2020 Acura RDX

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2020 Acura RDX Test Drive Review: Getting Its Mojo Back

We won't mince words here. The Acura brand has struggled over the past few years. Models like the Legend, Integra, TL, and RSX have fallen to the wayside, replaced by alphabet soup monsters like the TLX, RLX, and KE$HA. Ok, we made that last one up but can you really tell us what ILX stands for? While most of these models are middling at best, Acura is in the process of revitalizing its entire lineup. It started with the redesigned third-generation RDX back in 2019, a model that hopes to recapture some of the brand's former glory and get its mojo back.

The RDX is a great place to begin this product renaissance because it competes in the compact luxury crossover segment, often the best-seller for luxury brands (Acura included). Competitors include the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, Lexus NX, and Volvo XC60 just to name a few. If Acura hopes to make a name for itself in this competitive segment, it is going to need some serious firepower. We were sent a 2020 Acura RDX A-Spec with all-wheel-drive to review for the week to find out how it stacks up.

Read in this review:

7.9
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2020 Acura RDX Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2019 RDX?

Introduced last year following a complete overhaul, the 2020 RDX continues largely unchanged - the only difference is a new Platinum White exterior color that adds to the existing color palette. Otherwise, Acura's crossover continues to be offered with the brand's range of optional packages to customize your purchase.

Pros and Cons

  • Much more appealing styling than before
  • Very well-priced
  • Gutsy turbocharged engine
  • Entertaining handling for a luxury crossover
  • Improved infotainment system
  • Commodious trunk capacity
  • Technology still feels laggy
  • The Germans make a better interior
  • Only one engine option
  • Thirsty for a four-cylinder

Best Deals on 2020 Acura RDX

2020 Acura RDX Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$37,800
Technology Package
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$41,000
A-Spec Package
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$44,000
Advance Package
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$45,900
See All 2020 Acura RDX Trims and Specs

2020 RDX Exterior

2020 Acura RDX Forward View CarBuzz
2020 Acura RDX View Out Back CarBuzz
2020 Acura RDX Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
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Dimensions

  • Length 186.7 in
  • Wheelbase 108.3 in
  • Height 65.7 in
  • Max Width 74.8 in
  • Front Width 64.2 in
  • Rear Width 64.7 in
  • Curb Weight 3,783.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Majestic Black Pearl +$400
  • Canyon Bronze Metallic +$400
  • Performance Red Pearl +$400
  • Apex Blue Pearl +$400
  • Platinum White Pearl
  • Modern Steel Metallic
  • Fathom Blue Pearl
  • Gunmetal Metallic
  • Lunar Silver Metallic

2020 RDX Performance

2020 Acura RDX Aft View CarBuzz
2020 Acura RDX Gearbox Controls CarBuzz
2020 Acura RDX Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    10-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Aside from its awful nine-speed transmission, we enjoyed driving the larger Acura MDX. The smaller RDX takes all of what we loved about the MDX and shrinks it down into a sportier, more complete package. The steering has a nice weight for a luxury crossover and puts most of its competitors to shame in this area. Acura has firmed up the suspension on the A-Spec model without ruining the ride comfort, though the adaptive dampers on the standard RDX might be more appealing for shoppers wanting a luxurious experience. The A-Spec rides pretty firmly, though we believe it will be livable for most buyers.

Changing the RDX's drive modes is done using a large, NSX-inspired knob on the dashboard, which emits a cool sound straight out of an old-school Gran Turismo loading menu. Sport mode, especially when paired with the aforementioned S transmission mode, has a noticeable impact on performance while Sport + mode causes the engine and transmission to respond with sports car-level excitement. Sport + mode also pumps additional engine noise into the cabin and makes the steering heavier, combining to create a truly exciting driving experience.

All the while, the driver peers at their speed and rpm through red-on-silver gauges, which reminded us of the old-school RSX Type-S. This RDX is the first sign of Acura returning to the form that made it popular in the first place and we can't wait to see how the company follows up the A-Spec package with a more powerful Type-S variant. While not lacking in power in any way, we think a 400-hp RDX Type-S could sublime.

2020 RDX Interior

2020 Acura RDX Dashboard CarBuzz
2020 Acura RDX Driver Instrument Display CarBuzz
2020 Acura RDX Center Stack CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.6 in
  • Front Head Room 39.6 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.3 in

2020 RDX Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Acura RDX Trunk Space with Seat Folded CarBuzz
2020 Acura RDX Trunk Space CarBuzz
2020 Acura RDX Maximum Cargo Space CarBuzz

2020 RDX Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2020 Acura RDX A Good SUV?

We are pleased to report that with the 2020 RDX, Acura has indeed got its mojo back. There are some silly gripes with the infotainment and our observed fuel economy wasn't great, but this feels like the best effort we've seen from Acura in a long time, especially when you consider the price.

The 2020 RDX starts at $37,800 (undercutting most of its European and Japanese rivals) and even our well-optioned A-Spec tester with SH-AWD only commanded an as-tested price of $46,795. There are plenty of nicer interiors in this segment but at this price, we'll give Acura a pass. Most of the German competitors will easily go well into the $50,000 range with some even passing the $60,000 mark.

This feels like an excellent rebooting point for the Acura brand. The RDX has winning styling, a nice-enough interior, and gutsy power. In a year or so, we hope Acura successfully relaunches its Type-S sub-brand. This should give us more to talk about in the future but for now, the RDX remains a winner.

2020 Acura RDX Comparisons

Acura MDX Acura
Lexus NX
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Acura RDX272 hp22/28 mpg$41,350
Acura MDX 290 hp19/26 mpg$49,550
Lexus NX 203 hp26/33 mpg$38,350

2020 Acura RDX vs Acura MDX

With three rows of seating, the MDX will be the automatic choice for larger families that require extra seating capacity. At $44,500, the MDX also starts at just under $7,000 more than the smaller RDX. For that extra outlay, you do get a smooth 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 horsepower, although the performance gap isn't significant due to the MDX's extra weight. The MDX can, however, tow up to 5,000 pounds, significantly up on the RDX's 1,500-pound towing capacity. The bigger SUV also has more space behind the second row of seats, with 38.4 cubic feet trouncing the RDX's 29.5 cubes when the third row of seats are folded down. The RDX claws back some points with its superior infotainment system (the MDX uses the brand's controversial dual-screen system) and the RDX's cabin also uses posher materials. Both are accomplished crossovers, but we'd go for the smaller and nimbler RDX if you don't absolutely need the extra seats.

See Acura MDX Review

2020 Acura RDX vs Lexus NX

The Lexus NX used to be the more appealing SUV between these two by virtue of its unique styling, but the latest Acura RDX also looks the part and is pretty fun to drive as well. Both start at a similar price point and use 2.0-liter turbocharged engines, but the RDX's unit is more powerful. The cabins are roomy in both competitors but the NX's trunk is noticeably smaller than the RDX's. We also prefer the infotainment system in the Acura, even if both systems aren't perfect. Both SUVs are quiet on the freeway and handle well, but the Acura has the edge for agility, especially when equipped with all-wheel-drive. It's hard to fault either cabin for quality, too. Following the Acura's latest update, it has a better spread of abilities and it's our pick between these two.

See Lexus NX Review

2020 Acura RDX Popular Comparisons

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