What We’re Driving: 2020 Acura RDX

Best-selling Acura a satisfying package despite some user-interface fussiness.

Honda engineers used a mixed-materials strategy to create the RDX’s stiff body structure. (Acura)

Acura’s RDX midsize crossover has established itself as an industry benchmark in body engineering, vehicle dynamics, cabin design and related metrics. All this basic goodness has helped this 2-row SUV to be Acura’s best-selling model. The 2020 edition mainly carries over from last year’s all-new product so there’s plenty to applaud – and a few things left for engineers to amend.

RDX body-in-white showing use of NVH-abating foams. (Acura)

For the 2020 North American Utility of the Year judging, I spent time in an all-wheel-drive RDX stickered at more than $48,000. It was equipped with the ‘Advance’ package—pretty much what customers wanting posh seating and audio would order, plus head-up display and foot-swoosh liftgate operation. The RDX’s powertrain continues to impress: the 272-hp (202-kW) turbocharged 2.0-L four mated with Honda’s own 10-speed automatic transaxle and the company’s ‘super handling’ SH-AWD driveline provide responsive thrust and reassuring grip on a multitude of road surfaces, particularly on slick pavement.

Packaging and occupant comfort are key attributes of the 2020 Acura RDX. (Acura)
General configuration of the RDX chassis showing front and rear modules. (Acura)
RDX cockpit HMI is easy to learn but its touchpad controller is distracting and unnecessary. (Acura)

But I’ve yet to drive a Honda 10-speed that I felt was perfectly calibrated, and the one in the RDX tester needed more cal attention. Throttle tip-in felt lazy, as did the CUV’s willingness to deliver lower gear ratios when needed on some freeway on-ramp accelerations.

The RDX’s cockpit appears overly busy at first, but the HMI is easy to learn and acclimate to. Well, mostly. While Honda’s brief march away from any audio-control knobs has been somewhat remedied, driver frustration is now ensured by the Acura’s control touchpad. The device is simply a poor-functioning novelty in a vehicle that has no use for such things.

2020 Acura RDX

Base price: $38,595

As tested: $48,695

Highs: Superb overall package

Lows: Another reason to abandon touchpad controls

The takeaway: Class benchmark in many areas