2020 Acura RDX

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2020
The Car Connection
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2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
July 17, 2019

Buying tip

The 2020 Acura RDX Technology strikes an impressive balance between value and luxury for about $42,000.

features & specs

AWD
AWD w/A-Spec Pkg
AWD w/Advance Pkg
MPG
21 city / 27 hwy
MPG
21 city / 26 hwy
MPG
21 city / 27 hwy
MSRP
$39,600
MSRP
$45,800
MSRP
$47,700

The 2020 Acura RDX is a stylish, strong-performing crossover SUV worthy of a place on any shopping list.

Among crossover SUVs, the 2020 Acura RDX stands out for its high-tech features, edgy looks, and strong turbocharged engine. It scores XX out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2020 RDX was redesigned last year and is available in four trim levels—base, Technology, A-Spec, and Advance—which Acura calls packages. All make use of a 272-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 paired with a slick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission plus three drive modes. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option, and the advanced system Acura uses in the RDX can shuttle up to 70 percent of power to the rear wheels for improved tenacity on curvy roads. 

The RDX is among the most polished five-seat crossover SUVs available on the road, and it has looks to match. Its muscular shape starts with a wide grille that’s integrated better here than in many of the brand’s other models. Inside, the well-wrought interior looks especially nice with the olive ash wood trim found on higher-end models. The A-Spec’s black and red theme may not be to every driver’s taste, but it suits the sportier positioning. Synthetic leather comes on base trims, while all others feature five seats wrapped in real hides. 

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Folding the rear seat flat nearly doubles cargo space to about 59 cubic feet. Rear-seat room is good for adults, though we’d like to see better backrest support. 

Costing a little under $39,000 to start, the 2020 RDX lacks for little in the way of features. A 10.2-inch screen high on the dash serves as the primary display, though a 7.0-inch display sits in the instrument cluster. A head-up display is fitted with the Advance package. We like the bright screen and the standard Apple CarPlay compatibility, but the touchpad interface can prove distracting and Acura doesn’t include Android Auto. 

Safety-wise, the RDX earned top marks from the IIHS and a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA. In addition to a slew of airbags, the crossover SUV includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. 

At 23 to 24 mpg combined, the RDX is moderately fuel efficient, though it takes costly premium unleaded gasoline.

7

2020 Acura RDX

Styling

With its handsome, muscular lines, the 2020 Acura RDX is a crossover SUV standout.

No longer is the Acura RDX dowdy. Last year’s redesign gave the company’s compact crossover SUV lines worthy of a second glance. We rate it 7 out of 10, giving it one point each for its interior and exterior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, the 2020 Acura RDX adds a new extra-cost white paint color to its palette but otherwise carries over last year’s styling. That’s just fine with us. The automaker’s five-point grille is well-integrated into the front end. Wide LED headlights claw their way toward the bulging wheel arches that cover 19-inch wheels on most versions. The roof line arcs gracefully over the passenger compartment before abruptly ending halfway down the rearmost pillar. The effect is startling, especially in lighter hues, and it adds drama where many competitors take a staid approach. 

The RDX’s interior suits the bill in base versions and can look opulent as you work your way up the food chain. Many versions harmoniously blend brushed aluminum, stainless steel, and wood trim with buttery leather seats. A 10.2-inch display sits high on the dash with controls organized reasonably well below. The transmission buttons and the drive mode knob that takes up a lot of real estate are not highlights, however. 

RDX A-Spec models trade chrome for black trim and ride on 20-inch wheels. Inside, they discard soft wood tones and soothing hues for relentless black trim with red accents.

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7

2020 Acura RDX

Performance

The 2020 Acura RDX does an impressive facsimile of European rivals on the road.

Forget about previous RDX crossovers. With the latest RDX, Acura has discarded mushy handling and buzzy engines for a refined, capable vehicle with plenty of power underhood. We arrive at a 7 out of 10 for the 2020 Acura RDX, with points above average for its ride quality and its acceleration. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Acura looked to its Honda parent for the RDX’s 2.0-liter turbo-4, which is largely shared with the energetic Civic Type R. Here, the engine is rated at 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, the latter spread across a broad range that begins at just 1,600 rpm. Acceleration is brisk from any speed. The 10-speed automatic transmission snaps to attention and can shift down four gears at once if called upon. Acura doesn’t publish 0-60 mph times, but a 7-second sprint is a reasonable guess. 

A big control knob in the center console links the RDX to the Acura NSX sports car, at least to a point. Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes tell the drivetrain when to cruise and when to hustle. A snow mode reworks things for winter traction. 

The RDX remains composed on curvy roads, with the 19-inch wheels standard on most versions doing their best to balance ride quality with grip. RDX A-Spec trims ride on 20-inch wheels that do little change its character. Consider the RDX A-Spec sporty in looks only for the most part.

Range-topping RDX Advance crossovers come with adaptive shock absorbers that improves its compliant, absorbent ride. Even the base RDX takes on ruffled pavement with confidence. We’ve found the brake pedal to be overly firm with limited travel, one of our few complaints with the way this crossover SUV drives.

The optional all-wheel-drive system costs $2,000 and can send up to 70 percent of power rearward. A torque-vectoring system shuttles power between the rear wheels up to 100 percent. With 8.2 inches of ground clearance, the RDX is ready for winter, but it’s not meant to be a real off-roader. 

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7

2020 Acura RDX

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Acura RDX treats front passengers and cargo well, though we wish its rear seat was more comfortable.

Stretching nearly 187 inches between its bumpers, the 2020 Acura RDX is no pint-size compact crossover SUV. Its 108.3-inch wheelbase endows it with good interior space, and it is well finished. We rate it at 7 out of 10, awarding points for its plush front seats and its good cargo space. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Base RDXs have comfortable, power-adjustable front seats upholstered in synthetic leather. The same thrones are wrapped in real hides in Technology and A-Spec trims, while range-topping RDX Advance models feature additional adjustment with power-adjustable thigh extensions and side bolsters. All models come with a moonroof and offer 40 inches of head room up front. 

The second row has 38 inches of leg room and decent door openings. With 50 inches of hip room, the RDX’s second row is best for two adults abreast, and we wish its backrest could be adjusted.

The rear seats fold flat at the tug of a lever to grow cargo space from 29.5 cubic feet to 58.9 cubes. A nearly 2 cubic-foot storage bin is tucked out of the way under the cargo floor for items such as jumper cables or a snow brush. 

Substantial sound deadening makes the RDX a hushed highway cruiser, while the RDX Advance even includes insulated glass for more silence. All models have a classy feel inside, though the softer leather and real wood trim in the Advance elevates it to genuine luxury-car levels. 

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8

2020 Acura RDX

Safety

The 2020 Acura RDX earns good crash-test scores.

The latest Acura RDX is a strong performer when it comes to its crash-test scores, though some versions have better headlights than others. Overall, we rate the lineup at 8 out of 10, a commendable score. 

Every 2020 Acura RDX leaves the factory equipped with a slew of airbags and collision-avoidance tech, as we’d expect for a crossover SUV priced in the $40,000 range. Adjustable headrests offer a wide range of bodies the ability to position themselves safely and comfortably, too.

The IIHS rates the 2020 RDX a Top Safety Pick+, though it said that the headlights fitted to base, Technology, and A-Spec models are better than those on the range-topping Advance. Meanwhile, the NHTSA weighed in with a five-star overall rating, albeit with a surprising four stars for frontal crash and four in the calculated rollover measurement. 

Outward vision is good forward due to narrow roof pillars, though over-the-shoulder can be a challenge because of the wide rear roof pillars. Blind-spot monitors come on all but the base model and a surround-view camera system is fitted to the Advance.

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7

2020 Acura RDX

Features

The 2020 Acura RDX offers a good value for a crossover SUV, though we’re not sold on the A-Spec.

The 2020 Acura RDX costs about $38,600 to start, and it’s well-equipped at that level. We award it 7 out of 10, with one point for its standard fare and one for its relatively lavish options. Its large screen would earn a point, but that gets deducted for its balky control interface. Overall, we wind up at 7 out of 10 for the 2020 RDX when it comes to its features.  (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base RDX costs about $38,600, plus $2,000 with all-wheel drive. With its synthetic leather seats that are power adjustable up front, 10.2-inch display, and Apple CarPlay, it’s a good value among luxury crossover SUVs. 

Spend $3,200 more and you’ll wind up with the Technology Package, which adds navigation, upgraded audio, leather seats, parking sensors, automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot monitors, and a few other features. We’d rather spend less to skip navigation since Apple CarPlay works so well, but all in an RDX Technology is a lot of crossover SUV for less than $44,000 with all-wheel drive.

The range-topping RDX Advance is still reasonably priced at about $48,700 with its cooled front seats, wood trim, ELS audio system, head-up display, and adaptive dampers. If you’ve got the budget, an RDX Advance is a nice reward. 

The A-Spec package that slots between Technology and Advance strikes us as less of a value, unless red leather seats are a must-have.

What’s a shame is the RDX’s infotainment system. The software is menu-intensive, but our biggest issue is with the balky touchpad. That the system isn’t Android Auto-compatible is another demerit.

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4

2020 Acura RDX

Fuel Economy

For its power underhood, the 2020 Acura RDX is reasonably thrifty.

The 2020 Acura RDX is relatively thrifty by compact crossover SUV standards, although a hybrid option would be nice. We rate its efficiency at 4 out of 10.  (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With front-wheel drive, most versions are rated at 22 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined. The A-Spec lops 1 mpg off of the highway figure due to its larger wheels. All-wheel-drive models come in at 21/27/23 mpg, with a 1 mpg hit for the A-Spec.

The BMW X3 is rated between 25 and 26 mpg combined, but most other rivals are closer to 23 or 24 mpg combined.

Like many turbocharged crossovers, the 2020 RDX is designed to run on premium unleaded gasoline. 

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$37,600
MSRP based on FWD
 
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6.7
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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