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2020 Acura RDX Review

Among the world’s best compact luxury SUVs, the 2020 Acura RDX continues to deliver exhilarating performance, outstanding value and a long list of safety and luxury features demanded of this class. The RDX interior is rich in appearance and quality of materials, and its driving experience is refined and engaging thanks to a powerful turbocharged engine. Altogether, the new RDX is definitely more luxurious than the previous version. However, the RDX isn’t as technically advanced as some in this class, lacking features like a digital instrument cluster and equipped with a touch pad controller that isn’t quite sorted out. Up against equally sound competitors as the Audi A3, BMW X3, Lexus NX and Lincoln MKC, the RDX has its strengths and shortcomings. But for those looking for a solid, worry-free luxury SUV as easy on fuel as it is the eyes, the 2020 RDX makes a sound choice.

What’s New for 2020?

After a complete makeover last year, the 2020 Acura RDX returns with no major changes. See the 2020 Acura RDX models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Huge interior for its segment
  • Tons of features at a reasonable price
  • Exceptional safety content and ratings
  • Higher-quality cabin and better driving experience than the previous RDX

What We Don’t

  • The Acura True Touchpad Interface may irritate some users
  • A-Spec can’t be had with higher-end feature content

How Much?

$38,595-$49,000

Fuel Economy

The 2020 RDX is available only with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque — an ample amount for the segment. A 10-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive (FWD) are standard, but Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system is optional (more on that below).

Fuel economy is estimated to be 22 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving with FWD. SH-AWD lowers efficiency to 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined. Opting for the A-Spec package lowers highway fuel economy by 1 mpg.

Like other all-wheel drive (AWD) systems, SH-AWD transfers power from the front axle to the rear to increase traction as needed, and not just for low-traction wheel slippage. However, it can also vary the power on the left and right rear wheels to boost cornering ability on dry ground and traction on wet ground. That’s a rare capability, and it makes a difference.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 RDX is technically offered in a single trim level, but there are three optional packages available that significantly increase feature content and price. All are available with FWD or AWD.

Standard equipment includes 19-in wheels, four driving modes, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, a backup camera, automatic LED headlights, a power lift gate, a panoramic sunroof, proximity entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 8-way power front seats with 4-way power lumbar adjustment, simulated leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Infotainment content includes Acura’s True Touchpad Interface (10.2-in screen, center-console touch controller), in-car Wi-Fi, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, HD and satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a 9-speaker sound system.

The Technology package adds different 19-in wheels, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning, front and rear parking sensors, GPS-linked climate control (it can detect the sun’s position and alter air flow accordingly), leather upholstery, two USB ports in the back seat, integrated navigation and a 12-speaker Panasonic/ELS Studio sound system.

From there, offerings fork in two directions.

The A-Spec package requires the Technology package, and then adds exterior and interior styling variations that we highlight in-depth in our video "2019 Acura RDX vs. RDX A-Spec: What’s the Difference?" Key equipment additions include 20-in wheels, LED fog lights, heated and ventilated front seats and a 16-speaker Panasonic/ELS Studio audio system.

The Advance package also requires the Technology package, but adds adaptive suspension dampers, automatic wipers, a hands-free power lift gate, LED fog lights, acoustic front-side glass, a backup camera washer, a head-up display, a surround-view parking camera, heated and ventilated 12-way front seats with power adjustable bolsters and thigh support, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a 16-speaker sound system.

The Advance content cannot be paired with the RDX A-Spec.

Safety

Every RDX comes standard with eight airbags (front, front-side, side-curtain, front-knee), stability and traction control, a backup camera, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are included with the Technology package.

The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the RDX a Top Safety Pick+. It received the best possible marks in every single IIHS category, which is extremely rare.

Behind the Wheel

The RDX is all-new under the skin and, unlike past versions, is no longer mechanically related to the Honda CR-V. The result is a more refined, distinctive SUV. Multiple drive settings allow you to change throttle, transmission and steering response (plus suspension firmness with the Advance package’s adjustable dampers), but even the most basic Comfort setting provides precise steering and reassuring control. If anything, the Sport and Sport+ settings dial in an unnecessary amount of extra steering effort. Power from the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is plentiful, and the 10-speed automatic transmission doesn’t draw too much attention to itself (well, apart from Acura’s absurd electronic shifter).

Now, is it better to drive than a 2020 Audi Q3, 2020 BMW X3, 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC or a 2020 Volvo XC60? Is it more dynamic or engaging? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s now possible that someone could prefer its response to inputs, its feel around corners and bumps and its noise level. That’s an improvement.

The same can be said for the cabin. The design seems more tech-focused than its more architectural and traditionally luxurious rivals, but its overall feel and quality are richer than before. It now has real wood and metal trim available, and its supporting plastics and materials are of a higher quality. Then there’s the polarizing new True Touchpad Interface.

The new RDX can’t be beat in passenger and cargo space. It has considerably more rear-seat legroom than its rivals, and its cargo area is far larger and more functional whether the back seats are raised or folded completely flat. The RDX may be in the "compact" SUV segment, but it’s not exactly snug.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Volvo XC60 The stylish XC60 is another of the more spacious vehicles in the segment, and, like the RDX, it boasts sterling safety credentials. It’s one of our must test drives.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC It’s considerably smaller than the RDX inside, but the GLC offers a sophisticated driving experience, a truly luxurious cabin and classic styling.

2020 BMW X3 The long-time go-to choice for those seeking a sporty luxury SUV, the latest X3 is now a little more comfort-focused. However, it’s still well-rounded, well-made and quite spacious.

Used Acura MDX If you need even more space, and/or if a new MDX is too rich for your blood, a used or certified pre-owned choice would be a great option given Acura’s excellent reputation for reliability.

Autotrader’s Advice

The base RDX includes features that cost extra from most rivals. So there’s certainly no shame in skipping the options packages. Then again, since the RDX is cheaper than most, you can add the fancy stuff at a lower price point. Find an Acura RDX for sale

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