Search

2020 Acura RDX Review: An Underrated Bargain

Updated: Jul 26, 2020


2020 Acura RDX A-Spec in Majestic Black Pearl. Special thanks to Maple Acura in Vaughan!

MSRP as tested: $51,290

Powertrain: 2.0L VTEC turbo 4-Cylinder (272 hp, 280 lb.-ft. torque), paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission

0-100kmh as tested: 6.6 seconds

The Acura RDX offers fun driving dynamics, a quiet and comfortable ride, great looks, and a smart modern interior, all while undercutting the competition in pricing. Having recently been redesigned, the RDX feels like a much needed breath of fresh air compared to the rest of the Acura’s aging lineup, and shows that Acura is serious about making comeback to the top of the luxury-sport game.



Driving Impressions

Acura’s motto of “Precision Crafted Performance” holds true in the RDX. Having abandoned the CR-V platform this generation, the RDX finally feels like a true luxury performance SUV rather than an upgraded version of its Honda counterpart. Steering is satisfyingly heavy but precise, body roll is well managed in the corners, and the car feels smaller and more agile than its size would suggest. During more spirited driving, you can feel Acura’s ‘Super-Handling AWD’ coming into play by shifting power to its outer rear wheel, allowing you to carve corners with precision and minimal understeer.


While on paper the RDX is the most powerful SUV of its class, in the real world it feels more or less on par with competitors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; 0-100km/h was achieved in 6.6 seconds which is pretty respectable for what it is, and punching the accelerator is surprisingly satisfying thanks to a decent exhaust note and minimal turbo lag. Still, it’s a shame that Acura doesn’t offer a more powerful power plant in the RDX though, especially since its chassis is clearly quite capable. Hopefully a Type-S variant will be made available for 2021 for those who crave more power and performance.

Behind the wheel, the Acura RDX feels a lot more agile than its size would suggest

During everyday city driving, the RDX feels like a proper luxury SUV, thanks to a forgiving suspension and one of the quietest cabins in its class. Pop the drive selector into comfort mode and you’re left with a easy-to-drive and laid back SUV… However, we did notice that the 10-speed automatic transmission had a tendency to upshift more often than normal when accelerating. Luckily, shifts are buttery smooth so this potential bother is simply a minor pet peeve that most won’t even notice.



Interior

The RDX’s interior is certainly unique, though whether the cyber-robo futuristic styling appeals to you entirely subjective. While I personally love the design, there are some questionable ergonomic choices, such as putting the massive drive selector right smack in the middle of the waterfall-design centre console, or the minuscule fan-speed selection buttons. Interior materials and build quality is also strong, especially in A-Spec form which adds brushed dark aluminium trim, metal accelerator and brake pedals, a perforated leather steering wheel, Ultrasuede and leather combo seats, and more. A-Spec and above trims also add an excellent 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D Stereo System.


In terms of tech, the RDX lacks the option for a fully digital instrument display, though this isn’t nearly as big a deal as on some cars (namely the Lexus NX). The analogue gauges are attractive enough as is, and the smaller customizable digital display does a good job displaying all the information you would ever need. Enthusiasts will also appreciate the fun bits of performance information on the digital display, such as lateral g-forces, turbo boost indicator, or the SH-AWD (Super Handling AWD) power distribution to each wheel.


People always seem to complain about the RDX’s infotainment system, but after the steep initial learning curve, it’s actually not as bad as most make it out to be. It uses a touchpad system that’s mapped 1-to-1 with the screen, which makes it a relatively predictable input system after some short practice. Keyboard inputs might be an issue without a touchscreen, but the ability to draw out the letters you’re trying to type make it much less of a hassle than you’d think. True, a touchscreen would have been far easier to use, but at least it’s not as bad as Lexus’s Enform system.



Exterior

There’s no denying that the RDX is an attractive looking SUV, with its edgy modern styling, sharp body creases, and intricate LED headlights. Unlike some cars, its aggressive exterior and large front grille matches its sporting demeanour, and Acura new design language clearly fits the RDX quite well.

Acura's Signature "Jewel Eye LED" Headlights

Service Experience

Think of Acura dealers as slightly more upscale Honda dealers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, the facilities are adequate, and you’re always treated with respect, but they also fail to offer that special customer experience that luxury car buyers might come to expect. Then again, you’re also paying a much lower price for the car and for servicing, so perhaps this minor trade-off makes sense, or is even appealing to some. Just don’t go in with Lexus-levels of customer service expectations, and you should be satisfied with your experience.



Recommended Build: RDX A-Spec ($50,790 CAD)

We think the A-Spec is the sweet spot when it comes to the RDX. In addition to more aggressive exterior and interior styling, the A-Spec package adds goodies such as ventilated front seats, the awesome ELS Studio 3D Stereo System with 16 speakers, LED fog lights, heated steering wheel, dark brushed aluminum interior trim, and upgraded 20-inch wheels. Also included are driver assistance features such as blind sport monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, parking sensors, an onboard navigation system, etc.


If you really want the most bang for you buck and don’t care much for the A-Spec’s aggressive styling, go for the base model which is an absolute bargain starting at $43,990 CAD, and comes with an impressive list of standard features such as a huge panoramic moonroof, programmable power tailgate, Apple CarPlay + 4G LTE Wi-Fi HotSpot, remote engine starter, driver-assist safety features, and more.


At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with any trim level; only $10,000 separates the base model from the fully loaded model and all trim levels offer extremely strong value for what you pay. To build your own Acura RDX, visit: https://www.acura.ca/buildyouracura


Special thanks to Maple Acura in Vaughan, Ontario!




©2020 by SimplyAuto