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2021 Acura RDX Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.5

The 2021 Acura RDX provides a comfortable ride with sporty handling and minimal body lean. A turbocharged inline-four is the only engine available, but it’s a powerhouse. Fuel economy is about average for the class.

  • "The suspension does a respectable job of keeping you comfortable when driving over a variety of surfaces. The RDX shrugs off potholes and is well controlled over highway undulations." -- Edmunds
  • "The sole engine in the 2020 RDX … is better than all three of the German rivals. A 10-speed automatic transmission sends drive to the front wheels in standard form (FWD), or all four (AWD) with Acura’s Super Handling system. The lower gears contribute to quick zips off the line, while the higher ratios help with fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
  • "The … RDX is both sportier and more upscale than the model it replaces. It does more than just check boxes. It's interesting, boasts some cool technology, and offers a strong value proposition." -- Autoblog (2019)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Engine: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic

The RDX’s only available engine isn't the most powerful in the class, but it is lively and energetic, and it provides more than enough grunt to meet your daily driving needs. The automatic transmission never struggles to find the right gear.

  • "A combination of 272-horsepower 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and 10-speed automatic transmission endows the Acura RDX with useful muscle balanced by acceptable fuel consumption. Despite so many forward ratios, the transmission works smoothly, while allowing freeway cruising at low engine speeds. Exercising that muscle is also pleasurable. There’s no real lag, but there’s a sweet spot (well, more of a sweet area) where both the turbo and the engine are on song and nicely responsive." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
  • "Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque paired to the segment's first 10-speed automatic transmission. It's more powerful than competitors like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 and it brings genuine excitement to this vehicle. This is the quickest RDX ever with strong acceleration and a throaty exhaust note that adds to the fun." -- Boston Globe (2019)
  • "The engine, a 2.0-liter turbo-four that essentially comes from the sublime Honda Accord, goes about its business with only audible drama (exaggerated by way of the stereo). Although peak horsepower is down compared to the previous V-6, torque is up, and both measurements boast fatter curves. As a result, a gentle swell of power is always on hand when you need it, even in Comfort mode. The buttery … 10-speed automatic is never in the wrong gear and can drop four cogs at a time should you demand it." -- Motor Trend (2019)

MPG Estimates

This Acura earns an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The available all-wheel drive drops those figures to 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The RDX A-Spec trim drops the highway figure by 1 mpg, regardless of drivetrain. These estimates are about average for the luxury compact SUV class.

Handling and Braking

The RDX handles with responsive agility and corners with little body lean, especially when equipped with the optional all-wheel drive. You have four driving modes to choose from: Snow, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. In general, the suspension soaks up most potholes, allowing for a fairly quiet cabin experience.

  • "When you drive around turns, there's not much body roll. You'll definitely want SH-AWD to maximize the RDX's sporting potential since it helps the RDX power out of turns. The steering is nicely tuned. It's light and makes for easy maneuvering in parking lots but also firms up appropriately at higher speeds to give you a feeling of control." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- Autotrader (2020)
  • "Handling is a high point; the seasoned sedan drivers Acura is seeking will find the RDX's steady ride, medium-weight heft, and lack of body roll to be utterly familiar. Still, in an era when most SUVs drive just like cars … the RDX manages to be slightly more car-like than its competitors. It's a distinction as subtle as a passing breeze, and yet just as unmistakably present." -- Automobile Magazine (2019)
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2021 Acura RDX

MSRP: $38,200 - $48,000

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