2021 Acura RDX review: The fast and the frugal

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The only modify for the 2020 design calendar year is this new Platinum White paint option.

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The 3rd-era Acura RDX designed a really sturdy very first effect when it debuted in 2018. There was a lot to enjoy about this tiny top quality SUV, from the sharp, angular A-Spec styling to its nimble all-wheel-travel functionality. For the 2021 design calendar year, the RDX is largely the very same as it at any time was, indicating you can find still a entire lot to enjoy. 


  • Available SH-AWD boosts nimbleness in mid-to-higher pace corners.
  • Turbocharged motor delivers a wholesome 280 pound-ft of torque.
  • Great suite of standard cabin and security tech.

You should not Like

  • Legitimate Touchpad controller will take some receiving utilised to.
  • Travel method selector effortlessly mistaken for quantity knob.
  • Off throttle and at decrease speeds, the RDX feels fewer dynamic.

AcuraLink cabin tech

The RDX’s dashboard is property to a truly good infotainment suite that is considerably hindered at very first by its Legitimate Touchpad Interface controller. Entrance and heart you are going to locate a ten.2-inch High definition dual-content principal exhibit, which uses a split-screen interface to showcase the significant infotainment features. 

Consumers navigate by swiping and tapping on the tiny touchpad at the base of the heart stack to make on-screen alternatives. This Legitimate Touchpad is related to, but also various from, the just one on your laptop computer. It uses absolute positioning, so placing your finger in the decrease left or heart of the screen, for example, instantaneously selects merchandise likewise positioned on the exhibit. This tends to make it quick to immediately move close to the RDX’s menus when you learn where everything is.

To the proper of the principal touchpad area is a scroll bar that will allow end users to immediately toggle the content displayed on that sidebar. So I am ready to, for example, spot the at the moment taking part in audio source on the proper 3rd of the exhibit along with the optional 3D Perspective Navigation on the principal exhibit area. A multitasking button above the touchpad will allow content to be swapped in between the two panes with a solitary faucet, in this circumstance, trying to keep the map obvious in the sidebar while I pick a different radio station or audio source.

There are also physical buttons for Back again and Home positioned near the touchpad and, all round, it truly is moderately quick to move through the interface — when you get utilised to it. The dilemma is that the learning curve can be a steep just one. Acura’s True Touchpad is a really tiny floor, demanding a lot more precise movements to make great alternatives, these types of as text entry. This can be specifically tough for proper-seat travellers who have to use their left hand. For place entry, perhaps stick to the moderately good normal-language voice recognition.

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The Legitimate Touchpad controller will take some receiving utilised to, but I prefer it and AcuraLink to Lexus’ Remote Touchpad and Enform.

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Apple CarPlay connectivity is standard, and Android Automobile has last but not least joined the occasion, as well. Interacting with them using the Legitimate Touchpad isn’t fairly as normal as the rest of the interface, but I am glad to see both equally technologies current, bringing countless numbers of apps for audio streaming, navigation and a lot more to the driver’s fingertips.

Overall, I prefer this technique to the related Remote Touchpad you are going to locate in present day Lexus motor vehicles. Lexus Enform uses a fiddly cursor dot for alternatives that is quick to reduce observe of and calls for even a lot more precise positioning to function. In the meantime, the Acura infotainment software program uses huge, quick-to-concentrate on collection packing containers for most components of the interface, generating it a great deal less complicated to use and demanding fewer visible attention while driving.

The RDX’s cabin tech isn’t limited to the heart stack. Forward of the driver is a seven-inch shade multi-details exhibit tucked in between the RDX’s two physical gauges — here, that includes A-Spec-precise pink illumination. The RDX’s local climate controls are GPS-connected, using into account the sun’s situation relative to the car or truck and its impact on the interior temperature when metering out heating and air conditioning in between its cabin zones. Opt for the Advance trim and a huge, ten.5-inch head-up exhibit will put relevant details proper in the driver’s line of sight. 

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The split-screen interface is designed for quick multitasking.

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AcuraWatch driver-help tech

The 3rd-era RDX arrives standard with the automaker’s AcuraWatch suite of driver-help technologies. That suggests even the base design rolls out with forward-collision warning with collision mitigation braking assist, total-pace adaptive cruise handle that functions in cease-and-go targeted traffic, and lane-trying to keep steering assist with street-departure mitigation. Not just an active security element, but all RDX designs also occur standard with Acura’s seven-phase Jewel Eye LED headlights and LED taillights, bringing brilliant, nevertheless precisely aimed illumination when driving right after dark.

That is now a solid loadout, but there are a couple of extras you can insert. Stepping up to the Technologies offer ($2,900) provides front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-targeted traffic warn. The top rated-tier Advance offer updates to a surround-view digital camera technique and provides a washer to the standard rear digital camera.

Visual appearance-Spec

The Technologies offer is truly the sweet spot in the Acura RDX lineup, bringing crucial security options, valuable cabin technologies and exceptional onboard navigation to the RDX’s now solid standard record of devices. The Advance offer kicks the creature comforts to most and boosts literal comfort with its adaptive-damping suspension and acoustic facet glass. The A-Spec offer lives in the center, trying to keep all of the Technologies updates, but buying and selling Advance comfort for a sportier visual appeal.

Out again, the A-Spec options dual exhaust shops, and filling the wheel arches are dark-end, 20-inch alloy wheels shod with 255/45R20 all-time tires. The all-seasons are almost certainly the finest indicator that this is an visual appeal offer only, not a correct activity improve. There are no tweaks to the suspension or powertrain that make the A-Spec conduct superior than or really feel any sharper than the standard RDX. At least it appears sharper. 

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The “A” in A-Spec ought to stand for “visual appeal.” Apart from more substantial wheels, there are no functionality updates here.

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The RDX A-Spec options glossy black exterior trim, which include a distinctive rear spoiler. The defend-formed front grille has a cool Black Diamond style and design and shade. The internals of the headlamps and taillights are also darker, adding to the meaner look. Of program, there are A-Spec badges scattered close to the exterior and all over the cabin, as perfectly as dark headlamp and taillight internals.

Within, you are going to locate leather-trimmed activity seats — mine look excellent in pink — with UltraSuede inserts and heated and ventilated surfaces. Extra UltraSuede can be identified trimming several bits close to the cabin. Red accent lighting and activity pedals complete the A-Spec visible updates.

Tremendous-Handling All-Wheel Travel

Alright, the A-Spec isn’t any faster than the standard RDX, but the standard mechanical configuration isn’t so poor. The motor bay is property to a 2.-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor that peaks at 272 horsepower and 280 pound-ft of torque. The energy plant is mated to a ten-pace computerized transmission with an digital equipment selector on the heart console and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Drivers have a little bit of handle in excess of the RDX’s functionality with a big Dynamic Method collection knob near the base of the heart stack. Twisting toggles in between Consolation, Snow, Sport and Sport Moreover modes affects the throttle reaction, traction handle and boosts the motor take note for the sportier configurations. My sole complaint is that the selector appears and is positioned a lot like a big, ol’ quantity knob. My travellers and I frequently unintentionally pop the SUV into Sport method when striving to crank up our most loved songs.

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The Dynamic Method selector appears like (and is positioned like) a big quantity knob, which led to a couple of hilarious mishaps.

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Entrance-wheel travel is standard, but you are going to unquestionably want Acura’s fourth-era Tremendous-Handling All-Wheel Travel (SH-AWD) improve. Typically, I only truly propose all-wheel travel for places with lots of inadequate weather — even then, acceptable tires almost certainly have a more substantial influence on security — but SH-AWD is also a functionality improve, which tends to make it valuable and even pleasurable when the roads are dry. It is unquestionably worthy of the $2,000 top quality.

SH-AWD can ship up to 70% of the engine’s accessible torque to the rear wheels on need (the past era could only regulate a fifty/fifty split), which aids in energy distribution when launching from a cease. The technique also now options 100% torque vectoring on the rear axle to help in cornering stability. When you steer into a corner and the vehicle’s body weight begins to change, SH-AWD will actively ship energy to the rear outside wheel to enable steer into the corner. This new era can shuffle energy close to thirty% a lot quicker, which also tends to make the torque transfer really feel a lot more seamless on the street. Chucking the RDX through a series of mid-pace S-turns or a rapid set of sweeping bends, the SUV behaves and feels like a a great deal more compact car or truck.

Nevertheless, there are still people pesky regulations of physics to contend with. SH-AWD depends on the throttle to help in rotation, so it isn’t going to enable a great deal in the course of sluggish, off-throttle corners, these types of as tight switchbacks, leaving the SUV experience fewer dynamic the slower you go. Moreover, the RDX is a tall SUV with a comfort-oriented suspension, so you can find only so a great deal pace that you can have through a rapid transform ahead of SH-AWD just won’t be able to enable. Fortuitously, the transition in between “slaloming heroically” and “whoops, as well rapid” is clean and quick to capture. The RDX is an SUV that encourages you to force it safely and securely.

Get the throttle software and steering just proper and the RDX can be an absolute take care of on the proper street. Of program, this is not a sports activities auto, so I am treating the pleasure that SH-AWD delivers beneath the proper ailments as a bonus pro, relatively than its limits as con. About town, the standard MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension is snug and responsive, the electric powered energy steering is good and linear and the twelve-inch disc brakes at all four corners are quick to modulate and do a terrific position hauling the four,a hundred and five-pound SUV to a cease immediately and predictably.

With SH-AWD, the EPA and Acura estimate the RDX is good for 23 mixed miles for every gallon (21 mpg metropolis and 26 mpg freeway) when using the encouraged 91-octane gasoline. Through my week of tests — invested generally in the hills checking out Sport method — I only achieved 19.1 mpg. Entrance-wheel-travel examples fare a little bit superior at an approximated 24 mpg mixed, 22 metropolis mpg and 28 freeway mpg.

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The RDX compares favorably to likewise spec’d opponents, but the lineup is lacking both equally functionality and hybrid improve paths for Acura enthusiasts looking for a lot more.

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Pricing and competitiveness

The 2021 Acura RDX begins at $39,225 which include its $1,025 place cost for the base front-travel configuration. As I claimed, you unquestionably want the $2,000 SH-AWD improve for the additional traction in inadequate ailments and improved driving pleasure when it truly is dry. The $2,900 Technologies offer is also a worthwhile improve supplied the additional security tech, navigation and other options it delivers to the occasion. As I talked about earlier, the Technologies offer is truly the sweet spot, where I consider most consumers would be delighted with the value available. 

From there, the improve path forks with possibly the A-Spec or State-of-the-art offer getting the future phase up you won’t be able to have both equally. The A-Spec offer isn’t going to insert any functionality, but does bring a sporty type to the RDX expertise. I enjoy the look, but whether or not it truly is worthy of the $3,000 improve in excess of the Technologies offer is a subjective decision you are going to have to make for your self. That heading with the A-Spec blocks the improve to the a lot more compelling Advance offer with its more top quality options ought to also be viewed as for consumers looking to get the most magnificent route. As analyzed, you might be looking at $47,a hundred twenty five for this SH-AWD A-Spec.

The Audi Q5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC compete hotly for the gold standard in this compact top quality SUV class. The RDX is not fairly as magnificent as the Germans but still really perfectly appointed and, comparably outfitted, prices significantly fewer. Moreover with SH-AWD, the Acura is just a skosh a lot more pleasurable to travel.

Also heading tête-à-tête with the Acura are the Lexus RX and Volvo’s XC60. The Acura is a superior value than the comparably priced and outfitted RX 350 and XC60 T5, and would be my private choose at this value. Nevertheless, it is immediately outclassed by these vehicles’ a lot more powerful functionality and a lot more effective hybrid specs, leaving RDX enthusiasts looking to move upmarket with fewer place to mature. Possibly a long term RDX Variety S with real functionality updates is in get? I am going to continue to keep my fingers crossed.