New color, same great value. The 2020 Acura RDX is just one year removed from a revolutionary redesign that flipped the classic vanilla luxury crossover design on its ear. With it still so young and trendsetting, it’s no shock the only change for 2020 is a new Platinum White color option.
As a carryover model, the RDX continues with its eye-grabbing design, luxurious interior, premium standard features, potent engine, and incredible value. Is this enough to keep it ahead of the big boys from Germany? Here’s what we think.
Four-cylinder engine big on power, not efficiency. When you hear of a four-cylinder engine in a crossover, you likely think of a wheezy, uninspirational powertrain. The Acura RDX’s Honda-Civic-Type-R-sourced heart is anything but uninspired with its 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Paired with this peppy four-pot is an equally eager 10-speed automatic transmission that delivers snappy shifts when you need them and smooth gear slides when you don’t.
While this engine may not have the power of some of the optional V6 units in its class, it crushes the base four-cylinder engines in the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and the BMW X3.
Where the RDX falls short is its fuel economy, as its EPA-estimated 22 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway, and 24 combined fall short of the X3 by one mpg city, two highway, and two combined. With all-wheel drive, the RDX manages just 21/27/23 mpg. The Q5, which comes standard with AWD, delivers 22/27/24 mpg.
Cushy interior, unless you’re in the back. In its front seats, the Acura RDX delivers the look and feel of a luxury car with its standard leatherette seating, well-padded thrones, soft-touch materials, push-button transmission, ample sound-deadening materials, and 10.2-inch display.
Unfortunately, things fall apart in the rear. Sure, its 38.4 inches of second-row leg room is plenty and beats the X3 and Q5 by 2.0 inches and 0.6 inches, respectively, but its padding and lack of an adjustable rear seatback make them uncomfortable on long hauls.
In cellphone connectivity, the RDX gets it only partially right with its standard Apple CarPlay, but it leaves Android users disconnected. This beats the X3, which offers CarPlay for free for a year, but expects you to shell out $80 per year for it after that. The Q5 and GLC-Class both ace the connectivity test with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Takes styling up a notch, but badge drags it down. The luxury crossover space has long been a dollop of vanilla ice cream in a cup – nope, not even a sugar cone to sweeten it up – but the Acura RDX’s arrival threw a wrench in it all.
The RDX boasts a striking look that stands out in a crowd with its LED headlights, shapely taillights, hard body lines, and aggressive-looking A-Spec upgrades. While the X3 and Q5 continue treading water with evolutionary redesigns, the RDX blew past them.
But styling can only go so far, as a big part of owning a luxury car is that brand cachet. Saying “oh, I drive a BMW” or “where did I park my Benz” simply feels powerful. Mentioning you drive an Acura is unlikely to draw any attention due to its lack of prestige.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Acura RDX does more than enough to make up for its badge shortcomings with its long list of standard features, sharp body, and potent engine. Plus, with a $38,595 starting price, it's $3,400 cheaper than the BMW X3, $4,800 cheaper than the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and $5,400 cheaper than the Audi Q5.
For buyers who prefer more power, all three of those German crossovers offer performance models that deliver well over 350 horsepower.
Check prices for the 2020 Acura RDX »