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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


2020 Acura RDX: Compact luxury-sport crossover strikes all the right notes

If weeks were refundable, I would have asked for one when I last tested Acura’s RDX crossover.

The RDX is a luxury-sport compact CUV that strikes all the right notes. 

It’s quick, responsive and engaging but never punishing. Its tech-rich cabin is roomy, comfortable and well-equipped. Its turbocharged four-cylinder engine eagerly delivers abundant power, without making unreasonable demands at the gas pump.

Completely made-over last year, the RDX is planted on a rigid and lightweight front-wheel-drive platform. The available all-wheel-drive setup is Acura’s profoundly capable Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system.

Rich and accurate audio

In its upper trims, the RDX can be fitted with a 16-speaker Acura/ELS audio system that fills the cabin with rich and accurate sound.

In a word, the RDX is the kind of car I could drive happily for hours. But sadly, travel plans cut short my test week, robbing me of seat time in one of the market’s more rewarding CUVs. 
Where’s my refund?

The 2020 RDX is available in a single trim, with four available options packages and a handful of dealer-installed add-ons. 

The base trim comes standard with a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power liftgate, keyless ignition and entry, heated and power-adjustable front seats and simulated leather upholstery. Wheels are 19-inchers, 20s are available.

AcuraWatch is standard

The RDX wheelbase grew by more than 2 inches last year, improving ride quality and rear-seat legroom. Four adults ride comfortably here, though the sunroof reduces rear-seat headroom. 

Casual storage opportunities are scattered throughout the cabin. New sound-deadening measures dramatically cut wind and road noise. 

The AcuraWatch suite of driver-assist features is also standard. It brings forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.

Tech features include Acura’s True Touchpad infotainment interface, a 10.2-inch display screen, two USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio and a nine-speaker sound system. 

True Touchpad employs fingertip gestures to access the RDX’s abundant infotainment features. Once mastered, it is quick, intuitive and responsive. The display can be customized to the owner’s preferences and Acura’s natural language voice-activation system is one of the best we’ve tried.

Our tester included the Tech (navigation, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert) and A-Spec packages. A-spec features are primarily cosmetic (leather, black headliner, 20-inch alloy wheels) but also include the 16-speaker, 16-channel, 710-watt Acura/ELS Studio 3D premium audio system.

The top-end Advance package adds adaptive dampers.

The cherry on top

The turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes a robust 272 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque across a broad power band. It’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and can tow up to 1,500 pounds. 

Four drive modes — Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Snow — alter transmission, throttle and steering responses on a spectrum ranging from laid-back to aggressive. In the default Sport mode, the RDX shifts deliberately and with no great sense of urgency.

Sport+ sharpens steering, throttle and transmission responses and amps up the digitally enhanced engine note. On the Advance trim, the Sport+ mode quickens the reactions of the adaptive dampers.

The gearbox is designed to keep the four-cylinder engine in its torque-production sweet spot but at lower speeds it can stumble looking for the correct gear. The RDX earns an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in combined driving and runs the 0-60 sprint in just under 7 seconds. The latter number is more impressive than the first.

Steering responses are direct and linear and the lively, lightly weighted system provides good feedback. 

SH-AWD can shuttle up to 70 percent of torque to the rear axle, where it is further distributed side-to-side. By sending as much as 100 percent of available torque to either rear wheel, the system reduces the vehicle’s tendency to plow when entering a corner and allows it to pivot with precision and control. 

SH-AWD is the cherry on top of this enticing piece of Acura engineering. No refunds required.

Question or comments? Contact Don at

2020 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec
Vehicle base price: $37,600
Trim level base price: $45,800
As tested: $46,795 (includes destination and handling)
Options: The RDX with the Tech, A-Spec and SH-AWD packages is fully equipped. Our tester had no options.
Tow rating: 1,500 pounds
EPA rating: 23 combined/21 city/26 highway
Premium gasoline is specified

Don Adair
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer.