2021 Acura RDX review: The fast and the frugal

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

This Platinum White paint solution looks superior with the A-Spec trimmings.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The 3rd-era Acura RDX manufactured a incredibly potent 1st impression when it debuted in 2018. There was a lot to love about this compact top quality SUV, from the sharp, angular A-Spec styling to its nimble all-wheel-drive effectiveness. For the 2021 product calendar year, the RDX is largely the similar as it ever was, that means you will find continue to a total lot to love. 


  • Readily available SH-AWD boosts nimbleness in mid-to-high velocity corners.
  • Turbocharged motor delivers a healthful 280 pound-toes of torque.
  • Superb suite of standard cabin and security tech.

You should not Like

  • True Touchpad controller usually takes some having applied to.
  • Travel mode selector very easily mistaken for volume knob.
  • Off throttle and at reduce speeds, the RDX feels fewer dynamic.

AcuraLink cabin tech

The RDX’s dashboard is home to a seriously superior infotainment suite that is relatively hindered at 1st by its True Touchpad Interface controller. Front and middle you may obtain a ten.two-inch High definition dual-written content principal show, which makes use of a break up-screen interface to showcase the key infotainment features. 

Buyers navigate by swiping and tapping on the compact touchpad at the base of the middle stack to make on-screen options. This True Touchpad is identical to, but also distinctive from, the 1 on your laptop. It makes use of absolute positioning, so inserting your finger in the reduce remaining or middle of the screen, for illustration, promptly selects things likewise positioned on the show. This can make it straightforward to immediately transfer all around the RDX’s menus when you understand the place every little thing is.

To the appropriate of the principal touchpad region is a scroll bar that will allow buyers to immediately toggle the written content exhibited on that sidebar. So I’m in a position to, for illustration, spot the at this time taking part in audio source on the appropriate 3rd of the show together with the optional 3D See Navigation on the principal show region. A multitasking button previously mentioned the touchpad will allow written content to be swapped in between the two panes with a single faucet, in this case, preserving the map noticeable in the sidebar though I decide on one more radio station or audio source.

There are also physical buttons for Back and Household found close to the touchpad and, total, it can be fairly straightforward to transfer via the interface — when you get applied to it. The trouble is that the learning curve can be a steep 1. Acura’s True Touchpad is a incredibly compact floor, demanding extra exact actions to make wonderful options, such as text entry. This can be primarily tricky for appropriate-seat passengers who have to use their remaining hand. For location entry, maybe stick to the fairly superior pure-language voice recognition.

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The True Touchpad controller usually takes some having applied to, but I prefer it and AcuraLink to Lexus’ Remote Touchpad and Enform.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Apple CarPlay connectivity is standard, and Android Vehicle has eventually joined the bash, way too. Interacting with them using the True Touchpad is not pretty as pure as the rest of the interface, but I’m glad to see both technologies existing, bringing hundreds of applications for audio streaming, navigation and extra to the driver’s fingertips.

General, I prefer this process to the identical Remote Touchpad you may obtain in present day Lexus motor vehicles. Lexus Enform makes use of a fiddly cursor dot for options that is straightforward to eliminate monitor of and demands even extra exact positioning to function. In the meantime, the Acura infotainment program makes use of significant, straightforward-to-goal range bins for most things of the interface, earning it much less difficult to use and demanding fewer visible notice though driving.

The RDX’s cabin tech is not minimal to the middle stack. Forward of the driver is a seven-inch color multi-info show tucked in between the RDX’s two physical gauges — in this article, that includes A-Spec-distinct purple illumination. The RDX’s weather controls are GPS-connected, getting into account the sun’s position relative to the motor vehicle and its impact on the inside temperature when metering out heating and air conditioning in between its cabin zones. Decide for the Progress trim and a significant, ten.5-inch head-up show will place applicable info appropriate in the driver’s line of sight. 

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The break up-screen interface is intended for straightforward multitasking.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

AcuraWatch driver-support tech

The 3rd-era RDX comes standard with the automaker’s AcuraWatch suite of driver-support technologies. That usually means even the base product rolls out with forward-collision warning with collision mitigation braking aid, complete-velocity adaptive cruise management that is effective in quit-and-go site visitors, and lane-preserving steering aid with road-departure mitigation. Not particularly an active security feature, but all RDX designs also appear standard with Acura’s 7-phase Jewel Eye LED headlights and LED taillights, bringing vibrant, still specifically aimed illumination when driving immediately after dim.

That is by now a reliable loadout, but there are a couple extras you can incorporate. Stepping up to the Technological know-how package deal ($two,900) provides front and rear parking sensors, blind-location checking and rear cross-site visitors alert. The top-tier Progress package deal upgrades to a encompass-perspective digicam process and provides a washer to the standard rear digicam.

Visual appeal-Spec

The Technological know-how package deal is seriously the sweet location in the Acura RDX lineup, bringing crucial security options, beneficial cabin technologies and superb onboard navigation to the RDX’s by now reliable standard listing of devices. The Progress package deal kicks the creature comforts to utmost and boosts literal comfort with its adaptive-damping suspension and acoustic facet glass. The A-Spec package deal lives in the middle, preserving all of the Technological know-how upgrades, but trading Progress comfort for a sportier overall look.

Out back again, the A-Spec options dual exhaust shops, and filling the wheel arches are dim-end, twenty-inch alloy wheels shod with 255/45R20 all-year tires. The all-seasons are almost certainly the ideal indicator that this is an overall look package deal only, not a correct sport update. There are no tweaks to the suspension or powertrain that make the A-Spec conduct much better than or really feel any sharper than the standard RDX. At the very least it looks sharper. 

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The “A” in A-Spec need to stand for “overall look.” Aside from larger wheels, there are no effectiveness upgrades in this article.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The RDX A-Spec options shiny black exterior trim, together with a distinctive rear spoiler. The defend-shaped front grille has a great Black Diamond style and color. The internals of the headlamps and taillights are also darker, introducing to the meaner search. Of system, there are A-Spec badges scattered all around the exterior and throughout the cabin, as perfectly as dim headlamp and taillight internals.

Within, you may obtain leather-based-trimmed sport seats — mine search great in purple — with UltraSuede inserts and heated and ventilated surfaces. Much more UltraSuede can be found trimming many bits all around the cabin. Red accent lighting and sport pedals entire the A-Spec visible upgrades.

Tremendous-Managing All-Wheel Travel

Alright, the A-Spec is not any speedier than the standard RDX, but the standard mechanical configuration is not so poor. The motor bay is home to a two.-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder motor that peaks at 272 horsepower and 280 pound-toes of torque. The power plant is mated to a ten-velocity automated transmission with an digital gear selector on the middle console and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Motorists have a bit of management in excess of the RDX’s effectiveness with a large Dynamic Method range knob close to the base of the middle stack. Twisting toggles in between Consolation, Snow, Activity and Activity Plus modes has an effect on the throttle reaction, traction management and improves the motor note for the sportier options. My sole criticism is that the selector looks and is positioned a lot like a huge, ol’ volume knob. My passengers and I usually accidentally pop the SUV into Activity mode when attempting to crank up our favored music.

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The Dynamic Method selector looks like (and is positioned like) a huge volume knob, which led to a couple hilarious mishaps.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Front-wheel drive is standard, but you may unquestionably want Acura’s fourth-era Tremendous-Managing All-Wheel Travel (SH-AWD) update. Commonly, I only seriously recommend all-wheel drive for areas with lots of poor weather conditions — even then, appropriate tires almost certainly have a greater outcome on security — but SH-AWD is also a effectiveness update, which can make it beneficial and even enjoyable when the streets are dry. It truly is unquestionably value the $two,000 top quality.

SH-AWD can mail up to 70% of the engine’s obtainable torque to the rear wheels on demand (the prior era could only regulate a 50/50 break up), which aids in power distribution when launching from a quit. The process also now options 100% torque vectoring on the rear axle to support in cornering steadiness. When you steer into a corner and the vehicle’s pounds starts off to change, SH-AWD will actively mail power to the rear exterior wheel to aid steer into the corner. This new era can shuffle power all around thirty% quicker, which also can make the torque transfer really feel extra seamless on the road. Chucking the RDX via a collection of mid-velocity S-turns or a rapidly established of sweeping bends, the SUV behaves and feels like a much smaller motor vehicle.

On the other hand, there are continue to those pesky guidelines of physics to contend with. SH-AWD relies on the throttle to support in rotation, so it will not aid much through slow, off-throttle corners, such as limited switchbacks, leaving the SUV emotion fewer dynamic the slower you go. Plus, the RDX is a tall SUV with a comfort-oriented suspension, so you will find only so much velocity that you can have via a rapidly transform just before SH-AWD simply can not aid. Luckily, the transition in between “slaloming heroically” and “whoops, way too rapidly” is smooth and straightforward to capture. The RDX is an SUV that encourages you to thrust it safely.

Get the throttle software and steering just appropriate and the RDX can be an absolute treat on the appropriate road. Of system, this is not a sporting activities automobile, so I’m treating the joy that SH-AWD brings below the appropriate situations as a bonus pro, rather than its limitations as con. All around city, the standard MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension is snug and responsive, the electric powered power steering is nice and linear and the twelve-inch disc brakes at all 4 corners are straightforward to modulate and do a excellent position hauling the 4,one zero five-pound SUV to a quit immediately and predictably.

With SH-AWD, the EPA and Acura estimate the RDX is superior for 23 combined miles per gallon (21 mpg metropolis and 26 mpg highway) when using the proposed ninety one-octane fuel. In the course of my 7 days of screening — invested mostly in the hills discovering Activity mode — I only arrived at 19.1 mpg. Front-wheel-drive examples fare a bit much better at an believed 24 mpg combined, 22 metropolis mpg and 28 highway mpg.

2020 Acura RDX A-Spec

The RDX compares favorably to likewise spec’d opponents, but the lineup is lacking both effectiveness and hybrid update paths for Acura enthusiasts searching for extra.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Pricing and competitiveness

The 2021 Acura RDX starts off at $39,225 together with its $1,025 location charge for the base front-drive configuration. As I reported, you unquestionably want the $two,000 SH-AWD update for the excess traction in poor situations and improved driving joy when it can be dry. The $two,900 Technological know-how package deal is also a worthwhile update given the excess security tech, navigation and other options it brings to the bash. As I talked about before, the Technological know-how package deal is seriously the sweet location, the place I assume most purchasers would be happy with the price offered. 

From there, the update route forks with either the A-Spec or Sophisticated package deal becoming the subsequent phase up you can not have both. The A-Spec package deal will not incorporate any effectiveness, but does bring a sporty design and style to the RDX encounter. I love the search, but no matter if it can be value the $3,000 update in excess of the Technological know-how package deal is a subjective choice you may have to make for you. That heading with the A-Spec blocks the update to the extra compelling Progress package deal with its added top quality options really should also be regarded as for purchasers searching to get the most deluxe route. As tested, you might be searching at $forty seven,one 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 course. The RDX is not pretty as deluxe as the Germans but continue to incredibly perfectly appointed and, comparably geared up, prices substantially fewer. Plus with SH-AWD, the Acura is just a skosh extra enjoyable to drive.

Also heading tête-à-tête with the Acura are the Lexus RX and Volvo’s XC60. The Acura is a much better price than the comparably priced and geared up RX 350 and XC60 T5, and would be my particular choose at this value. On the other hand, it is immediately outclassed by these vehicles’ extra potent effectiveness and extra economical hybrid specs, leaving RDX enthusiasts searching to transfer upmarket with fewer area to increase. Most likely a potential RDX Form S with true effectiveness upgrades is in buy? I’ll retain my fingers crossed.

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