pentagon” grille. Acura’s flagship sedan now looks more appealing on the outside and the next step for the Japanese brand would be to do the same with its interior. Despite somewhat bland interior styling, the Acura RLX offers a lot of advanced safety features, comfortable seats, and great value for money overall. Being a commuter’s choice, the RLX will never be able to compete with its more exciting German counterparts. Despite being far from exciting to drive, the RLX does manage to check a few right boxes when it comes to its powertrain.
First and foremost, its 310-horsepower 3.5L V6 is powerful enough for any car in the RLX’s class. It’s also more efficient than engines offered by most of RLX’s counterparts in the segment. A new 10-speed automatic transmission further adds to both the appeal and economy alike. If the conventional model’s 23 mpg combined isn’t enough, there’s also the RLX hybrid which returns 28 mpg combined. It uses the same engine bolstered by no less than 3 electric motors for a combined output of 377 ponies. Unlike the conventional model, though, the hybrid comes with a more traditional 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Acura’s flagship sedan’s sales have been dwindling for the past few years, but the Japanese are expecting this new styling might turn the 2019 Acura RLX’s fortunes around. It remains to be seen whether that’ll be the case.
What’s Not In the New 2019 Acura Lineup
#02: 2019 Acura ILX
The compact luxury ILX sedan is one of few Honda Civic-based vehicles the Japanese automaker is offering across its two division’s lineups. Aside from the venerable Acura ILX, the Honda Civic’s underpinnings can also be found in the automaker’s latest addition to the lineup, the Honda Insight. The Acura ILX was first unveiled in 2012 and a mid-cycle refresh ensued in 2016. The compact luxury sedan is now seriously beginning to show its age as pretty much every single one of its 20 or so rivals on the market beat it in an overall comparison. And yet, it seems the Japanese are still allowing it to enter the MY 2019 unchanged since anything tangible about a possible redesign has yet to be confirmed.
Considering how it trails its competitors in pretty much every segment imaginable, prospective Acura ILX buyers will be happy to know it’s at least more affordable than most of them. It also offers – impressive for a luxury compact – 35 mpg on the highway, courtesy of a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine and an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission combo. Together, they raise 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque which is no slouch, but the ILX’s extremely dull handling ruins the picture completely. Of all the Acura models you might want to consider buying or avoiding, this one would definitely be the one to avoid.
#01: 2019 Acura MDX
The mid-size Honda Pilot-derived Acura MDX was the first of currently available Acura vehicles to receive the new grill treatment during the Summer of 2016. As such, it’s now basically ready for a full-on makeover since MY 2019 units will mark the crossover’s sixth year on the market. At the same time, the MDX is the latest of currently available Acura cars to receive the A-Spec sport styling cues which debuted in the 2018 TLX sedan. Although the A-Spec doesn’t offer any real sportiness in terms of boosted performance, it’s practically the only update available in the 2019 Acura MDX. The intermediate “bread and butter” crossover for Acura simply had to offer something new in order to retain its sales figures which currently stand at around 55,000 units a year.
The MDX’s powertrain remains a proven 3.5L V6 that’s making 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. It’s available in either front-wheel drive or the exactly $2,000-more-expensive Super Handling All-Wheel Drive configuration, whereas the transmission remains a 9-speed auto with paddle shifters. Another option is a hybrid which delivers 257 hp and 218 lb-ft of torque thanks to a smaller 3.0L V6 engine, dual electric motors, and a lithium-ion battery pack. It’s only available in all-wheel drive, and with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. As of last year, the MDX is finally offering the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto alongside a number of other advanced tech goodies. Despite the positives, and there are plenty of them, the 2019 Acura MDX is most likely the last gasp for the intermediate crossover’s third generation. As such, sitting out on it and waiting for the next-gen might be the right move here.
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