For our annual trip to the Okanagan we were able to take the “Acura RDX Elite” along for the ride. And needless to say we found ourselves falling for the charms of this luxury SUV. Truth be told we knew we would, so actually planned our road trip around having it for the week.

It is an eye catching vehicle. Sleek white, with a grill not unlike that of Mercedes, a similar design that translated well to the Acura here. My partner just wished that it the body work was designed to stand out a little more. It could afford to be a little different, a little more special, given Acura’s pedigree and the “Elite” connotation. Though the RDX Elite is freshly remodelled and looking better and sportier than ever with the Acura signature, Jewel Eye LED headlights.

And was just as beautiful on the inside. The totally redesigned interior is stunning, everything came together so well. The door panels flowed into the dash, and the suspended centre console served as the gear selector and touch pad. It had all the modern functionalities you’d except from a 2018 vehicle, all wrapped up in cushy leather seats.

Leather seats that when you adjusted them, the changes you apply are broadcasted onto the infotainment system. There, you see how far each supportive cushion extends, and what your button pushing, pressing, and tapping is doing as you go along. You can even ease your seat all the way back, and doze off while taking in the panoramic sun roof. I never go a road trip without napping in the front passenger.

The 2019 RDX is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-four, making 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque that peaks at just 1,600 rpm. And the previous six-speed automatic transmission was replaced with a new ten-speed automatic. The SH-AWD (for Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive) was also upgraded with torque vectoring. The powertrain is very impressive and with all the torque available at any rpm, so much so that my partner found himself having to work harder to keep within the speed limit.

It also comes with several modes you can toggle between: Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. The first is self-explanatory, the second allowed us to maximize how smooth our ride travelled. The third added some spice to our dive (and was our favoured setting), making the car’s response heightened, while soliciting a growl from the engine that any carboy could appreciate. As for Sport+, it allowed for quicker shifting: it stiffened the steering and switches the gear shifter to manual mode so you can take advantage all of the available horses under the hood.

 

But the highlight and what set this vehicle apart was definitely the touch pad right under the gear shift. The more he played with it, the more my partner liked the sensation of sliding his finger up or left along the pad, thus navigating the infotainment screen a few instruments above. Although it came to a point where we found that he enjoyed the joy stick sensation too much. So much so that he began switching between satellite channels just for fun, like switching channels while watching tv. We soon after pulled over so that we could figure out how to create favourites for our preferred channels, in order to decrease the frequency of the toggling mentioned above. The goal, less removing of our hands of the wheel to click.

But first figuring out how to do create a music station favourite. It was quite the tedious undertaking. This included many back and forth toggles, and complaining of how long it took to complete the process: saving each of the seven stations you like. And then there was the question of how do you arrange them in the order you wanted? We spent over 40 minutes in the car, on the side of the road, and still couldn’t figure it out. (I was on my phone, not helping). This was then followed up with the question, “how do you remove the old favourites or the ones you typed in by accident? Another 10 minutes passed before we decided to continue on our drive…. the lesson here is to save time and read your car manual.

All this fuss because, music is very important when it comes to a road trip, it sets the tone and the mood. Luckily the Acura is equipped with a great sound system. The ELS Studio 3D audio system is a unit designed with the help of a Grammy winning record producer. The 710-watt system utilizes 16 speakers. Great for musical quality, but a hinderance when it came to shoulder checking. The driver’s shoulder checks were hindered by the extra speaker on the left of the driver’s side back seat. It was a nice feature for acoustics, but was easy to mistaken for another vehicle in your peripheral. The

Other long distance driving vehicle features include the ability to adjust the centre console and a cushioned brace for your wrist. The former was a great add-on for those with shorter arms. It offered plenty of cushion for the driver and passenger to be able to share the prop. Similarly, with more comfort in mind, there was a cushioned brace for your wrist, something to rest on while you toggle through the dash buttons and knobs, mentioned above.

Driving to, the cooling seats were a nice little treat for our bottoms. And as soon as we got to the valley and the smoke of the Okanagan forests on fire, got so thick that we couldn’t see or feel the sun past it, heated seat warmers became my favourite feature.

Sadly there was just too much smoke, so much so that on one day you couldn’t see more than a kilometre in front of you. And it got so bad that it rained ash, chucks of grey and black flakes that were especially noticeable against the white of the RDX Elite’s paint job.

So after the worst day of “black rain”, we went to the local self service car wash to give the Acura a little bath. This would be a rinse that soon became difficult. The car would sense something and react when my partner was washing it. When water hit the mirrors they flexed. And we caught both the head and fog lights blinking during this rinse; like trying to get the soap out of its “eyes”. It was especially troublesome to scrub the windshield, having to battle the rain sensor. It detected water and automatically had the wipers swiping back and forth. I am sure there was a way to disable all of this…but once again, we failed to read the manual, so were left struggling.

In short, the Acura RDX Elite was as quirky as it was practical. It had so much personality. It is definitely a SUV that we could see ourselves in, and one would buy, and could actually afford to buy. With plenty of trunk space thanks to its more compact five seats, rather than seven, the Acura RDX Elite makes for a great road trip vehicle, and/or the vehicle you would drive to the market to pick up groceries in. Thank you for the amazing memories Acura Canada.

 

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