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2019 Acura RDX Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

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The 2019 Acura RDX just might have what it takes to become the best vehicle in the Acura showroom, aside from the swoopy NSX.

With chiseled lines, turbocharged power, available all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, and a high-tech yet luxurious interior, the compact crossover RDX is a better way to bring buyers from German brands to Honda’s luxury brand, NSX or not.

The 2019 Acura RDX adopts a new design that sits lower and wider than the outgoing model. Up front, the five-pointed grille that first appeared on the Acura Precision Concept and has since spread throughout the lineup rests between LED headlights and stylized air intakes. Front air curtains direct air around the sides of the vehicle. The profile features chiseled character lines–including one that rises from front to rear–a floating rear pillar, and splashes of chrome that Acura replaces with black trim on the sportier A-Spec model. The A-Spec also gets larger wheels.

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Inside the look mixes traditional luxury with the latest technology. Materials take a jump up, with open pore olive ash wood, brushed aluminum, stainless steel, synthetic suede, and Milano leather. Acura offers next-generation sport seats with high-strength steel frames, 16-way power adjustments, and improved lateral stability. In the A-Spec model, buyers can choose two-tone black and red upholstery.

The traditional luxury materials stand in contrast to an Integrated Dynamics Control system lifted from the NSX, as well as the new True Touchpad Interface. This infotainment controller uses a center console-mounted touchpad to choose the functions on the high-mounted 10.2-inch screen. It employs absolute positioning, which maps positions on the touchpad to corresponding positions on the screen. Users can simply press down to choose commands.

The 2019 RDX rides on a new platform exclusive to Acura. The wheelbase stretches 2.6 inches longer, which improves rear cargo space by 3.4 cubic feet and adds an additional 1.7 cubic feet under the floor. The platform employs more than 50 percent high-strength steel and it uses ultra-high-strength steel in the door frames to improve structural rigidity. The suspension employs front MacPherson struts, a five-link independent rear design, and available adaptive dampers.

Acura calls the 2019 RDX its sportiest compact crossover yet: the available all-wheel-drive system can route 70 percent of the torque to the rear, and 100 percent of that power to the outside wheel in a turn to improve handling even more.

Under the hood, the RDX swaps its 3.5-liter V-6 for a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that produces 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A version of the engine from the Honda Civic Type R, this dual-overhead-cam engine has 40 percent more low-rpm torque, according to Acura. The lone transmission, a new 10-speed automatic, has a 62 percent wider gear-ratio spread than the outgoing 6-speed.

Standard features of the 2019 Acura RDX include the 10.2-inch center screen, Apple CarPlay, keyless ignition, the AcuraLink suite of Connected Services with in-car Wi-Fi enabled by 4G LTE connectivity, 12-way heated front sport seats, a panoramic sunroof, a power height-adjustable tailgate, LED headlights, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

The A-Spec model gets 20-inch wheels, gloss black accents, and the optional two-tone red and black interior.

Buyers can also choose a head-up display, 16-way seats, and a 16-channel 710-watt ELS 3D audio system.

On the safety front, the RDX comes standard with forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control.



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2019 Porsche Cayenne Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

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The 2019 Cayenne sports familiar Porsche powertrains with copious thrust, a slew of electromechanical handling aids, and a sense of poise and composure that’s unattainable by some sports cars we know and love.

The ride’s uniformly firm and sometimes stiff, and ultimately a sports car can stick and grip and corner better than this behemoth, so we converge on a performance score of 8. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Each of the three powertrains on tap for the first 2019 Cayennes can push the SUV to 60 mph in under 6.0 seconds. Base models churn away with a 3.0-liter single-turbo V-6 that belts out 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, for a 0-60 mph time quoted at 5.9 seconds (it’s 5.6 seconds with Sport Chrono, which remaps throttle and transmission settings for quicker responses). Base models top out at 152 mph. This single-turbo V-6 works hard behind a wall of acoustic glass to motivate the SUV’s substantial 4,377-lb curb weight.

Tuck into a Cayenne S and its twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 ups the blast to 440 hp and 406 lb-ft. It’s a similar design, a slightly destroked V-6 with an extra turbo, so it’s not a surprise that it puts out slightly less torque while it pulses out 20 hp more than the previous twin-turbo V-6 Cayenne. Porsche pegs 0-60 mph runs at below 5.0 seconds, and top speed at 164 mph.  

The Cayenne S surge of authority gets handed its jock by the raucous V-8 roar of the Cayenne Turbo. Its 4,795 lb of heft gets offset by 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. It slingshots to 60 mph in less than 4.0 seconds (3.7 seconds with Sport Chrono) and stretches its legs up to a top speed of 177 mph. The speed’s great, but its whuffling V-8 exhaust seals the deal, even though by some claims, it’s not the fastest SUV on earth.

Every one of these powertrains moves power through a paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic and an all-wheel-drive system that can split power between the front and rear wheels, then again between the rear wheels when outfitted with the available torque-vectoring differential. Porsche’s AWD system biases power to the rear, in a progressively higher ratio in Sport and Sport+ drive modes.

The meaty tires (summer rubber’s a must-have option) don’t look off-road ready, but the Cayenne can ford through 19.7 inches of water, and can hold oil pressure on a 45-degree incline. With the right tow packages, it can pull up to 7,700 pounds.

Porsche Cayenne ride and handling

Porsche imbues the Cayenne with excellent handling and a firm ride, even the base SUV with a front strut and rear multi-link suspension, 19-inch wheels and tires, and electric power steering.

With any powertrain, the Cayenne can upgrade to an air suspension with adaptive dampers, big 20- or 21-inch wheels with all-season or summer tires, active roll bars that cut down on body lean, and rear-wheel steering that betters its ability to park easily without voiding its high-speed stability. With the optional Sport Chrono package, the Cayenne gets a set of drive modes that change its mood from comfortable and economical to sporty, to thrill-seeker.

So far, we’ve driven all the powertrains, but each came in a Cayenne fitted with torque-vectoring, summer tires, air suspension, and 21-inch wheels. The air suspension enhanced its ability to pick around rubbly Greek mountainsides, given that it increases ground clearance from 7.5 inches to 9.6 inches, and that it works with traction modes that help the tires grip through gravel, mud, sand or rock.

On paved roads, the Cayenne can seem almost mellow, in its comfort settings. The ride and steering always have a certain degree of heft and stiffness, because it’s a Porsche and needs to feel more like a 718 or 911 than it does like, say, a Maybach. With all the optional systems, the Cayenne had almost no body lean, but the lighter amounts of compliance offered by the taut suspension and performance-minded tires created a lot of head toss.

On the flip side, the Cayenne’s steering cuts a clean, telegraphic path on almost any road. The rear-steer setup lets it move the front wheels 3 degrees in the opposite direction of the rears at low speeds, and that helps it carve much tighter lines through very sharp corners (and, okay, in mall parking lots). It helps the Cayenne feel small, when by any objective measure, it isn’t.

The Cayenne’s brakes are outstanding, even if you don’t get the spendy carbon-ceramic stoppers, a $9,080 option.

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2018 Audi S4 Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

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A far cry from the Skittles-colored sports sedans of the 1990s, the new 2018 Audi S4 is more serious about its looks and its mission. The four-door performance sedan now better occupies a space between luxury and high-performance with a seamless blend of both. The S4 is available in Premium Plus and Prestige trims.

The S4 earned a 7.4 on our overall scale, which is very good for a new car. Its performance and standard features are impressive and it keeps pace with similar offerings from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Style and performance

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The Audi S4 has been given a thorough once-over like the related (mostly) two-door S5. Unlike the S5, the S4 only comes in one smartly styled shape.

Like the A4 before it, the S4 is sharpened from the last generation, with a lower nose and raised headlights, and sharper creases along the sides. The hood’s shunt lines are hidden by a deeply pressed crease in the body panels and helps the S4 achieve a more serious look. Standard LED headlights help frame the car’s arrival; wispy, but pronounced, boomerang lights look better than their S5 counterparts.

Along the sides, the S4 gets a deeper crease in the body that doesn’t read big under showroom lights, but does on the road. With just a bright disk in the sky projecting one source of light overhead (aka the sun), the S4’s body line casts a bigger shadow along the profile that allays our concern that Audi stylists were lazy (or, perhaps lazier).

The S4’s interior is subdued, with the same hewn approach as the outside. Deep comfortable buckets are accented by diamond-quilting patterns; the door inserts are shod with Alcantara and red contrast stitching; the instrument panel and center console are streamlined with available carbon-fiber inlays.

Spending more on an S4 gets more interior features but regardless of trim, the S4 is powered by a new turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that produces 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The single twin-scroll turbocharger is planted between the cylinder banks to feed both sides, but will feed one bank first to reduce turbo lag. In our testing, we found that it works; the S4 never feels out of breath. It rockets the S4 up to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, which is quicker than the BMW 340i and Mercedes-AMG C43.

The new turbo V-6 benefits from Audi’s long history with forced induction. Turbo lag has been quelled to hardly register with the driver’s right foot—most of the available torque comes on at 1,350 rpm—and the acceleration is brisk and drama-free.

The S4 is all automatic this time around. An 8-speed automatic, related to the gearbox found in the RS 7, is the only partner available for the turbo-6. Although it rips off confident shifts, paddle-shifting the 8-speed isn’t especially precise or quick—the transmission will automatically shift at redline, manual mode or not. Regardless of selected drive mode, the S4 is eager to upshift to save fuel, unless you’re deep into the throttle.

Like previous generations, the S4 comes with standard all-wheel drive, which Audi calls Quattro. The 40/60, front-to-rear torque split is performance focused and keeps the car in shape while cornering. Grip isn’t easily given up, and when it does the S4 will politely chide drivers back into shape—no wild slides here.

Four-wheel independent suspension is standard, and a revised five-link setup up front has been cast out of more lightweight aluminum to reduce unsprung mass. Adaptive dampers are available on the S4 for the first time and drop the ride height by nearly an inch. Setting the dampers from Comfort to Dynamic stiffens the car, but we’d stop short of calling the S4 stiff. Each ride select setting—Comfort, Dynamic, Auto, and Individual—is closer to comfort than outright performance. It’s clear the S4 is meant to be a better all-rounder this time around.

A newly available sport rear differential—the first time it’s been offered on the S4 and the second-generation unit from Audi— shifts power side to side on the rear wheels, in addition to front-to-back duty that’s handled by the standard center differential. The rear differential makes the S4 a competent performer on the track, but it’s also bundled with a sport steering setup that we’d like to tame.

Although the dynamic ratio clearly quickens with more speed, its feeling through the wheel is somewhat unpredictable. Dial in the steering, and the S4 is eager to keep things comfort-first with a slow ratio, but the performance ledge approaches quickly and the end result can leave the sedan feeling a little too darty. We don’t think many drivers will notice unless that exuberance bites back, but we’d just like a little more progressiveness in the variable ratio.

Comfort, safety, and features

The S4 earns a slight edge over the mechanically related S5 due to slightly better packaging and a better driving position. The S4 is a true five-seater—6-footers can sit behind other 6-footers—and the addition of two doors made for better entry and exit into the second row.

Up front, comfortable sport buckets are complemented by standard seat massagers and are widely adjustable. In back, the two outboard positions don’t have the same bolstering as front seat riders, but are comfortable. Riding hump in the S4 may be a dicey proposition depending on how aggressive the driver is—be sure to call “shotgun” first.

The S4 features standard 60/40-split folding rear seats that supplement the trunk’s standard 13 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

Ride quality in the S4 falls closer to “comfort” than “performance,” which our backs appreciated after a long day behind the wheel. Audi doesn’t pipe in many engine sounds, and the rumble from quad-tipped exhausts out back is fairly muted too. The S4 doesn’t scream “sport sedan,” which may help explain part of its appeal.

Like the S5, it’s hardly likely that the S4 will ever be subjected to official crash tests. In the absence of data, we can draw from the related A4, which was named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.

The S4 comes equipped with “Pre sense city” advanced safety as standard equipment that was rated as “Superior” by the IIHS. Blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system are optional extras, but thankfully a rearview camera is standard.

The rest of the S4’s standard feature list is impressive too. All versions of the S4 get sport buckets with a diamond-quilted pattern, front seat massagers, automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, 18-inch wheels with summer 245/40 summer tires, LED headlights, leather seating with Alcantara inserts on the doors, a 7.0-inch driver information screen and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen is standard with Audi’s MMI interface.

A word about MMI: It runs Audi’s native infotainment system very well with its clickwheel. Plug in a smartphone and prepare to run iOS or Android with chopsticks. It’s frustrating and hard to use. We wish Audi would offer a touchscreen by now, but we can’t have nice things.

Among the S4’s options list, we have our faves. The rear sport differential and adaptive suspension for $2,500? Check. Technology package that transforms the S4’s interior with “Virtual Cockpit” that includes a 12.3-inch driver information cluster and an upgraded 8.3-inch infotainment screen? Check. Navarra blue paint for $575? Check again.

Pinching pennies? Skip the $1,150 sport steering (too finicky), $500 warm weather package (heated seats are standard and the heated steering wheel doesn’t have a flat bottom), and bigger wheels.

At $51,875 to start for a Premium Plus model the S4 isn’t exactly budget car buying. We get that. But after riding in a $54,000-ish A4 loaded to the gills, and a tastefully optioned S4 at just over $59,000 we felt like the latter felt like a $60,000 car—the former seemed like a stretch.

If you’re looking for fuel-efficient driving, the S4 will hardly satisfy. The EPA rates the S4 at 21 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined.



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